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.