07 Oct 2014

The Paradox of the Mosin-Nagant

, ,

Mosin Nagant M44

In every gun shop these days, older classic guns seem to have vanished like the buffalo, but the racks are full of modern black rifles and… Mosin Nagants.

The Mosin Nagant used to be (deservedly) despised as a strong contender for worst 20th century bolt-action military long-arm, fighting it out for the title with the Japanese Arisaka and Italy’s Mannlicher Carcarno.

The Mosin’s recent astounding rise in popularity has nothing to do with accuracy, beauty, or quality of workmanship or design. The Mosin has been snapped up by countless American shooters specifically because, by today’s standards, these old boat anchors are spectacularly cheap. I still could not see the point of owning one of them until, earlier today, I came across this amusing article by “Major Pandemic” which noted that not only are the rifles cheap, surplus ammo is incredibly cheap as well.

Part of the attraction of the cold war Mosin Nagants is that they are excellent rifles for the typical $70-$100 street price, but the even bigger draw is that the ammo, which is comparable ballistically to the .308 or 30-06, can easily be had for a stunningly low $.25 a round. At this point in time there is no other large centerfire rifle that is this inexpensive to shoot.

When you first get your hands on a Mosin, you’re just thrilled that you’ve found a powerful centerfire rifle that only set you back around $100. Then you’ll dance until you got a leg cramp after buying an entire SPAM can of 400 rounds for only another $100. Honestly, in that initial ownership period, you really don’t care how it shoots, when it was made, or by which European factory. You’re just thrilled that it goes bang each time you pull the trigger.

Once you get over the initial fun factor, you’ll probably start looking at upgrades for the rifle. Upgrading a Mosin Nagant is an amazingly fun project that nets a gun that can hunt any North American large game easily out to 300 yards and beyond.

But, here comes the funny part: Great, that Mosin is cheap to shoot, but it also kicks like a mule and groups horribly at a 100 yards. So, naturally, Major Pandemic turns to the question of improving the good old Mosin. The old Russian sights are rudimentary (and most of the people who fool around with guns these days are getting on in years and have weak eyes), so the Major gets himself mounts and a scope.

Getting bashed in the shoulder induces flinching, so a better, sniper-style, gunstock is in order.

Then, something has to be done about the absolutely terrible trigger-pull. $100 worth of Timney trigger is the answer.

Finally, if you want the old war horse to shoot accurately, you’ll need to re-crown that ancient barrel.

And there you have it, a mere $1047.98 later, that hundred-dollar clunker performs like a thousand-dollar-ish new rifle, but you do get to use that cheap surplus ammo.

Or, alternatively, I would say, you could just buy a Lee Loader and reload .30-06 rounds, and buy a decent rifle.

4 Feedbacks on "The Paradox of the Mosin-Nagant"

Bob S.

You could just buy a reloader and a decent off the shelf rifle; but I think you are missing something about WHY a person would buy a Mosin instead.

The knowledge gained.

Simple, I could buy a rifle off the shelf and never learn why a great stock makes a difference or I could buy a mosin and change the stock and KNOW.

I could buy a rifle with a decent trigger or I could buy a Mosin and change the trigger. Then I would KNOW why the trigger matters so much and HOW to change it.

The other issue is reducing the fear of messing up. If I screw up a Mosin, I’ve screwed up a couple hundred dollars at most; unlike the $1,000 rifle you mentioned.

Bob S.


A couple – sometimes sarcastic – but slightly different insights into the mosin natant:



MadMikes take on the Barret .50 had me laughing until I cried….

Andy Jones

Come to Utah some time.

I can show you what you might have missed.

The Mosin is classic Russian, spiced with a generous dollop of Communist fail.

It was, at adoption, the perfect long arm for the force it equipped.


Totally agree in regard to the M44.
The M91-30 OTOH, is a joy to shoot in comparison. The extra weight and barrel length reduces flash and recoil. Removable bayonet becomes a tool, as does the cleaning rod. Add a cheap slip-over rubber shotgun pad to the butt and it doesn’t leave a hurting shoulder. Disassemble and stone the trigger, clean well, lube with modern goop, and it shoots better. The safety is awful, but you can get boxer-primed brass to make a proper tuned cartridge. If you know how to crown or re-crown a barrel, do it. If you find a good smith to do it for $35, that’s okay.

It’s a rifle that you SHOULDN’T do much to. It’s good for a tiny amount of money, but can’t compete at $300+. It is a military-grade tool designed for mass-armies, the person holding it is the weapon. It is good enough to help get a brave person a better tool.

I paid $69 for mine at Big Five, and the first five 440-round cans of Bulgarian Heavy Ball ammo were $29 each. Deal.


Please Leave a Comment!

Please note: Comments may be moderated. It may take a while for them to show on the page.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark