Here’s a new trend emerging with bolt-action rifles. It’s sort of the melding of the hunting and tactical genres. It could be argued the trend started with Jeff Cooper and his scout rifle concept, but I believe the credit goes to the AR-15. Many shooters are finally learning the utility offered by the AR, and “utility” is exactly what Mossberg’s line of bolt-action MVP rifles is all about. The latest MVP, due to its chambering in 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester), further expands the utility of this platform.
The first MVP from Mossberg was chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO (.223 Remington) and was specifically configured as a varmint rifle. The base concept for the MVP rifle was a bolt action that could be fed from an AR-15 magazine. Mossberg realized this vision with a uniquely designed bolt housed in an action sized just for the .223 Remington. The latest MVP is very similar, but offers a much more powerful alternative, which only stands to further realize the potential of the original conception.
With the 7.62mm MVP, Mossberg started with their proven 4X4 action. As they did with the earlier, smaller-caliber MVPs, Mossberg designed a polymer bedding system that incorporates a magazine well. The barreled action rests on the bedding system, which spans the gap between the rear and forward action screws. The decision to be made involved which magazine to use. In the end, Mossberg got creative and configured the mag-well to accept either a DPMS AR-10 or an M14 magazine. Both styles are prolific and affordable.
To get the rifle’s bolt to dig a cartridge out of those magazines, Mossberg altered the bottom of the bolt head by adding two bumps or guides. These bumps/guides—spaced at about 5 and 7 o’clock on the bolt head—push the cartridge out of the magazine regardless of whether it is positioned on the left or right side. It’s really a simple solution, and it appears a bit more robust than the bolt design on the smaller-caliber MVP. But I must say, I’ve fired hundreds of rounds out of 5.56mm MVPs without a problem of any sort, and I’ve been intentionally rough on them.
The rest of the Mossberg 7.62mm MVP is pretty straightforward, and I guess one could say that there’s nothing new. However, the rifle’s 20-inch fluted barrel is noteworthy. For a trigger, Mossberg chose their excellent LBA trigger, which is fitted with a center lever to prevent its being pulled unless the lever is pressed. This added safety feature—which Glock arguably pioneered—allows Mossberg to set the trigger pull at a weight light and crisp without worrying about adverse litigation. (The trigger on the test rifle broke cleanly at 2.25 pounds.) It felt as good as a Timney trigger and is user adjustable.
The laminated hardwood stock has colors varying from black to a light grey with tan and greenish toned laminations mixed in. The stock was my real complaint about the rifle. In fairness, mine is a prototype rifle, and the actual commercial product might be a bit different. Still, I thought the stock was a bit blocky in the forearm. Not blocky in looks; the rifle’s profile was appealing. Blocky in how it felt in my hand. I suggested Mossberg trim it up a tad.
Other features include sling swivel studs, a comfortably soft recoil pad, pre-installed Weaver-style scope bases and a four-round magazine. Obviously, once you have this rifle in hand, you can acquire other high- or low-capacity magazines. I tested three different magazines—four- and 10-round .308 AR magazines and a 10-round M14 magazine from an online retailer. The MVP fed just fine from all three.
Running The MVP
Indeed, the feeding was smoother than expected. A .308 AR or M14 magazine loaded with 10 rounds puts the cartridges under a lot of pressure. It takes a good bit of force to get a cartridge moving forward. No complaints with the MVP, but more on that later when it really mattered to me.
My field test of the 7.62mm MVP was kind of a last minute thing. I was scheduled to hunt moose in Newfoundland and had intended to take a Mossberg 4X4 rifle chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum. About a week before I was scheduled to leave, the 7.62mm MVP showed up, and I thought the hunt would be a great field test opportunity.
Using a set of Leupold QRW rings, I mounted a Swarovski Z6i 1.7-10X42. The 30mm scope’s large ocular housing necessitated it being mounted a bit higher than I like, so I also installed a Blackhawk cheek pad to raise my eye to a comfortable position behind the scope. I fitted a Galco Safari Ching Sling to the rifle, too, because I’ve gotten to the point at which I will not hunt without one.
I had no qualms about shooting a moose with a .308 Winchester, but now I wanted a good bullet, and the bullet I most often turn to, when I want both accuracy and terminal performance on big game, is the Nosler Accubond. Nosler offers a 165-grain Accubond for the .308 Winchester and even loads it in their Custom Trophy Grade line of ammunition. I ordered two boxes.
After zeroing, the first three-shot group out of the rifle spanned 1.19 inches. The second group measured only .87 inch. Figuring this well within minute of moose, I stepped away from the bench. Using two boxes of Black Hills match ammo, I proceeded to work from 50 yards out to 125 yards on various steel targets from field-shooting positions. Having put 30 rounds down range, with no issues at all, I was ready to kill a moose.
I went hunting with a few of my old friends at Mt. Peyton Outfitters outside of Bishop Falls, Newfoundland. They’re a great group of guys, and they run one of the best outfitting businesses with which I’ve ever been associated. Do enough worldwide hunting and you’ll eventually learn, when you pay for a hunt you need to be sure of things like the accommodations, food and atmosphere. It’s not all about the kill, and the guys at Mt. Peyton guarantee what they can—not a trophy, which only skill and lady luck can provide. But a good time otherwise—that’s something the guys at Peyton Outfitters can and do provide.
On The Hunt
Speaking of things no one can control, the first three days of the hunt featured some very bad weather. One evening we had 50-mile-per-hour winds, and you can’t call a moose in a hurricane. On the fourth morning, we woke to stillness and frost, and not 15 minutes from the lodge we found a lot of tracks. My guide, Todd Gillingham, suggested we get some elevation and look out over a bog. I’d hunted with Todd twice before and knew to trust him.
And there they were, a mile away: a cow and a calf, two smallish bulls and one big one. They were strolling across the bog. I looked at Todd and said, “Now what? I got a .308 Win., not a .50 BMG. We’ve gotta’ get within about 250 yards.” I could see Todd thinking, and soon he said, “Let’s go.” I didn’t ask questions, just shouldered the MVP and followed Todd. A bumpy 5-minute four-wheeler ride later, we were on foot again, trudging through a forested section of the bog, wondering if the moose were gone. They weren’t!
We could see the two smaller bulls about 250 yards away at the edge of the bog. The big boy was not to be seen. He was probably in the edge of the timber. There were two problems: The wind was imperfect and they saw us. If I was going to shoot, I would have to do it from where I was, and I was faced with the choice of taking one of the two bulls I could see or waiting for the big guy. The moose were spooky, and I could see moose steaks through my Swarovski. I decided to take the first bull, which gave me a good shot. I eased a bit closer and steadied the MVP. The smaller bull stepped clear, turned broadside and looked at me. I put the glowing dot in the center of the Swarovski reticle straight above his front leg, a third of the way up the body and pressed the trigger. The sound of the bullet hitting the moose was almost as loud as the report of the rifle, and the moose bucked like he was hit in the heart. He took off across the bog.
Instinctively, I cycled the bolt. It took less than a second. (I told you the bolt on this rifle was easy to work.) The reticle found the moose again. He was quartering hard away and at a dead run. (How do moose run that fast in a bog!?) The trigger broke, the bullet hit and the moose stopped a few strides later. He swayed back and forth momentarily and dropped with a splash so loud we heard it 300 yards away.
Granted, this was a young bull with no antlers to brag about, but that matters less to me now than it used to. It’s about the experience, and I had just had a great one. I’d taken my first bull moose, and it was the first animal ever killed with the 7.62mm Mossberg MVP. Meat is a positive byproduct of a successful hunt, too, and I had hundreds of pounds of it on the ground.
So, what do I think about the new 7.62mm Mossberg MVP? Like I said at the outset, this is a utility rifle. It’s a proven hunting rifle. It can also serve as a survival-type, standard-capacity, what you might call a “Katrina rifle”—a rifle you might rely on to save your life both up close and at a distance. You have a choice of low- or high-capacity magazines, and the rifle can even share magazines with your .308 AR or M14.
Is it perfect? Nope. No rifle is, but this is a nice rifle. I’d change the stock, as I mentioned before. I’d also like to see Mossberg provide a proprietary low-capacity magazine to make the rifle easier to carry at the balance point when hunting. Those AR-10 and M14 magazines stick out pretty far. But keep in mind this rifle will probably retail for about $600, and if Mossberg added a newly designed magazine, its price would go up. And, from a utility standpoint, it’s a fine rifle, as is. Don’t forget, a real utility rifle should be affordable.
That being said, I do think Mossberg needs to take better advantage of what they have with the 7.62mm MVP. I know that they will soon feature a specially configured version designed as a police patrol rifle, and I understand that that’s just the beginning. What I hope they do is team up with XS Sights to develop a scope rail that will allow for the mounting of a conventional or scout scope. Combine that with an XS Low Mount Weaver Back-Up aperture sight and an XS front sight, and the MVP probably becomes the best, most affordable utility rifle offered by any manufacturer.
Either way, sign me up! I’ve been a fan of the Mossberg MVP rifles ever since I fired my first one two years ago. For more information on Mossberg’s complete MVP series, visit mossberg.com or call 800-363-3555.