Field Test: 3 New and Deadly Predator Guns for This Season
December 15, 2014
One of the best times to pursue predators, specifically coyotes, is in late winter when the temperatures have dropped and food is scarce. The fact that this time of year typically comes after deer season is a happy occurrence. This is also when coyote females send the previous year's litter out on their own and provide ignorant young pups for savvy hunters. It's predator prime time.
The editors at Game & Fish/Sportsman magazines figure you might be interested in a few new firearm options right about now. We pulled the triggers on a few guns made for smacking 'yotes, foxes, hogs or any other predator on your hit list.
Mossberg | MMR Hunter
The MMR is Mossberg's answer to the modern sporting rifle craze that shook the firearm industry about the time that a new President entered the White House. Basically, it is a budget-priced gas-impingement AR-15 with a specific model designed for hunters.
The MMR comes with an A2-style non-adjustable stock and three possible finishes. The Mossy Oak Brush on the tested rifle was well applied and should work well in most coyote hunting situations. Its also comes with a rounded forend that is comfortable to shoot and 1:9-inch twist rifling for handling standard-weight, and lighter, bullets. The 20-inch free-floated barrel provides more distance for the bullet to travel, which should translate into better accuracy and might even allow use of heavier bullets for larger game.
After mounting a Nikon Coyote Special onto the MMR, the rifle was sighted for 100 yards and multiple three-round groups were fired. Accuracy was on par with most AR-15 rifles, but could be greatly improved with a Timney drop-in trigger. The trigger wasn't horrible; it was just the standard AR trigger — standardly bad. The MMR doesn't come with a forward assist. The lack of this feature this reduces costs, but it also prevents ensuring the bolt is fully seated after quietly releasing the bolt with the charging handle, both important to hunters.
Caliber: 5.56x45 (.223 Rem.) | Barrel: 20" free floating | Rifling: 1:9" | Stock: A2-style synthetic | Sights: None (Picatinny rail for mounting optics) | Weight: 7 lbs. | Length: 39" | Finish: Mossy Oak Brush (tested), Mossy Oak Treestand, black anodized | MSRP: $1,028
Mossberg | MVP Predator
The MVP is a bolt-action rifle available in 5.56 (.223 Rem.) and 7.62 (.308 Win.) that was first designed as a budget rifle for police. Later, Mossberg introduced other versions, such as the Thunder Ranch, FLEX and Predator models.
Both the MVP and MMR are made to use AR-style magazines. That's a major selling point for the MVP. And it's cool to be able to switch mags from your AR to your bolt action. You could see that in some hunting situations, you'd prefer the quick follow-ups of the MMR, and in others, prefer the accuracy of the MVP bolt-action.
Mossberg sells the MVP Predator with or without a scope and either a 20-inch sporter barrel or an 18.5-inch bull barrel. All versions feature a laminate wood stock, which is as gorgeous as it is functional, in two buttstock lengths — 13.25 or 13.75 inches — for use by a variety of shooters. However, the most interesting feature is that the rifle uses the same magazines as its faster-shooting MMR cousin.
The included scope on the MVP also wasn't the best, but it was good enough to place a sub-MOA group at 100 yards. Greatly helping rifle function was the Lightning Bolt Action trigger, which features a blade insert that provides an extremely light and smooth pull. The bolt is spiral cut to reduce weight and to provide a smooth reload.
On the MVP, the scope was a bit of a liability, as a clear focus couldn't be obtained. Also, the short buttstock, while good for smaller shooters, required additional effort to ensure proper placement of the finger pad on the trigger. Above-average-sized shooters will have real difficulty.
Caliber: 5.56x45 (.223 Rem.), also available in 7.62 mm (.308 Win.) | Barrel: 20" sporter fluted | Rifling: 1:9" (1:10" also available) | Stock: Laminate | Sights: None (3-9x40 scope) | Weight: 8 lbs. | Length: 39" | Finish: Matte | MSRP: $758 (unscoped version $726)
Browning | BPS Predator Hunter
You might hunt for coyotes or other predators in wide-open spaces. So why would you want to read about a 20-inch barrel pump-action shotgun? Because it's the best tool for taking a dog that suddenly pops up 30 or 50 yards away. They have an uncanny talent for coming in quiet and giving us a start.
With its Full Invector Choke and short barrel, you'd be ready for the sneaky critter. And, if you more commonly hunt in tight woods, you know the value of a gun like this with a 3-inch shell full of BB's. This Browning BPS carries with it many of the features you'll find in any other BPS in the line.
A bottom ejector is one of the first things you'll notice. Side- or bottom-ejection is kind of like a Ginger or Maryanne question, but you have to admit, opening a gun on the bottom keeps a lot of weather — rain and snow — out of the action, and helps the gun fire when it should and when you need it to. Your buddy will appreciate it, too, because he won't have shells flying at him at the range or in your setup.
With the bottom ejector and a safety on the top of the gun, the Browning is billed as ambidextrous. It's ironic that the one asymmetrical item is the manual cycling button located on the left side of the back of the trigger guard. It's pretty awkward to reach for if you are a righty. But, it's very well-placed for a lefty. Usually it's the lefties that have to make accommodations. Not so with the BPS.
One symmetrical aspect of this gun that gives it a great balance for righties or lefties is the dual steel slide action bars. With one on each side, you get increased strength and balance. I've heard some folks complain that it makes it tougher to maintain and clean because it's more complicated of a system than its chief competitors, like an 870 Express or other pump actions. But when I shot this gun, I got the feeling it would never let me down. It feels structurally strong with tight tolerances and all elements are well matched, from the muzzle to the recoil pad.
And if you're still not sold on a pump, consider they're cheaper than most autoloaders, have fewer parts to go wrong, are lighter and are less likely to jam.
Chamber: 12 gauge, 3" | Barrel: 20" | Chokes: IC, M and F included | Stock: Synthetic with Dura-Touch | Sights: Wilson peep, Picatinny rail and fiber optic front sight | Weight: 7 lbs. | Length: 41 1/4" | Finish: Mossy Oak Brush, matte blued | MSRP: $869