Very impressed with the quality of this rifle for its moderate cost. Upon recipt I broke it down, cleaned it, and applied quality lubricant to the action and cleaned the barrel (it had been test fired).
The metalwork is quite good. It is much better than either of my pre-Remington ownership Marlin lever guns (an 1894 and 336). There are no sharp edges, the fit of the parts is good. The action is remarkably smooth. Far better than either of my Marlins or any Rossi or Winchester I have laid hands upon. Only new Henry\'s have as smooth of an action.
The stock is a surprisingly nice piece of walnut and is finished very nicely. So is the metal. A nice even matte black and low sheen satin finish.
Though my sights didn\'t fold down, they are very nice, and are much better than anything on a Marlin or Winchester or Rossi. And the front sight has a real brass bead!
The accuracy is astounding for a lever gun of this design. I suspect that Mossberg put a quality barrel on this rifle and paid attention when they contoured and crowned it. I posted a 1 inch 4 shot group with factory ammo (Hornandy 150 grain interlocks) at 50 yards. With a scope of course.
I did experience two very sticky action cycles, I think this is because I short stroked it or went very slow with the lever. When I used the lever smartly, I never had a problem. I will continue to experiment with different OALs to see if there is an optimal or poor OAL for cycling reliability.
I used Warne M827 bases with Weaver Grand slam \"medium\" rings (all steel and they are quite low). A standard rifle scope with a belled objective lens would not fit, especially since my rifle didn\'t come with the \"fold down\" sights. So I mounted a Leopold 2.5x20 ultralight scope, which fits beautifully and sits so low that I was able to achieve a good cheek weld. I suspect the Leopold 1-4x20 or any similar shaped scope would work well. The angle eject is very angled and positive and the brass never made contact with the scopes.
The loading gate is a bit larger than on Marlins and the edge is rounded (much easier on the thumb). It is sort of tricky to load, but once the technique is learned and you pay attention, it loads well.
The safety system and trigger take some getting used to, for me at least. It is neat that when you release the lever that the rifle becomes safe. This is an excellent drop safety feature. It reminds me of an H&K P7 where there is slight spring pressure against the grip, and when you let go it springs out. Marlins have a feature like this, however, it doesn\'t spring out automatically. This Mossberg system does create a bit of tension with the hand which makes very fine (bench type) shooting hard. The trigger is also on the heavy side. I\'d estimate at around 7-8 pounds. Trigger control, for me, was the greatest obstacle to accuracy. The tang safety is a nice assurance since lever actions have to be cycled through the chamber to be unloaded. Still, keep the muzzle in a safe direction.
The bad points of this rifle are 1) that the checkering job on the forend of my particular rifle was poor. It looks like the worker made passes with the tool that were out of alignment. The buttock was a very competent job. 2) The rear hole where the rear scope base attaches was not threaded properly. When applying the specified torque Warne recommends (with a torque wrench) the threads were pulled out. This is a correctable problem, but it should not have done this. The other 3 sight base holes were all fine. 3) the buttpad was not fitted well. There is a noticeable gap at the bottom, but some superglue fixed this. 4) it should come with swivel studs or at least a stud on the buttock from the factory.
Verdict: with just a bit more attention to detail and quality control, Mossberg would have a great rifle for a very moderate price. One of the best values in firearms right now. The safety system may need some getting used to and the trigger is heavier than is idea for fine accuracy.
One last word, I bough the OTIS brand rifle cleaning kit that came with a 30\" long pull through cable. This is an outstanding tool for this rifle, since unlike the Henry\'s, the bolt is not easily removed for breech end cleaning with a rigid rod. But I found the pull through (which I\'ve never used before) to work quite well.
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars!