I recently tested the Mossberg 100 ATR Night Train Bolt-Action Rifle in .308 (hereafter called the 100 ATR), a bolt-action centerfire rifle with a 4+1 magazine and a lightweight fluted barrel. It turned out to be a light package for flinging .308 rounds; but it is an amazing value, considering the price. To put this in perspective, it is roughly half the price of similar types of rifles designed to do the same job.
O.F. Mossberg and Sons Inc. is primarily known for its shotguns. Actually, Mossberg is the largest pump gun manufacturer in the world, and the “Made in the USA” stamp on the 100 ATR makes me like it more. This is a company with a stellar reputation for reliable and rugged law enforcement products.
The 100 ATR weighs 8.5 pounds with the included bipod. It handles like a scout rifle, a concept originally refined by Jeff Cooper, which defines a lightweight, handy, accurate rifle designed for general field use. A scout rifle generally weighs about 6 to 6.5 pounds. With the bipod and scope removed from the 100 ATR, (I shot it from Caldwell rifle rests) it weighed about 7 pounds. This is lighter than most rifles specific for police tactical intervention. It is appropriately a matte-finish product, with an even coating on all metal parts.
The 100 ATR has a semi fluted, button rifled barrel with a recessed crown. The barrel is tapered and profiled with a relatively thin contour for this application. Usually, this is beefy barrel territory. I am partial to a barrel contoured like a target rifle.
I usually shoot in some pretty warm climates. This time, my range sessions were in moderate weather, but I had enough rounds to see how well the barrel dissipates heat. It did well enough on the range to make me think, “I could get used to this.”
Lighter rifles are easier to tote around. I’m guessing that is the purpose with the 100 ATR. It was much handier than its contemporaries. Mossberg included a sling (which is usually a sporting rifle accessory). I wouldn’t think twice about lashing this to a pack, considering I have winter boots heavier than the stripped down version of this rifle. It also seemed rugged enough to take a few knocks and still deliver consistent groups. Where would I use this rifle? I have some LE friends who drop in via chopper and ride in via 4x4 to clandestine labs and growing sites. The 100 ATR is a natural fit here.
The bolt and receiver design looks a lot like a Howa, a product I have only had the pleasure to shoot once. It is a two-lug bolt with about 60 degrees of throw. The surfaces mated fairly well and the bolt moved smoothly in the boltway. It has a squared off claw extractor and plunger ejector. The recoil surface (where the bolt cradles the cartridge head) has plenty of steel for high pressures and long service. For a tactical field environment, it should be noted that the bolt travels through two stages after disengaging. Again, it has a great tactile feel, but it can be noisy.
On a tactical gun, the officer should be able to operate everything (except steering the projectile) blindfolded. The 100 ATR has these features, including the fact that one can touch the rear of the bolt and determine the firing pin is cocked and the operation of the safety. Mossberg should be commended for the fact that the “feel” of this rifle is consistent and solid.
Mossberg was kind enough to include a spongy recoil pad on this model. I said it was lightweight. Light rifles firing effective cartridges have a tendency to beat on the shoulder. I’m pretty used to this, but the pad helped. However, since the included scope had a moderate eye relief, one should be conscious of scope bite on this package.
This rifle came with a Barska 4x16 x 60mm variable scope mounted on its Picatinny rail. I spend a lot of time looking through optics and I would have picked a different optic for this package. Even an untrained eye can detect the aberrations I found at 200 yards, which prevented users from turning it up to full power without distortion. I could go on, but one gets the picture. It is a cost effective scope in a high stakes business. My pick for this one is a Millet 4x15x60 Tactical Riflescope, a moderately priced scope for moderate engagements. Yeah, I know it costs the same as the rifle. It’s a better fit for the job.