February 25, 2022
By Steve Gash
The Patriot bolt-action rifle was introduced by Mossberg only a few years ago, but the number of versions available has grown considerably. Today, at least seven “sub-models” are available, from lightweight sporters to long-range and chassis rifles, youth models, and several others. Name your game and there’s probably a Patriot for it.
A recent trend from several companies is to offer rifles with an appropriate scope attached. This simplifies buying and saves the customer money to boot. Mossberg is keen on such added-value trends, one of which is the Patriot Combo with a high-quality Vortex Crossfire II 3-9X 40mm scope installed at the factory.
Recently, Mossberg added three great game-getter cartridges to the Combo line: 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Winchester Magnum. I have long been a fan of all three of these cartridges and have modest experience with the Patriot in the field. I took a beautiful 16-point atypical whitetail buck with one in 7mm Rem. Mag. and a 300-pound Texas feral boar with a different version in .270 Winchester. I selected the Patriot Combo in .300 Win. Mag. for this report. The rifle-scope combo weighs 8 pounds, 5.5 ounces.
Let’s first take a peek at the Mossberg rifle. It has a push-feed action, but unlike some low-priced rifles, the Patriot has a two-lug rather than a three-lug bolt. This makes for a 90-degree bolt lift that is a little easier than with a three-lug design. The bolt also has eight spiral flutes that are filled with blue finish and a knurled ring around the knob for a classy appearance.
The right lug has a groove that glides over a ridge in the lower right of the bolt raceway that serves as a bolt guide. The extractor is a typical sliding-plate type, and the ejector is a plunger in the boltface. Both worked flawlessly in my tests.
The detachable box magazine is made of a synthetic material, and it holds three of the fat magnum cartridges. It drops free as soon as the release button is pressed, is easy to load, and feeds cartridges into the chamber lickety-split.
The barrel is 24 inches long, and the muzzle has a radius crown. My rifle’s threaded muzzle mikes 0.633 inch and enlarges to a diameter of 0.750 inch where it meets the provided thread protector. The barrel has six 10.75-inch-long flutes toward the muzzle. I don’t know if they help much with barrel cooling, but they save a little weight and add to the rifle’s classy looks. The .300 Win. Mag. barrel has the standard 1:10 twist, and it is button-rifled. While the Patriot’s bore is not lapped, when examined with my Hawkeye borescope, the clean, circular reamer marks were evident, and it looked smooth and free of extraneous toolmarks. The receiver and barrel are finished in a dark matte blue that is almost black in appearance.
Here’s a great feature on the Patriot that you don’t see on very many moderate-cost rifles. It has what Mossberg calls the “LBA” (Lightning Bolt Action) trigger. It’s a two-bladed affair and is user adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds. It is completely safe. Right out of the box, my Patriot’s trigger broke as crisp as can be at a delightful 1 pound, 14.3 ounces. That’s not a typo. And it is a major bonus on such a modestly priced rifle. I didn’t adjust it for target shooting, but for hunting, I would probably increase it to about 3 pounds.
The two-position safety is at the right rear of the action. It does not lock the bolt when “On,” so the chamber can be unloaded safely.
The action’s recoil lug is sandwiched between the receiver and the barrel nut, and it nestles into a recess in the stock. The rest of the action is supported by the “bottom metal” (the trigger guard and the magazine housing), which is made of a tough polymer. While this system may raise some eyebrows, it didn’t hurt the performance, and it is an economical production method.
As my old friend Myron Feemster used to say, “Ya know why they put wood on a gun? For a handle!” Well, I can report that the “handle” on my Patriot is made of really nice, straight-grained walnut that has what looks like a satin oil finish, and the shape is what I’d call “classic conservative.” The stock is rather “full-figured” but not clubby. In my hands, the shape seemed just right. The pistol grip measures 5.25 inches in circumference, and it has a black plastic cap.
The buttstock has a raised cheekpiece, but there is no Monte Carlo “hump.” The drop at the comb is slightly lower than the drop at the heel, so the recoil comes straight back, preventing the stock from smacking the shooter in the face. The squishy, 1-inch-thick recoil pad does a good job of soaking up some of the recoil.
Here’s another nice feature. Instead of traditional checkering, the Patriot has full-sized panels of stippling on each side of the pistol grip and fore-end. Some rifles have stippling that looks somewhat random. On the Patriot, the stippling pattern is very uniform and neatly done. It makes for a good handhold and looks great, too. For a little added strength, the Patriot stock has a steel cross-bolt at the recoil lug area. Sling-swivel studs are included fore and aft. If you prefer a synthetic stock, Patriot Combos are offered with them, and some have a nice camo finish.
As I mentioned earlier, the scope that’s included on the Patriot Combo is a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9X 40mm. Vortex is well known for making quality optics. I have a couple of the firm’s scopes, so this was a reassuring addition to the shooting setup. The Crossfire II has a “Dead-Hold” BDC (ballistic drop compensating) reticle. Right in the center of the crosshairs are a few small but distinct hash marks that aid in holdover or windage corrections but don’t clutter up the field of view. The reticle is in the second focal plane, so it stays the same apparent size as power is changed. But as the image is magnified, so is the distance covered between the hash marks, so a little math at the range is in order to calibrate the reticle marks for individual loads.
At the maximum power of 9X, the distance between the three hash marks on the horizontal crosshair is 2 MOA. There are also three hash marks on the vertical crosshair below the horizontal crosshair. The distance from the horizontal crosshair down to the first mark is 1.5 MOA, to the second it’s 4.5 MOA, and to the third it’s 7.5 MOA.
The Crossfire scope is a hair under 12 inches long, weighs 15 ounces, and has the parallax set at 100 yards. It has a generous 3.8 inches of eye relief and a fast-focus eyepiece. The aircraft-grade aluminum tube is one inch in diameter, nitrogen purged, and O-ring sealed. The lenses are fully coated. The capped turrets cover 0.25-MOA click adjustments, and there is 15 MOA per revolution. The Crossfire II is a darn nice scope. The “click” adjustments are distinct, and the dials are very easy to turn, so I had to pay close attention when counting clicks for a sight change. There is a generous 60 MOA of adjustment for windage and elevation, so this ought to cover most shooting situations. The scope carries an unlimited, unconditional lifetime warranty.
The Vortex Crossfire II is a very nice addition to the Mossberg Patriot rifle, but here’s a tip. Be sure to check the scope base screws when you pull yours out of the box and before you do any shooting. I found the ones on my rifle as received were only finger tight. Luckily, I checked them before heading to the shooting range.
At Home on the Range
So much for the preliminaries. Now to how the Patriot Combo shoots. In a word, it proved to be well within minute-of-elk.
I had a good supply of .300 Win. Mag. factory loads on hand, so I tried a selection of them first as a baseline. Bullet weights varied from 150 to 220 grains, and I included match and hunting loads. Velocities were right up there with the factory specs. The only hiccup was that each load seemed to exhibit a mind of its own, and not many hit to the same point of aim. That’s a minor annoyance, until you’ve settled on one and zeroed it.
Overall, the 10 factory loads tested averaged 1.33 inches for five-shot groups. The smallest group was a 0.77-inch cluster fired with Federal ammo loaded with the 180-grain Trophy Bonded Tip bullet. Velocity was 2,922 fps, with a muzzle energy of 3,413 ft-lbs. A close second in the accuracy department was the Barnes Precision Match load with the 220-grain OTM BT bullet. It grouped into 0.90 inch.
The .300 Win. Mag. is a premier big-game cartridge, and the wide selection of factory loads should make elk, deer, and hogs quake on their cloven hooves. The Hornady Precision Hunter with the 200-grain ELD-X registered 2,776 fps and averaged 1.25 inches. As the accompanying chart shows, the Hornady American Whitetail with the 180-grain InterLock and the Hornady Full Boar with the 165-grain GMX also shot well.
As the physicists like to say, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and the .300 Win. Mag. does kick. For example, the recoil of the American Whitetail 150-grain load was 31.8 ft-lbs. For comparison’s sake, a typical 150-grain .30-06 load produces approximately 25 ft.-lbs. of recoil.
The .300 Win. Mag. is fun to handload, as there are so many components from which to choose, but for this report,
I was not particularly inventive with handloads. I have had .300 Win. Mag. rifles for years, so I built 10 different loads that had proven accurate in my other rifles, and the average group size for them was 1.29 inches.
The maximum cartridge overall length (COL) for the .300 Win. Mag. is 3.34 inches. As expected, all of the factory loads were well under that length.
I like to seat bullets about 0.010 to 0.030 inch off the rifling. To determine that,
I measured the COL for bullets touching the rifling with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Bullet Comparator. I discovered that the Patriot has a fairly long throat—all of these COLs were longer than 3.34 inches, and some were almost 3.6 inches. I loaded some dummy rounds to 3.34 inches and tried them in the magazine. They barely fit, and some bullet tips were a bit reluctant to feed smoothly. So, I loaded all but one of the test handloads 0.015 inch shorter to a COL of 3.325 inches. This produced bullet jumps ranging from 0.104 to 0.273 inch, but they all fed from the magazine and chambered without a hitch, and the lengths of the bullet jumps didn’t seem to adversely affect accuracy.
The Barnes 175-grain LRX-BT and the Berger 168-grain Classic Hunter bullets were the best in the handload accuracy department atop IMR Enduron powders. One potent load was with the Hornady 200-grain ELD-X bullet. At a velocity of 2,675 fps, it produced a 1.39-inch cluster with 77.5 grains of IMR 8133. It is noteworthy that jacket fouling was minimal with these powders.
The Hornady InterLock RN bullet is a tried-and-true design, so I loaded the 220-grain version over 76.5 grains of Retumbo and was rewarded with a 1.18-inch group average. Velocity was 2,688 fps, and the energy was 3,525 ft-lbs.
To address recoil, I made up a reduced load with the Hornady 150-grain InterBond bullet. Using Hodgdon’s “60 percent rule,” I loaded 37.0 grains of H4895. Velocity was 1,978 fps, accuracy was 1.10 inches, and recoil was a measly 6.9 ft-lbs. This is a 78 percent reduction from the recoil of the full-power 150-grain load and would make a good handload for practice or hunting smaller big game.
When it’s all said and done, the Patriot-Vortex combo performed very well. Functioning was 100 percent; accuracy with a variety of loads was certainly up to snuff for a variety of big game; and the comfortable “handle,” crisp trigger, and good optics made shooting the combo a treat. There were no malfunctions of any kind during the testing.
The rifle is chambered for several very popular and effective big-game cartridges, and it doesn’t break the bank. The rifle-scope combo package saves the shooter some money, and there is the convenience of getting the whole kit and caboodle all at once. For the budget-minded hunter looking for a good-looking, quality bolt-action rifle made of traditional walnut and blued steel, the Patriot Combo is a contender.
Patriot Combo Specifications
- Manufacturer: O.F. Mossberg & Sons, mossberg.com
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Caliber: .300 Win. Mag.
- Magazine Capacity: 3 rounds
- Barrel: 24 in.
- Overall Length: 44.75 in.
- Weight, Empty: 8.34 lbs.
- Stock: Walnut
- Length of Pull: 13.75 in.
- Finish: Matte blue barrel and receiver, oil-finish stock
- Sights: None; Vortex Crossfire II 3-9X 40mm scope included
- Trigger: Adjustable, 1.89-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Two-position
- MSRP: $766
Vortex Crossfire II 3-9X 40mm Scope Specifications
- Manufacturer: Vortex Optics, vortexoptics.com
- Magnification: 3X to 9X
- Objective Lens Diameter: 40mm
- Tube Diameter: 1 in.
- Eye Relief: 3.8 in.
- Field Of View: 34.1 ft. (3X) to 12.6 ft. (9X) at 100 yds.
- Adjustment Range: 60 MOA
- Length: 11.86 in.
- Weight: 15 oz.
- Finish: Matte black
- MSRP: $199.95