Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Sergeant and thoughts on the Mosin Nagant rifle

I have been "talking" with an Australian shooter here lately.  I haven't got a blog address or I'd post it, because he's an interesting individual and I've learned some things from his comments that were fascinating. For instance, everyone knows all the bureaucratic rigamarole you have to go through here to buy a gun. But before the semi-autos were all taken away from people there, he bought himself an SLR direct from Lithgow just by sending a check!  That boggles the mind.  The man had a great collection of weapons but now, things being what they are, he is into black powder. I own two black powder weapons I've never really messed with. I got them at an auction, as part of a 22 gun lot that had some pistols I wanted.  So the Colt Army is up on the wall over the fireplace, and the Hawkins plains rifle is in the case in a safe.  Having read his comments on black powder shooting I'm going to haul them out to the gun club when it's Fall and find someone who can show me how to operate them.

He had some great bolt guns, too.  Reading about those, I remember a comment Herodutus Huxley made when we were talking about the Ishapore Enfield 2 and 2A.  She said if someone wanted a modestly priced rifle the Mosin Nagant was the way to go.

I have been grubbing through various surplus firearms wholesaler catalogs and I would say she is correct. It's always possible to find a good Mauser or something along those lines in a pawn shop or at a gun show if you want to take some time. But the Mosin Nagant Model 1891/30 you can order through a gun shop, or probably just find some at a gun store.  The prices are shocking, though.  Less than a year ago a new condition Mosin Nagant 1891/30 with a sling, ammo pouches, bayonet, and oil bottle was well under $100.00.  Now they are pushing $200.00.  Still, they seem to be the least expensive battle rifle out there.

 There actually are some original Model 1891 rifles extant, but you'll probably never see an example. I have only one, and I had to hunt a long time for it because so many of the 1891 rifles were rebuilt as 91/30's. But the 91/30 is a good, reliable rifle chambered in 7.62X54R.  Surplus ammo is still comparatively cheap, but unless you have a number of cases stashed away the days of 800 rounds for $64.00 are gone. You can still get it though, and that's something.  The ammo is available on stripper clips, which you definitely need. It takes seconds to strip ammo into the magazine off a clip, much longer to laboriously put the rounds in the single stack magazine by hand. The ammo is properly aligned on the clip, but if you try to load by hand you have to load to overlap the rimmed cartridge correctly or you are begging for a jam.

The little Mosin Nagant Model 1938 is handy, but they are highly collectible, which means scarce and expensive. They will also knock the fillings out of your teeth, because although they are much lighter, they fire the same full powered 7.62X54R cartridge. The muzzle flash is impressive, especially at night so if you don't hit an intruder you'll probably scare them to death anyway.

Mosin Nagant stripper clips

Then there's the Model 1944.   This used to be the rifle nobody wanted, because it has a bayonet on it that's not detachable. Makes the gun muzzle heavy and looks really strange.  Then, a few years back, a book came out on surplus bolt action military rifles, and it lauded the M44 as a great rifle for collectors.  Made in many different countries, and cheap.  Suddenly everybody was buying them up and the price sky rocketed. They do make great truck guns or home defense guns though.

You could think of the Model 1944 as a Model 1938 with a bayonet, because that's about what it amounts to.

So,  if  I had to watch my cash but had no firearm to defend myself with, these rifles would be a good place to start looking.


  1. Indeed. I think everyone should own at least two, or three. Great post, Harry.

    1. I should find that old motivator on Nagants.

  2. Yep theya re still the best bang for the buck although five will run you almost a grand now without ammo.

    They are also great cache and forget weapons IMO. Although not as painless for that as they once were either.

    I need to pick up a Carbine specimen though someday.

  3. Good luck finding a carbine. They were always kind of hit and miss even back in the "good old days." Maybe in a pawn shop or at a gun show.

    The prices today are obscene. I went back and found that old motivator about the Mosin Nagant, and whenever it was made (I'm guessing five years or so back) 5 rifles ran you $400 according to the text. Sounds about right to me.

    One of my "behind the door" guns is a Tula made 1943 dated 1891/30. I've put a lot of rounds down range with that rifle and it's a peach.

  4. As far as I can tell other previously affordable WWI-II era surplus rifles have either risen dramatically in cost (Springfield, Enfield, obscure Mosin's) or the ammo is unavailable except as an uuber expensive specialty item (Reuben Shmidt, French Lebel) or high ammo costs make the gun no longer cost effective (Springfield, Enfield, Mausers) which leaves the Mosin as the only really viable WWII era budget rifle.

    From what I have seen today you can get a 91/30 for $175-200 or an M44 for about fifty dollars more. Ammo is somewhere around .25c a round. So for the price of a new budget rifle like a Ruger American, Savage Axis, etc you can have a Mosin with several hundred rounds of ammo. Not my favorite option for anything but it sure beats a sharp stick or an envelope with AR-15 written on it and $500 inside.

    1. Those are valid points. To be really viable, an old bolt gun needs an owner who can load for it. Surplus is drying up, largely I think due to the State Department intentionally slowing down or outright disapproving import permits, and the effects of the U.N. treaty suppressing the export of surplus arms and ammunition.

      The real shame of it is that when ammo was freely imported, a wooden case of 8mm Mauser, holding two spams cans of 440 rounds each, was about $125.00 plus S&H. British .303 , 800 rounds in a wooden case, in spam can, was $135.00. Now both the weapons and the ammo are getting in the too expensive category.

  5. G'day Harry,

    Thanks for the kind words! I find it interesting that Mosin Nagent's are that popular in America, I have not seen any for years here in Australia. That makes me want to kick myself even harder as back in the 70's when I was young and stupid and just starting to shoot I came across a Mosin made in 1917 by Remington for the Czar. The back sights were graduated in that strange Russian measurement the arshin (roughly eqivalent to the yard), then when the Bolsheviks took over these were scored out and metres stamped on the sight. The bore was a bit rough but I guess Russian peasants weren't that big on cleaning barrels, I ended up selling it to help finance a nice Winchester .22 Magnum lever action because it looked much cooler!


    1. I would love to have had that rifle. Mine , the only 1891 in my collection, was made at Tula. A Remington or Westinghouse 1891 would be a spectacular addition. Alas, they are almost impossible to find now outside of specialty shops and cost an arm and a leg.

      The 1891/30 is popular here because it's robust, powerful and cheap. For awhile a company called Aztec Arms in Florida was selling them by the crate, in arsenal refinished condition. Now they are harder to find and the prices have really gone up.

      Good to have you stop by. I enjoy hearing about shooting in your part of the world.

  6. I was around for the late '80's / early 90's military surplus invasion and was glad I took advantage of the bargain priced firearms. Mauser '98s for a C-Note - yeah, pass that around.

    Much later (2005?), the Swiss K-31s were offered for around same price - THOSE were outstanding bargains, the ammunition then (and now) the fly in the ointment. The Russian bolt is for the masses - the Swiss bolt is for precision, what a sweet gun those are.

    1. When I got my first K-31, I took it out to the range to shoot it. There was a guy in the club, who had been a German soldier in WW2. After the war he went to Canada, then wound up down here. He was a terrific shot. He fired my rifle at white rocks out on the berm at 100 yards and was hitting these little rocks consistently. He said the K-31 was one of the finest rifles he knew of, a considerable complement considering the man's background.

      I started serious collecting in 1986, and kind of tapered off, except for special pieces, around 2005. You're right, that was a golden age. My storerooms bulge with reminders of that era.