The Mosin Nagant is a very prevalent firearm and you have probably encountered it at one time or another. If you are a rifle shooter, classic war rifle collector, “frugal rifle buyer” or have ever been to a rifle range, chances are you have come across this firearm. Specifically, I’m speaking about the model “91/30.”
The “91” represents the Mosin model which first appeared in 1891. The “30” refers to the “Nagant” modernization of the design in 1930.
The production of the 91/30 also included several platforms, which include carbines, sniper rifles and more. These variations lead to millions of these rifles being used by Slavic and Asian nations. Eventually, the adaptation of the SKS and ultimately the Kalashnikov, also known as the AK-47, stopped this.
So what do nations with literally tons of bolt-action rifles, dripping with cosmoline and in storage, do with all these firearms? Well, they do what any wannabe-capitalist nation does. They sell them to the United States.
There are three types of Mosin Nagant owners in the United States today.
- The first type is the owners that are purists. These people want to keep the original parts and condition of the gun intact and as purchased. These possessors do very little shooting of their rifles for the most part, due to the legendary inaccuracy of the platform. This gun also causes general frustration from the continual high-right or low-left shots. To perfect the shot, it requires extremes of practice in windage correction. The MN does also have an elevation adjustment.
- The second type of owner is those that want to sporterize their rifle and use it for target shooting or hunting. This firearm also will help you to minimize the affects you will feel after being hit in the shoulder with a sledgehammer, every time the trigger is pulled.
- The final type of Mosin Nagant owner is the shooter who wants a little of both worlds, like yours truly. A few of us gun fanatics will drop two-hundred bucks and get one of these guns to keep original and we will also purchase one to sporterize.
So what are the differences between my factory Mosin Nagant rifle and the sporterized version? Let’s look at what I did to the sport version first.
Truly, the standard for what not to do when making a trigger system is used in the Mosin Nagant factory rifle. It provides endless creep, it is heavy as lead and overtravel can test the limits of any practiced trigger finger.
As a replacement, I used a Timney Mosin Nagant Trigger with Safety, which I found at Brownells, for $103.99. This provides me with a great 1-3 pound adjustable trigger weight with virtually no creep or overtravel. Fantastic trigger.
I give props to the Russians for being able to bang out over a million rifles, but let’s just say that the standards they used for ergonomics were not exactly up to the standards of the time. Compare the MN to the M1 Garand and you will see quite a difference in the way you can conform your body around the rifle.
You can purchase the Advanced Technology Mosin Nagant Monte Carlo Sporter Stock, purchase at Brownells for around $89.95. This is certainly a good solution for this dilemma. Waterproof and nearly indestructible, this stock will also help reduce the felt recoil of the rifle. It is easy to install and absolutely worth every penny.
It’s true, I believe the original bolt is awful. The 90-degree throw on it is tedious at best, when on a rifle with open sights. However, it is a real knuckle-buster on rifles with a scope mounted on it. Now this is definitely going to be a gunsmith-required fix, as most people do not have welding capabilities. I found a great little company that does a great job of doing projects like this. Rock Solid Industries will take your existing MN bolt and grind off the old handle and tig-weld a new, angled handle that will not only prevent it from hitting a mounted scope, but also allow you to cycle the bolt faster. You also have the option to purchase one of their pre-welded bolts.
The iron sights of the Mosin Nagant are not accurate. Do keep in mind that this was a rifle designed predominantly for the use of peasants and not highly trained soldiers. Considering this fact, or perhaps in spite of it, it happens to be a great rifle. However, accuracy was not its strong point and many soldiers filling the air with lead was what the Russians had in mind when sticking them in the arms of their defenders. Unless you’re of the sniper variety like Vasili Zaitsev (see the 2001 movie “Enemy at the Gates” or the William Craig book, “Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad”), then the sights on your rifle were enough to get the bullet straight. But little more than that in hitting the general vicinity you were aiming at.
My solution? Mount a red-dot sight on the MN. Why not a magnified scope, you ask? Read the next section. The Burris red-dot allows me to put the bullet where I want it to go. Period.
So… why is this a comparison as opposed to an article about upgrades? Because all is not 100% peachy when you upgrade your Mosin Nagant. When it comes to the mounting of a scope on this rifle, as can be reasonable to assume that many sportspersons would want to do so, it can be an absolute nightmare. There is a very good reason that I opted for the red-dot optic on the rifle after trying many scopes and mounts.
The problem with mounting a scope is that unless you intend to have it done by a professional gunsmith, you have little choice but to use one of the “no gunsmithing” options available. And let me tell you, they are pretty poor options through no fault of their own. The problem is that the mounts are designed to fit into the existing rear sight slot with minor modification and removal of the rear sight by knocking out a few pins. Once you do this, the scope mount and ultimately the scope itself are set very far out on the receiver. This makes it nearly impossible to see through the scope, unless you get one with enormous eye relief, such as a pistol scope or a scout scope.
All this said you can see there are some misses here when it comes to doing these types of upgrades.
After making these changes, you’d be hard-pressed to tell they had been the same gun, at one time. The MN is always going to be a thumper no matter what kind of stock or recoil pad you put on it. Even with a removable gel pad, such as I use. Optics will always be a problem, but the trigger and the bolt are relatively easy to fix. If you want to stay classic then all the power to you, but for those who want a little more versatility in the abilities of the rifle, the sporterization is definitely the way to go for your ex-military shoulder stomper.