GUN REVIEW: Mossberg MMR Tactical Rifle
A budget-priced AR-15 style rifle for the “every (patrol) man.”
By Warren Wilson
My first real firearm was a Mossberg Model 380 .22 LR semi-automatic rifle. My maternal grandfather helped me buy it and he paid for my first box of rimfire ammunition when I was just 11 years old. Fast-forward to 1996 and a lot of things had changed since I was a boy. The Earth cooled, man discovered fire, and I began my law enforcement career in a small suburban town in northwest Oklahoma. Financial constraints generally prohibit smaller departments from providing much in the way of equipment for their officers. I had already purchased a duty pistol in anticipation of a law enforcement career and would be forced to use one of the two department shotguns until I was able to purchase my own. I attended the police academy with one of those well-worn department shotguns. I couldn’t score higher than 82 percent because the action was so loose that it bound up on a regular basis. Just before my first qualifying round, the bead front sight fell off, which made shooting slugs at a distance more than a little challenging. The experience soured me on sharing emergency equipment with others. I became convinced that a cop needs his/her own long gun. The problem with acquiring a shotgun was money (as is usually the case for a crime fighter of recent birth).
The Other Granddad’s Gun
There was a decent prospect for my law enforcement use in the closet: an O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. Model 500. Its 30-inch barrel and wood furniture were well suited for hunting, but not at all intended for cop work. Besides, I’d been abusing it regularly since it was passed down to me by my paternal grandfather over a decade before. I’m talking about the kind of abuse only a teenage boy with access to farmland and a cousin with a similar affinity for outdoor diversions can dish out. I wasn’t sure how much life the old girl might have left.
After celebrating my graduation, I went to the closet and pulled out the old scattergun thinking there might be a way to press it into service. I was horrified to find a puddle of water in the closet where the M500 had been stored. I had no idea how long the roof had been leaking, but the damage was done. My old Mossberg was covered in rust; especially on and in the barrel. The buttstock was waterlogged. I was upset at both my luck and myself for not checking on it more routinely. Colorful words commenced and continued for several minutes. I scrubbed and cleaned the shotgun for hours, but the barrel and wood were beyond repair. Thankfully, the action and receiver were just as sound as the day Mossberg made it on the production line. After much research (pre-Internet era), new polymer furniture, and a factory 18-inch barrel found its way onto that well-used bird gun. For around $75.00 and some elbow grease, my renewed Mossberg 500 (affectionately named “Lazarus”) served me well on patrol for years. Its current role is home defense and it has my every confidence after 30 years, thousands of rounds, and not one single parts breakage.
A Record of Service
Mossberg shotguns have been a part of law enforcement and military batteries for many decades. The North Haven, Conn. Manufacturer’s history of service to the non-sworn public goes back even further. Almost any gun enthusiast will immediately recognize a model 500 or 590 from across the room. It appears Mossberg wasn’t satisfied with their success in the market. Within the last few years, they have somewhat quietly introduced an AR15 style rifle called the MMR (Mossberg Modern Rifle). The MMR is offered in two variations: Tactical and Hunter. Each model’s intended purpose needs little in the way of explanation. The Tactical models are lighter and have quad rail forends while the Hunters have heavier barrels and can be ordered in different finishes to help the hunter blend into the wilderness. After handling a Tactical model at the 2014 SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) Show, I had to request one for a review.
The MMR Tactical comes as either a flat top or with a set of removable sights. The model tested here came without sights. Many prefer not to have sights on their new carbine because they’ll likely just change them out for a preferred setup anyway. I added low-cost front and rear Picatinny mount sights for the rifle at a cost of about $75.00.
The pistol grip is by Stark and incorporates a storage compartment. Instead of the usual swing-open compartment door on the bottom of the grip, the Stark unit has a rubber plug, which firmly holds two AA batteries and still has room left over for spare parts or even more batteries. The trigger guard and grip form a unique one-piece design.
The MMR has a six-position retractable buttstock common on many rifles of this type. This was my only issue with the MMR. When the buttstock is in the first few positions, the charging handle can catch when chambering a round. It’s a minor inconvenience and only occurs when pulling down on the charging handle when manipulating the bolt. I experimented by swapping on another M4 style buttstock and there was no such interference.
The lightweight quad rail allows the owner many options for a tactical carbine’s three most common necessities: light, sight and sling. Of course, many rifle carriers add red dot sights, lasers, vertical fore grips, and a myriad of other accessories, all of which are possible with the MMR.
The trigger broke crisply and consistently between 6.5 and 6.7 pounds. It felt lighter than that and had just a little take-up and creep. It was much better than anticipated for a rifle at this price point. The reset is a little closer to what one could expect from a production AR15 style rifle. It was long, but still serviceable and very much capable of rapid fire, as was proven during testing.
One thing the MMR does not have is a forward assist. There are a lot of AR fans that feel these mechanisms are unnecessary and can actually exacerbate some stoppages. The forward assist’s intended use is to “assist” the bolt in completing its journey “forward” into full battery when the chamber is extremely dirty. This issue was regularly reported back in the day when cylindrical gun powder and less than stellar chambers were common on the M-16. In fact, if the bolt does not go fully into battery because the case is slightly deformed, ramming it into the chamber with the Forward Assist can turn a minor stoppage into a major one. There is still some debate on the issue of the forward assist, but I’ve never seen it become useful while shooting or observing tens of thousands of rounds fired from several different rifles during my days on my department’s SWAT team. What is certain about this device is that it adds to the production cost of a rifle, which means a higher cost to the consumer. Its elimination on the MMR lowers this rifle’s price.
Disassembling the MMR is the same as with any standard direct-impingement (DI) gas-system AR15 style rifle. Slide the rear takedown pin to the right until the upper assembly is free to rock forward. Pull back on the charging handle until the bolt carrier group (BCG) can be pulled free. Remove the firing pin retaining pin and let the firing pin fall out of the BCG. Rotate the cam pin 90 degrees and pull outward. This will free the bolt from the BCG. If disassembly is for the purpose of cleaning the rifle, try to spend the next 45 minutes of your life focusing on how much fun DI guns are to shoot. Reassembly is in reverse except with more verbal expletives.
On the first day of testing, the MMR Tactical was fed 60 rounds of Federal 55-grain HP, 100 rounds of American Eagle 55-grain FMJ, and 30 rounds of PMC Bronze FMJ with the help of SWAT Lt. Gary Fuxa. About 25 rounds into the second magazine of a rapid fire string, one cartridge did not strip from the factory magazine. That was the only stoppage we encountered in the 25-degree freezing rain that day. In total, the MMR fired 190 rounds that session. I took the rifle home but did not clean or lube it. For the equestrians among us, the rifle was literally, “put away wet.” I took it out again the next day for another less-than-tropical shooting session. Special Agent Chris Levendosky (Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Ret.) and I ran the round count up to about 360 rounds with American Eagle ammunition. The rifle functioned perfectly.
One of the reported advantages of the Stoner direct impingement design is enhanced accuracy. Since this rifle was fitted with very economical mechanical sights, accuracy testing was conducted at 50 yards. Special Agent Levendosky was able to shoot a group of less than 2 inches with the American Eagle load from the bench after only handling the rifle a few times beforehand. Not much more could be asked considering the weather and admittedly wobbly rear sight. An expensive red dot optic would have certainly brought out the rifle’s potential, but that would violate the spirit of this review.
A Carbine for the Every (Patrol) Man
Fortunately, the patrol rifle has become common among larger departments. Unfortunately, they are much scarcer in small departments where officers mostly provide their own firearms and equipment. The MSRP on the MMR is $987.00. Although, I’ve seen them sell online for a little over $700.00 after shipping and transfer fee. A reliable, yet affordable carbine offered by a trusted company can make a lot of difference in a law enforcement agency’s preparedness. I spoke to Linda Powell, Director of Media Relations at O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. at SHOT Show 2014. She proudly described her company’s wares as being geared toward, “the everyman.” That statement hit home for me as the memories of two grandfathers from very different backgrounds converged. Any cop out there looking for an affordable, reliable patrol rifle should consider the
Mossberg MMR. PM
Warren Wilson is a Lieutenant with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team member/leader and has been in law enforcement for 17 years.
- SWAT Lt. Gary Fuxa commented positively on the comfort of the MMR’s Stark grip and was able to rapid fire on target at 50 yards.
- Special Agent Chris Levendosky (Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Ret.) works around a corner with the MMR before engaging 50-yard targets with open sights.
- The Stark grip on the MMR has a storage compartment that securely holds two AA batteries or other accessories.
- The MMR grip and trigger guard are a single unit. Also, note the lack of a forward assist on the upper receiver’s right side.
- Mossberg has a history of providing law enforcement and the military with quality firearms at a reasonable price.
- Lt. Gary Fuxa runs the MMR through its paces. (Remote Camera)
- Mossberg offers the MMR with iron sights or as a flat top model, so the buyer can mount his/her preferred sights and/or optics.
- Special Agent Chris Levendosky managed a sub 2-inch group with an economical set of open sights at 50 yards with the MMR.