Comparing .308 Winchester Rifles
One of my favorite cartridges is the .308 Winchester. It is hard hitting, flat shooting, and an ideal cartridge for many shooting applications. While I have several long guns chambered in .308 Winchester, the cartridge alone keeps my looking for platforms from which to shoot the cartridge.
While most succumb to the synthetic stock, due to it’s lighter weight over a wood or laminate stock, my preference still lies in wood and steel, and two rifles caught my eye; the Ruger Hawkeye standard and the Mossberg Patriot, the latter of which is owned by my friend and shooting companion. I have to say that I am impressed with his, although it does have the synthetic stock.
While bypassing several other manufactures, my attention focused on the two mentioned firearms. While the quality of both firearms is not in question, I did have to question the price disparity between the two and try to determine what was so different between the two to warrant the price difference. After all, we are talking several hundred dollars difference with one offering an additional item as part of the package, but at a substantially lower cost.
This part of the article is going to focus on the difference between the two rifles and then I will reveal which of the two made the cut. First up is the Ruger Hawkeye Standard.
Ruger Hawkeye Standard in .308 Winchester
To begin with, I like Ruger firearms. They are built well and made to last. The Ruger Hawkeye rifle is no different. I have the Ruger Gunsite Scout in .308 Winchester and it is an excellent shooter that hits hard at both ends. I had written two articles around the Ruger Gunsite Scout (http://guntoters.com/blog/2014/11/15/scouting-around-part-i/ and http://guntoters.com/blog/2016/08/15/scouting-around-part-ii/) and can attest to the quality of this rifle and other Ruger firearms. However, is the Ruger Hawkeye Standard in .308 Winchester worth the $979 MSRP price? Let’s take a look.
One feature that I do like is the hinged floor plate. The Ruger Hawkeye is, after all, a rifle intended for the hunter and a 4+1 capacity and I do find a box magazine leads to buying more magazines – even for a hunting rifle.
There are no sights, but Ruger does provide a means for mounting a good optic along with a set of scope rings, which would be substituted with my favorite rings from Warne, but it is thoughtful of Ruger to provide scope rings.
Having handled a Ruger Hawkeye rifle in a LGS, I will say that the stock is handsome and well-finished with, at 13.5 inches, almost the amount of LOP that I like; a slip-on LimbSaver would provide my desired LOP and also serve as a buffer to the recoil of the .308 cartridge.
The Mauser-type bolt operates smoothly and the bolt throw is well enough to keep the hand away from the scope bell, providing that ample-height scope rings are mounted. While I could not test things like extraction and ejection, if the Ruger Hawkeye is anything like my Ruger American in .223 caliber, both will be excellent.
The trigger is excellent and the three-position safety allows for safely loading and unloading the rifle with the safety engaged if the operator does not choose to dump cartridges from the drop magazine. The Ruger Hawkeye, of course, can be top loaded.
The 22-inch unfluted barrel allows for putting projectile out the barrel at greater velocities than is capable of with the Ruger Gunsite Scout with its 18.5-inch barrel, which probably makes the Ruger Hawkeye more effective at longer distances over the Ruger Gunsite Scout. The barrel is nicely tapered and the 1:10RH twist with 6 grooves is pretty much standard fare for the .308 cartridge. The satin blued finish of the barrel contrasts nicely with the wood stock.
Weighing in at 7 pounds (not loaded) makes for carrying the firearm an easy affair, especially when a good sling is mounted to the front and rear sling mounts.
The rifle seems to be well-balanced
The Ruger Hawkeye is your atypical long rifle; wood and steel, sleek looking, with the typical straight comb stock. Note that there is no cheek riser; left and right-handed shooters can enjoy equal cheek welds with the stock, although the bolt is set-up for a right-handed shooter, but I have no issues operating a right-sided bolt gun left-sided.
Mossberg Patriot Standard
The Patriot line of center-fire bolt-action rifles introduced in 2015. The Patriot is an American made rifle that targets the entry-level hunting market.
The Mossberg Patriot Standard can be found with and without a scope. The particular version for this comparison is the non-scoped version.
Of course, it is rare that specifications tell the whole story about a firearm.
One thing that I usually equate with Mossberg is, of course, their shotguns. But, Mossberg also makes a fine line of rifles. As I mentioned, my friend and shooting companion has the Mossberg Patriot in .308 chambering and I was pretty impressed with it, although the furniture is synthetic.
The Mossberg Patriot in .308 chambering; however, also comes with wood furniture and a Vortex II 3-9 scope. That makes for a nice package and is also a cost saver for someone who is looking for a good rifle/scope combination right out of the box.
The Mossberg Patriot in .308 chambering has an LOP of 3.75-inches, which is right in my favorite LOP length.
The matte-blued barrel, like that on the Ruger Hawkeye is 22 inches with a 1:10RH twist. The barrel; however, unlike the Ruger Hawkeye is fluted for lighter weight and faster heat dissipation.
The trigger, like that on the Ruger Hawkeye is user-adjustable. Both the Ruger and Mossberg triggers are excellent right out of the box.
The Walnut stock is equipped with a good recoil pad, but unlike the Ruger Hawkeye the Mossberg is nicely checkered in both the grip and forearm area. The stock seems beefier on the Mossberg as compared to the Ruger – and I like beefy stocks.
The Mossberg, as with the Ruger, is equipped with front and rear sling mounts.
The Mossberg Patriot in .308 chambering comes with one 5-round magazine (5+1 capacity over the 4+1 of the Ruger), which some might say is a disadvantage over an integral drop-box magazine. However, having a separate box magazine does make for faster reloads should the need arise, but I do find that box magazines can be contentious for chambering rounds at times. And, of course, the need for an additional magazine just to keep on hand enters into the equation.
The major difference, aside from price, is that the Mossberg Patriot comes with scope rings AND a scope; a Vortex II 3-9×40 unit. The weight difference between the Mossberg Patriot and Ruger Hawkeye is about one pound with the Mossberg Patriot being the heavier of the two.
The bolt of the Mossberg is spiral-cut as compared to the straight bolt of the Ruger. The bolt angle, like that on the Ruger, is adequate enough to keep the bolt handle from striking the scope.
The stock with its cheek rest on the left side of the stock is, of course, set up for right-handed shooting. I am; however, a right handed shooter that shoots longs guns left handed. And, while being a right handed shooter that shoots longs guns left handed does have its challenges, sometimes seemingly negative things can be turned into positive things. The left trigger finger takes care of trigger work, the left thumb takes care of safety work, while all other operations are performed by my dominate right hand; operating the bolt, dropping and inserting the magazine, and scope adjustments. When equipping the rifle with a butt-stock cartridge holder, the spare cartridges are actually angled to the right side, which makes retrieving of them easier due to the angle. For right-handed shooters, the cheek will find the cheek-rest nicely angled.
Now, let’s talk about the Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm optic that comes with the Mossberg Patriot.
The scope, generally, has received good reviews from owners who have mounted the scope on bolt and MSR firearms.
The Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm scope is considered as an entry-level scope and priced around $150 depending on the source of purchase, and I can see why if just the price is a consideration. I like a medium eye relief in a scope, and with an eye relief of 3.8 inches to 4.4 inches, the Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x40mm scope is within my like. I also like the fact that the scope has a lifetime, fully transferable warranty. I also like re-settable turrets. With the scope come Weaver style bases and rings. While I prefer Warne rings, I see no need to change out these, as they would be adequate.
I believe that both the Mossberg Patriot and Ruger Hawkeye long guns in .308 chambering are fine rifles. With the Ruger, you get to research optic options. While you can still do that with the Mossberg Patriot, the scope package option takes buying a scope out of the equation.
Excluding the scope package, many of the features are virtually the same for both rifles; wood stock, adjustable trigger, barrel length and rifling, bolt design, and weight.
In short, there is not much to dislike about either rifle with the exception of the price. The MSRP on the Ruger Hawkeye in .308 chambering is $979. On the other hand, the MSRP on the Mossberg Patriot with scope package is $686. Of course, both can be found for less if you do your homework. There is a price difference of several hundred dollars; however, regardless of choice and ‘street price’ between the two rifles with the Mossberg Patriot being the lesser of the two.
There are plenty of fine bolt-action long guns on the market in .308 chambering; Tikka, Howa, CZ, Remington, and Weatherby just to name a few. Ruger firearms have always held a top spot in my heart because of their robustness. But, with that robustness is a price and Ruger firearms are not known for being inexpensive. I have balked on several occasions purchasing a Ruger simply because of the price. In some instances, Ruger can be compared with other firearms and Ruger definitely wins me over in those cases. But, not in this case, as I think that the price of admission to the Ruger is not worth the show. The Mossberg Patriot Standard in .308 chambering, and with the scope package, has definitely won me over. And, yes, a complete review of the Mossberg Patriot is in the future. However, like the Rolling Stone’s song says; “You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need” applies in this case. There is more on that in the upcoming review of the Mossberg Patriot in .308 chambering.
- Ruger American, .308 Winchester: https://ruger.com/products/HawkeyeStandard/specSheets/37124.html
- Mossberg Patriot, .308 Combo Package: https://www.mossberg.com/product/mossberg-patriot-vortex-scoped-combo-walnut-27940/