Worldwide travels with the Mossberg Patriot, a rifle of exquisite character and grit.
In 2014, Mossberg invited me on a safari in South Africa, and to be the first to test a new bolt-action rifle. I’m always eager to assess a new hunting rifle; I enjoy it almost as much as being on safari. What I couldn’t have known at the time was that this new rifle—in one version or another—would end up accompanying me on many more hunts across the world over the next 6 years.
The new rifle was the Patriot. By the 1776 definition, a patriot was essentially a rebel, a colonial American who sought freedom from oppression and was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice while pressing the point. They represented all walks of life and needed guns they could trust. Given Mossberg’s heritage, the then anti-gun legislation in Mossberg’s home state of Connecticut and the continuing assault on firearm freedoms across the country, a better name for a new rifle, built to appeal to hard-working Americans, couldn’t have been chosen.
The Mossberg Patriot is a twin-lug, push-feed bolt-action, utilizing a spring-loaded plunger ejector and an extractor centered within the face of the bolt’s bottom locking lug. The bolt handle somewhat mirrors that of the Winchester Model 70, checkering and all. It feeds from a detachable, polymer magazine that weighs 2 ounces, and the barreled action is held in place by two screws that sandwich a polymer bedding block/magwell between the action and stock. It’s a simplistic but effective approach to bedding, and very similar to the technique used on Mossberg’s MVP rifles.
The first animal to fall to the Patriot was an impala. Next, I took a waterbuck and a sable at about 120 yards on two separate days while hunting near the Limpopo River. After that, I traveled south near Kimberley and met my 14-year-old son who joined me on another safari. He used the same Patriot to take a warthog at 160 yards, a kudu at a shade over 300 yards, and an impala at about 240 yards. My son and I returned on another safari the following year and he took several more warthogs at various distances, plus another kudu bull at almost 500 yards. He used the same, original, Mossberg Patriot.
Wearing The Love
By that time, the rifle’s stock was beginning to look a bit rough; it had spent nearly two months in the field in Africa. As you can imagine, my son had become attached to it, partly because it had been a large part of his introduction to Africa, but also partly because it had worked like a rifle is supposed to work every time the trigger is pulled. He took his pocketknife and, much like a fighter pilot, scratched tally marks in the Patriot’s stock reflecting all our kills.
Part of a father’s job is to make sure a young man is exposed to the right kinds of experiences and that he grows up in an atmosphere that’ll build character and shape his mind correctly. My son developed a strong love for Africa, and we were fortunate to be able to spend months at a time there over the next several years. When he was 17, Geoffrey Wayland, the owner of Fort Richmond Safaris, and without question the best professional hunter I’ve shared the field with, suggested it was time for my son to try for buffalo. I agreed, and the rifle I chose for that safari was one he was intimately familiar with: the Mossberg Patriot. But that Patriot was chambered for the .375 Ruger.
However, in May of 2017, a month before that safari was to begin, I had the opportunity to hunt black bear on Vancouver Island and thought the Patriot in .375 Ruger would be ideal, and it was. We hunted from a small boat along the coast, and as the tide went out, the bears would come down along the banks to feed. We located a nice bruin feeding on a grassy flat, put to shore about 400 yards away and made a stalk. A single bullet from about 90 yards was all it took. The rifle’s laminated stock and Marinecoat steel were ideal for the damp and corrosive coastal elements.
As for the buffalo, it was an epic adventure. We put nearly eight miles on our boots working a herd. Finally, an opportunity came but cover was sparse, and we could only close the distance to about 100 yards. Geoffrey instructed my son to take a seat, and when the buffalo turned broadside, to poke him in the shoulder.
He did, and as the buff wheeled, the Patriot roared again and another bullet smacked him in the backside. The hunt had taken most of the day but was over in an instant; the bull didn’t go 50 yards. On examination the first bullet had centered the heart, and the second had taken out the hip. My son and I had used the same Patriot on epic adventures 10,000 miles apart.
The Mossberg Patriot Goes North
For my next adventure with a Mossberg Patriot, I need to back up to 2002—well before the Patriot existed. I was hunting in Newfoundland for woodland caribou when I learned about the Newfoundland Grand Slam. It’s achieved when a hunter takes a woodland caribou, moose and black bear, all during the same hunt. It’s not the accomplishment or bragging rights that makes it so special; it’s getting to experience a successful hunt for all three species within a single week. Woodland caribou tags are hard to come by, and it was 16 years later when I got my chance. For that hunt, I selected another Patriot; this time a tack-driving 6.5 Creedmoor.
The moose was easy. At lunchtime, one of the guides spotted a bull just across the lake the lodge overlooks. I grabbed my rifle and, several shots later, he was down. The caribou required a bit of hunting and bog trekking but was collected in a single day. The bear, on the other hand, required several uneventful and long days in a tree stand while watching a bait pile. On the last day, a 355-pound bear steeped out and the Newfoundland Grand Slam was complete. Admittedly, I didn’t shoot well on that hunt; even with a sub-MOA rifle the shooter must do their part. Maybe I was focused too much on the opportunity and not enough on the trigger press.
The Patriot Heads West
In February of the following year, I was on a coyote hunt in frigid Wyoming. I had several rifles with me, but to test Hornady’s V-Max load for the 6.5 Creedmoor, I’d taken the same Patriot I’d used in Newfoundland. We were calling a deep draw when I spotted two coyotes coming in fast. They stopped on the ridgeline at about 150 yards, and I immediately dropped the big male. His mate turned and ran but made the mistake of stopping to look back at her lover. Credit must be given to the fast-cycling Patriot’s bolt; the video showed both coyotes were dispatched within 5 seconds. Redemption was found for my poor shooting in Newfoundland.
Flying East From Atlanta
Later that spring, my son and I were in Africa for another month. We were filming several video productions; I was one of the hunters, and he was the cameramen. That same Patriot, which I’d taken to Newfoundland and Wyoming, was with us and I used it to take my largest kudu bull. Then, I began taking other clients out to call jackals, and we were very successful up to the point when the shooting began. In a week’s time, we’d called in numerous jackals and the clients had managed to miss them all.
Frustrated, I convinced my son to go with us one evening and bring the 6.5 Creedmoor Patriot, arguing I needed a good rifle and someone who could shoot it. We set up near a drying waterhole with two other clients positioned at tactical locations. It took a while, but eventfully two jackals came sneaking in. When one stepped up on the high bank of the waterhole at about 120 yards, my son and the Patriot put his nose in the dirt. To date, that Patriot—the Revere version that’s sadly been discontinued—has taken a moose, a caribou, a black bear, two coyotes, a kudu bull, a blesbok, a warthog and a jackal.
The Patriot Heads South
My last adventure with a Mossberg Patriot came as the COVID pandemic was spreading. In January of 2020, I found myself in Sonora, Mexico, with another 6.5 Creedmoor. Prepared for extreme distance, I was armed with the LR Hunter version of the Patriot and was after a ghostly Coues deer buck. Just at dusk on the very first day, we spied a group of deer courting along the edge of a pasture on the working cattle ranch we were hunting on. I went prone and at about 160 yards, once again a Mossberg Patriot ended the hunt, adding a fourth country to its successful worldwide performance.
The Mossberg Patriot just might be the rifle for those with champagne tastes living on a beer budget. Actually, with several versions priced from $400 to $800 now offered, if you like guns you can trust, it could be the right rifle for any budget. Patriot rifles, in one form or another, have served my son and I well on everything from coyotes to buffalo. That’s what a rifle is supposed to do, and that’s what Mossberg’s Patriot is all about—helping you affordably realize your hunting dreams, while giving a thumb to the nose for the British we won independence from.
And to all those who don’t understand, firearms are an integral part of a free society. Here’s to all the Patriots out there.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.