Mosin Nagant F.A.Q.

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The focus of this article is to provide information on the various upgrades that we have available to help accurize the Russian Mosin Nagant rifles. As the actual history of the Mosin Nagant rifles is readily available in detail from various sources, we will only include brief description of the Mosin Nagant's history.

History of the Mosin Nagant

The Mosin Nagant is a Russian Bolt Action Rifle that fires the 7.62x54r cartridge. It was adopted by the Russian Military in 1891 and variations of the original design have been used in WWI and WWII.The original rifle is a combination of designs by Russian Sergei Mosin and Belgian Leon Nagant. The original design featured a 31.5" barrel, 5 round non-detachable box magazine and straight bolt action system that cocked the rifle upon opening the bolt. The first Russian Mosin Nagant rifles where designated “3 line rifle, model 1891”or more commonly referred to as the Model 1891.

Today the 5 most common models of Russian Nagant rifles include the 1891, M91/30, M38, M44 and M39.

  • Model 1891 had hexagonal shaped receivers, 31 1/2" barrel, 47 1/2" stock. Two cavalry rifles designated the Dragoon and Cossack where also used by the Russian Military. These are both Model 1891 rifles with a slightly shorter barrel. In the mid 1920s, the Dragoon took the place of the Model 1891.
  • M91/30 retained most of the features of the Model 1891 but a few changes were made in 1930 including changing the front and rear sights, split barrel bands retained by springs, round receiver was used, barrel was shortened to 28 3/4", stock was shortened to 45".
  • M38 began production in 1939 using recycled Model 1891 and 91/30 hex and round receivers. This model had a shortened 20 1/4" barrel & 36 1/2" stock, different sight leaf and was made not to accept a bayonet.
  • M44 was built using M38 rifles and then adding a non detachable side folding bayonet. This rifle began production in 1944. The M44 used the same 20 1/4" barrel & 36 1/2" stock. A few minor alterations where done throughout it's production cycle including different types of bayonet locking systems and sight leafs.
  • The M39 is a rifle adopted by the Finnish Army and civil guard in 1939. Note that previously to 1939, the Finish Military used most every version of the Nagant rifle and continuously improved upon the original design in order to satisfy their needs. Many of these improvements where refined over time and thus there are many variations and slight differences found on Finnish Nagant rifles. The Finnish M39 rifles were built on Model 1891 receivers. Modifications include a 27” heavy barrel, 43 1/4" stock ”, new front sight with protective ears, front barrel band was combined with a nose cap, new improved rear sight and barrel bedding, modified magazine box to prevent cartridge rim jams and some rifles featured brand new Finnish made stocks that have a more comfortable hand grip and better ergonomics.

After WWII, Many countries including China, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia adopted the Mosin Nagant and modified the rifles in many different ways to suit their. The scope of this article is not to cover every single Mosin Nagant variant ever made. This is just a general reference dealing specifically with the most common rifles found on the US surplus market.

WWI and WW II took a serious toll on the quality of production. Rifles produced during the war years tend to have a much rougher finish with mill marks clearly visible and not as much attention paid to final fit and finish. Also certain small components may have been substituted or deleted from various war production rifles to increase productivity.

Mosin Nagant Sniper Rifle Variants

Several different Sniper variants of the Mosin nagant have been used by various countries as made famous by movies such as "Enemy at the Gates". Also worthy of mentioning are the exploits of Mr. Simo Häyhä from Finland. He was one of the greatest snipers of all time having inflicted tremendous casualties on the Russians during the Winter War. Ironically the rifle that Simo Häyhä used against the Russians was actually a Russian Mosin Nagant rifle that was accurize and turned into a sniper rifle by the Finland Military.

Mosin Nagant Surplus Market

Mosin Nagant rifles are currently available in the US surplus market at incredibly low prices. As of 2006, the average cost for a standard ( non-sniper ) version of the Mosin Nagant is between $69-$200. The Finish rifles seem to command the highest premium among the standard Nagant rifles. Mosin Nagant rifles will have either a Hex shaped receiver or a round receiver. The Hex shaped receivers where mostly the earliest production rifles and can date back to 1891. Early Hex receiver Nagant rifles tend to bring a larger premium and seem to have a higher quality fit and finish overall as compared to later production rifles. Obviously the condition of the rifle, year of production and other characteristics will alter the value especially for a collector. Sniper version of the Mosin Nagant with reproduction sight will bring upwards of $500. Original Sniper rifles when will bring 10 times more. Just as with the original German K98 Mauser's, Russian SKS rifles, M1 Garand and other Military surplus rifles, once the surplus dries up the prices will increase dramatically. Also worthy of mentioning is the fact that many of these rifles may have actually seen action during WWI, WWI and various other conflicts. It's very likely that an old Mosin Nagant rifle that you see at a gun shop may also be a piece of history with collectable value that will definitely increase in the future.

Accurizing the Mosin Nagant

The accuracy potential of any Mosin Nagant rifle will depend on the overall condition of the rifle itself, the consistency and quality of the ammo used and the skill of the shooter. Some Mosin Nagant rifles are capable of shooting sub-moa ( that's 1" groups at 100 yards ) while others will hardly group 5-6 inches. Typically the longer barrel rifles tend to be slightly more accurate. This may be due to the extra velocity produced by the longer barrels or maybe just because the shorter barrel rifles tend to have more recoil making them more difficult to shoot. Regardless of the rifle in questions, the first thing that can be corrected is the rather poor quality of iron sights. Adding a good quality scope and mount to any Mosin Nagant rifle will almost certainly help reduce group size. Though the scope will not make the rifle more accurate, it will allow the shooter to see more precisely the bullets point of impact and the fine cross hairs on most scopes will allow for precise target acquisition as opposed to the thick & coarse military sight posts. Another problem we have encountered in the USA is that most all Mosin Nagant rifles tend to shoot high when using the factory iron sights. The reason for this is because the Mosin Nagant iron sights have been calibrated for shooting at ranges that are calibrated using a metric system. Meanwhile in the USA, shooting ranges tend to have the target distances spaced out in increments of yards or feet. Not to get too technical here but imagine that if the rifle was calibrated for shooting at 100 meter range, that would be equal to shooting at 109.361 yards. Thus most Mosin Nagant rifles will tend to shoot high at 100 yards because the battle zero is calibrated at different distance then what is typically found at shooting ranges in the USA. So when you shoot at that 100 yard target, the rifle is calibrated to hit a target that is almost 10 yards further back. This problem will increase drastically the further back you place your target to the point of where you will miss the target completely unless you compensate by aiming low every shot. If you are lucky enough to have access to a shooting range in where you can put your target at any distance you desire, then the problem would be diminished as long as you use meters instead of yards or feet to measure how far away you place the target. There are 2 solutions to this problem. Either replace the original front military sight post with something a little taller or mount a scope on your rifle which can be zeroed to shoot at most any distance. Depending on which rifle you have, replacing the front sight may require some gunsmithing skills and the availability of surplus extra tall front sights is near nonexistent. We will instead concentrate on installing a scope and mount on the Mosin Nagant which will give you much more precision and accuracy potential.

Mosin Nagant Scope Mounts

First step is to obtain a solid mount for your rifle to which you can attach your choice of scope. A mount with a Weaver style base offer the most versatility as this is the current industry standard and allows for attaching just about any modern set of optics. There are many options available but most of them would require drilling and tapping the receiver, inletting the rifle stock and modifying the original bolt handle with a longer bent bolt to allow for proper functioning of the bolt and allowing the bolt handle to clear the scope and mount. As most people do not have the proper tools, expertise or willingness to properly drill and tap their rifles receiver, we offer a Mosin Nagant scope mount that requires no gunsmithing or permanent alteration to be made to your rifle.

Our scope mount uses the rear sight base and provides an extremely solid mounting platform. Best of all it has a Weaver style base which gives you ultimate flexibility in mounting just about any choice of optics. This mount will fit Any Mosin Nagant type rifle and we sell it for the incredibly low price of just $12.95

To install this mount, All you have to do is tap out the pin that holds the sight ladder and then remove the sight ladder and leaf spring. Then you put our mount in place of the sight ladder directly on the rear sight base and use the existing holes in which the pin was tapped out to fasten 2 sturdy hex screws to the new mount. The mount also has 3 allen head set screws which allow the elevation to be adjusted directly on the mount. Once the mount is installed, you will have a solid weaver base on which you can mount most any scope, red dot, reflex sight and other aiming devices. Note that because the scope will be positioned forward of the bolt, it will not interfere in any way with the bolt operation or stripper clip loading so your rifle can still function as-is with no alterations. This type of set-up is referred as a "Scout Rifle" as made famous by Mr. Jeff Cooper. Note that whatever scope you choose for this set-up. If the scope has magnification of more than 1x, you will need the scope to have extended eye-relief to compensate for the distance between your eye and the scope.

Mosin Nagant Scopes

Our opinion is that unless your putting together a rifle that will be used for shooting at distances of less than 50 yards, a good scope quality scope with at least 2x magnification will allow you to get the best performance out of your Mosin Nagant. When picking a scope for your Rifle, things to consider are the overall length of the scope, weight of the scope, objective lens diameter, magnification and ability to handle recoil.

Scope Length

The length of the scope should be relative to the overall length of the rifle. If you have a long barrel M91/30, you can use a longer scope up to 12" in length and it will not alter the balance of the rifle. If you have a shorter rifle like an M44 or M38, you should consider a scope that is not longer than 10" as a longer scope could possibly alter the balance of the rifle, and not to mention will look a little bit awkward having a really long scope on a short rifle. The weight of the scope really depends on your preference. As the Mosin Nagant is already a pretty hefty beast, adding a few ounces more should not be a problem. However the shorter rifles could be handier with a lighter scope. We suggest that if your scope weight 1 pound or more, it's probably too heavy unless your plan on only using your rifle only for bench rest shooting.

Scope Magnification

Magnification is always a plus but there is a point where more magnification will not give you increased performance. The objective lens which determined the scopes overall light gathering capabilities is a very important component. A large objective lens allows for a crisp, clear sight picture which is a plus for long range shooting where the targets become difficult to see. It would seem like a huge objective would be the best bet but in reality we recommend that your scope objective be no larger than 34mm. That is unless you have a custom rifle with aftermarket stock that features a hi-cheek comb and also a very lo profile scope mount. The reason we suggest this is because of the ergonomics of the Mosin Nagant's original stock. Mosin Nagant rifles have butt stocks that tends to slope downward dramatically at the butt end. Even when using iron sights, most people will notice that they have to stretch their neck up a bit in order to obtain a proper sight picture. Now imagine adding a scope mount, and large diameter scope to the rifle. The added height of the accessories on top of your rifles receiver will force you to stretch your neck and place your cheek so high up that is almost completely off the butt stock in order to get a proper sight picture. Needless to say this makes for some very uncomfortable shooting especially considering the recoil from the 7.62x54r. With a scope that has a diameter of 34mm or less, you will be in a more natural shooting position. However if you can invest in a nice cheek rest for your butt stock, it will make shooting your rifle much more pleasant and will more than likely allow you to get near perfect eye to scope alignment. Depending on your height, you may find that most Mosin Nagant rifle stocks tend to be too short as compared to American rifles. This is an easy fix which can be addressed by installing a simple recoil pad which will also reduce felt recoil and allow for more comfortable, longer target shooting sessions.

Our extensive tests have shown that the Model 1891, M91/30, M39 and other full length Mosin Nagant's will perform their best when matched up with our 2-7x32mm scopes.

The M-38 and M-44 have shown peak performance when matched up with our 2.5x30mm scopes.

We obtained these results by using all of the above mentioned models of Mosin Nagant rifles over a period of several weeks under varied weather conditions. The tests consisted of bench rest shooting with various surplus ammunition and hand loads. A minimum of 100 rounds was fired through each rifle for each test using every brand of ammunition we had available. The best 5 shot groups for each model of rifle was used to determine the overall accuracy. The accuracy comparison test was made first with rifle using original iron sights and then various scopes where mounted on the individual rifles. Shooting was done at distances between 100-150 yards. Note that in a few tests, the accuracy of various scopes was near identical. In these few circumstances, we performed a final test that consisted of shooting the rifles off hand with both scopes to determine which was more accurate. We hope this information will help you to make the best possible choice when purchasing a scope for your Mosin Nagant rifle.

Mosin Nagant Combo Setups

We have put together the following complete Mosin Nagant scope/mount combos that include everything you will need to install these setups on your rifle. The scope mounts we offer do Not require making any permanent alterations to your rifle. These mounts could be removed at anytime and your rifle returned to original military configuration. All the scopes feature extended eye relief so they will work properly with the included scout rifle scope mount. These scopes are nitrogen filled making them fog proof, waterproof and they are also shockproof so they can withstanding recoil from the 7.62x54r cartridge. All these items include a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

Mosin Nagant Combo 1 - Includes NC Star 2.5x30mm Extended Eye Relief Scope With illuminated Reticle + Weaver Base Scout Rifle Scope Mount And Scope Rings. $50.95

Mosin Nagant Combo 3 - Includes NC Star 2-7x32mm Extended Eye Relief Variable Power Scope + Weaver Base Scout Rifle Scope Mount And Scope Rings. $59.95

Mosin Nagant Combo 4 - Includes NC Star 2.5x30mm Extended Eye Relief Variable Power Scope with illuminated reticle + Weaver Base Scout Rifle Scope Mount And Scope Rings. $45.95

Mosin Nagant Combo 5 - Includes AIM 2-7X42 Scout Rifle Scope + Rail Mount + Rings. $75.95

Mosin Nagant Combo 6 - Includes UTG Red Green Dot Scope + Scope Mount Rail. $72.95

 

Before performing any work on your rifle, please make sure the firearm is completely unloaded and safe. By removing the bolt when performing work on your rifle, you can visually inspect the chamber to make sure it's empty and the possibility of accidental discharge is greatly decreased. We recommend that all firearms, especially old Military surplus guns to be taken to a qualified gunsmith for a complete safety inspection before you fire the gun. Also please consider having a qualified gunsmith install any parts or accessories on your rifle to ensure safe operation and reliability of your firearm.

As with any other hi-power rifle scope/mount installation, we highly recommend using thread locking compound ( not included ) on all the screws that fasten the mount to the rifle and the scope rings to the mounts. This will prevent any of the screws from coming loose after being subject to the continuous heavy recoil of the 7.62x54r cartridge. It's an inexpensive way to guarantee your scope will not lose it's zero no matter how many times you use your rifle. In our experience, we have found the best thread locking compound to be the Loc-Tite brand in the blue color bottle ( medium strength ). This and other similar compounds are available at most automotive stores and large chain marts.

 

In our next article we will discuss a complete custom Mosin Nagant rifle project including bolt handle work, replacement stock, glass bedding, drill and tap receiver for scope mount, lapping the lugs and bolt, trigger job, barrel swap, muzzle attachments, duracoat and other finishes and metal refinishing. Here's a sneak peak of the project at about 50% finished

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