It was with great interest that I opened the long box from Mossberg. I know, many of you have opened similar boxes from that company and have been pleased at the shotgun contained therein. But – I wasn’t opening the box to retrieve a shotgun. Mossberg doesn’t make just shotguns. They make rifles (here, too) and handguns, as well. This usually comes as a surprise to the average shooter who may own a Mossberg 500 or similar scattergun. Mossberg is really well-known and respected for its shotguns, but the rifles and handguns tend to slip under the radar of many shooters. If you follow those links above, you will see that I have reviewed two Mossberg rifles and their excellent small 9mm pistol. I was impressed, by and large, with all three of their guns I reviewed. I have not had an opportunity to get my hands on one of their Patriot bolt actions, but I hear only good things about them. Matter of fact, Mossberg makes twenty-two different rifle models, not counting sub-line models within each group. Not bad for a “shotgun company”!
Now, we come to yet another Mossberg – a lever-action “cowboy-style” rifle. Here it is…
The gun resembles a Winchester 1894 for good reason – it’s based on that worthy platform. Here above we see the stock 464. The stock is nicely checkered on both the pistol grip and the forend. It’s hard to see in this photo but take my word for it. The wood is very nice looking. You can also see the tang-mounted safety sticking up a bit. Speaking of pieces sticking up, we see raised scope mounts on the receiver, as well. There isn’t a lot of history about the 464 – it was introduced in 2008 and comes in calibers .30-30 and .22LR – but the Mossberg story goes way back. I did a fairly detailed review of the company’s history here – please take the time to read it as it is an interesting use of your time, at least in my opinion – the company does go way back. The company has deep roots, and its products show it.
The “Tactical” Solution
Introduced at the 2012 SHOT Show, the Mossberg 464 SPX represents quite a leap for a company whose bread and butter consists of mostly traditionally-styled long guns, with a few different variations thrown in.
Earlier version with different handguard.
This variation looks like somebody put a Winchester 1892 from that era in a time machine and set the Way-Back Machine to modern times… traditional, meet tactical. An argument could be made, of course, that the lever action WAS the tactical rifle of its era – the late 19th and early 20th centuries. When common-use lever action rifles by Spencer and Henry first made their appearance in 1860, the concept was novel. This was during the time when muzzleloading rifles were pretty much the norm – the idea that you could load not just one but several self-contained cartridges into a rifle revolutionized warfare. I’m not a military historian (although I do read an awful lot about that topic). I’ve come to the conclusion that the old Napoleonic battle tactics were still in use during the American Civil War but had fallen out of favor later in part due to the increased firepower that repeating weapons could offer. By the time Winchester came out with its iconic 1873 model, the Civil War was in the past and the American west was being opened up by settlers. Their rifle of choice, if they could afford one, was the lever action. This was the most advanced technology of that era. As we all know, the lever rifle never really went away – there are more modern takes on the rifle in general, with high-capacity magazines and self-loading actions but shooters still reach for their levers if they need a quick-handling, light rifle or carbine in a potent caliber. Some things just don’t change.
Enter The SPX
Fast-forward to over a century later and we have what could be considered the offspring of an AR and a Winchester 92. The Mossberg 464 SPX combines the time-tested underlever action (that moves the bolt rearwards while ejecting the old cartridge case and then picks up a fresh cartridge from the magazine) with new production techniques. This new production might include newer designs and materials in terms of furniture, actions, sights, barrels, etc. Or…take a traditional lever rifle’s action and barrel. Now stick on a polymer, adjustable buttstock. Add a polymer forend complete with mounting rails for other accessories and a flash hider on the muzzle. Don’t forget the poor man’s night sights – fiber optics front and rear. Now, you have modern, old-school tactical! It sounds like an oxymoron but it works. I tell you – this rifle is svelte, light and easily carried. It fits the hand and shoulder really well. If the length of pull is too long, just collapse the buttstock a notch or two. Or. pull it all the way in to make one very short, handy rifle that packs a punch.
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Let’s take a look at our rifle…
Gun profile, right and left
A closer shot
Forend with two of the three rails, above and below
Sights – rear and front…
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Muzzle – flash hider is prominent – above and below
The tang-mounted safety – very handy
Chamber with orange follower
6-position buttstock, (above) left and right side, and buttstock branding up close – no mistaking this one!
Shooting The SPX – Will The .30-30 Still Do The Job?
To continue my sad sob story, my ammo selection was extremely limited for the .30-30. I was given some ammo from friend Duane so that I would have at least one target with holes in it to photograph. Now, I do not doubt that Mossberg’s 464 is an accurate rifle, but I wanted to have some proof to show you. So, it was with great trust that the fiber optic sights would at least put the bullets on the target without scattering them off the paper that I ventured forth to my backyard range. I set the target fairly close, at about 40 yards, because I couldn’t afford to have the rounds off the paper and I wasn’t sure where the “irons” were set. The one and only load I had was the Remington 150-grain Express Cor-Lokt. This load has probably accounted for more deer than I would like to count, and is a foundational load for the .30-30.
The nice part about shooting the venerable .30-30 is the variety of loads available. Sticking with long-time proven loads like this one, you know that you have a baseline from which to go upwards in search of greater ballistics. New loads like the Hornady LeverEvolution and others have transformed the old .30-30 into something approaching the .308 in some cases. Now, I know it isn’t a .308, but it ain’t bad, to be sure. I’ve heard of some shooters taking game larger than whitetail deer with the old round by using modern ammunition. I don’t know that I would go after elk or caribou with it, but for deer in range, it’s meat in the freezer.
One aspect of the gun that really helps when you shoot it is its weight and configuration. Weight, huh? A 5-pound-plus rifle with a weight advantage? I know – usually heavier rifles have that advantage in terms of recoil negation but what I meant was that the lighter weight works to its advantage. The gun is easily handled and moved into shooting position – plus, with the black polymer stock you can rest it on whatever is handy without being worried that you’ll scratch it. Also – let’s face it – the .30-30 isn’t going to jar your dentures loose when you pull the trigger. The round generates a little over 10 pounds of recoil in a 7.5-pound gun (a little more in this 5.5-pound version), but that is still about half that generated by a .30-06. Having said that, the SPX does have a healthy kick – it thumped my shoulder pretty good, but was still enjoyable to shoot. By way of comparison, that’s about the same energy generated by a 240-grain bullet .44 Magnum shot out of a revolver at around 1270 f.p.s. If you can handle the one, you can handle the other. All this is to show that the SPX is one handy rifle, being quick into action and effective on deer-sized game within its range. Add in what I mentioned above about not worrying about marring the finish and you have a winner.
|Caliber:||.30-30 Win |
|Magazine capacity:||6 rounds|
|Barrel length:||16.25" Threaded barrel with A2-style flash suppressor|
|Length:||34.25” (stock extended)|
|Weight:||5 pounds, 8 oz. empty (weighed on my digital scale) |
|Trigger Pull Weight:||4 lbs., 4.6 oz. average, 10 pulls |
|Sights:||Fiber optic 3-dot; drilled and tapped for scope mount|
|Stock:||Black polymer; length of pull is variable, 10.75" - 14.25" via 6-position buttstock|
And, In The End…
We took a fairly detailed look at the 464 SPX. I was truly impressed with it. Please understand that this was a surprise to me, as I had pre-judged the gun from the photos I’d seen – it just didn’t “look right” – and I had already decided that where traditional met tactical in this instance, maybe that introduction should be taken back. I was wrong. The gun is a decent blend of both camps and serves a definite purpose. This is one gun that would not be out of place in a truck, on a boat, in a bug-out kit or similar usage. Retract the stock all the way and you have an easily-transported rifle; pull it out and you have a 34-and-a-quarter inch, “normal”-length rifle. Replace the flash hider with a suppressor and make the gun more user-friendly. Add in the fiber optic sights for a very quick sight picture and the punch of the .30-30 and you have a useful rifle. (If you want it in a smaller caliber, it’s also available in .22LR-that would be one very handy rimfire). The gun definitely serves a purpose.
Something that hit me as I examined this gun is that you don’t give anything up just because it uses a minimal synthetic stock and plain, matte-blued metal. You have an adjustable, 6-position buttstock, a forend with three small rails combined with that long rail on top, decent fiber optic sights and that really accessible tang-mounted safety. To my mind, unless you are just really into fancy-figured stocks and polished blue metal, this gun is the way to go. You get accuracy, reliability and portability without having the possibility of dinging that beautiful stock or scratching the bluing off the fancy gun’s barrel. Please don’t get me wrong – I like the fancy guns as much as anyone else. I just am practical when I need to be, and carrying a $2,000 rifle into the deer woods isn’t my idea of practicality. I looked through the barrel on this black gun and the hole goes all the way through, just like the barrel on that beautiful Custom Deer Stomp-Em .700 Super-Duper Mag with the scope that brings in the moon and the stars… To my notion, the 464 SPX is one useful rifle that will not stay on dealers’ racks for long. If you own one (or the wood version of the 464), write us and tell us how you like it. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!