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Much to the relief of those who despise hearing about the 6.5 Creedmoor, every day and all the time, right now the hottest rifle cartridge is the 7mm PRC. Because this cartridge slightly outperforms the 7mm Remington Magnum—one of the best big game cartridges worldwide—hunters are eager to give it a try. And the fastest and least expensive way to do that is with Mossberg’s Patriot Predator rifle.
Mossberg actually offers two Patriot Predator rifles chambered in 7mm PRC. One has a tan-colored synthetic stock and blued steel (catalog #28170) and a suggested price of $536.00. The other (catalog #28171) costs $100 more and has a Strata camouflaged synthetic stock and Cerakoted steel. Real-world across-the-counter prices should be less than $500 and $600, respectively, and based on my experiences, shooter satisfaction should be high.
In early 2014, I took one of the first Mossberg Patriot bolt action rifles to Africa. During that safari, my son and I used it to take a lot of critters. Since then, I’ve hunted with versions of the Patriot in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and on several return trips to Africa. All versions of the Patriot rely on the same, cylindrical, two-lug Mossberg bolt action. They vary mostly in barrel length and contour, and stock design.
Mossberg Patriot Predator 7mm PRC Specifications
Manufacturer: O.F. Mossberg & Sons
Model: Patriot Predator
Chambering: 7mm PRC
Barrel: 24-inch, fluted and threaded, w/ 1 in 8 twist
Finish: Matte blue #28170, Patriot brown Cerakote #28171
Magazine: Detachable, three-round capacity
Length: 44.25 inches
Length of Pull: 13.75 inches
Sights: None. Ships with Picatinny optics rail
Stock: Synthetic tan #28170, Synthetic Strata-camo #28171
Weight: 6.5 pounds (advertised) 6.625 pounds (actual)
Trigger: User-adjustable Mossberg LBA (2.25 pounds as tested)
Price: $536 (#28170) $636 (#28171)
The Patriot Predators in 7mm PRC feature a threaded and fluted, 24-inch barrel, capped off with a thread protector and an 11-degree target crown. Mossberg threads the barrels on Patriot rifles into the receiver, and when the headspace is set as exactly as possible, they lock them in place with a barrel nut. The barrel on the Predator has what I’d call a sporting contour, it tapers from 1.172 inches just forward of the barrel nut, to just 0.620 behind the enlarged threaded section at the muzzle.
The Predator ships with a 15-slot Picatinny scope rail, already installed. These rifles are suppressor and optics ready, right out of the box, and come with Mossberg’s Lightning Bolt Action (LBA) trigger, which is user adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds. Another feature I really like on these rifles is the oversized bolt handle. With a knob diameter of only 0.873, it’s not overly large, but it extends out from the bolt body about a quarter inch further than the standard Patriot bolt handle. I think it makes the action much easier and faster to cycle.
The bolt handle on the Patriot Predator is larger than on standard Patriot rifles. It’s sized just about perfectly for fast operation. Richard Mann
However, this larger bolt handle also amplifies the one feature of all Mossberg Patriot rifles that annoys me. There’s no way to lock the bolt in the closed position on these rifles, and I’ve found this can be problematic. On more than one occasion I’ve been carrying a Patriot with a sling and the bolt handle has become snagged by some brush. Because these spirally fluted bolts operate so easily, this can cause the action to open. If your rifle is loaded when this happens, the round in the chamber can be ejected. This larger bolt handle will likely increase the likelihood of this happening. It’s something to keep in mind as you maneuver in the woods.
The stock on the Patriot Predator is a simple synthetic stock with impressed textured areas at the grip and forend. It’s fitted with a thick and soft rubber butt pad and two sling swivel studs. The trigger guard is molded into the stock, which is cut out for a detachable box magazine. I think these Patriot magazines are one of the best features of these rifles. They’re made of polymer and only weigh 2.3 ounces. And they’re released from the stock with a recessed lever just forward of the magazine. I’ve never had a magazine in a Patriot rifle release unless I pushed that lever. The magazines for Patriots chambered in 7mm PRC hold three rounds, and with an empty magazine installed, the rifle tips the scales at six pounds, 10 ounces, which is only about two ounces more than the advertised weight.
Read Next: Hornady 7mm PRC: Tested and Reviewed
How the Mossberg Patriot Predator Performed on the Bench
Mossberg sent me the lesser expensive Patriot Predator with the tan synthetic stock. When it arrived, I applied some thread lock and reinstalled the optics rail—something you should always do with any new rifle shipped with a rail—and then mounted a Swarovski Z8i 2-16X50 P riflescope in Leupold Mark 4 medium-height rings. With the reticle centered in the scope—this is easy to do by holding the scope up against a mirror and adjusting the two images of the reticle until they overlap—bore sighting at 100 yards showed the reticle was only a few inches off target. This is generally a good sign that the barrel is installed in line with the scope mounting holes.
The first three-shot group the author fired with the Mossberg Patriot Predator. Richard Mann
I fired one shot, made one adjustment, and then fired a three-shot group with the Hornady 175-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter load. That group measured a minuscule 0.268 in. I then fired three more three-shot groups and the average for all four groups was only 0.62 in. I also tested the Hornady 180-grain ELD Match load. Either the rifle didn’t like it as well, or I didn’t shoot as well; three, three-shot groups with this load averaged only 0.94 in. At the time of this writing, the only other factory load offered for the 7mm PRC is the Hornady Outfitter load with a 160-grian CX bullet, but I didn’t have any of that ammunition to test.
Hunting With the Mossberg Patriot Predator
Mossberg sent me this rifle so I could take it on a nilgai hunt in Texas. We were hunting free-range ranch adjoining the King Ranch, which is where these Indian antelope were originally introduced in 1920. Now their population in Texas is estimated at nearly 40,000. I was accompanied by three other hunters also using a Patriot Predator like the one I had or the Strata-camo version. We spent a little time at the range before hunting, and the other hunters all told me they too had seen fine precision from their rifles.
My hunt didn’t take long. My guide said he wanted to slip into a little glade where he’d been seeing a nice bull. As we quietly crept through the brush, he spotted the brute across the opening in the edge of the brush. We had to maneuver a bit to find an opening for a shot, and when we did, I got the rifle ready on the sticks. About five minutes later the bull—unaware we were in his world—stepped into the clear, and I put a 175-grain ELD-X bullet high through his lungs. He hit the ground in a cloud of dust and my hunt was over.
I spent the rest of that evening and the next morning following another hunter. We managed to sneak up on a nilgai bull feeding in the brush. The range was only about 45 yards and when the bull alerted, he was quartering hard toward the hunter. The hunter fired and the bull took off like a rocket. The hunter quickly bolted the rifle and smacked the bull again before he’d gone 30 yards. We were both convinced the oversized bolt handle aided his quick action, however, we didn’t need the second shot—the first bullet had passed through the heart and the bull was down in 60 yards.
Though chambered for a flat shooting, long-range cartridge, the Mossberg Patriot Predator in 7mm PRC is configured like a traditional, sporting, bolt-action big game rifle. Richard Mann
This is a reasonably lightweight rifle, and admittedly the barreled action is housed in a very inexpensive polymer stock. However, it delivers more precision than necessary for big game hunting out to the limits of what the 7mm PRC cartridge is applicable for. If you want to give this cartridge a try, and you don’t want to spend a fortune on a rifle, the Patriot Predator is the best option. After all, you’re going to want to save money for a good riflescope, and, so far, 7mm PRC ammo isn’t cheap.
Read Next: The Best 7mm PRC Rifles for 2023
If your interest lies more in long-range competition shooting, this is not the rifle for you. It’s a bit too light for extended-range sessions, you’ll have to mount a bipod via the sling swivel stud, and as the barrel heats up after more than five rapid shots, you’ll probably see a bit of stringing. Of course, this won’t negatively impact the big game hunter.
Given the locations I hunt, and the fact that I don’t take shots at big game at distances many would consider long-range, I don’t have a lot of interest in the 7mm PRC. I’ve got nothing against the cartridge—it’s a fantastic ballistic advancement—it’s just not something I need. However, I test a lot of rifles, and when I come across one that will consistently cluster three shots in a half-inch circle, it’s damned hard not to like it or buy it. Especially when it’s only five hundred dollars.
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