The “Hillbilly Scout” Cur Rifle

Modified Mossberg MVP.

Always intrigued by compact bolt-action rifles, I was immediately enthralled with Mossberg’s MVP rifle when it was introduced in 2011. It’s sized to perfectly fit the .223 Remington cartridge. The MVP also feeds from AR-15 magazines. With its 24″ barrel and target style stock, the first MVP was a dedicated varmint rifle. The MVP Predator, with either the 18.5 or 20″ barrel was more my speed which is why I bought one.

The more my son and I shot this rifle the more I thought I’d like it to have a little more punch. I also thought it would be very versatile if configured like a pseudo scout rifle. After working with the .25-45 Sharps in an AR it seemed like the answer so I had a Shilen, 18.5″, medium contour, .25-45 Sharps barrel with a 1:10″ twist installed. I also had the muzzle threaded and a sight ramp fitted to the barrel.

I’ve always liked Col. Cooper’s scout — general-purpose — rifle concept but after using a scout rifle twice in Africa, I became less enthralled with the scout scope. A rifle configured to do anything needed was the appeal, but what appealed to me even more so was a rifle set up to do anything I — not everyone — needed it to do. That’s the direction I took with the MVP. I needed a rifle at Shadowland for pest control, varmint and deer hunting, range training and for personal protection in a pinch. I wanted it light enough everyone in the family could use it. And, it would need to be versatile in the sighting department. It had to have open sights but be easily and quickly adaptable for use with a traditional scope and a red dot style sight.

When the barreled action was returned, I assembled the rifle and put it on the scale. Unloaded it weighed 6.6 lbs and it was 37.5″ long. More importantly, it was short enough I could hold it at the wrist, carrying it comfortably at my side, and the muzzle was well above the ground.

An XS Sights’ aperture rear sight was a must but XS does not make a rear sight for the MVP. They do make a Weaver-style base for the Remington 700, which has an integral, adjustable aperture built in. Remington model 700 scope bases will fit the MVP; you just have to flip the rear base 180 degrees. This only moved the aperture about a half-inch further from my eye. Not an issue. To keep the rear aperture as low as possible (More on this in a minute.) I screwed it all the way into the base and installed an XS test post on the front ramp. After a few shots I determined the needed height of the front sight and ordered a red, fiber optic bead from Williams Gun Sight Company. (If you ever need to calculate the proper sight height for a rifle, check out the online calculator at www.brownells.com.)

GN15_3_16

The modified MVP CUR in .25-45 Sharps is a versatile rifle that is
capable for a variety of tasks from hunting to personaldefense.
The cartridge is capable for any and all game in West Virginia.

GN15_3_12

For precision work, a Redfield Battlezone scope can be quickly
attached to the scope bases after the Trijicon RMR on the
American Defense mount has been removed.

The next step was to mount a traditional scope for precision work. I went with the Redfield Battlezone 3-9X 40mm because it costs less than $200, because it has external, easy to adjust target turrets, one of which is pre-calibrated to a .308 Winchester load (More on that in a moment too.) And, because it’s equipped with an MOA reticle to match the MOA adjustments. With medium height, quick-release rings I tried to mount the scope but the XS aperture sight was slightly too high. (This is why I wanted to keep the aperture as low as possible.) So, exercising some hillbilly engineering, I took a flat file and flattened the top of the aperture a tad. Problem solved!

Next, I needed to mount the Trijicon RMR but I needed a quick release mount so it could be taken off and installed without loss of zero. I found the answer at American Defense Manufacturing. They offer a dedicated Trijicon RMR mount with a quick release lever. But, there was another problem; this mount is configured for a Picatinny rail. I had to get out the flat file again and open up the slot in the Weaver-style base so the American Defense mount would fit. This took about 30 minutes.

Almost every rifle I own is fitted with a Timney trigger but Timney did not offer a trigger for the MVP. After a few minutes on the phone with the guys at Timney I convinced them to build one and now they’re offering a replacement trigger for the .223 and .308 versions of the MVP. In a couple weeks my new Timney arrived and it was a one screw — five minute — install. As you would expect with a Timney, there’s no take-up or creep and it feels the same way every time you pull it.

GN15_3_11

For general-purpose use, a Trijicon RMR is the primary sight.
It attaches to the front, modified Weaver-style base using a
quick-detach mount from American Defense. Notice the SureFire
X200 flashlight mounted to the right side of the forearm.

GN15_3_9

A Williams’ Gun Sight front sight ramp, Fire Sight and open
protective hood were installed to the end of the Shilen barrel
(above). An XS Sights’ Remington 700 Back-Up scope base and
aperture sight were mounted to the MVP (below).

GN15_3_10

The rifle was coming together nicely but I needed more kit. I wanted to be able to use the rifle at night for predators and protection and this meant I needed a light. I wanted it to be optional and any mounting device unobtrusive. I pulled a Surefire X 200 Weapons light out of the closet and while noodling the problem I remembered I had the scope base that came with the MVP. I fitted it to the right side of the forearm where my support hand could easily operate the light. I had to countersink the screw holes in the base to work with wood screws but other than that all I had to do was drill two small holes, fill them with Brownells Acraglas and the job was done. With the light removed all that remains is the short and thin Weaver base; you hardly notice it’s there.

A rifle must have a sling and I’m a believer in the Galco Safari Ching Sling. However, while taking the Magpul Precision Hunter Rifle Course, instructor Caylen Wojcik showed me another sling technique where you wrap the sling around your shooting elbow, instead of your support elbow. I did a little work on a quick-adjust AR sling and it worked splendidly.

The last bit of kit needed was a case suitable for carrying the rifle, ammo and accessories. After some searching I found the Fieldline 38″ Cobra Gun Case. It has three large external pockets an additional large utility pocket and it easily accommodated the necessary gear. And, when my daughter sewed a Mossberg patch on the side of the case I figured it just about perfect.

GN15_3_3

At over 3,100 fps, Sierra’s 70-grain BlitzKing bullet turns the
.25-45 Sharps into a wicked little varmint rifle.

GN15_3_6

For deer or similar sized game, Sierra’s 90-grain BTHP bullet
is fine projectile to launch from a .25-45 Sharps.

GN15_3_7

The only factory load available for the .25-45 Sharps is an 87-grain
Speer SP bullet. Thought it probably offers plenty of accuracy for
hunting or defense, it did not shoot as well as handloads.

GN15_3_19

117-grain Remington Core-Lokt bullets worked well in the MVP
chambered for the .25-45 Sharps. Even at a low muzzle velocity
of 2,300 fps, they will still expand out to around 200 yards.

So, how does the hillbilly scout shoot? It didn’t particularly like the only available factory .25-45 Sharps load but the great thing about the .25-45 Sharps is it’s easy to handload. You can make brass by simply sizing .223 Remington cases. Sierra’s 70-grain BlitzKing ahead of 27.5 grains of Accurate 2200 averaged just a thick hair more than one inch for five, 5-shot groups and Sierra’s 90-grain HPBT averaged 1.25″. I can live with it and plan to load up a supply of both — one for varmints the other for deer. (I’ve used the 90-grain HPBT with great success on deer out of the .250 Savage.)

I mentioned earlier the Battlezone scope comes with a pre-calibrated target turret for a .308 Winchester load. It just so happens that the 90-grain Sierra, .25-45 Sharps load matches the calibration on the Battlezone .308 target turret perfectly out to 400 yards. This is about 100 yards further than I’ll be shooting at anything with this rifle anyway. Luck or coincidence — I’ll take it.

I also wanted a heavy bullet that would drive deep but the heavier, spritzer style bullets are just too long to work with the .25-45 Sharps in the AR-15 magazine. This got me to thinking and I pulled a few 117-grain round nose Core-Lokt bullets out of factory Remington .257 Roberts ammo. When seated with the cannelure at the end of the .25-45 case neck, they produced an overall length of 2.55″. That’s ideal, but Remington does not offer these bullets as components for handloaders. What to do? I exercised what little pull I have at Remington and asked for 100 of these bullets (With Hornady discontinuing their 117-grain RN .257 caliber bullet, Remington should offer these bullets for sale.) Ahead of 22.2 grains of AA 2200, those long round nose bullets had a muzzle velocity of 2,300 fps and, thanks to the 1 in 10 twist, shot well.

A rifle this unique and versatile needed a name and while it is similar to a scout, it does not conform to Cooper’s requirements. In truth, it was not my objective; I wanted a pragmatic rifle to suit my needs, where I live and hunt. That stipulation in conjunction with the rifle’s swift adaptability to three sight systems reminded me of the Cur dog because they have been bred to hunt specific geographic locations while relying equally on their three senses: scent, sight and sound. The CUR (Conditional Utility Rifle) seemed like a fitting name since a rifle like this would be configured conditionally, based on the needs of the shooter and their operational environment.

What should you take away from this article? Mossberg’s MVP is a very adaptable platform, perfectly suited as a basis for a rifle like the CUR. I’m hoping someone at Mossberg takes note; an MVP so configured from the factory and chambered for the .25-45 Sharps should have as much appeal as it does versatility. Hey, I’ve already given them a name for it! 
By Richard Mann

GN15_3_17

Specifications

Manufacturer: O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. 7 Grasso Ave. North Haven,
CT 06473, (203) 230-5300, www.mossberg.com
Model: MVP Predator
Chambering: .25-45 Sharps
Barrel: Shilen Chrome Moly, 18.5″, 1:10″ twist
Action: Bolt-Action
Stock: Laminated hardwood
Sights: XS Remington 700 Back-Up Rear, Williams Fire Sight Front.
(Scope bases for installation of standard riflescope and reflex sight)
Trigger: Timney
Capacity: Compatible with all AR-15 magazines
Accessories: Redfield Battlezone 3-9X40, Trijicon RMR, SureFire X 200
Base Price for rifle: $708.00

Looking For More?

GNAN15F

Order Your Copy Of The GUNS Magazine 2015 Special Edition Now!

One thought on “The “Hillbilly Scout” Cur Rifle

  1. Jerry l Ashe

    Where did you get barrel 25-45 Sharps to put on MVP, and what gunsmith installed same? I wish to do the same to my MVP.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Spamcheck Enabled)

~