Tweaking your Mosin Nagant rifle for tighter groups is not necessarily the easiest weekend project. However, if you are the motivated type, you can finally take that step past the casual shooter and into the realm of the customized shooting enthusiast. Since I am almost obsessive about getting good groups at the range, my friends wondered why in the world I would buy a beat up old Mosin. I told them I wanted the challenge of taking an Eastern Block bolt gun and outshooting them and their fancy ARs at the range. It might surprise you that with a little ingenuity, it is possible to turn that old Soviet rifle into a finely tuned precision target-blasting machine—sort of.
A trigger job can accomplish a great deal. The included trigger on most Mosin Nagants is long, heavy, gritty, and creepy. None of these attributes makes for a very accurate rifle. I imagine the thinking of the designers was to get as many guns in the hands of peasants as they could for the least amount of rubles as possible.
To help make your peasant gun fit for a Tsar, a trigger job is a good place to start. To perform such a job on a Mosin Nagant, first do a safety check on your Soviet artifact. Open the bolt and make sure the gun is not loaded, and then pull back on the trigger, this will release the bolt, and it should slide out of the back of the receiver. Set the bolt aside and prepare to remove the stock.
To remove the stock, start with the sling. Unsnap the leather straps and set the sling aside. Pull the cleaning rod out from below the barrel. You may have to twist it to remove it completely. The stock should have two retaining bands. Slide these toward the end of the barrel until you can pull off the upper handguard.
Once you remove the upper handguard, you will have to remove two stock screws. A large flathead screwdriver should do the trick. Once the stock screws are out, depress the tab at the bottom of the box magazine, and remove the floorplate and the magazine follower. You can then unscrew and remove the magazine box and trigger guard from the rifle.
At this point, you may notice that the barrel and receiver are one big piece, at least they should be. You can separate them, but it is not necessary for this application. Take out the barrel/receiver assembly and flip it over so the trigger is facing the ceiling. Take your flathead and remove the sear screw. It may be tight, so some penetrating oil might loosen it up a bit. You will see a trigger hinge pin that attaches the trigger to the receiver. A pencil or punch should easily remove it, just be careful not to lose it! At this point, you should have the sear, pin, and trigger removed from the receiver.
I should use this time to throw in a safety disclaimer. There is always an inherent risk in modifying firearms. If you sand down your spring/sear too much, the cocking knob/firing pin assembly will be unsafe. If you are not sure about what you are doing, simply stop and reassemble your rifle. I’ve seen some people use a Dremel tool for this part of the job, but I don’t recommend it. Instead of a Dremel tool, just use very fine sandpaper or emery cloth, between 600 and 1,000-grit and your fingers. Polish the contact points of the trigger assembly. This includes the upper surface of the spring/sear. On this surface, you will see machine marks running side to side, these marks need to erode down so the sear/spring is smooth. Polish the sides of the sear/spring where it rubs against the inside of the trigger box. After the sear/spring is nice and smooth, polish the inside of the trigger box as well. You can accomplish this by mounting the trigger in a vise and pulling a strip of sandpaper back and forth a number of times until smooth. Also, polish the holes on the trigger where the hinge pin sits. Polishing the hinge pin itself will also help reduce some of the rough feel when pulling the trigger.
Once you are satisfied with your polishing, put a small amount of grease on the contact points, and reassemble your rifle. Cock the bolt and test your rifle for safety. Try dry firing it a few times and if did your job right, you will notice a smoother, lighter pull on your trigger.
Note: Many internet guides will tell you to install a thin metal shim between the sear/spring and the retaining screw. While this will indeed improve your trigger pull, it is easy to overdue it and create an unsafe rifle. If you attempt this, make sure you test your rifle thoroughly for safety before attempting to fire it. The last thing you want to do is fire your weapon when you don’t expect to. As always, make sure you point your muzzle in a safe direction and modify all firearms at your own risk.
Stay tuned for our next article on bedding the barrel to accurize your Mosin Nagant.