June 26, 2020
By Brad Fitzpatrick
Mossberg’s bolt-action Patriot rifles, which were introduced in 2015, have a large and growing fanbase thanks to the rifle’s build quality and affordable price point. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the American-made Patriot, though, this gun’s impressive accuracy potential which is on par with rifles costing hundreds more. This year, Mossberg is offering their Patriot Predator Cerakote/Strata Camo rifle chambered in Hornady’s popular new 6.5 PRC, and it may just be the best bargain in big game rifles.
The Patriot Predator utilizes a push-feed, dual-lug action with a spiral-fluted bolt and plunger-type ejector. It features a polymer stock with Strata camo which pairs nicely the Patriot Brown Cerakote finish on the metalwork. The 24-inch fluted button rifled sporter barrel comes with a 5/8” x 24 threaded muzzle so it’s simple to add a suppressor to this rifle. There’s a polymer bedding block in the stock and the barrel is free floated, and the barrel nut feature allows for very exact headspacing and, in turn, superb accuracy. Other key features include a four-round detachable box magazine, a two-position rocker-type safety, and oversized bolt handle and a top rail for mounting optics to the rifle. Like all Patriot rifles, the Predator comes with Mossberg’s user-adjustable Lightning Bolt Action (LBA) bladed trigger. The new Patriot Predator Strata 6.5 PRC weighs in at just 6.5 pounds, so it’s light enough to carry all day, even at high elevations.
The Patriot Predator Strata is an ideal rifle platform for the hot new 6.5 PRC. Released by Hornady in 2018, the 6.5 PRC, or Precision Rifle Cartridge, was designed from the outset to handle long, heavy-for-caliber bullets with high ballistic coefficients. The 6.5 PRC shoots the same 143-grain ELD-X and 147-grain ELD Match bullets as the popular 6.5 Creedmoor, but it pushes those bullets 200 feet per second faster from the muzzle than its Creedmoor cousin. Match shooters like the 6.5 PRC’s ability to push high-B.C. bullets to long distances with moderate recoil. Those same attributes are beneficial for hunters, too. With an MSRP of just $540 the stylish new Patriot Predator Cerakote/Strata from Mossberg is the most economical way to take advantage of all the 6.5 PRC cartridge has to offer hunters.
The Mossberg Patriot Predator’s Strata camo finish and Cerakote surface treatment offer more than just improve styling. They also provide this rifle with a level of protection from the elements that’s unmatched in this category. The polymer stock isn’t prone to warping or breaking, and the straight-comb stock offers a comfortable rest point for the shooter’s cheek. For testing, I mounted a Trijicon AccuPoint 2.5-12.5 scope on the rifle—a process made much simpler thanks to the included top rail—and bore sighted the rifle at the range. Patriot magazines are made of durable polymer and they’re easy to load. What’s more, unlike some modern bolt-action hunting rifle with their minimized ejection ports the Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC is easy to top load.
The Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC performed extremely well on the bench. Hornady’s ELD-X Precision Hunter 143-grain 6.5 PRC load and the company’s 147-grain ELD Match loads both produced three-shot groups under an inch at 100 yards. In fact, two of the three groups with the ELD Match load went under .75-inches, making the Mossberg as accurate as some 6.5 PRC rifles costing much more money. The Precision Hunter load did almost as well as the ELD Match load, producing two groups in the .9-inch range and one just over an inch. Like other Patriot rifles I’ve tested, the Predator 6.5 PRC shoots far better than its moderate price point would suggest. After one range session this rifle was ready for the field.
A key component to the Mossberg’s impressive accuracy is the LBA trigger which came from the factory set just above 3 pounds (although it can be easily adjusted from 2 to 7 pounds). The design not only allows for a light, crisp trigger pull but it’s also very safe. The blade eliminates the chances that rifle will discharge if dropped by blocking the sear until the blade is pulled rearward. That’s an important consideration for hunters, especially anyone who hunts in steep country or from a treestand where there’s the potential to drop the rifle. The LBA trigger offers an added layer of protection in the field, and that makes this gun even more attractive.
Mossberg guns have a rock-solid reputation for reliability, and the Patriot Predator didn’t disappoint. The smooth-cycling action fed, fired, extracted, and ejected cartridges without a hitch, and the easy-to-load magazine isn’t particularly fussy about how rounds are inserted. The magazine also locks in place securely without having to coax it in the gun. Hunters will appreciate the easy-to-reach two-position safety which can be disengaged silently if an animal suddenly appears at close range, and I’m a big fan of the oversized bolt handle since it’s easy to manipulate even when you’re wearing gloves.
One of the great attributes of the 6.5 PRC—besides its inherent accuracy—is relatively mild recoil. Even with a muzzle velocity of 2,960 feet per second the Hornady Precision Hunter round doesn’t generate a lot of setback, and it’s ideally suited for recoil-sensitive shooters. But even though it’s a soft-kicking cartridge the 6.5 PRC’s ability to drop game is impressive. The Hornady Precision Hunter 6.5 PRC load I tested produces 2,782 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle and holds on to that energy. At 400 yards the bullet still carries 1,800 foot pounds of punch. That’s 40 more foot-pounds at 400 yards than Hornady’s .30-06 Precision Hunter load, almost a hundred pounds more at that distance than the Precision Hunter .270 Winchester load and close to 250 foot-pounds more energy than the company’s .308 round. What’s more, wind drift from the 6.5 PRC is less than those other rounds.
You can see why the 6.5 PRC is winning over hunters, and Mossberg’s Patriot Predator is the perfect platform for the new round. But don’t let the Mossberg’s low cost of ownership fool you: this gun is well-built from butt to muzzle. The Cerakote finish holds up very well to rough handling, and even on extended trips into the backcountry you won’t have to worry about your gun being exposed to the elements. Everything on the gun is well laid-out and shooter-centric, from the safety to the oversized bolt handle and the optic rail, and having the ability to add a can to this rifle is a bonus. If you’re in the market for a new all-purpose hunting rifle for any North American game the Mossberg 6.5 PRC makes sense. You can spend more to join the 6.5 PRC club, but you won’t find a better value than Patriot Predator.
Accuracy Test: Mossberg Patriot Predator Cerakote/Strata Camo 6.5 PRC
|Load ||Bullet Weight (gr.) || |
Muzzle Velocity (fps)
|Average Group (in.) |
|Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X || 143 || 2,947 || .97 |
| 147 || 2,909 || .78 |
Notes: Accuracy results are average of three three-shot groups at 100 yards from a fixed rest. Velocity figures are ten shot averages recorded on a ProChrono digital chronograph placed 10 feet from the muzzle.
Mossberg Patriot Predator Cerakote/Strata Camo Specifications
- Action: Bolt-action centerfire
- Caliber: 6.5 PRC
- Capacity: 4
- Barrel: 24 inches, fluted, 5/8 x 24 threads
- Overall Length: 44.25 in.
- Weight: 6.5 lbs. (unscoped)
- Stock: Synthetic, TrueTimber Strata camo
- Trigger Pull: 3.1 lbs.
- Finish: Cerakote Patriot Brown
- Sights: Rail
- MSRP: $540
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