Whenever the topic of using a compact rifle for home defense comes up, the mind immediately goes toward an AR-15 style firearm; however, bolt-action rifles are inherently less complicated and more reliable and even suppress better than semi-autos in most cases. In addition, if the defender is already used to cycling a bolt, this option is going to make better use of their muscle memory, reducing the potential for fumbling.
As “the Connecticut manufacturer,” Mossberg is deeply in tune with these concepts; it created the MVP Patrol Rifle, which became an overnight success among those who prefer the assurance of a manually operated firearm. Initially chambered in either 5.56 or 7.62 NATO, however, it left a large gap to bridge, particularly for close quarters. In response to overwhelming demand, Mossberg released a .300 AAC Blackout Version for 2022, and I jumped at the opportunity to put it through its paces.
First, let’s start with a bit of background on the cartridge and why this is such a significant line extension. The .300 Blackout cartridge is based on the 5.56 case and is best explained as a trade of velocity for bullet mass. It does this by using a larger, heavier .30-caliber bullet that occupies much of the would-be powder capacity of this case. The result is a slower-moving payload that is less likely to over-penetrate and which suppresses far better than 5.56 or 7.62. As great as this sounds, remember there are no free lunches in this world. Manufacturers, or anybody who has done some work with this round, can attest that it takes a bit of work to get a gas system right for reliable operation. In addition, if you want the gun to run both sub and supersonic ammunition reliably, things get more complicated. Therefore, chambering a bolt-action to run this cartridge starts to look mighty appealing.
When you first look at the MVP, you’ll likely notice its compact nature. At just a hair over 36 inches, it fits neatly behind your truck seat for use around the farm. It achieves this compact footprint through a shortened 16.25-inch, carbine-length barrel and reduced length of
pull that measures just north of 13 inches. Its solid-black synthetic stock cradles the steel receiver and barrel to produce a base that is undoubtedly all business. Well, mostly all business, as Mossberg did sneak in a touch of flair by engraving the company “M” on the back of the striker and by fluting the bolt body. Additional styling can be found in the lightning-bolt cutout on the blade safety of the trigger, which denotes it as the company’s user-adjustable trigger.
The included rear blade sight is also adjustable, which pairs nicely with the fixed fiber-optic front sight for brilliant daytime visibility and offers a step in the right direction for low-light use. For those who might prefer optics, this MVP follows its lineage and comes with a pre-mounted Picatinny rail to mount whatever you wish to run. It uses standard AR magazines—handy, since many shooters have a pile of them sitting in the corner.
Before hitting the range, I topped off the rifle with EOTech’s new VuDu 1-10x LPVO, as I felt this is the ideal scope for this gun’s intended application. On the 1x setting, this scope provides effortless, both-eyes-open shooting capability and is further hastened by its illuminated reticle. By cranking the dial up to 10x, one would have more than enough magnification to put a .300 BLK onto any target within its effective range. After mounting the scope, I filled my range bag with ammunition from Federal, Winchester and Hornady that encompassed a variety of bullet weights and velocities, packed up my vehicle and headed out for a morning full of accuracy and function testing.
My range day was met with mild conditions, if a bit muggy. Using the Hornady ammunition, I fired my first shots to zero the glass, and immediately noticed how mild the overall shooting experience with the .300 BLK MVP Patrol was. Through the cartridge’s light-recoil characteristics and the included A2 flash hider, it was sheer joy centering up my shots on a piece of club steel sitting 100 yards out. The medium-contoured barrel did a terrific job of shedding heat and added its own recoil mitigation to the package as well. I found the bolt was relatively smooth to run, but it did need a bit of grease right out of the box. On the other hand, both the push-to-fire safety and push-button magazine release took minimal effort to move and required absolutely zero break-in. Features like the thick-rubber recoil pad and the textured grip and fore-end ensured that the rifle stayed put during this portion of the test; these would also mitigate the sweaty-hands issue likely during life-or-death encounters.
Moving over to group testing, I found this Hornady load exceptionally consistent with five-shot groups measuring as small as eight-tenths of an inch. The full-metal-jacket design of this bullet allowed it to easily slide up the feed ramp and didn’t present any issues with firing or ejection. The 150-grain Federal offering delivered the same trouble-free cycling, but grouped a littler larger than the Hornady fodder. After testing these two, I fired the Winchester ammunition, which was the only subsonic offering of the three. The blunted hollow-point profile needed a little influence to chamber; however, they were exceptionally quiet and rather precise for subs, as this design is not known for tack-driving performance. Overall, I was satisfied with the results and can deem this MVP Patrol to be one heck of an accurate rifle, if a tad picky with ammo.
I finished my range day with a maneuverability test as I navigated a course of fire that forced me to stay tight to cover, slip through narrow openings and shoot from awkward positions. The MVP patrol rifle rose to the occasion for each engagement and proved its worth as a useful home-defense tool. I enjoyed its ease of handling and found that I could run the bolt and get back on target in about the same amount of time that it would take me with a semi-auto. Furthermore, the reduced flash signature and provision for a sound suppressor score big points in protecting both your vision and hearing when used in a confined space.
The Mossberg .300 BLK MVP Patrol rifle is a handy little piece of kit that can defend the home and wouldn’t be your worst option for deer or coyote hunting, either. I loved that it was ready to shoot right out of the box and had thoughtful features geared toward its intended market, including a magazine hold-open that won’t let you unintentionally close the bolt on an empty chamber. In short, it’s just a nifty little design that won’t let you down when it matters most. Yes, semi-autos have made leaps and bounds in reliability, but when it really comes down to it, you can always believe in a bolt.