Mossberg’s Patriot .375 in Wet Alaska

Learn how the new rifle fared in Seward’s Folly.

Mossberg's Patriot in .375 Ruger looks good wet. Alas, no moose gave us an excuse to test our Speer 285-grain Grand Slam bullets.

 

Alaska is where good rifles go to die. Swamps, muskeg, wet meadows, alder jungles, rocks, sand, snow, and rain combine to rust, warp, and defile rifles in record time. But not Mossberg’s Patriot Laminate Marinecote in .375 Ruger. 

I dragged one of these inexpensive bolt actions to Southeast Alaska in hopes of shooting a big, heavily antlered bull moose. I saw that moose, but only while flying over the expansive wilderness of swamp in which we hunted. Slogging to that bull proved impossible in the time allowed, but there was plenty of time to test the durability of my rifle.

I was hunting with Master Guide Charles Allen, owner and creator of Diamond Blade Knives, the ones tested and proven to hold an edge longer than any other. We started the rifle torture test by carrying Mossberg’s Patriot in the rain. Eight days of rain. In addition, we leaned it, unloaded, of course, against the seat of our small boat. The butt rested in the water that accumulated on the bottom of that boat. Additional moisture sloshed on it as we repeatedly leaped in and out to push our craft over gravel bars and beaver dams. Even panicked salmon splashed water on the rifle. Ours was an aquatic adventure.

 

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Master Guide and creator of Diamond Blade Knives Charles Allen slogs toward a moose-calling location in Waterworld, Alaska.

 

When not in the boat, we managed to keep the rifle wet by standing and wading through swamps tangled with dripping willows, alders, sedges, and equisetum (horsetail or scouring rush.) From time to time I could find alder branches thick enough to hold the rifle while we called moose. The rest of the time it had to sit with its butt in water.

No problem.

At the end of each drippy day, I’d wipe the rifle down with a cotton towel, remove the bolt and dry it over a small propane heater. I kept water out of the bore by covering it with a strip of black electrician’s tape. This is common practice in Alaska and won’t change rifle performance, point of impact, or accuracy.

This version of Mossberg’s Patriot sports a laminated wood stock. It’s so impregnated with epoxy that it’s essentially impervious to moisture. It didn’t swell, discolor, or warp in any discernible way. Even if it had, I doubt it would have impacted zero because the barrel is free floating.

The barreled action is treated with Marinecote, some kind of tough, durable, waterproof coating. Mossberg does not elaborate in its catalog, and I found nothing definitive on Marinecote via a web search. Regardless, it seems to work. There’s no sign of rust on any of the silvered (Marinecote) parts of the rifle.

But that doesn’t mean there was no rust.

I removed the bolt, magazine, and stock after the hunt and discovered rust on the side of the polymer magazine box frame. It came from the tiny pin holding the coil spring that powers the magazine detach lever. I should think Mossberg could and would want to cure this with a simple stainless pin.

 

The edge of the Mossberg's bedding screw and a pin holding the magazine detach spring represent the bulk of the rust Alaska inflicted on the Patriot.
The edge of the Mossberg’s bedding screw and a pin holding the magazine detach spring represent the bulk of the rust Alaska inflicted on the Patriot.

 

The only other rusting was a bit on the blued steel Leupold STD scope mount bases, the rim of the front bedding screw head, and a touch on one edge of the bolt head. Again, the stainless steel option would seem a simple fix without undue additional cost.

This is fair warning for anyone using Mossberg’s Patriot Laminate Marinecote rifles or other “weatherproof” rifles, including stainless steel, which is rust resistant, not proof. Peruse your firearms carefully to determine if there are any small, uncoated, or non-stainless steel screws, pins, or springs. Lubricate or wax those prior to your wet hunts and your rifle should remain functional during your hunt and rust free afterward. 

 

Mossberg's Patriot in .375 Ruger hangs from the limbs of an alder at the edge of a wet meadow where the author called for moose. They didn't answer.
Mossberg’s Patriot in .375 Ruger hangs from the limbs of an alder at the edge of a wet meadow where the author called for moose. They didn’t answer.

 

The safety and trigger group show no rust. There's a bit on the top of the extractor hook.
The safety and trigger group show no rust. There’s a bit on the top of the extractor hook.

 

For more from Ron Spomer, check out his website, ronspomeroutdoors.com, and be sure to subscribe to Sporting Classics for his rifles column and features.

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