Almost no one will argue that the modern sporting rifle is not only the most popular rifle platform in history, it’s also the most versatile. In a period of 10 years, I’ve gone from not quite “getting” the AR-15, to being a dyed-in-the-wool AR-phile. There are currently seven in my gun safe and there are four extra upper receivers on the shelf, including one precision match rifle.

What makes AR-15s so great is that they’re both accurate and easy to shoot. It rules the roost in 3-gun competition, dominates NRA High Power, and is a force to be reckoned with in long range tactical shooting. Just recently, an AR-pattern rifle in .308 won a long range steel match, competing against precision bolt-action rifles.

The AR-15 is also a viable hunting rifle. Back in the spring, I shot three hogs in one day hunting from a blind in East Texas. The only one of the three that didn’t drop in its tracks stopped about 10 yards past where he was hit. Pigs have a reputation for being tough to kill, but there are so many choices in .223 ammunition that you can accomplish almost any task you might ask of it.

A few weeks ago, I did some shooting with Mossberg’s “hunting” version of the AR-15, the MMR Hunter. The gun I tested was the hunting version of the MMR series. The Mossberg MMR Hunter sports a free-floating 20-inch barrel with a 1:9 twist. This will allow the MMR hunter to shoot bullets up to about 69 grains with no destabilization issues at longer ranges. There’s a slender and comfortable handguard with two sling swivel studs to allow use of both a tripod and a sling. The stock is one piece, similar to the M16A2, and the pistol grip features a battery compartment. There’s a Picatinny rail on top of the upper receiver for mounting optics, and the rifle comes with a six-round magazine.

At 39 inches long and seven pounds unloaded, this is a light and handy rifle. I scoped it with a Nikon AR .223 3-12x scope. I used this scope for the first time in the 2011 National Defense Match (NDM) and I found it to be a great medium-distance scope with accurate adjustments and clear optics. The NDM was fired out to 500 yards and the Nikon was perfect for the job. It seemed a perfect match for the MMR because the 1:9 twist makes the little Mossberg a great predator rifle.

Of course, a predator rifle must be accurate and I found the MMR was certainly up to that task, as well. While three- and five-shot groups are common, the real test of a rifle/ammunition combination is the 10-shot group. At 100 yards, the MMR delivered sub-MOA 10-shot groups with Black Hills .223 ammunition loaded with the 55-grain Barnes TSX bullet. This would make a great predator/varmint load. The big surprise was how well the MMR shot the bargain-priced Brown Bear 62-grain hollow point load. It shot almost as well as the Black Hills, though there weren’t as many close centered shots.

The low flyer in the Black Hills group (right) was the last shot. Exclude it and the Black Hills Barnes TSX load would have been slightly under 3/4-MOA.
The low flyer in the Black Hills group (right) was the last shot. Exclude it and the Black Hills Barnes TSX load would have been slightly under 3/4-MOA.

This is a great little rifle. It’s easy to carry and reasonably priced with an MSRP of $1,028. It’s certainly accurate, even with low-cost steel-cased ammunition. I did have one and a half complaints. First, the trigger on my test gun needs work. It’s both heavy and a bit gritty. There are a lot of great triggers out there for the AR-15 and I suspect I’ll be adding one to the MMR. The half complaint is that I felt a 1:8 twist barrel might have been an advantage, but this is solely dependent on the chosen purpose. The 1:9 twist barrel will handle bullets down to 40 grains, making the MMR primarily a varmint/predator gun. A 1:8 twist would allow use of up to 75-grain bullets, allowing better use of the MMR’s accuracy, but it would preclude the use of really light varmint bullets. Looks like the engineers saw this rifle as more of a predator/varmint rifle than a longer-range shooter.

To sum it up, Mossberg has proven to me that they can produce a quality AR-15. I suspect they will be adding a few more models to the MMR line in the future, they’ve certainly built a good rifle in the MMR Hunter.

Images by Dick Jones

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