A while back, my good friend “Mosin” Jack McSpadden turned me on to the Russian-made Mosin Nagant Model 91/30 bolt action rifle. This rifle was used effectively by the Russians, against invading German troops in WWII. “Mosin” Jack owns 4 different Mosin Nagant rifles, and loves them all. He kept harping on me to get one, so when my local gun shop got a 91/30 in on a trade, I snapped it up.
What we have here is a bolt-action, 5-shot rifle, that shoots the 762X54R (rimmed) round. This ammo comes in a couple different flavors — the 148-gr FMJ load is about the same as our .308 Win load in terms of power. There is also a heavy load, and depending which country this ammo is from, it could be a 178-gr or a 180-gr FMJ load, which is about the same as our 30-06 in terms of power. So, we have some potent ammo here, plus I know that Winchester makes a 180-gr Soft Point load in 7.62X54R for hunting purposes.
I believe the Russians made more than 17-million of these rifles in various configurations — some longer, some shorter. While the Mosins are crude by today’s manufacturing standards, they are still very well made rifles.
Meet my Mosin
My Mosin is 48″ in length — that’s right, 4-feet long ! It also came with a 17″ bayonet, so you can reach out there and touch someone. My Mosin also came with a genuine military canvas sling. This is an arsenal refinished gun, and they did a superb job on making this rifle look almost brand-new. I seriously doubt this particular rifle had ever been fired, prior to my owning it. The bore is actually a bit shinny, with no pitting at all. The bolt operates super-smoothly, and it has matching serial numbers (not counting the importer’s stamped serial number on the gun). It was imported by Century Arms International.
My gun has a rounded receiver — some come with a hex-shaped receiver, which are supposedly more collectible. The top of my receiver has 1938 stamped on it, so it is possible this gun was used in WWII, but as I mentioned, the darn thing looks almost brand-new. The curved butt plate is made out steel, which was the standard back in those days — everyone put steel butt plates on military weapons.
The Mosin Nagant is loaded through the top when the bolt is open, and you can load it one of two ways, either one round at a time, or via 5-round stripper clips. “Mosin” Jack sent me a couple mil-spec ammo pouches and stripper clips to go with my Mosin Nagant, and believe me, it is faster and easier to load this gun using the stripper clips. Each mag pouch holds 3 stripper clips, and there are two pouches attached together, so that gives you 30-rounds of ammo on-hand. I have a total of 4 pouches, so I have 60-rds of ammo on my belt.
The Mosin’s bolt is straight, not bent. Now, while it looks a little funky, it is very fast cycling from shot-to-shot, and I actually liked it. And as I said above, it’s very smooth operating, too. Russian snipers used select Mosin’s against German troops to great success.
The sights on my sample are graduated out to 2,000 “whatever” — I’m not sure if it is meters, yards or what. My gun shoots about 10-inches high, so I added a touch of silver solder to the front sight, and it was dead-on. I thought about painting the silver solder black, but I actually liked the silver tip on the front sight, since it makes it stand out. My sample also shot to the right and I had to move the front sight over a bit. They make a tool for adjusting the front sight (windage), but a brass punch and hammer got it moved to where it needed to be.
The wood on my Mosin Nagant looks brand-new and is nicely finished, too. They also made a laminated stock, which is much stronger than the solid wood stock, but I like the wood on my gun. The sling that came on my gun is very old, but it was in great shape. I sprayed it with some water-proofing spray, just to give it a little added protection against the elements.
Like myself, a lot of folks simply aren’t rich, and don’t have a lot of money to spend on firearms. We don’t all need semiauto rifles to defend our property with, either. I note that J&G Sales in Arizona has similar Mosin Nagants to mine, for $169.95, and that is one heck of a deal. You can also get some that are better graded for a little bit more money.
So how does it shoot?
After getting my gun on-paper at 25-yards, I set-up a target at 100-yards to see what it could do. I was getting 2 3/4 inch groups if I did my part, and if I wasn’t concentrating enough, I was getting 3 – 4 1/2 inch groups — not too shabby for a rifle that was made prior to WWII and that has a pretty tough trigger pull. Plus, I was using mil-surplus ammo.
I will say that my Mosin is a lot of fun to shoot — it’s almost addictive at times. Now, while I wouldn’t want to go up against someone armed with an AK-47 or AR-15 at close range, I wouldn’t hesitate to take ‘em on at really long range with my Mosin, assuming I had a scope mounted on it. You can also find scope mounts and sporter stocks from J&G Sales for Mosin’s too.
For anyone on a tight budget who’s looking for a high-powered rifle for hunting or for protecting the homestead, you could do a lot worse than the Mosin Nagant. They are battle proven, tough, and smooth feeding guns. J&G Sales also has military surpluse 148-gr FMJ ammo in a sardine can — 440-rds for slightly under a hundred bucks, which is a lot of fun shooting and ammo for defending yourself with.
Keep in mind, however, that military surplus ammo is corrosive, so you need to clean your gun as soon as possible after firing it. I run some hot soapy water through the bore, and then I finish-up with some Italian Gun Grease, copper eliminator, and lube with IGG Tactical gun oil.
So, if you’re on a budget, and you want a high-powered rifle for plinking fun, protecting the homestead, military collecting, or whatever reason, a Mosin Nagant is a great option. Honestly, they are just a lot of fun to shoot, and, like me, you might find yourself getting addicted to shooting it.