Mosin-Nagant Rifle
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  1. #1
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    Mosin-Nagant Rifle

    This is a post on the Mosin-Nagant 1891/30 rifle, from Mother Russia. Designed in 1889 by a Russian named Sergei Ivanovich Mosin, with contributions by Belgian Léon Nagant, versions of this rifle were widely used by the Imperial Russian Army in WWI, then by the Red Army in the Russo-Finnish War and WWII. The designation “1891/30” is used to identify a 1930 modernization of the original 1891 model.

    There is a good deal of written information on this rifle if you are curious: Wikipedia (Mosin?Nagant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and 7.62x54r.net (7.62x54r.net).

    What led me to this rifle was gloomy weather, primarily. I was looking for a project to keep me occupied for a while in the winter, and I didn’t want to spend much money. I expected to get a “project gun” that I would clean up, and then probably hang it on the wall without ever firing it. A sale at Cabela’s got my attention, and after a visit to their racks of “Mosins” (over 40 in all), I bought one made in 1937 at the Tula Arms Plant, which was founded by Czar Peter I of Russia in 1712.

    Here is a link to a very good photo of a rifle of this type: http://7.62x54r.net/MosinID/0003.jpg . Mine looked something like that one when I got it home.

    Chambered in 7.62x54R (R is for “rimmed”), the Mosin-Nagant has an internal magazine that holds five rounds fed from a stripper clip, although it can easily be hand-loaded. The ammunition is held in a vertical stack, not staggered like the Mauser, so the magazine protrudes from the bottom of the stock, giving the Mosin-Nagant a distinct profile.

    The finish on metal parts is “utilitarian”: where it made sense to have a smooth polished finish (bolt, receiver interior parts, rear sight, trigger) it is smooth. In almost every other place it shows machining marks. Since my rifle was made before the onset of WWII, the finish is somewhat better than examples I have seen made after 1941, when urgency required faster production. Polishing it to improve the appearance would be to deny some of its heritage, so I left the metal largely untouched, with the exception of the removal of grease and rust, as well as touching up some blueing.

    Since I have no way of knowing if the original importer or Cabela’s ever inspected the rifle for wear or safety, I have some headspace gauges on order which I will use to check it before firing the rifle. “Trust, but verify”, in the words of an old Russian proverb.

    Commercial ammunition is available, so I’m looking forward to taking the rifle to the range after the headspace is checked. I have seen one of these fired at my gun club, and it is a sight to behold: it’s very loud, producing what I can only call a “truly impressive” muzzle flash. Where it puts the bullets on the target remains to be seen, but that will be covered in a subsequent post in this thread.

    The quickie restoration project took about a week, much of which was spent waiting for multiple coats of the stock finish to dry.

    The original shellac stock finish was well worn: scratched, dented, and peeling, in need of cosmetic repair. The bore, heavily coated with cosmoline, was hard to assess in the store. How would it clean up? Is there rust in there? Is there a lot of copper fouling? Is it completely shot out? There wasn’t much rust on other parts of the rifle, so I was hopeful.

    After several lengthy sessions with patches, bronze brushes, and Hoppe’s No. 9, then finally with more aggressive bore cleaners (Sweet’s 7.62 and Butch’s Bore Shine™), I’m still getting blue copper stains on the patches after letting the bore “soak” with solvent containing ammonia. I will probably continue to try to clean the bore as long as I own the rifle.

    The rifling is in decent shape: there are no sharp edges on the lands, but the grooves are uniformly deep, reasonably bright, and there’s zero pitting. The owner(s) cleaned it, but copper fouling from shooting has built up on the rifling. Judging from the manufacturing date on the rifle, it’s reasonable to assume that it could have seen service throughout the Winter War with Finland in 1939-1940 as well as the Great Patriotic War with Germany from 1941 to 1945. Some wear is to be expected, I suppose.

    What puzzled me was that the stock really looked to be in better overall shape than the bore. Research taught me that many if not most of these rifles were arsenal-reconditioned after service and prior to storage, not an unusual practice for military arms. So, it’s one of millions, with a replacement stock and some other parts as well, no doubt.

    To prepare the birch stock for a new finish I took the commercial route: a local wood-stripping company did a perfectly fine job for the grand total of $25. Since the original shellac was a reddish color, I used a red stain to get the color about right, and then for a nice shiny finish I used polyurethane to finish the stock. Now, this is not “correct”, I realize that, but I wanted a showpiece and not necessarily a correctly restored rifle.

    To highlight the markings on the receiver, the first order of business was to carefully sand part of the receiver just enough to clean it up. Then I used touch-up blueing solution to put the color back, as well as some touch up on parts like the barrel near the muzzle, the nose cap, and the exposed ends of the recoil lug. The final touch was to rub white crayon into the markings on the receiver that showed the serial number, year of manufacture, and the Tula factory identification.

    Without further wordiness, here are the photos.

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    Chris
    Last edited by cohland; 02-04-2014 at 11:23 PM.
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

    Abraham Lincoln



  2. #2
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    Great job on that rifle Chris! That thing looks about a million times better then my 91/30! Now I kinda want to fix mine up! I love these old rifle, really solid guns and great shooters. I was very supprised by the accuracy of mine, and I almost entirely shoot old old surplus ammo through it. You've gotta get the M44 carbine version with the spike bayonete and restore it now to have a matching pair!

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    Yes I have one also aint nothing like it Sweet shooters

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    Have 2 (91/30 and chinese type 53) loooove them. Going to get one more carbine to restore properly

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk

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    Interesting project... Great results!

    You must have one heck of a gun safe!
    "While the anti-gunners seem very concerned about the "one life" that your firearm might take -- they are not very concerned about the lives it will save." Jon H. Gutmacher, Florida Firearms - Law, Use & Ownership

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    Suggestion on this wonderful restoration/touch-up that is using nail polish for any of the stamping if deep enough and using yellow nail polish on the distance elevation numbers - it really pops. IMPORTANT. Use NON ACETONE NAIL POLISH REMOVER it will not damage the finish.

    Awesome job, you turned a $99 gun into something worth hundreds and hundreds more.

    I understand "collecting" but for under $200 get a spam can of 440 surplus ammo and think about someone shooting the same ammo 70+ years ago with that beautiful rifle.

    Of course under very different circumstances. Great work.

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    Beautiful rifle....very nice job. I have two of these and they both are great shooters. Be sure to check the headspace very carefully as they sometimes will have issues in this area. Also if your bolt is not closing smoothly and you are using reloads you will need to trim the case to the designated oal for the bullet you use. A lot of Mosin folks just focus on polishing the bolt and throat without considering the case trim length. If you have to force the bolt to close this is what needs to be addressed. Mosins are such a great value.

  9. #8
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    That looks great Chris. I seriously considered buying one at a gun show a couple of weeks ago for $129.00. Wish I had, now that
    I know what they can look like. Thanks for the pics and info.
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  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowdie View Post
    That looks great Chris. I seriously considered buying one at a gun show a couple of weeks ago for $129.00. Wish I had, now that
    I know what they can look like. Thanks for the pics and info.
    Rowdie,

    A price of $129 is Cabela's sale price for these things, they normally go for about $170. All of the Mosin's I checked out at Cabela's were in pretty decent shape, they look pretty safe to shoot although I would check them with headspace gauges.

    If you want to check one out, let me know by PM and I'll loan you the gauges. All you need to do is send them back when you're finished!

    Chris
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

    Abraham Lincoln



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    Chris a friend that loves these rifles said today the ones made in Finland are the most sought after. Is this true? And if so are actually they any better?

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