Initial design and trialsEdit
During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, Russian troops armed with mostly Berdan single-shot rifles engaged Turks with Winchester repeating rifles resulting in heavy casualties. This emphasized to commanders a need to modernize the Imperial Army. The Russian Main Artillery Administration undertook the task of producing a magazine-fed, multi-round weapon in 1882. After failing to adequately modify the Berdan system to meet the requirements, a "Special Commission for the testing of Magazine fed Rifles" was formed to test new designs.
Sergei Ivanovich Mosin, a captain in the Imperial army, submitted his "3-line" caliber (.30 cal, 7.62 mm) rifle in 1889 alongside a 3.5-line design by Leon Nagant (a Belgian) and a 3-line design by Captain Zinoviev. When trials concluded in 1891, the units which tested the rifles were split in their decision. The main disadvantages of Nagant's rifle were the following: more complicated mechanism, long and tiresome procedure of disassembling (which required special instruments - it was necessary to unscrew two screws). Mosin's rifle was mainly criticised for lower quality of manufacture and of materials used which resulted in a bit larger number of stoppages. The Commission voted 14 to 10 to approve Nagant's rifle. However, the head of the commission, General Chagin, insisted on subsequent trials held under the Commission's supervision during which Mosin's rifle showed its advantages, leading to its selection over the Nagant.
The Mosin has a commonality with Mauser rifles, in that it uses two front locking lugs to lock up the action. However, the lugs lock in the horizontal position, whereas the Mauser locks vertically. The Mosin bolt assembly is multi-piece instead of unitary, like the Mauser, and uses interchangeable bolt-heads like the Lee-Enfield. Unlike the Mauser, which uses a so-called "controlled feed" bolt head, the Nagant has a recessed head for the cartridge base, what modern technology calls a "push feed". While modern push-feeds use a plunger ejector in the bolt face the Mosin uses a blade ejector in the receiver, similar to the Mauser. Also, the extractor is spring-loaded-unlike the fixed Mauser. The bolt is removed by simply pulling it fully to the rear of the receiver and squeezing the trigger from there.
Like the Mauseer, the bolt lift arc on the Mosin Nagant is 91 degrees, versus 60 degrees on the Lee-Enfield. The location of its bolt handle is an unusual feature of the Mosin Nagant, protruding out of the ejection/loading port rather than connecting to the bolt in the rear. Furthermore, the handle is attached to a protrusion on the bolt, which houses the firing pin and serves a similar function to Mauser's "third" or "safety" lug.
Refinement and productionEditThere have been several variations from the original rifle, the most common being the M1891/30, which was designed in 1930. Some details were borrowed from Nagant's design. One such detail is the attachment of the magazine spring to the magazine base plate. In Mosin's original design the spring was not attached to the base plate and, according to the Commission, could be lost during cleaning. Another detail is the form of the clip that could hold five cartridges to be loaded simultaneously into the magazine.
The other is the form of the "interrupter", a detail in the feeding mechanism preventing stoppages due to feeding two cartridges at the same time. The initial rifle proposed by Nagant lacked an interrupter, leading to numerous failures to feed. This detail, as well as the new configuration of the feed mechanism, was introduced in the rifle, borrowing from Mosin's rifle. Although the form of the interrupter was slightly changed, this alteration was subsequently borrowed back by the Commission for the Model 1891 Mosin Nagant. During the modernization of 1930 the form of the interrupter was further changed as the part had turned out to be one of the least reliable parts of the action. Only the clip loading cartridges and the attachment of the magazine spring to the magazine base plate in subsequent models were designed by Nagant. Considering the rifle could be easily loaded without using a clip, one cartridge after another, the magazine spring attached to the magazine base plate is the only contribution of Nagant to all rifles after 1930.
Nagant's legal disputeEdit
Despite the failure of Nagant's rifle in the patent trial he claimed he was entitled to the sum the winner was to receive. It also appeared that Nagant was the first to apply for the international patent protection over the "interrupter", although he borrowed it from Mosin's design initially. The reason why Mosin could not apply for a patent was that he was an officer of the Russian army and the design of the rifle was owned by the Government and had the status of a military secret. A scandal was about to burst out with Nagant threatening he would not participate in trials held in Russia ever again and some involved officials proposing to expel Nagant from any further trials as he borrowed the design of the "interrupter" after it was covered by the "secrecy" status given in Russia of that time to military inventions and therefore violated Russian law. Taking into consideration that Nagant was one of the few producers not engaged by competitive governments and generally eager to cooperate and share experience and technologies, the Commission paid him a sum of 200,000 Russian roubles, equal to the premium that Mosin received as the winner. The rifle did not receive the name of its real inventor Mosin in order not to provoke further debates with Nagant. This turned out to be a wise decision, as in 1895 Nagant's revolver was adopted by the Russian army as the main side weapon. However for the same reason and because of Nagant's attempts to use the situation for publicity, the "Mosin-Nagant" name appeared in the western literature (the rifle was never called this in Russia). The name is a misnomer from the legal point of view (taking into consideration the legal provisions of Russian law at that time, i.e. the law of the country to adopt the rifle) and from technical point of view, as none of the details borrowed from Nagant's design, even if removed, would prevent the rifle from firing. Moreover, from the technical point of view the rifle that can be called "Mosin-Nagant" (or "Nagant-Mosin") is the design proposed by Mosin, as further amended by Mosin with some details being borrowed from Nagant's design.
Production of the Model 1891 began in 1892 at the ordnance factories of Tula Arsenal, Izhevsk Arsenal and at Sestroryetsk Arsenal. An order for 500,000 rifles was placed with the French arms factory Manufacture National d'Armes de Chatellerault
By the time of the Russo-Japanese in 1904, approximately 3.8 million rifles had been delivered to the Russian army, though not many were used during the conflict. Initial reactions by units equipped with the rifle were mixed, but any adverse reports were likely due to poor maintenance of the Mosins by infantrymen more familiar with the Berdan and who were not properly trained on the Mosin–Nagant.
Between the adoption of the final design in 1891 and the year 1910, several variants and modifications to the existing rifles were made.
World War IEditWith the start of World War I, production was restricted to the M1891 dragoon and infantry models for the sake of simplicity. Due to the desperate shortage of arms and the shortcomings of a still-developing domestic industry, the Russian government ordered 1.5 million M1891 infantry rifles from Remington Arms and another 1.8 million from New England Westinghouse in the United States. Remington produced 750,000 rifles before production was halted by the 1917 October Revolution. Deliveries to Russia had amounted to 469,951 rifles when the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended hostilities between the Central Powers and Russia. The remaining 280,000 rifles were purchased by the US Army.. American and British expeditionary forces of the North Russia Campaign were armed with these rifles and sent to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in the late summer of 1918 to prevent the large quantities of munitions delivered for Czarist forces from being captured by the Central Powers. Remaining rifles were used for the training of U.S. Army troops. Some were used to equip U.S. National Guard, SATC, and ROTC units. Designated "U.S. Rifle, 7.62mm, Model of 1916", these are among the rarest of American service arms. In 1917, 50,000 rifles were sent via Vladivostok to the Czechoslovak Legions in Siberia to aid in their attempt to secure passage to France.
Many of the New England Westinghouse and Remington Mosin–Nagants were sold to private citizens in the United States before World War II through the office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, the predecessor to the federal government's current Civilian Marksmanship Program.
Large numbers of Mosin–Nagants were captured by German and Austro-Hungarian forces and saw service with the rear-echelon forces of both armies, and also with the German navy. Many of these weapons were sold to Finland in the 1920s.
Civil War, modernization, and wars with FinlandEdit
During the Russian Civil War infantry and dragoon versions were still in production, though in dramatically reduced numbers. The rifle was widely used by Bolsheviks, Black Guards and their enemies, the White Russians (counter-revolutionary forces). In 1924, following the victory of the Red Army, a committee was established to modernize the rifle, which had by then been in service for over three decades. This effort led to the development of the Model 91/30 rifle, which was based on the design of the original dragoon version. The barrel length was shortened by 3½ inches. The sight measurements were converted from Arshins to meters; and the front sight blade was replaced by a hooded post front sight less susceptible to being knocked out of alignment. There were also minor modifications to the bolt, but not enough to prevent interchangeability with the earlier Model 1891 and the so-called "Cossack dragoon" rifles.
Finland was a Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until 1917, so Finns had long used the Mosin–Nagant in service with the Tsarist military. The rifle was used in the short civil war there and adopted as the service rifle of the new republic's army. Finland produced several variants of the Mosin–Nagant, all of them manufactured using the receivers of Russian-made or (later) Soviet-made rifles. Finland also utilized a number of captured M91 and M91/30 rifles with minimal modifications. As a result, the rifle was used on both sides of the Winter War and the Continuation during World War II. Finnish Mosin–Nagants were produced by SAKO, Tikkakoski, and VKT, with some using barrels imported from Switzerland and Germany. In assembling M39 rifles, Finnish armorers re-used hexagonal receivers that dated back as far as 1894. Finnish rifles are characterized by Russian, French or American-made receivers stamped with a boxed SA, as well as many other parts produced in those countries and barrels produced in Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Germany. The Finns also manufactured two-piece "finger splice" stocks for their Mosin–Nagant rifles.
In addition, the rifle was distributed as aid to anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War.
World War IIEdit
When the Soviet Union was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941 the Mosin–Nagant was the standard issue weapon of Soviet troops. As a result, millions of the rifles were produced and used in World War II by the largest mobilized army in history.
The Mosin–Nagant was adopted and modified as a sniper rifle Model 1891/31 in 1932 and was issued with 3.5-power PU fixed focus scopes to Soviet snipers. It served quite prominently in the brutal urban battles on the Eastern Front, such as the Battle of Stalingrad, which made heroes of snipers like Vasily Zaytsev and Ivan Sidorenko. The sniper rifles were highly respected for being very rugged, reliable, accurate, and easy to maintain. Finland also employed the Mosin–Nagant as a sniper rifle, with similar success. For example, Simo Hayha is credited with killing 505 Soviet soldiers, many falling victim to his Finnish M/28-30 Mosin–Nagant rifle. It should be noted Häyhä did not use a scope on his Mosin. In interviews Häyhä gave before his death, he said that the scope and mount designed by the Soviets required the shooter to expose himself too much and raise his head too high, increasing the chances of being spotted by the enemy.
In 1935-1936, the 91/30 was again modified, this time to speed production. The hex receiver was changed to a round receiver. When war with Germany broke out, the need to produce Mosin–Nagants in vast quantities led to a falling-off in finish of the rifles. The wartime Mosins are easily identified by the presence of tool marks and rough finishing that never would have passed the inspectors in peacetime. However, despite a lack of both aesthetic focus and uniformity, the basic functionality of the Mosins was unimpaired.
By the end of the war, approximately 17.4 million M91/30 rifles had been produced.
The gun is thought to be referenced in Hirsh Glick's "Zog Nit Keyn Mol", the well-known song of the World War II Jewish partisans, which includes the words "This song a people sang amid collapsing walls / With Nagants in the hand" (Yiddish: מיט נאַגאַנעס אין די הענט, mit naganes in di hent); though this refers to the Nagant revolver, not the Mosin rifle. In the USSR and Russia, the rifle always was called just "Mosin" not "Mosin-Nagant" (nickname Mosinka).
Increased world-wide useEdit
In the years after World War II, the Soviet Union ceased production of all Mosin–Nagants and withdrew them from service in favor of the SKS series carbines and eventually the AK series rifles. Despite its growing obsolescence, the Mosin–Nagant saw continued service throughout the Eastern bloc and the rest of the world for many decades to come. Mosin–Nagant rifles and carbines saw service on many fronts of the Cold War, from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan and along the Iron Curtain in Europe. They were kept not only as reserve stockpiles, but front-line infantry weapons as well.
Virtually every country that received military aid from the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe during the Cold War used Mosin–Nagants at various times. Middle Eastern countries within the sphere of Soviet influence - Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestinian fighters — have received them in addition to other more modern arms. Mosin–Nagants have also seen action in the hands of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Soviet Union's occupation of the country during the 1970s and the 1980s. Their use in Afghanistan continued on well into the 1990s and the early 21st century by Northern Alliance forces.
Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mosin–Nagants are still commonly found on modern battlefields around the world. They are being used by insurgent forces in the Iraq War and the current war in Afghanistan. Separatists have also used the rifles alongside more modern Russian firearms in the Second war of Chechnya and even today, it seems that some 91/30 PU sniper rifles remain in service and are used on the field by Russian police, Spetsnaz, paramilitary factions in Chechnya and other Caucasus republics. In addition, scoped Mosins continue to serve as issue sniper rifles with the Afghan army, the Iraqi army, the Finnish army, and with a micrometer sight as sniper training and precision target rifle with the Finns.
Russia/USSREditThe primary weapon of Russian and Red Army infantry from 1891 to 1930. Between 1891 and 1910 the following modifications were made to the design of the rifle:
- Changed sights.
- Inclusion of a reinforcing bolt through the finger groove (due to the adoption of a 147-grain pointed ('spitzer') round).
- Elimination of the steel finger rest behind the trigger guard.
- New barrel bands.
- Installation of slot-type sling mounts to replace the more traditional swivels.
- Dragoon Rifle (Russian: драгунская): Intended for use by Dragoons (mounted infantry). 64 mm (2.5 in) shorter and 0.4 kg (0.9 lb) lighter than the M1891. The Dragoon rifle's dimensions are identical to the later M1891/30 rifle, and most Dragoon rifles were eventually reworked into M1891/30s. Most such rifles, known to collectors as "ex-Dragoons", can be identified by their pre-1930 date stampings, but small numbers of Dragoon rifles were produced from 1930 to 1932 and after reworking became impossible to distinguish from purpose-built M1891/30s.
- Cossack Rifle (казачья): Introduced for Cossack horsemen, it is almost identical to the Dragoon rifle but is sighted for use without a bayonet. These rifles were also issued without a bayonet.
- Model 1907 Carbine: At 289 mm (11.4 in) shorter and 0.95 kg (2.1 lb) lighter than the M1891, this model was excellent for cavalry, engineers, signalers, and artillerymen. It was stocked nearly to the front sight and therefore did not take a bayonet. It was produced until at least 1917 in small numbers.
- Model 1891/30 (винтовка образца 1891/30-го года, винтовка Мосина): The most prolific version of the Mosin–Nagant. It was produced for standard issue to all Soviet infantry from 1930 to 1945. Most Dragoon rifles were also converted to the M1891/30 standard. It was commonly used as a sniper rifle in WWII. Early sniper versions had a 4x PE or PEM scope, a Soviet-made copy of a Zeiss design, while later rifles used smaller, simpler, and easier-to-produce 3.5x PU scopes. Because the scope was mounted above the chamber, the bolt handle was replaced with a longer, bent version on sniper rifles so the shooter could work the bolt without the scope interfering with it. Its design was based on the Dragoon rifle with the following modifications:
- A cylindrical receiver, replacing the octagonal (commonly called "hex") receiver. Early production 91/30s (from 1930 to 1936) and converted Dragoon rifles retained the hex receiver. The hex receiver rifles are less common and regarded as generally more desirable by collectors.
- Flat rear sights and restamping of sights in metres, instead of arshinii.
- A hooded post front sight, replacing the blade on previous weapons.
- ''Model 1938 Carbine: A carbine based on the M1891/30 design that was produced from 1939 to 1945 at the Izhevsk arsenal and in 1940 and 1944 at Tula. They were intended for use by second-echelon and noncombatant troops. Very few M38 carbines were made in 1945 and are highly sought after by collectors. Essentially a M1891/30 with a shortened barrel and shortened stock (the M38 is 40 inches (1,000 mm) in overall length versus 48 inches overall length for the Model 91/30), this carbine did not accept a bayonet; was in fact designed so the standard Model 91/30 bayonet would not fit it. However many M38 carbines were fitted into M44 stocks by the Soviets as a wartime expedient. M38s in the correct M38 stock command a premium over M38s in M44 pattern stocks. The M38 was replaced by the M44 carbine in 1944.
- Model 1944 Carbine: This carbine was introduced into service in late 1944 (with 50,000 service-test examples produced in 1943) and remained in production until 1955. Its specifications are very similar to the M1938, with the unique addition of a permanently affixed, side-folding cruciform-spike bayonet. A groove for the folded bayonet is inlet into the right side of the stock. These were in use not only by the Soviet Union, but also its various satellite nations. Many of these were counterbored post-war.
- Model 1891/59 Carbine: M1891/59s were created by shortening M1891/30 rifles to carbine length, with rear sight numbers partially ground off to reflect reduced range. These rifles are almost clones of the M38 except for the ground off M91/30 rear sight. The "1891/59" marking on the receiver suggests the carbines were created in or after 1959. It was initially thought that Bulgaria or another Soviet satellite country performed the conversions in preparation for a Western invasion that never came. Recent evidence suggests that the M91/59 was indeed produced in Bulgaria from Soviet supplied M91/30s.
- Obrez: The sawed-off rifle. During the Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war, revolutionaries, various irregular forces and common criminals cut down the Mosin Nagant rifles to pistol size for easy concealment. Most of these rifle-caliber pistols did not have sights, being crudely made. After the Revolution, the numbers of Obrez bolt-action pistols declined as the Bolsheviks took over the imperial arsenals and gained access to stocks of Model 1895 Nagant revolvers. This unofficial Mosin variant is perhaps the rarest Mosin of them all. Obrez pistols are highly prived by collectors.
After the Estonian War of Independence, Estonia had around 120,000 M/1891s in stock, later the Kaitseliit, the Estonian national guard, received some Finnish M28/30 rifles, a few modernised variants were also made by the Estonian Armory;
- M1933 or 1891/33 was standard rifle of Estonian armed forces.
- M1938: a further variant of M1933, 12,000 rifles.
- KL300: a variant for Kaitseliit, 4,025 were made.
- M1935 "Lühendatud sõjapüss M1935": "shortened rifle M1935" was a shortened variant of M1933 with 600mm barrel, 6,770 rifles.
Most Finnish Rifles were assembled by SAKO, Tikka or VKT (Valtion Kivaaritehdas, States Rifle factory, after wars part of Valtion Metallitehaat (Valmet), State Metalworks). The Finnish cartridge 7.62x53R is a slightly modified variation of the Russian 7.62x54mmR, and is considered interchangeable with 54R; however, there is a difference between Finnish military ammunition manufactured before and after 1939, cartridges from before 1939 use .308 in bullet while those manufactured later use .310 in bullet, change was made due to introduction of M39 "Ukko-Pekka" barreled to use .310 in Soviet ammunition. Handloaded cartridge for Finish rifles should however use a 0.308 inches (7.8 mm) bullet for use with other Finnish Mosin–Nagant variants instead of the 0.310 inches (7.9 mm) one which gives best results in M39, Soviet and other Mosin–Nagant rifles.
- M24: The “Lotta Rifle,” the Model 24 or Model 1891/24 was the first large-scale Mosin–Nagant upgrade project undertaken by the Finnish Suojeluskunta (Civil Guard), and there were, in fact three separate variations of the rifle. Barrels were produced by SIG (Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft) and by a German consortium. Swiss-produced barrels could be found in both standard Mosin–Nagant 1891 contour and in a heavier contour designed for improved accuracy, while all German-produced barrels were heavy weight barrels. The initial contract for the SIG-produced barrels was let on April 10, 1923, and was for 3,000 new barrels produced with the original Model 1891 barrel contour. A subsequent contract for 5,000 addition heavier barrels, stepped at the muzzle end to accept the standard Mosin Nagant bayonet, was let the next year. The German contracts, starting in 1924 and running to 1926, were all for the heavier, stepped barrels with two contracts: one for 5,000 barrels and a second for 8,000 barrels. The German-made barrels are marked “Bohler-Stahl” on the under side of the chamber. All Model 24s are marked with the Civil Guard logo of three fir tree sprigs over a capital “S.” All Model 24s are equipped with a coil spring around the trigger pin to improve the trigger pull and thus the accuracy of the rifle. The Model 24 was called the Lotta’s Rifle (“Lottakivaari”) after the women’s auxiliary of the Civil Guard, known as the “Lotta Svard” which was instrumental in raising funds to purchase and repair or refurbish some 10,000 rifles.
- M27: The Model 27 was the Finnish Army’s first almost complete reworking of the Model 1891, it was nicknamed Pystykorva (literally "spitz") due to the foresight guards. The receiver and magazine of the 1891 were retained, but a new shorter-length heavy-weight barrel was fitted. The sights were modified. The receivers and bolts were modified with “wings” being fitted to the bolt connecting bars that fit into slots machined into the receivers. The stocks were initially produced by cutting down 1891 stocks and opening up the barrel channels to accommodate the heaver barrel. New barrel bands and nose caps were fitted and a new bayonet was issued. The modified stocks proved to be weak, breaking when soldiers practised bayonet fighting or firing with the bayonet fitted. These and other problems resulted in a slow-down of production in the mid-1930s while solutions to problems were engineered and existing stocks of rifles were modified. Produced from mid-1927 to 1940, the Model 27 was the Finnish Army’s main battle rifle in the Winter War.
- M27Rv: A cavalry carbine version of the M27, Rv is short for ratsuväki (literally mounted force). 2217 were made, less than 300 still exist, making it the rarest of all Mosin–Nagant models. Some sub-variants of other models, however, are rarer still.
- M28: A variant designed by the White Guard. This model was used by Simo Hayta, a well-known Finnish sniper.
- M28/30: An upgraded version of the M28.
- M91/35: A model proposed by the Finnish Army to replace both its M27 and the White Guard's M28 and M28-30 rifles. The White Guard strongly objected to this plan, considering the M91/35 to have poor accuracy and excessive muzzle flash. It was never adopted, instead being supplanted by the M39.
- M39: nicknamed "Ukko-Pekka" after the former President Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, a compromise between the Army and White Guard, adopted so as to standardize Mosin–Nagant production. The M39 was derived largely from the M28-30, but included some alterations proposed by the Army. The M39 also incorporated a semi-pistol grip into the stock, though some early examples used typical Mosin–Nagant straight stocks. Only 10 rifles were completed by the end of the Winter War, but 96,800 were produced after the Winter War and used in the Continuation War. Small numbers were assembled from leftover parts in the late 1960s through 1970, bringing the total production to approximately 102,000.
- 1891/30: Tikka produced improved, high-quality Model 1891/30s in 1943 and 1944, using new barrels and parts from some of the almost 125,000 1891/30s captured in the Winter and Continuation Wars as well as 57,000 rifles bought from the Germans in 1944 (most of which were only suitable for use as parts donors). They were produced with both one- and two-piece stocks and either Soviet globe or Finnish blade foresights.
- M56: An experimental 7.62x39 version.
- M28/57: A biathlon 7.62x54R version.
- M28/76: A a special marksmanship and target rifle for continuation training and competition, produced in two different versions by the Finnish Army.
- 7.62 Tkiv 85: A modern designated marksman/sniper rifle designed around original Mosin–Nagant receivers modified and assembled by Valmet and Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) Asevarikko 1 (Arsenal 1) in Kuopio.
- VZ91/38 Carbine: Very similar to the M91/59, it is an M38-style carbine produced by cutting down Model 1891 Infantry, Dragoon, and Cossack rifles. Few of these carbines exist, and the reason for their creation remains unclear. Like the M44, they have a bayonet groove cut into the right side of the stock, despite there being no evidence that the VZ91/38 design ever included a bayonet.
- VZ54 Sniper Rifle: Based on the M1891/30, although it has the appearance of a modern sporting firearm. The VZ54 utilizes a Czech-made 2.5x magnification scope, as well as a unique rear sight. It also borrows some features from the Mauser design, such as locking screws and a K98k-style front sight hood.
- Type 53: A license-built version of the post-war Soviet M1944 carbine. As many of the carbines imported to the USA are constructed of both local Chinese parts and surplus Soviet parts, there is much debate as to when this mixture occurred. Type 53s are found both with and without the permanently attached folding bayonet, though the former is far more common.
- Mosin Nagant Model 1948 Infantry Rifle Gyalogsági Puska, 48.M (48.Minta) Produced by the FEG (Fémáru Fegyver és Gépgyár) plant in Budapest, these high-quality versions of the Soviet Model 1891/30 were produced from 1949 to possibly as late as 1955. They are characterized by a high-quality finish and the marking of all parts with the "02" stamp.
- M/52: a direct copy of the original Soviet Model 1891/30 sniper rifle. Identifying features include:
- Darkly blued steel and high quality machining.
- An "02" stamp on every component of the rifle, identifying it as manufactured in Hungary
- M44 Pattern: Domestically produced version of post war pattern Soviet M44 Carbine marked "02".
- Triangular shaped markings, some with an arrow inside, on many components of the rifle. Normally three "R"'s surrounded by crossed stalks with leaves pointing outwards are on the top of the breech. Year stamps are quite visible.
- M44 Pattern: Domestically produced version of post war pattern Soviet M44 Carbine during the years 1953 to 1955. Variances to the Soviet pattern produced minor differences.
- M91/30 Pattern: Domestically produced version Soviet pattern M91 during the year 1955. Some of the guns are marked "INSTRUCTIE" and held in reserve for a secondary line of defense in case of invasion. The Instructie mark is typically, but not always, accompanied by a broad red band on the buttstock. Some collectors do not consider these safe to fire, but most appear to be in good working order although well worn and somewhat neglected. The "EXERCITIU" mark is found on rifles that seem to have been used specifically for training purposes only. The "EXERCITIU" rifles are easily recognized by the black paint on the entire butt of the stock. They are not intended to be fired since the firing pin is clipped and many times parts critical to their proper function are missing.
- wz. 91/98/23: conversion to the 7.92mmx57 Mauser cartridge, with a magazine modified to feed rimless cartridges. Utilized original Russian spike bayonet.
- wz. 91/98/25: conversion to the 7.92mmx57 Mauser cartridge, with a magazine modified to feed rimless cartridges and a bayonet mounting bar to allow the use of Mauser 1898 bayonets.
- wz. 91/98/26: conversion to the 7.92mmx57 Mauser cartridge, with a magazine modified to feed rimless cartridges and a bayonet mounting bar to allow the use of Mauser 1898 bayonets. Modified two-piece ejector/interrupter similar to Mauser pattern rifles.
- M44 Pattern: Domestically produced version of post war pattern Soviet M44 Carbine, Marked with the Polish "circle 11."
- U.S. Rifle, 7.62 mm, Model of 1916: Due to the desperate shortage of arms and the shortcomings of a still-developing domestic industry, the Russian government ordered 1.5 million M1891 infantry rifles from Remington Arms and another 1.8 million from New England Westinghouse in the United States. Some of these rifles were not delivered before the outbreak of the October Revolution and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which ended hostilities between the Central Powers and Russia. When the Bolsheviks took over the Russian government, they defaulted on the Imperial Russian contracts with the American arsenals, with the result that New England Westinghouse and Remington were stuck with hundreds of thousands of Mosin–Nagants. The US government bought up the remaining stocks, saving Remington and Westinghouse from bankruptcy. The rifles in Great Britain armed the US and British expeditionary forces sent to North Russia in 1918 and 1919. The rifles still in the US ended up being primarily used as training firearms for the US Army. Some were used to equip US National Guard, SATC and ROTC units. Designated "U.S. Rifle, 7.62mm, Model of 1916", these are among the most obscure U.S. service arms. In 1917, 50,000 of these rifles were sent via Vladivostok to equip the Czechoslovak Legions in Siberia to aid in their attempt to secure passage to France.
During the interwar period, the rifles which had been taken over by the US military were sold to private citizens in the United States by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, the predecessor agency to the current Civilian Marksmanship Program. They were sold for the sum of $3.00 each. If unaltered to chamber the US standard .30-06 Springfield rimless cartridge, these rifles are prized by collectors because they do not have the import marks required by law to be stamped or engraved on military surplus firearms brought into the United States from other countries.
Mosin–Nagants have been exported from Finland since the 1960s as its military modernized and decommissioned the rifles. Most of these have ended up as inexpensive surplus for Western nations.
In Russia the Mosin–Nagant action has been used to produce a limited number of commercial rifles, the most famous are the Vostok brand target rifles exported in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s chambered in the standard 7.62x54mmR round and in 6.5x54mmR, a necked down version of the original cartridge designed for long range target shooting.
A number of the Model 1891s produced by New England Westinghouse and Remington were sold to private citizens in the United States by the U.S. government through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship program between the two World Wars. Rifles from this program are valuable collectibles. Many of these American-made Mosin–Nagants were rechambered by wholesalers to the ubiquitous American .30-06 Springfield cartridge; some were done crudely, and others were professionally converted. Regardless of the conversion, a qualified gunsmith should examine the rifle before firing, and owners should use caution before firing commercial ammunition.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain, a large quantity of Mosin–Nagants have found their way onto markets outside of Russia as collectibles and hunting rifles. Due to the large surplus created by the Soviet small arms industry during World War II and the tendency of the former Soviet Union to retain and store large quantities of old but well-preserved surplus (long after other nations militaries divested themselves of similar vintage materials), these rifles (mostly M1891/30 rifles and M1944 carbines) are inexpensive compared to similar surplus arms, and possibly the cheapest firearm of the day, often found at under $100 USD.
There is serious collector interest in the Mosin–Nagant family of rifles, and they are popular with target shooters and hunters, though a downfall of these rifles in their new hunting and target shooting roles is the lack of elevation-adjustable sights. The notched rear tangent iron sight is adjustable, and is calibrated in hundreds of meters. The front sight is a post adjustable for elevation in the field. Windage adjustment is done by the armory before issue. The battle setting places the round within +/-33 cm from the point of aim out to 350 m (380 yd). This "point-blank range" setting allows the shooter to fire the gun at any close target without adjusting the sights. The field adjustment procedure for AK-47, AKM and AK-74 family requires 4 rounds to be placed in a 15 cm group at a distance of 100 meters. Longer settings are intended for area suppression. These settings mirror the Mosin–Nagant and SKS-45 rifles which the AK-47 replaced. This eased transition and simplified training.
The "point-blank range" setting of the Mosin–Nagant is due to the necessity of quick instruction of conscripted soldiers. However, the lack of fine adjustment leaves some hunters with the desire to add a scope and, as of this writing, two companies make adjustable sights for the Russian version of this rifle, Mojo and Smith-Sights. Generally viewed as highly accurate, these rifles show a capability of two-inch groups or better at 100 yards/meters when used with good ammunition and are capable of taking most game on the North American Continent when correct ammunition is used. If the barrel is free-floated or bedded and has a sound bore, and if the trigger is worked on to lighten it and improve let-off, accuracy of minute of angle is possible with scoped Model 91/30s.