Mossberg MVP Varmint in .204 Ruger


When Mossberg first introduced the MVP Series of rifles some years back, it gained a rapid following of fans who wanted a high capacity centerfire varmint rifle. Some of these folks either couldn’t have an AR in their anti-gun state or they simply liked a tradition bolt action rifle but hated having to reload after 3 rounds.  Within a few years Mossberg added more models to the MVP Series and now there is a rifle for just about any application you could have.

From the word go I wanted a heavy barrel 5.56mm model MVP. I got my first one right after they were released and have been shooting it ever since.  It has served me well in the prairie dog fields of Wyoming but I soon fell in love with the .204 Ruger cartridge and felt a need to add an MVP in that caliber to the tool box.  Mossberg’s MVP Varmint rifle in .204 Ruger is an awesome critter gun.  It is loaded with features typically found on high end custom rifles but at a fraction of the price.

One of the first things you notice when looking at the MVP Varmint is the large buttstock. This is a benchrest-style stock and it is pillar bedded to ensure repeatable accuracy.  It is also a beautiful laminate that looks as good as it works.  It has a contoured rubber buttpad that firmly locks the gun into your shoulder while softening the already soft recoil of the .204 round.  The forend has a wide flat bottom which is really handy if you shoot with a bipod or off a rest.  The action is free floated, allowing the 24″ medium weight fluted barrel to stay on target regardless of the pressure you put on your rest.  The muzzle is threaded and comes with a thread protector.  If you aren’t aware of the benefits of a threaded muzzle, this is a huge value.  You can add a suppressor or muzzle brake without having to pay your gunsmith to thread your barrel.  If you choose not to, you simply keep the thread protector in place and forget about it.

Over the years I have shot dozens of firearms and too often found many of them to be great guns except for the triggers. The trigger is critical to any firearm but especially so on precision rifles.  Mossberg patented their own trigger system called the Lightning Bolt Action or LBA.  This allows the shooter to adjust their own trigger from 3-7 pounds and do so safely.  More important than the weight of the pull, the LBA trigger has short and consistent take up and a nice, crisp break.   A good trigger can tighten your groups by an inch or more and Mossberg has hit the mark on this one.

The MVP is a great varmint rifle but let’s face it, what sets it apart and makes it so appealing is the ability to feed it with standard AR magazines. If you’ve ever shot over a prairie dog field with a tradition bolt gun you know the frustration of running out of ammo every few rounds.  It really ups the game when you have 20 rounds at a time with a reload only taking a couple of seconds.  I have found the MVP runs most AR mags flawlessly.  I have used at least half a dozen popular brands without a hitch.  My favorites are Magpul and Colt 20 rounders.  These give me plenty of ammo but don’t protrude too far from the bottom, allowing me to maintain a comfortable rest.  So how did Mossberg get their bolt to feed from an AR magazine you ask?  It is a pretty ingenious design called the Drop Push bolt.  The bolt face has a drop down lever on the front that hinges up when the bolt is retracted but drops down at the rear.  When pushed forward, this drop down piece catches the cartridge in the top of the magazine and pushed it into the chamber.  The bolt is also spiral fluted with a medium sized knob.  It is very easy to cycle and you can stay on the scope while you run the gun.

Speaking of the scope, the MVP comes with Weaver style bases already installed from the factory. Simply add your scope and rings and you are ready to roll.  I put a set of Leupold QRW rings and a VX3i 6.5-20x40mm scope on mine.  The VX3i line of optics are truly amazing.  They have some amazing features but won’t break the bank compared to some of their European counterparts.  The VX3i line features DiamonCoat 2 lens coatings, Argon/Krypton waterproofing, a 30mm main tube, side focus and comes with a 2.5″ lens shade.  It is made of aircraft grade aluminum and has a lifetime warranty.  Most important, though, is it is super clear, even at high magnification.  It also holds its adjustments even on heavy calibers.  On the .204 Ruger is shot great and was almost too easy!

The Hornady .204 Ruger is a really cool round. If you are a fan of the .223 for small varmint hunting, you will love the .204.  The Superformance load with the 32 grain V-Max bullet is pushing over 4200 fps at the muzzle!  This is out of a 26″ test barrel but I am still getting over 4000 fps coming out of the MVP.  Where you really see this is when you hit a prairie dog.  The light shooting cartridge coupled with the weight of the rifle/scope allows you to stay on target and see the effects of the polymer tipped V-Max bullet, which is impressive.  I haven’t spent a lot of time shooting for groups yet as I only have a few dozen rounds through the gun, but the gun was shooting sub one inch groups right out of the box.  A reloader could do awesome things with this baby.  Whether you are a varmint hunter or just like to punch paper, the Mossberg MVP Varmint is a great option.


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John Russo is a life-long hunter, shooter and outdoorsman. He is a retired Police Sergeant from Southern California with over 29 years of service. He has been a SWAT Sniper, Child Abuse Detective and Homicide Unit Supervisor. As the leader of the Police Department's Firearms Training Unit, he has been teaching firearms for over 26 years to law enforcement, military and civilians. His credentials include a laundry list of certifications as an instructor and armorer on all types of weapon systems. John has been writing for various gun magazines for many years and has been published over 100 times on topics ranging from hunting, shooting, guns, training and law enforcement.