Thunderous applause for the MVP LR

Daniel O’Dea

Recently I’ve had the chance to review a selection of Mossberg rifles including the MVP LC (Light Chassis) chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington and just to recap, the Mossberg MVP series incorporates six different lines with even more subvariants and calibre options. The MVP range includes the LC as previously tested, LR (Long Range), Scout, Patrol, Predator and Precision. The little LC impressed on review so I was keen to try the next contender, the MVP LR chambered in 7.62 NATO/.308, and to add a little spice the one I’d be testing was a Thunder Ranch edition.

The Thunder Ranch is basically the US shooting equivalent of celebrity product endorsement of the standard Mossberg MVP LR. Thunder Ranch is a firearms training facility in Lakeview, Oregon, owned and operated by Clint and Heidi Smith, the former a legendary straight shooter from both the hip and the lip.

A veteran of military and law enforcement with more than 45 years in the industry, he tells it how it is. If you’re interested in the US defensive firearms mindset I recommend his YouTube channel as a source of information where he relates hard truths. If your Mossberg carries the Thunder Ranch moniker it has been Clint Smith approved which, in the case of the MVP LR, means it has a camo stock and Thunder Ranch logo.

The LR has a varmint/target style stock with wide beavertail fore-end, broad butt and deep pistol grip. On first appearance you may think it’s a polymer stock but I understand it’s wood of some description, painted with a durable coating. It’s certainly thick and chunky enough in the fore-end to sit flat over a bag or rest and carries plenty of swell in the palm for solid grip.

The buttstock has a pillar-recessed rubberised Mosscote comb, height adjustable via a push button on the right of the butt and finished with a slim rubber kick pad and black spacer. Both magazine housing and triggerguard are black polymer and the stock carries three QD sling swivel studs, one at the rear and two on the fore-end so you can run both a sling and bipod.

The Mossberg MVP LR as tested in 7.62mm NATO/.308 Win has a medium-heavy profile 20” (508mm) barrel, partially fluted forward of the fore-end and threaded at the muzzle with a muzzle brake or suppressor where permitted. Twist rate is 1:10 which seems to be industry standard for .308 rifles as it will stabilise a large selection of popular .30 calibre projectile weights.

The receiver is a cylindrical design using a barrel nut for headspace. A recoil lug is sandwiched between barrel nut and receiver to anchor the action into the stock for bedding and the barrel floats freely forward of the receiver in a generously relieved channel. For ease of scope mounting the action is bridged by a 6” (152mm) Picatinny rail as standard.

The bolt follows the basic Mauser format of dual opposing locking lugs but, departing from the traditional Mauser look, the claw extractor is recessed into the right bolt lug and a plunger-style ejector sits proud on the bolt face, the lower front edge of the bolt head incorporating two small feed horns to supply rounds from the magazine. The bolt body has shallow spiral fluting, the bolt handle an oversize bolt knob and the bolt shroud is extended to the left which I suspect is to act as a gas shield in the unlikely event of case rupture.

A primary feature of the MVP series in .556/.223 is its ability to accept commonly available STANAG (Standardisation by NATO Agreement) magazines (AR mags). With the MVP in 7.62 NATO/.308 Win, Mossberg pull off the same trick only with AR10-type magazines (the platform also accepts M14-type magazines). This is quite a feat as the two have completely different lock-up systems, M14s traditionally a ‘rock and lock’ arrangement which would normally locate off a small recess cut out on the front magazine edge and retain via a large lug on the spine of the magazine. AR10-types do this through a slot or recess on the left.

With the MVP, when using M14-type magazines the lug on the spine becomes redundant with the magazine retained via the locating recess on the front edge. The magazine release on the MVP operates two separate protrusions within the magazine well which act as catches, one at the front for M14s and one on the side for AR10s. The rifle is supplied with a single Gen M3 Magpul Pmag 10-round magazine.

For testing I mounted a Sig Sauer Whiskey3 riflescope in 4-12x50 with BDC-1 Quadplex reticle in a set of Warne Maxima horizontal steel fixed scope rings. As far as ammunition goes I had a good selection of standard and premium factory .308 Winchester loadings, some favoured handloads and even some mid-’60s date-stamped Australian ex-military 7.62 NATO from when they were readily available as surplus.

For accuracy testing all groups were shot over my Caldwell Lead Sled, providing a rock-steady rest and removing almost all felt recoil. Firing three-shot groups I’m sure Clint Smith himself would’ve been more than happy with the accuracy, on paper my tailored handloads using 168gr Sierra MatchKings and ADI2208 propellant faring best, measuring just ½ MOA or 0.5” at 100 yards (12.7mm at 90m).

In the factory ammo stakes, Hornady American Gunner 155gr in the 50-round bulk pack proved great value with shots landing at just 0.625 MOA and even your basic but ever-reliable 150gr Winchester Power Points measured under ¾ MOA at 0.675. The Winchester 178gr Match and Federal 150gr Power-Shok were robbed of glory when I failed on the trigger and pulled one of the three shots left in each of those groups, though they still managed 1.4 and 1.9 MOA respectively. Lastly, the 7.62 NATO crackers from the Vietnam era still managed a respectable 1.3 MOA five-shot group - straight out the box and, previously unfired save the factory proving rounds, I regard that exceptional accuracy.

I removed the rifle from the Lead Sled and fitted a Harris bipod on the forward of the two front QD studs for a session on my 200m plate rack and, as I had half a can of the old ex-military NATO stuff left, I started on the plates. Zeroed at 100, a centre hold using the first subtension down on the BDC-1 Quadplex reticle of the Whiskey3 scope had me smashing plates like I was at a Greek wedding. That coupled with the authoritative sound of .30 calibre rounds striking steel ringing through the gully certainly makes for good times on the range.

Apart from the standard factory-supplied 10-round GenM3 Pmag I had a couple of 10-round M14 magazines to hand. Both performed flawlessly but I’d note that M14 followers have a high rear shoulder which activates the bolt hold open on firing the last round in an M14 rifle. With the MVP bolt-action this same shoulder ends up acting as its own bolt hold open as the bolt doesn’t automatically clear over the top of it to close on an empty magazine. You’ll know when you run dry as you can’t push the bolt forward any more. If using M14-type magazines you just press the follower down to close the bolt on an empty magazine or alternately remove the mag altogether.

The rifle performed well and while the adjustable trigger may have had the slightest hint of creep, it broke crisply and surprisingly light at just over 2lb measured on my Lyman trigger gauge. It worked fine as set from factory so I’d no inclination to start playing with it. The adjustable Mosscote comb on the buttstock is a neat feature, its push-button adjustment locking up on a threaded centre pillar bolt, so modification is fine within the total range of movement. I had the scope mounted low so didn’t need to use it but with larger, long-range optics set in high mounts an adjustable comb is often critical to achieve optimum cheek weld.

If I want to be harsh on the MVP LR, perhaps it doesn’t have the slickest bolt cycle I’ve experienced but would likely smooth out once run-in, that aside the Mossberg MVP LR Thunder Ranch is hard to fault and is a well-featured, functional and accurate rifle. More at www.grycol.com.au

Specifications

Rifle: Mossberg MVP LR (Long Range) Thunder Ranch

Action: Bolt-action (with spiral fluted bolt)

Trigger: Mossberg two-stage LBA system

Calibre: Tested 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester (also available in 5.56/.223 Rem)

Capacity: 10-round detectable box magazine

Barrel: Medium-heavy profile 20” (508mm) threaded

Twist rate: 1:10 (7.62 NATO as tested)

Sights: Picatinny rail

Barrel finish: Matte blued

Stock: Pillar bedded with rubberised Mosscote cheekrest

Stock LOP: 13.25” (337mm)

Weight: 8lb (3.63kg) 7.62 NATO tested

Length OA: 39.5” (100mm)

Price guide: $1755 RRP

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