Priced to fit any marksman’s budget, and on the mark accuracy-wise, the Mossberg Patriot LR Tactical proves the ideal gateway to long-range shooting.
The saying goes: Want to know what it’s like to own a boat? Tear up hundred-dollar bills under a cold shower. Something might hold analogous for long-range shooting. Maybe, rip up fifties while a buddy hits you in the shoulder.
Luckily for boat and precision-shooting freaks, the payoffs of endorphins and bragging rights are well worth the physical and fiduciary discomfort. And for the latter category, when it comes to decimating legal tender, marksmen are more likely to get away disembodying Jacksons as opposed to Grants nowadays.
Still white-hot popular, the laws of supply and demand have bent long-range shooting’s price curve mercifully in the shooter’s favor. Case in point, the Mossberg Patriot LR Tactical.
Designed as an everyman’s precision iron—with an MSRP of $1,085—the rifle looks to set more sights at a country mile. And from my short time with the chassis system—chambered for 6.5 PRC—at Arizona’s Gunsite this past fall, it seems the New Haven concern’s engineers have about hit this mark as dead center as possible.
Whether that’s good or bad is for your bank account to decide.
Heart Of A Patriot
Shooters familiar with Mossberg’s catalog will instantly recognize the heart of the system: the Patriot action. Released a little more than half a decade ago, the tubular action forms the foundation of the company’s highly affordable hunting rifle line and has acquitted itself well in the role. Apparently, it has the chops for long-range work as well.
On the LR Tactical the basics of the system are fairly simple. It’s a push-feed affair, with a robust two-lug bolt boasting an oversized tactical-style handle. The bolt is outfitted with a traditional plunger ejector and Sako-style extractor, both of which functioned superbly on the 6.5 PRC iteration I shot. It flung spent brass like nobody’s business, but not so obliquely as to bang the Crimson Trace Hardline 4-16x42mm MR1-MOA SFP scope mounted with Wheeler aluminum rings on its 0 MOA Picatinny rail.
A quick note on the rail part: Mossberg spoke about replacing the low-rider with a 20 MOA version on the market model.
On the aesthetic side, Mossberg spiral flutes the bolt, which is a nice touch. However, the bolt itself is not monolithic, but three pieces—bolt head, body and handle. This facet puts some overall play into the operation, perhaps more than some might desire in a precision rig, but not enough to make it a functional issue. Thankfully, the system is rock-steady where it counts, with the head traveling smoothly and quickly down the raceway for lockup.
To this, Mossberg mates a 24-inch medium bull barrel in the 6.5 PRC model. The other two chamberings—6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Winchester—the contour is the same, but the fire tube is abbreviated to 22 inches. No matter caliber, all the rifles come with a threaded (5/8”-24 TPI) muzzle with a target crown, so it’s ready for a brake, comp or suppressor. If none appeal, Mossberg includes a knurled cap to protect the threads.
The belle of the ball on the Patriot LR Tactical is its LBA trigger. Adjustable triggers are common as field corn, but Mossberg’s deserves note, given it greatly enhanced the rifle’s performance.
At Gunsite, the company had it tuned to roughly a 2.5-pound break when measured with a Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge. You can pick your analogy—glass, thin ice, what have you—the trigger broke like it. Better yet, it didn’t show an iota of creep. Additionally, the switch’s skeletonized trigger blade is a solid addition, creating a tactile reference point for finger position.
A nit to pick at this point of the rifle: I wasn’t a fan of the polymer trigger guard. But if that’s where Mossberg had to save money, it’s a minor concession.
MDT In The Mix
To have a chassis rifle you’ve got to have, well … a chassis. Mossberg turned to a well-known player to provide the precision stick to house the Patriot system—MDT. It seems presently the company dresses every other new long-range rifle on the market today, but for good reason—they know what they’re doing.
The chassis on the LR Tactical is a custom job as specified by Mossberg, but it does seem to have some inspiration drawn from MDT’s XRS system. There’s good and “meh” about the platform, but for what’s arguably an entry-level precision rifle the chassis has plenty going for it.
Chief among these is a solid bedding system. Beneath the polymer exterior, the LR Tactical’s chassis sports aluminum V-block bedding, creating a solid mating surface along the entirety of the Patriot action. This sort of design is a must in long-range systems, erasing action shift—thus barrel shift—due to recoil. After all, moves of a fraction of an inch in the rifle can lead to misses at and past 1,000 yards.
The chassis’ layout is somewhat tradition, yet its ergonomics are right. The grip is generous, which includes a nice palm swell that fills the hand while not compromising purchase. The buttstock fits the shoulder pocket well and is fully adjustable. Its length of pull is modified via spacers adding 0.75 inch a pop. And the cheek rest includes 2 inches of play, and for me sat rock solid—impressive given it attaches to the stock via a single post.
Other accouterments include a paddle mag release in front of the trigger guard for AICS-style magazines, M-Lok slots at the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions and sling swivels. Pretty nice package, but still it does have a few faults.
The biggest point to turn off some is weight, which at 8 pounds is light for a precision system—particularly when chambered in 6.5 PRC. Not a “thumper” by any stretch of the imagination, the recoil was still enough; it was impossible to track the bullet to the target. Weighting systems abound, so this is easily solved, but shooters should realize it requires aftermarket investment. Not a deal breaker, mind you, but something to be conscious of and perhaps logical with what Mossberg cooked up—more on that in a bit.
On The Firing Line With The LR Tactical
Right off the bat, I was impressed with the accuracy of the LR Tactical.
We pitched Hornady Match Ammunition, which is topped with 147-grain, polymer-tipped Match bullets (G1 BC .697). After taking the initial three shots to see where it was printing when zeroing in, it essentially stayed MOA from there on. I failed to make the mythical three-leafed clover at 100 yards, always off on my third shot after linking two. But I’ll put that squarely on operator error, not the rifle.
After dialing the rifles in the Crimson Trace scope, we took to Gunsite’s long range to test the rifle’s legs. Shooting from prone, utilizing Magpul MOE Bipods, we stretched out from 400 to 600 yards on steel targets.
Upon gaining some familiarity with the LR Tactical, I progressed through a series of 15 or so shots at the ranges—with an intermittent north-to-south wind—hitting each one on my spotter’s call. The last trigger squeeze of the session might have been the sweetest—at least to Mossberg folks hovering over the cadre of gun hacks. Waterfalling down the line, each writer took a 600-yard shot and each connected—nearly all dead center.
Quite a finish. The only disappointment was not having the time to push the rifle further.
Where Does The Patriot LR Tactical Shine?
The question remains: What exactly is the LR Tactical aimed at in particular? It’s certainly not an out-of-the-box and entry-level PRS rifle—though it definitely could fill this role for the pennywise. And while it has some trappings of a precision hunter, the rifle isn’t exactly that either. Perhaps this androgyny is the genius in what Mossberg has created.
With some thought, the rifle potentially fills nearly any niche requiring the delivery of jacked lead precisely at long distances. It’s a jack of all trades—which is ideal for those dipping their toes in the long-range end of the pool. A tweak here or there and the LR Tactical is apt to excel anywhere, from benchrest to prairie hunt.
In the age of specialized systems, where every critter and style of shooting has its own dedicated iron, the protean LR Tactical is a breath of fresh air—not to mention the key to freedom for newbie long rangers.
Slap some recoil-eating weights on it and load up top-shelf match ammo, it certainly seems to have the ability to handle a rifle-club precision match. Strip the weight, add a sling and you definitely have an option that can place on the vitals of a deer or elk at a load’s (and shooter’s) ethical range.
In all likelihood, the guns will go for sub-$1,000 in your local gun store or outdoors mega mart. That’s practically a steal relative to most other precision systems and gives a wide gate of entry for new long-range shooters to test the waters—no matter what they fancy. Not to mention, it also leaves plenty for what’s sure to become a heavy ammo tab.
There’s no escaping that facet—burning dough—in long-range shooting. But the LR Tactical goes a long way in lessening the thump on your wallet.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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