Take The Train
Mossberg’s .308 WIN ATR Night Train, That Is.
Scanning the sales rack at Murphy’s Gun Shop in Tucson, Ariz., recently, I focused on a rifle I had not seen before. It sported an OD green, synthetic stock, a bi-pod and a large, variable-power scope and a caliber designation of .308 Winchester. I was definitely intrigued and asked to see it.
It turned out to be a complete, combination package from Mossberg and quite a package it has proved to be, both in price and performance.
The new rifle carries the model designation, “ATR Night Train,” and it’s available in .308 Win as either a tactical or as a sporting arm. The essential difference is that the tactical model features a black stock, a different scope and a muzzlebrake, and dealers like to pad the price a tad.
And speaking of tactical, Mossberg is adding a completely new line of combination packages this year under the “MVP Patrol Rifle” designation in both 5.56 and 7.62 NATO chambering with 10+1 capacity, AR-type magazines, a choice of optics and with either conventional or Mossberg’s proprietary FLEX stocks. I’ve handled them at the 2013 SHOT Show, and I think the “Patrol Rifle” packages in either caliber would make great sporters as offered.
Anyway, back to the remarkable ATR Night Train. Here’s what the factory package consists of: a well designed green, black or camouflage-colored synthetic stock, an ATR push-feed action featuring Mossberg’s LBA trigger, consumer adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds, a bridge-mounted Picatinny rail, a free-floated, button rifled, fluted barrel with a recessed target crown, a bi-pod, a Neoprene comb-raising sleeve with a variety of foam pads and a mounted 4-16x50mm or 6-24x50mm scope. It’s an impressive package.
A) The locking target turrets on the Leaper scope are a real plus, and the scope has a red and green illuminated Mil-Dot reticle and parallax adjustable objective from 15 yards to infinity. B) The fluted barrel with its recessed crown was particularly stable as it heated up during testing. C) Mossberg’s LBA trigger is user-adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds. D) The Mossberg ATR Night Train is an affordable bolt-action .308 Win with scope mounted on a Picatinny rail, bipod and synthetic stock in a choice of three colors.
The ATR Night Train I received from Mossberg had already been out in the field a bit so the first thing I did was to soak the bore overnight with Bore Tech’s “Eliminator” solvent which I order from Brownells. It’s a remarkable, non-toxic product, which, without ammonia, “alters the chemical makeup of copper to break its bond with the barrel steel, then uses advanced chelating agents to keep it from re-depositing.” It also removes powder fouling, plastic and lead while leaving behind a rust preventative film. The secret seems to be dwell time. I don’t rush it. I just let the bore soak and then wipe the fouling out.
An interesting issue I caught by chance was that the Picatinny rail had worked loose ever so slightly so that I could actually shift the scope side-to-side by hand. Removing the rail, I found a film of oily preservative between the mount and the receiver and four, oily, slightly loose screws. A touch of lighter fluid took care of the oil and a dab of Devcon “Thread Locker” set the screws in place. Checking your scope mounts periodically, and even on a brand new gun, is a sound practice.
The Night Train was fitted with a Leapers 6-24x50mm scope. With a retail price of $139.97, it’s not an expensive scope, but it comes with all the bells and whistles you could wish for including a red and green illuminated Mil-Dot reticle, a parallax adjustable objective, locking, target-style, windage and elevation turrets with 1/4-minute click values, a 3-inch sun shade, flip-open lens caps and Picatinny rings. Also included with the scope are batteries, an Allen wrench to lock and unlock the turrets, a small mil-dot range estimation chart, an operating manual and a lens cloth.
The scope performed perfectly. Optics were clear. Click values were pretty much on. In particular, I liked the locking, zero reset turrets and the 15-yards-to-infinity parallax adjustments. There’s a lot of snobbery today when it comes to inexpensive optics. Frankly, I’ve had just as many failures with top-of-the-line optics as I have with the budget lines. If it works, use it and pocket the change.
Checking any .308 Win rifle to determine its inherent level of accuracy, we are blessed with great match-grade ammunition built around the 168-grain Sierra match bullet or a handload of 40 to 42 grains of IMR 4064 with the same bullet. It’s the go-to load for competition and many tactical applications. My .308 test load is Black Hills Ammunition’s factory new, .308 Winchester Match, featuring a 168-grain, boattail, hollowpoint loaded to a velocity of 2,650 fps.
If your .308 won’t shoot that load, you better be looking for a new .308. It’s an unbelievably accurate loading. The Mossberg ATR Night Train thrived on it and delivered 3-shot groups at 100 yards ranging from 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch. Set to 2-1/2 pounds, Mossberg’s LBA trigger was a jewel to work with. I was also impressed with the stability of the lightweight, fluted barrel as it heated up while I was shooting groups at the range. The groups did not open up as that barrel really began cooking.
With a current retail price of a bit over $600, Mossberg’s ATR Night Train is a value loaded package and high on performance. It’s cool looking. It has a cool name and does it ever shoot!
By Holt Bodinson
200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171
32700 Capitol St., Livonia, MI 48150
ATR Night Train
MAKER: O.F. Mossberg & Sons
7 Grasso Ave.
North Haven, CT 06473
Action: Bolt-action repeater
Caliber: .308 Win
Capacity: 4+1, Barrel Length: 22″
Overall Length: 42″
Weight: 8-1/2 pounds, Finish: Blue
Sights: 6-24×50 scope