MVP 5.56/.223

Mossberg's new MVP varmint rifle combines light weight and excellent…

Mossberg’s new MVP varmint rifle combines light weight and excellent accuracy with an eye-stopping appearance

While O.F. Mossberg and Sons have been busy producing a variety of AR-type autoloading rifles and pump-action shotguns to meet the huge demand for tactical firearms, it’s good to see the company is still paying attention to hunters. Among Mossberg’s latest introductions is its MVP bolt rifle designed for hunting prairie dogs and other pesky varmints including coyotes and foxes.

MVP Stats

The MVP (Mossberg Varmint Predator) rifle borrows a lot from the company’s popular 4×4 bolt rifle, but has features that definitely set it apart. For starters, the new rifle comes with a removable 10-round box magazine, but also accepts high-capacity AR-15 magazines—a first for bolt-action sporters.


Another variation is that the new rifle is chambered for 5.56mm NATO ammunition. This allows it to safely digest both surplus military ammo and standard .223 fodder. While some shooters believe these two cartridges are interchangeable, that’s not really the case. The exceptionally popular .223 sporting loads have thinner case walls and are loaded to lower pressures than military 5.56mm ammo. Rifles chambered for .223 ammo have shorter throats and slightly shorter headspace. While it’s perfectly safe to fire .223 ammo in a 5.56mm chamber, the reverse isn’t true. Shooting 5.56mm NATO loads in a rifle chambered for .223 ammo can be definitely unsafe.

Why chamber the new MVP rifle for 5.56mm cartridges? It allows shooters to use both .223 ammo and increasingly plentiful 5.56mm military surplus loads—a win-win proposition.

Innovative Bolt & Trigger

When I removed the bolt from the action, I discovered another feature that makes this rifle unique. The recessed bolt face sports a patent-pending hinged arm that drops down to scoop fresh rounds from the magazine on the forward stroke. Before entering the chamber, the arm cams upward and out of the way. The patent-pending “Drop-Push” bolt was designed to ensure reliable feeding from AR-type magazines.

The body of the bolt has spiral fluting. This shaves a tiny amount of weight and reduces a bit of friction, but most importantly it simply looks cool! The bolt has twin locking lugs and—except for the hinged arm at the bottom—is recessed to enclose cartridge heads. It also has a spring-loaded plunger ejector and extractor. The two-position safety is located immediately behind the bolt handle when the action is in battery.

Like many of today’s new rifles, the MVP has a user-adjustable trigger. The Lightning Bolt Adjustable (LBA) trigger can be adjusted from 2 to 7 pounds with a regular screwdriver. To adjust the trigger, it’s only necessary to remove the hex-headed action screws and separate the barreled action from the stock.

The LBA mechanism features the “trigger within a trigger” concept first introduced by Savage several years ago. Machined from aircraft-grade aluminum, the Mossberg trigger assembly is hard-coat anodized to prevent corrosion and minimize wear. The inside trigger blade blocks the sear, preventing the striker from releasing unless the blade is fully depressed.

As it came from the box, the rifle had a 3-pound trigger. That was okay by me, so I didn’t attempt any further adjustment. The trigger broke cleanly and crisply with no discernable takeup or overtravel.

The author topped his MVP with a Pentax 4-12x40mm Gameseeker, but Mossberg does sell a Varmint Scoped version with a 4-16×50.

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