In today’s world, at least in America, there seems to be this underlying feeling that something really ugly is coming but we just don’t know when. Some folks seem to think it’s right around the proverbial corner though, and gun shows seem to be doing bigger business than ever. In fact, the FBI reported that guns were a BIG gift during this past Christmas season with over 1.5 million background checks done as buyer’s picked up new weapons. SOME of those weapons are “bargain basement” surplus guns such as the topic of this review: The Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifle.
The Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifle was in production from 1891 through the end of World War II with over 17.4 million of them produced. Surplus Mosins can be purchased priced between $100 and $150 dollars which is more than reasonable for a surplus weapon that will perform as this one can in good condition. While the sights aren’t adjustable for precision, they were zeroed on production and the rear sight is adjustable for elevation/distance out to 500 meters.
There were several Mosin variants manufactured that included the infantry version shown here and several shorter “carbine” versions meant for tankers and some Russian special forces. The infantry version, without the bayonet mounted, is about four feet long with a 29 inch barrel. The carbine version measures under forty inches long with a 20 inch barrel. The bayonet for both is 18” long and is quite difficult to mount. There’s a reason for that: The Russians, who were the primary producers/users of this rifle, felt that once an infantryman mounted his bayonet there was no need to take it off his rifle until he returned from the front, which was when he’d be turning the rifle in as well. So once you get that bayonet locked on (it locks on the barrel AROUND the front site) it’s a bear to get back off.
The Mosin Nagant fires the 7.62 x 54R cartridge from its five-round non-detachable magazine. This round offers a muzzle velocity of approximately 2,800 feet per second and the weapon / ammo combination offers a maximum effective range of 500 meters. Certainly it’s accurate and effective on large animal size targets such as deer and bear out to two hundred meters; however, you should note that if you intend to hunt with this weapon only some of them were made to have scopes mounted and you should always make sure you’re in compliance with your local and state laws.
Modern manufacture ammo for this weapon can be hard to find and if you use surplus ammo, which has Berdan primers, you may be using highly corrosive ammo. To prevent excessive wear in the barrel, it must be swabbed with ammonia soon upon completing your day at the range.
In looking at our sample, note the sling mounting points where straps pass through the stock. These weapons were manufactured before the concept of sling swivels became popular so buckled straps were used to hold the adjustable-length sling on.
One important note, and our final comment about this good surplus bolt-action rifle, is how you put the action to rest for storage – safely. After insuring that the weapon is empty of any ammo, push the bolt forward until you meet resistance but DO NOT lock it down into battery. Instead, pull the trigger and you’ll see the system pull the bolt down into a close “at rest” position. (watch the video)
So, if you’re in the market for a good surplus rifle, take a look around at the next gun show in your area. Many dealers have these available by the case for about $125.
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