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Mossberg's 100 ATR and 4X4 Rifles

By Randy D. Smith

O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. has been in the gun business since 1919 and is one of the few family held American corporations left in the industry. The Company has been a leader in pump shotgun design and sales for several decades. While the Mossberg brand is often associated with value priced offerings it was the first long-gun manufacturer to achieve ISO 9001 international certification for its manufacturing and quality control procedures. The company has routinely met or exceeded a number of military and international manufacturing specifications and is renowned for product reliability at competitive price levels.

As a life long user of Mossberg products I was the first in my area to purchase a new 100 ATR rifle when the company reentered the rifle market. After growing up using Mossberg shotguns and .22 rifles, my first center fire rifle was a Model 472 lever action .30-30. Nearly thirty-five years later I still own that rifle and often take it hunting. A Model 800A .308 bolt action rifle of nearly the same age resides in my gun safe and is usually the first choice of my grown sons when they come home to hunt. They know the rifle, trust it, and shoot it well. Over the years we’ve enjoyed nothing but solid performance from all our Mossberg firearms.

Mossberg 100 ATR
Mossberg 100 ATR with synthetic stock. Photo courtesy of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.

My oldest 100 ATR (All-Terrain Rifle) is a .30-06 and was purchased as a very plain matte blue finished rifle with a black synthetic stock. I was immediately impressed with two important traits of that rifle. It was extremely accurate and very responsive. It handled and shot like rifles costing many times its price.

I thought enough of the rifle that I recently invested in a Bell & Carlson Creative Effects camouflage finish in Mossy Oak New Break-up and I plan to take it on my next elk hunt. Its size, weight, and rugged reliability make it an excellent choice for mountain hunting. When Mossberg came out with a short action 100 ATR a year later I bought a .243 with an American black walnut stock. It proved to be every bit as reliable and accurate as the older rifle and is often my first choice for long range coyote calling.

I was so impressed with these rifles that I made it a point to visit the Mossberg display at the 2007 Shot Show. I was surprised to learn that Mossberg was introducing yet another big game bolt action rifle, the 4X4. I immediately made arrangements to test this rifle during the 2007-2008 hunting season.

Mossberg 4x4
Mossberg 4x4 with walnut stock and 3-9x scope. Photo courtesy of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.

Several months later I received a synthetic stock 4X4 in .25-06 for use in my predator and deer hunting articles. I was so impressed with this rifle that I ordered an open sight 4X4 in .30-06 with an American black walnut stock when that option became available. I am eagerly waiting for its production and I plan to use it as a dangerous game and backup rifle for out-of-state hunts.

Needless to say, I’m a fan of Mossberg’s new bolt action rifles. You can probably now understand why I am amused by those who down grade them. To my mind they are unfairly evaluating one of the best shooting bargains in the industry and I believe those opinions will change once many of these “experts” get their hands on one.

A perfect example of that is an event that took place two seasons ago. I was coyote calling with a friend in northeastern Colorado. His scope failed so I loaned him my .30-06 100 ATR. I later learned that he bought a .270 100 ATR for himself. He saw the rifle at a discount store, remembered his experience with mine, and “couldn’t pass it up.”

Both the 100 ATR and 4X4 rifles are manufactured in the United States. Both models use the same push feed action, which is machined from bar stock. The recoil lug is a heavy gauge "washer" trapped between the barrel and receiver. The bolt is held closed by two substantial locking lugs at the front; the right lug houses the sliding extractor. A plunger-style ejector is installed on the left side of the bolt face. There is a gas shield on the left side of the bolt for ruptured case protection. A stamped metal safety switch is mounted behind the bolt handle on the right side. The bolt release is on the opposite left side.

The 100 ATR utilizes a top-load, four-round capacity, blind magazine. The 22" barrel is free floating and the rifle weighs seven pounds. Originally offered only with Weaver style scope bases, some versions now come with adjustable open sights. Metal finish is matte blue or Mossberg's corrosion resistant Marinecote matte nickel finish. Stocks are available in basic black synthetic, dura-wood "walnut" synthetic, several camouflage pattern synthetics and American black walnut. The long action version is chambered for .270 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield. The short action version is chambered for .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester. The overall length of the model is from 42” - 42 ¾” and the length of pull is a rather short 13 ¼”.

The 4X4 is a more robust and futuristic design with a detachable polymer four-round capacity magazine (three rounds in the case of Magnums) and an innovative stock. This stock design features a unique hollowed wood and laminate, or skeletonized synthetic buttstock with a trim wrist sloping into a very comfortable hand grip. The forend is ventilated. The magazine catch is recessed into the stock and the magazine snaps into place with an audible click. Stocks are offered in black synthetic, gray laminate and American walnut. The barrel is free floating and normally 24” in length. The length of pull remains at 13 ¼” and the overall length is 42” The 4X4 is available in .25-06 Rem., .270 Win., .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag., and .338 Win. Mag. calibers. Matte blue and Marinecote metal finishes are available and the rifles range in weight from seven to eight pounds. A substantial and effective recoil pad is standard on all 4X4 models.

Synthetic stocks on both models feature molded eyelets for attaching a sling, while wood and laminated stocks feature standard quick detachable sling swivel studs. Care must be taken with the molded eyelets on the plastic stocks if you choose to use a bipod. Don’t get overly zealous when attaching the bipod or you can stretch the forearm eye hole. Don’t ask me how I know this.

I was uneasy when I first saw the skeletonized stock at the Shot Show and didn’t know how to respond when I was asked what I thought of it. I liked it, but I wasn’t certain how many conservative rifle buyers would react to it. After using and carrying it through the spring and summer, I like the skeletonized stock even more. The daring stock design makes for a very ergonomic overall rifle package and it is virtually indestructible in the field. This is an extremely rugged rifle package and has been my first choice when I hunt the rocky hill and canyon country of Kansas.

Now to the important question: what is the trigger like? Most riflemen realize that a trigger can make or break any rifle design. So far I’ve used three 100 ATR’s and one 4X4 and the triggers have performed nearly identically on all of them. It is a non-adjustable trigger with a slight creep, crisp and consistent break and moderate pull weight. Each rifle was slightly different in the pull weight with my original .30-06 being the lightest and the 4X4 the heaviest. They were a bit heavy when new but soon lightened with use to become quite respectable.

From a rest all of these rifles can consistently group three shots inside of two inches at 100 yards if I do my part. It’s the “my part” issue that has not been as consistent. On a good day, I’ve shot some really outstanding 1” groups with my .30-06 and a synthetic stock .243 the company recently sent for testing. I have never claimed to be an expert marksman by any stretch of the imagination, but those rifles have allowed me to walk away from the range with a slightly swelled head.

Most of all it is the responsiveness of these rifles that I have found most impressive. Bolt lift is light and it is easy to cycle repeat shots without dropping the butt from my shoulder. The feeding system is smooth and ejection is positive. Most of all, each rifle I’ve tested has been nearly identical in performance to the others. This indicates to me that the production is consistent and quality control standards are high.

That is quite an accomplishment for an economy, synthetic stocked, matte blued rifle that is retailing in my area for around $280 to $330, depending on options. These Mossberg's offer a heck of a lot of performance in a value priced hunting rifle.

The next time you hear or read someone hammering Mossberg’s new 100 ATR or 4X4 rifles, think long and hard before giving their opinion much credence. These are excellent rifles and they deserve your personal evaluation before you make a buying decision. I’ve handled hundreds of rifles in my lifetime and I am impressed with the performance and dependability of both Mossberg models. They are true American values.

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Copyright 2008, 2012 by Randy D. Smith and/or All rights reserved.