The best budget hunting rifle you can buy

 

I own two Mossberg Patriot rifles (the Predator and the Vortex Combo), which I will concentrate most of the article on but they are effectively the same gun so I will try not to repeat myself too much when taking a deeper dive on them.

 

Mossberg Patriot product range

 

There are 6 styles of Patriot that you can choose from:

 

  1. Hunting: this is the standard choice. It is an allrounder designed to give excellent value for money.
  2. LR Hunter: With an upgraded stock and optics rail, you can start thinking about pinging steel or taking a kill shot at 1000 yards.
  3. Night train: Comes with removeable silencer muzzlebrake, and more as standard.
  4. Predator: takes 308 Win Mags and is their premium rifle in my opinion, but it is so cheap it is almost unbelievable.
  5. Vortex Scoped Combo: Fixed scope so the price tag is all in, you don’t need to work out what % of your budget you spend on the rifle and scopes.
  6. Youth: for people that are a bit smaller than normal, whether actual youths or smaller adults.

 

Mossberg Patriot Predator 308 Review

 

The Mossberg Patriot Predator is a beefed-up version of the standard Mossberg Patriot Hunter.

It has an excellent Picantinny rail system which enables you to use the optics and scopes that you prefer and has larger bolt handles.

As the name suggests this is an apex predator and can take out any animal in North America barring bison and bears.

Using the .308 Winchester Magnum with the Predator means you have a cheap centrefire bolt-action rifle, but which is also an accurate rifle with widely available and effective rounds.

This means that you have a very reasonable budget set up, that you can pretty much hunt anywhere and hunt anything without changing a thing.

You can buy this rifle for under $400, meaning it provides excellent value for money for the above average accuracy. It is an excellent and affordable option for people with a limited budget.

 

Specifications

 

  • Barrel Length: 22 inches
  • Barrel Type: Fluted & Threaded
  • Caliber: .308 WINCHESTER MAG
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Finish: Matte finish on the barrel, and synthetic finish on the stock
  • Length of Pull: Fixed 13.75 inches
  • Overall length: 42.25 inches
  • Rail: Picantinny
  • Twist: 1 to 10
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds

 

Who should buy it

 

Anyone from a novice to elite level hunter could take this rifle on a hunt and bag a prize but let’s be honest, due to the price point this is aimed squarely at the beginner hunter or a semi-regular hobbyist hunter, or a more experienced hunter who has a very limited budget.

If I were an experienced hunter with a very limited budget, I would be more inclined to try to find a second-hand rifle that is more advanced.

The Mossberg Patriot Predator will also suit someone who prefers their rifles to look like tactical rifles rather than the more tradition styles.

 

Light but not too light

 

At 6.5 pounds this is around the sweet spot for me where I think I could carry it all day long up and over mountains, and barely notice I am carrying it.

Any rifle that is over say 8 pounds, then I am thinking too much about what else I am carrying to lighten the load. Anything under 6.5 pounds then they start looking and feeling like a kid’s toy.

Plus, these ultralightweight rifles are usually too compact meaning you lose velocity and the ability to take out the bigger animals.

So, at 6.5 pounds I can take the Predator with me on any hunt, in any terrain, and shoot at pretty much any animal that comes my way.

 

Ease of use

 

If you believe what I am writing then you should already know this is a highly effective allrounder, that you can take on pretty much any hunt and be confident that you have the wallop necessary for a respectful kill… but is it easy to use?

What you can find with budget guns is that they must make savings somewhere, so you may find a lot of plastic parts, components that are not perfectly designed, or are too fiddly.

This is not what I have found with the Predator.

The safety is easy to use and is positioned right where you would expect it, and the same can be said with the spring-loaded bolt release and talking of the bolts… they are huge and if you mishandle them you must have a hand full of thumbs!

What can often let a budget gun down is the trigger, but the tigger on the Patriot Predator is excellent and far better than I could demand from such a cheap rifle. The pull is smooth, light, and consistent.

 

Performance

 

Mossberg Patriot Predator is light and manoeuvrable, so it is great for hiking and stalking with, it is also easy to use with stands, tree stands, and in blinds.

However, it must do one thing… it has to shoot straight!

I am happy to report that it does indeed shoot straight, in fact it outperforms what you would expect from a budget gun. I have been hunting for decades and I am a good shot, but I am not elite level, and I managed:

  • At 300 yards: a minute of angle of <1
  • At 1000 yards: a minute of angle of <1.5

For a rifle that costs less than $400, that is damn good.

 

Your wallet needs to remain open

 

Once you have bought the rifle and a shed full of ammo, that is not the end of the spending. You will need to buy your own optics and sights to fit the Picantinny rail.

The biggest two mistakes I see from beginners is that they spend too much on the rifle and not enough on the optics & sights, and they skimp on the ammo then blame the rifle for poor accuracy and jamming.

If you have a limited budget, the rifle is almost the least important as nowadays nearly all factory built rifles are pretty good up to 300 yards.

So, you are much better spending the bulk of your budget on the best optics and sights you can afford.

Regarding the ammo, do not mess about just buy as many 300 WIN MAG as you can afford. They cannot be beaten on price, effectiveness, and availability in my opinion.  

 

Wrap up

 

If you are a beginner, small in size, or just a hobbyist then I would be surprised if you could find a rifle that noticeably outperformed this one for the same price.

It doesn’t excel in anything, but it doesn’t let you down in anything either, it is a true budget friendly allrounder.

 

Mossberg Patriot Vortex II Combo

 

The Mossberg Patriot Vortex II Combo is another variant of the standard Mossberg Patriot Hunter. The Vortex II is also a 308, like the Predator and is my preferred caliber.

The combo aspect of this rifle is that they include a scope with the purchase. So, the box price is the combined total and is cheaper than buying them both separately.

Vortex are well known for producing budget friendly scopes of high quality, so they were an obvious choice to work with Mossberg on this combo package.

 

Specifications

 

  • Barrel Length: 22 inches
  • Barrel Type: Fluted
  • Caliber: .308 WINCHESTER MAG
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Finish: Matte finish on the barrel, synthetic finish on the stock
  • Length of Pull: Fixed 13.75 inches
  • Overall length: 42.75 inches
  • Rail: Weaver Style
  • Scope: Vortex Crossfire II
  • Twist: 1 to 10
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds

 

Who should buy it

 

This is an ideal package for absolute beginner hunters, who want to be able to pick a rifle out of the box and shoot it.

Fitting a scope is not as easy as it sounds, and I know many a hunter who still find it cost effective to get a professional to fit their scopes.

So, the amount of time a beginner may take researching scopes, buying scopes, and fitting scopes might not be worthwhile.

If you are shooting at under 300 yards which most beginners will be then this vortex scope is more than what you will need, and it is right there on the rifle for you.

If I was buying a hunting rifle set up for a newbie, then this combo would rank highly. You will be able to shoot pretty much anything at any time of the year within a short-range.

If you get to the point where you are regularly hunting at over 300 yards, then you can always upgrade at that point.

 

Performance

 

The rifle and scope are excellent at anything less than 300 yards. After that you are stretching the scopes ability more than the rifles.

Even an absolute beginner or youth will be able to start pinging steel at 300 yards in a very short space of time.

This is truly a out of the box and shoot rifle, where you can just worry about technique rather than all the adjustments you might need to make.

Coupled with the 300 WIN MAG, this rifle offers the ability to hunt pretty much any animal you want at less than 300 yards. That is a very low barrier to entry, and an excellent way to begin your hunting journey.

I easily achieved <1 minute of angle at 300 yards, this means you will be able to hit any kill spot on any animal you want. Whether it is varmint, deer, boars, or elk.

I have used this gun in all weathers and all terrains, and it has never let me down, it is comfortable, reliable, and packs a punch.

 

Wrap up

 

This is the rifle and scope I started my son out on, and he spent a lot of time on the range with it before going on hunt and spent a good 18 months hunting with it before he wanted something better.

So, all in all he got over 2 years’ worth of shooting for a very budget price tag. In my opinion is it a perfect beginner gun, and when he was finished with it, he sold it to a friend who is also an avid hunter now.

This combo pack is an excellent way for people to quickly, effectively, and cheaply get into hunting. Then if they like it, they can upgrade when they need too.

 

Final thoughts

 

Like I said at the beginning of the article I own 2 of the patriot range, but I have tested all of them apart from the Youth rifle.

I have found them to be very similar, as a rifle they are very middling. They do well at everything but excel at nothing.

They are not shamed by premium rifles, but you can tell the difference in quality and performance. This is important in the field where millimetres can make a huge difference.

So, yes if you are experienced and you can afford it, then there are a lot better rifles you can buy.

However, if you have a budget of say $1000 all in, then the Patriot range is hard to beat especially if you are hunting at short range.

A middling rifle when budget is not factored in, suddenly becomes one of the best value for money rifles you can buy if you have a limited budget.

The quality, useability, reliability, and accuracy is very hard to beat in the price range you find them in.

What you get for the dollar you spend is tremendous, and we are very lucky we live in a world where you can get high performance weapons for a sensible price because believe me that has not always been the case.