Budget Gun Review: Mosin-Nagant 91-30
Budget Gun Review:
4 kg (8.8 lb) (M91/30)
3.4 kg (7.5 lb) (M38)
4.1 kg (9 lb) (M44)
1,287 mm (50.7 in) (M91/30)
1,013 mm (39.9 in) (carbines)
730 mm (28.7 in) (M91/30)
514 mm (20.2 in) (carbines)
7.62x53mmR (Finnish variants only)
Light ball, ~ 1,100 m/s (3,609 ft/s) rifle
~ 800 m/s (2,625 ft/s) carbine.
Effective range 500 m (550 yards), 750+ m (with optics)
Feed system 5-round non-detachable magazine, loaded individually or with five-round stripper clips.
Sights Rear: ladder, graduated from 100 m to 2500 m (M91/30) and from 100 m to 1500 m (M38 and M44); Front: hooded fixed post (drift adjustable)
I don’t know why I didn’t review this one sooner. The venerable, honorable, dependable Mosin-Nagant is as “budget” as a battle rifle could ever be.
Developed in 1891 by Sergei Mosin, this was THE battle rifle for Russia and Eastern Europe until a crabby upstart named Mikhail Kalashnikov got all pissy and started peddling assault rifles to the Estern Bloc in the fifties.
The “91-30” part indicates that it was developed in 1891 and fired a 30-caliber round. Specifically, the badass 7.62X54 round, now often referred to as the “Dragunov.” More on that later.
Let’s get started!
Weapon of the proletariat!
-I purchased a working version of this weapon for 48 dollars. Not a typo, people. Forty-eight US dollars is what I paid. It was in rough shape, but it had all its parts and functioned perfectly (sort of). A good-looking, good-shooting, proud-to-have-it version of this rifle goes for about $140.00 at Cabela’s, and much less at a gun show. That is a very low price to pay for something that can under ideal conditions, reach out and touch the bad guy at 700 yards (or more, if you have a Finnish version).
Long distance talker-
In the good ol’ days, when bolt action rifles with small magazines ruled the land, he who shot first, often shot last. With a 28” barrel, and a cartridge that is ballistically superior to the 30.06, this weapon will typically get you that coveted first shot. How anyone ever made a shot at the factory-rated range of 700 yards with the ladder sites it came with, I’ll never know; but this was the preferred weapon of Vasily Zaytsev and Simio Hayha, arguably two of the greatest snipers who ever lived. Hell, who’s even arguing that?
Good enough for him...
Dependable, like the Motherland.-
-This weapon employs a very traditional Russian attitude towards maintenance. Which is: why bother? Generous tolerances in the bolt and receiver, a robust cartridge, and simplistic construction means that all you ever really need to do is spray this thing down with oil every few thousand rounds and wipe it off. The blood of a freshly killed Nazi works to varnish the wood, and the whole thing can be cleaned in the Volga River if you have access. It has very few moving parts, and can be disassembled by a 4th grader with ADHD. The stock is one solid piece of wood, and the barrel is a solid piece of milled steel. It has often been said that in addition to a fine rifle, the Mosin-Nagant makes an excellent pike, oar, tent stake, war-club, or prybar. Most of these weapons still in existence still function. That is not hyperbole. If it has all its parts, it will shoot. My own was constructed in 1943 and all the parts are original.
-This thing is 48 inches long before you extend the bayonet, which is another 6 yards long or so…at least it seems that way. There will be no CQB with this rifle unless you are swinging it like a club or stabbing someone from across the room. It’s long, comparatively heavy, and not as well balanced as a modern weapon. Mother Russia holds “ergonomics” somewhere near the bottom of its list of priorities; right below “maintenance,” and “good manners,” I suspect.
What? Huh? Say again??!!-
Be sure to wear your ear and eye protection when you play with this monster. The construction is simple, the cartridge is powerful, so expect a very loud bang when you pull the trigger. The accompanying fireball is impressive as well. It is a point of pride amongst Mosin owners that more often than not, the sound waves alone created by the Mosin can knock over targets downrange. This may be an exaggerated claim, but I will confess from personal experience that this thing is much louder than its cousins the M-1 Garand, the Mauser, and the Lee-Enfield. You will get noticed when this sucker goes off.
Hide the kids
Like communism, the concept is obsolete!-
This is a 5-round, 48-inch long, turn-of-the-century, bolt-action battle rifle. Quite honestly, virtually every aspect of this weapons’ performance has been improved upon. Newer sniper rifles have better range and ergonomics, newer assault rifles have larger magazines and better rate of fire. 18-inch bayonets have not been in fashion for years. This is an old weapon for a bygone era, you cannot change that. Something newer rifles cannot do is be purchased for under a hundred bucks and function under virtually any conditions you can think of.
Military surplus rifles are fun. Mother Russia and the Eastern Bloc made so many of these, owning one makes you part of a large brotherhood of people who respect toughness and simplicity in their weapons. People will want to talk about your rifle, and try it out. It will give you opportunities to educate the young, impress the old, and still kill bad guys a quarter mile away. It’s just plain fun and cool to still be firing s apiece of history at the range today. So you can keep your H&K flavor-of-the-week piston-operated whatever. Real men use 75-year-old weapons and bullets that can penetrate an inch of steel.
They have potential...
Communists don’t do fashion.-
This rifle has a couple of variants and very few looks. Modern accessories include scopes and composite stocks, and I recommend them. A new Monte Carlo stock will run you 50 bucks and will greatly improve the ergonomics of your weapon. If historical accuracy is your thing, virtually every part of your Mosin can be replaced through online dealers. Furthermore, you no longer have to use corrosive ammo. Modern 7.62X54 shoots just as clean as you please, but cheap, corrosive Bulgarian stuff can be purchase for 5 cents a round online. Just remember to swab your barrel with ammonia after every trip to the range if you use it.
I’m two minds about this. This really probably isn’t a rifle for beginners. Ergonomics, recoil, and age make me believe that this is not a weapon for junior’s first trip to the range. It’s heavy; it kicks like a mule, and can be quirky about cycling cheap ammo. It is a GREAT first weapon for practicing your burgeoning gunsmithing skills. It is simple and leaves a large margin for error with things like headspacing etc. This is not a weapon you want to trot jauntily into the woods with to plink away at cans. But it’s also not a weapon you have to lovingly rub down with $16-a-can Teflon-infused oil after every 12 rounds or risk catastrophic failure.
So you be the judge.
These damn things are just too damn badass and too damn cheap to pass up. Maybe the new stuff can do it better, but the old warhorse still gets it done. When the zombies come, you will be able to count on the Mosin under any conditions to remove rotting corpse-heads at 600 yards or more. Maybe not fast like the high-tech stuff, maybe not at 1500 yards like the new stuff, but it will do it. Sometimes, that’s just got to be good enough.