[Review] Mossberg 715T: “Black Rifle” For Almost Any Budget

Look at the photo above. What gives it away? You know – gives away the fact that this is not a normal AR-pattern rifle. Look at the magazine and the bolt. This is not a normal AR-15. Not normal, that is, unless the rifle is chambered in the “other” .22 – the .22 Long Rifle. This is no centerfire MSR, but a clever attempt to make a “lowly” .22 look like one.

Why?

Why in the world would someone want to own a .22 LR version of the .223/5.56 AR? Well, to whittle it down to two words, cheap practice. The rifle itself (except for its lighter weight) looks and feels pretty much like my AR in terms of handling, sighting, and ergonomics. But…this particular rifle is not an AR, we must remember that. This gun is based on the Mossberg 702 Plinkster and uses that action, and is made (like the 702) in Brazil by Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos (CBC). Mossberg imports and sells both models. It is, basically, that same 702 in AR-style plastic trappings.

If you are looking for a more traditional AR rimfire to complement your .223 version, take a look at the H&K 416 or the S&W M&P 15-22…these rifles are made to the more-familiar AR pattern, with similar controls. The most noticeable difference between the 715T and your .223 AR, as mentioned above, is when you pick it up – it’s pretty light. Since it isn’t meant to contain the 50,000 pounds or so of pressure that the .223 generates, it can be made with less metal, hence its lighter weight. With the receiver being made of polymer as opposed to aluminum alloy, the gun weighs but 5.5 pounds. It shoulders very easily, but more about shooting it later. It does, however, really look like an AR.

Another purpose that this rifle fulfills is to welcome a young shooter to the world of rimfires. The “cool” factor is off the charts for this Mossberg… can you see a youngster (who’s just starting off learning to shoot) picking a 702-styled gun over something that looks likes an AR? I’ve had a lot of first-hand experience with young shooters, and I believe that the 715T would be the hands-down winner in that particular contest. Imagine being a youngster who wanted a “real” rifle for Christmas, opening up the package and pulling an AR-like rifle out of the box. That’s going to make that guy or gal happy, for sure.

The Rifle

Let’s look at some specifications about the 715T (I can only imagine that the “T” means tactical).

Action:Semi-automatic
Weight, as already mentioned:5.5 pounds
Barrel:Carbon steel, 16.25 inches, 1:16 twist
Finish:Blue
Magazine Capacity:25 rounds, 10 round version available
Trigger:Single action, 3 pounds 8.8 ounces (average of 10 pulls measured by my Lyman digital trigger gauge); small amount of take-up, very large amount of creep, no overtravel
Buttstock:6-position
Overall Length:33 to 36.75 inches, depending on buttstock position
MSRP/Real-World Pricing:$439/approx. $240 - $260

Sights

Originally introduced with the familiar Colt-style carry handle and built-in adjustable “iron” (though they were made of plastic) sights, in 2012 Mossberg introduced the flat top version I shot. Coming with or without a red dot sight, this gun allows you to customize accessories you wish to add. You can stick most any AR-style doodad on the 3-6-9-12 Picatinny rail…mine had a Barska red dot sight attached. One not-so-great Picatinny rail “feature” – the rail’s edges are sharp, and my hand got sore after a decently-long shooting session. You could buy rail covers that fill in the slots, or install a vertical hand grip. Were this gun mine, that’s what I would do, since I have a vertical grip doing nothing in my gun kit bag but the gun was borrowed. This is a small thing, and one to be expected with a rail-equipped rifle but it’s something to be aware of.

Some Photos

Here are some photos I shot of the rifle…

Mossberg 715T up-close
Close-up of the receiver’s right side.
Mossberg 715T rollmarking left
Lettering, left side (and below).

Mossberg 715T rollmarking left-forward

Mossberg 715T top-rail
Rails
Mossberg 715T rollmarking-right
Lettering, right side. Note “solid” charging handle – it looks functional, I guess.
Mossberg 715T bolt handle
Bolt handle – push in to lock bolt open (hence the arrow).
Mossberg 715T buttstock
Six-position buttstock with sling swivel stud.
Mossberg 715T magazine
25-round magazine…ten-rounders are available.
red-dot on Mossberg 715T
Barska 50mm red dot sight. This $50 sight has 11 levels of dot brightness. The 5-MOA dot performed well.
Mossberg 715T red-dot reticle
(5-MOA dot magnified by camera).
Mossberg 715T muzzle close-up
Muzzle with A2 flash hider.
Mossberg 715T muzzle
Muzzle, again. Note sling swivel a little further back – the rifle is sling-ready, at least in front.

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Differences

There are some differences between the Mossberg and a “real” AR, aside from the obvious caliber-related issues. It was for the reason that there are some discrepancies in features and manual of arms that I recommended above that if you are looking for a true AR-style rimfire to practice with, you might want to look at the H&K or S&W rifles mentioned above.
Here are few things I noticed:

  • The BCG charging handle is for show, molded to the receiver rear – the actual bolt handle is attached to the side of the bolt like other .22 rimfire rifles. Push it in to lock it open
  • The magazine release is very different – there is a lever on either side of the magazine well. Push it down to release the mag
  • The receiver is polymer, not aluminum and is constructed as a two-part molding – you can see the center mold line

These are the “big 3” differences I found with a cursory inspection. There are others, but remember that this rifle is not supposed to be an authentic AR rimfire clone. It’s basically just a “tactical” rendering of their 702 Plinkster. As long as you remember that, you will probably be happy with the rifle – don’t try to make it something it’s not.

Magazine Woes

Here’s the included 25-round magazine. I had trouble loading more than about 12 rounds – Mossberg includes a push-down style loader to help, plus you can pull the side buttons down to take tension off the magazine spring to help ease loading rounds.

Mossberg 715T mag-numbers

Magazine: Down But Not Out?

In order to remove the magazine from the rifle, you press down on a lever (located on either side) on the mag well and pull the mag out. It will NOT fall free of its own weight…in fact, I had a dickens of a time removing it. I’ve had lug nuts on my truck seemingly come loose with a tire iron easier than the force that this mag needed for removal. It just stuck in the well. I never have a gorilla around when I need one…

I finally figured a way to get it out. First, I turned the rifle upside down with the muzzle pointing left. Then, I grabbed the barrel and part of the mag well (just forward of said mag well) with my left hand which allowed me to press the mag release lever with my left thumb. I rested the buttstock against my leg to prevent its movement. My right hand wiggled and pulled the mag until it came out.

No kidding – I had to resort to this maneuver in order to get the mag out to reload it. I did learn, early on, to make sure the bolt wasn’t pressing against the magazine follower from behind. I would pull the bolt back slightly, press the follower down with my finger, and let the bolt go slowly forward over the top of said follower. (That’s after getting my finger out of the way). Having done this, the mag follower wouldn’t get caught by the bolt’s forward travel and thereby add to the mag extraction tension.

After removing the magazine several times, it is starting to loosen up a bit. I would imagine that, after shooting the rifle a few more times, the mag will come out by using “normal” means. The magazine was reliable, however, once it was loaded and inserted – I had no failures of any kind with the different types of .22 ammo I shot. The gun was reliable, as well. It’s just too bad the darn mag is so hard to remove. On the positive side, I do think the magazine will come out easier as time goes on. The rifle was new – it had not been shot when I got hold of it, so things were stiff. At least it made up for the hard removal when I shot it…this is one fun gun. Speaking of shooting…

Shooting The 715T

I shot several different types of rimfire ammo through this rifle with nary a bobble. It ate whatever I put in the magazine and had no failures of any kind.

I do think the optic prevented me from shooting the rifle to its fullest accuracy potential. The gun was, as I said earlier, new and had not been shot. It was acquired by friend Glen as a combination package – rifle and red dot. He told me he’d not shot it, which would explain why (when I shot it) the group I fired was a good two feet low at 50 yards. Many, many clicks later on the elevation reticle adjustment wheel, the optic was putting rounds towards the center of the paper target. I never got it fully dialed in, since that would be pointless on a borrowed rifle, but got it close enough for the intended purpose.

I have a tough time with some optics on AR-type rifles – I can’t seem to get low enough to see through the sight or scope. This one was no exception…notice I don’t have a photo of a target to post here. I had a tough time lining everything up. This is not a slam on the gun or sight – it’s just how I’m built, neck-challenged. My own kids tease me about not having a neck, so I’m used to it, but it sure makes peering through a scope or sight tough at times. So, with my head as far down as I could get it, I finally was able to see through the sight. (I know, I could get a raised comb for the buttstock and then put the sight on a riser but this wasn’t my gun).

Trigger & Dot

The trigger is interesting on this rifle. It’s almost two-stage…I could squeeze a bit, let pressure off while I finalized the sight picture, then finish the break. It was, in essence, like the gun had a lighter pull than what I measured with my Lyman trigger gauge if I waited for the “second stage” to break. Once I got used to it, I was OK. Since this is a $250 rifle, I don’t expect it to have a competition-style, break-like-a-glass-rod trigger. Hence, I wasn’t disappointed. It works, and that’s the bottom line. At least it wasn’t too stiff…I mentioned above that it measured (average of 10 pulls) at 3 pounds, 8.8 ounces on my Lyman trigger pull gauge. That’s not too bad for a rifle in this price range.

Another factor was the red dot itself. It is a claimed 5 MOA dot, which I believe, but it subtended the target center at 50 yards and left me guessing a bit when to break the shot. (I had the intensity up to 10…if I’d backed it off, it may have been better, with less glow). Again, like the trigger, once I figured it out it got somewhat better. I had my share of the sighting-in-50-yard-dash(es)…shoot 5-10 shots, go look at the target, adjust the elevation, hurry back, do it again. I know, there are easier ways to do it but I needed my exercise. It got to the point where I was wondering about the way the sight was attached to the rifle – was it solid? I should have just taken the thing off and re-mounted it, but since it wasn’t mine I didn’t. If it were mine, I would’ve re-mounted the sight and done a couple of other small things in order to make it easier for me to shoot. I finally got smart and just went to about 15 yards to check zero and adjust if needed. I got it figured out, then moved back to the 50-yard bench.

At any rate, I did get some shooting in and was generally pleased. I tried CCI Minimags, Remington Thunderbolts, CCI Low-Velocity and a couple other types of .22 ammo in the gun. As I said above, there were no failures. I just had trouble getting the sight to achieve (and hold) a proper, tight zero, but it finally got dialed in. As I said, If I had taken the time to re-mount the sight, things might’ve been different. But, let’s face it, this is a $250 gun so we’re not talking Camp Perry-style accuracy here. For its intended purpose, the 715T is a heck of a bargain. Once the sight issue was resolved, I could see it coming with me on a walk through our woods during squirrel season or at an extended plinking session with my boys. It is one very light rifle that’s a hoot to shoot.

*Update*
After thinking about it, I figured Glen wouldn’t mind if I moved the sight – he hadn’t shot it yet, and this way, it will at least put shots on the paper for him when he does shoot it. So, I did take the time to re-mount the red dot sight. It was loose, as I suspected, so I moved it a slot or two closer to my nose and cinched it down tightly. I was rewarded with a dot that was centered in the sight, or was at least closer. Here is a target I shot – not exactly Olympic quality, but this was from standing beside a barricade at about 25 yards and cradling the handguard with my off hand, against the barricade. The ammo was CCI Mini Mags. At least the shots are on the paper. Accuracy could be made better with the right .22 ammo – we know that every .22 firearm has its favorite brand – and by shooting from a bench, but I just wanted to check practical accuracy in a quick, informal setting. This rifle is a great plinker and (most likely) a good squirrel gun with the right ammo. Again, it was fun to shoot.

revised target

Here are some pros and cons…

Pros
  • Price: street, around $250
  • Light weight
  • Solid rimfire platform
  • Adjustable buttstock- makes for a very compact rifle
  • Red dot sight precision
  • Reliable – shot everything I put through it
Cons
  • Magazine very hard to remove
  • Sight needs some work in order to tighten groups up
  • Mold lines and other build items visible

Really, taking into account the price, this rifle is not a bad deal at all. Some out there would not like seeing mold lines, expecting better fit & finish, but it doesn’t bother me. Once the mag issue was resolved, and the sight re-mounted and zeroed, this little shooter would accompany me all the time when I ventured out to my backyard range or woods.

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Conclusion

Looking for a .22 “knockabout” truck rifle? How about a gun to take camping or on a hike? Need a new squirrel gun? Pesky tin cans mocking your marksmanship abilities? The 715T would fit into any of these scenarios and do a good job in the process. It’s short and light enough to go just about anywhere you go (where a rifle is practical, of course), yet accurate enough to make you glad you brought it. The 25-round magazine lets you stretch your shooting time a bit before reloading, and the red dot (once set) will let you keep both eyes open as you sight in your target.

I could see this rifle really growing on me – it’s hard to wring a gun out in the typical short period we have to review them – so I would like to reserve final judgement if and until I have the time to really shoot it a lot. I have read several other positive reviews of the gun, which is good.
If you are wanting to get a new rifle without breaking the bank, check this little guy out. Here’s a link to this rifle at Cabelas – it shows iron sights, but you could add a red dot or scope. I think you could do worse.

Please leave a comment below if you’ve had experience with this rifle. As always, get out and go shooting, and stay safe!

Mike
Written by Mike

Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 8-and-counting grandkids.

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