January 22, 2017

History on the Cheap—Mosin Nagant


I recently wrote an article about the Top 10 Must Own Guns.  I asked you, the readers, to make your own lists and post them in the comments.  Fortunately for me, many of you came through, and we had a tons of contributors. One of the guns that was mentioned most often on the readers’ lists was the Mosin-Nagant.  So, I figured that this historic rifle deserved its own article.

So, what’s the big deal about the Mosin-Nagant?  Why do so many people talk about this rifle so much? If you’ve never shot a Mosin, then these are understandable questions to ask. But for those of us who have shot a Mosin, the answers are easy. The rifle is fun to shoot, it is cheap to buy, and the ammo is dirt cheap as well. The rifle is accurate and it’s a fun, inexpensive way to enjoy part of world military history.

The Mosin-Nagant (a misnomer) is a rifle that has been in production in various forms since 1891.  The name Mosin-Nagant comes from two of the three people that entered rifles in the military rifle trials in 1889.  Sergei Mosin’s rifle was ultimately selected over the rifle of Leon Nagant, a Belgian engineer. Legend has it that Mosin stole some of the design aspects of his competitor’s rifle and a legal dispute ensued. The Russian government ending up paying Nagant a few hundred thousand rubles to make him go away. The name Mosin-Nagant was a name only used outside of Russia.

After WWI, the Russians ordered 1.5 million of these rifles from two American companies, the New England Westinghouse Company and Remington Arms.  These rifles were ordered, and part way through the contract, the Bolsheviks took over the government of Russia.  The new government refused to pay for the rifles, so the remaining ones were issued to US Army soldiers and a few were sold to private citizens in the United States of America. These few Mosin-Nagants are by far the most valuable of all the available models.

The rifle underwent iterations during the following years, and in 1930, the version that we see today was adopted.  The 91/30, paying homage to the original year it was adopted and the year it was revised, is chambered in the powerful 7.62x54R, often referred to as the Russian .30-06. There are also carbine versions of the 91/30, denoted as the Model 1938, the M44, and M59. This rifle played a major role in WWII.  The Russians issued this rifle to the majority of their infantrymen.  The Mosin-Nagant helped to defend the city of Stalingrad from an advancing German army.  The Mosin-Nagant also came in a sniper version, which was used to terrorize German soldiers.  It’s a fact that the Mosin-Nagant was known for its reliability, accuracy, and ease of use and cleaning.  The sniper version made Vasili Zaitsev and Ivan Sidorenko into Russian war heroes. The story of Zaitsev was loosely told in the movie Enemy at the Gates.

This rifle was just used in WWII.  It has been used in almost every war since WWII.  It was used extensively by the Chinese and North Koreans during the Korean Conflict.  The North Vietnamese as well as the Viet Cong used this rifle during the Vietnam War.  It is probably easier to list the wars where the Mosin-Nagant was not used.

Now, this rifle has been made available to the American sportsman.  The Mosin is fun to shoot right out of the box.  I bought two of these rifles about 3 years ago for $89 each, and a can of 440 rounds of ammo ran me $99.99.  Trust me when I say that it takes a long time to shoot 440 rounds through the Mosin. Realistically, of course, there are some downsides to this rifle.  When you shoot it, the stock gets very hot. I have had it hot enough that it is dripping cosmoline and varnish! Sometimes, the rounds will get jammed in the box magazine that is attached to the rifle, but this is easy to fix.  I have also found that the clips you can buy do not work as well as I would like.  I have also noticed that the cleaning rod tends to come unscrewed as you shoot the rifle, which is really more of a mere annoyance than anything else.

On the plus side, making modifications to the rifle is pretty easy.  Many shooters have turned the Mosins into sniper rifles by having the bolt handle bent, installing a bipod and a scope.  It is also easy to replace the standard stock with a new composite stock.

If you have never shot one of these beauties, find a friend that has one and convince them to take you shooting.  I promise that after a few hundred rounds you will be sore and in love. You will want one of your own, and in fact, my bet is that you will end up buying more than one.  I own two, and I know some people that own six or seven.

As a military history buff, I love knowing that I am holding history in my hands.  That is why I love the M1 Carbine.  This is also why I love taking my Mosin out to shoot.  All the people that I have let shoot my Mosin have fallen in love with it.

So, this weekend, before the snow flies, go out and shoot a 91/30.  I promise that you will have the time of your life.


988 Responses to “History on the Cheap—Mosin Nagant”
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  4. ElderAmbassador says:

    The Finn M39 Model is far and away the better model for shooting, accuracy, etc. About the only thing the Finns kept is the receiver and magazine box. They put their own stock (2 or 3 piece), trigger (a BIG improvement), and barrel.

    That said, I really like shooting the 1891/59 Carbine. Not intended to have a bayonet, just like the Russian M38 Carbine. The other Russian models all shoot better, or at least closer to point of aim, with the bayonet mounted, or in the case of the M44, with the bayonet extended.

    But he’s right, they are a blast to shoot, especially one of the carbines just at dusk – the fireball is Very impressive! And a slip-on rubber butt pad is a Lot of help.

    I always take a thermos of hot water to pour down the barrel immediately after shooting, while the barrel is still hot, or at least warm. Then a thorough cleaning immediately after returning home!

  5. Floyd R Turbo (American) says:

    Probably should point out that this thing kicks hard. Fortunately a “Limbsaver” butt-pad ($20 at Walmart), will fix that problem completely.

  6. Lying Bastard says:

    Don’t forget that wimpy kid, Simo Häyhä, used those rifles when he was delivering gifts to the Soviets.

  7. izaak says:

    The M44 is probably the most economical Mosin around. The Russians and others made a boat-load of them and they are just as good for shooting as other models.

    The Finn Mosins are some of the finest, and have the nicest stocks and barrels. Pricey.

    • Thomas Jackson says:

      Bought a 1967 finnish m-38 back in 08 for 275$. Number 7 on the rarity class. Have seen the 68,69,70 and 71 for sale starting ate $475 but have yet to see another 1967. As accurate as my swiss k-31

      • izaak says:

        I have one of the Finn Skye Mosins, I think I put down $150 for it about 8 years ago. I forget the year, but it’s stunningly accurate. The stock is beautiful too.

  8. Tom Hudson says:

    Hey Guys this is Tom Hudson–I have to make an amendment to this article. Grandpa Bob is correct–Russia ordered the Mosins from America During WWI not after. Sorry for the mix ups on dates. Thanks for keeping me in line guys and thanks for reading.


    • Scott S says:

      Hi Tom,
      What can be done to make your articles readable to me? I have not had the problem before, but now I get a pop up ad right in the middle of every story. I can only read around the edges and have “guess” what is missing in the middle. I have found no way to get rid of them even by going to the site advertised. I have enjoyed reading these articles for a while now, and I do understand the need for advertising, but what I am getting now is un usable to me and I will have to get removed from the list if I can’t read them. Thanks for all the good stories you put out there. I want to enjoy them too.

      • Tom Hudson says:

        Hey Scott–I had no idea this was happening. I’ll let the power that be know. We want you to keep reading. Thanks for the feedback.

  9. Grandpa Bob says:

    The Russians ordered rifles from US manufacturers during and not after WWI. The Chinese rifles in general exhibit much better fit and finish than the normal Russian Mosin 91/30. The Mosin was also made in Poland, Romania, Hungary, and France (as part of a very early 1891 contract). The Russian rifles tend to bring more money because Russian rifles are more appealing than Chinese rifles to most people. Also, there is really only 1 model of Chinese Mosin while there are many different models of Russian Mosins.

    Sporterizing a Mosin is really not a good idea. They are capable of great accuracy as is, especially if you get a Finn modified one. Also, you can buy real snipers for about the price of a stock Mosin, good scope and mount, doo-dads and frills, and gunsmith charges. There are several sources of scout-type mounts that replace the rear sight and result in a very serviceable rifle using an LER scope. If you sporterize a Mosin you will have something not worth the sum of its parts with zero collectability.

    Please note that you must assume that all milsurp ammo is corrosive and that you must clean your rifle immediately after shooting. A Mosin bore can be trashed by rust in 24 hours if left uncleaned in any area with any humidity to speak of.

    • nick says:

      Grandpa bob:
      I suggest buying 2 mosin’s, leaving one original and sporterizing the other. Mosin’s are the most produced rifle of all time, sporterize and it’s still a $100 dollar gun. No need to worry about collectability unless you own a Finn Sniper.

  10. Kaiahso says:

    They are much better. The fit and finish of the Russian Mosin are much better. Look at the machining marks when you get to see one. The Russians early rifles are well made and almost tight compared to the Chinese. Later Russian rifles are not as well made. Pull out the bolt, look at the milling marks and see for yourself. Also, many people complain about the trigger feeling gritty. With a little bit of effort, this can be improved with the stock trigger. But, do not shim it to lighten the load as this can compromise the safety of the gun. Do it right.

  11. Edward Ingle says:

    Looking on “Gunbroker” I see that the Russian made Mosin’s are more expensive than the Chinese made Mosin’s. Is the quality that much different or is it just prejudice of guns made in China?
    The days of prices that you found may be gone.

    • JoeHollinger says:

      The Chinese M53 versions that I have seen are well used and abused in that the exterior wood is
      pretty well beat up and the hardware shows evidence of ware and use. That apparently doesn’t
      interfere with its workings because mine shoots just fine.

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