Firearms

Mosin Nagant Buyer’s Guide

Mosin Nagant 1891

In case you are new to the gun world and haven’t heard, a very inexpensive rifle has been on the market since what seems like the beginning of time. Just about every shooting enthusiast I know has at least one. They aren’t collected for their beauty, usefulness, or precision, but the Russian Mosin Nagant remains a popular choice to both new and experienced collectors. The Mosin Nagant is a bolt-action internal magazine-fed rifle from the Russian military whose service dates back to 1891. The rifle’s popularity in the United States is due, in no small part, to the massive number of rifles on the surplus market, and its extremely low cost purchase price. The rifle fires the hugely powerful 7.62x54R cartridge, whose performance is in the same class as the .30-06 Springfield. A Mosin in decent condition won’t run you over $100 dollars, and the rifles are available at virtually any surplus store or gun show. So what do people do with these inexpensive pieces of history? Some shooters use them for target practice, others for hunting. A misguided few use them for home defensive purposes, which may stem from an overall lack of firearms knowledge.

Mosin Nagant 1891
Check Your Mosin Nagant for Issues
Keep several things in mind when buying a Mosin. Some of these rifles have been through the ringer. They may have spent the last half century buried under a muddy basement in Budapest, or they may have been used for ridding some Eastern European farm of wolves since the end of the First World War. When purchasing a Mosin intended for shooting, check the barrel first. You want to look for sharp rifling. You can’t do much with a worn out barrel. The lands, or high spots, should be somewhat free of scratches and not terribly worn down. The grooves, or low spots, will probably have some pitting. A great deal of pitting is bad, but some minor pitting is to be expected. Try to find the one with the least amount as this is ensure better accuracy. There is a “bullet trick” you can perform to see how worn down the rifling is. If you place a bullet upside down on the crown of the barrel, you can see how far down it goes before it stops. If the bullet drops all the way in, then the rifling is not going to engage the bullet sufficiently to spin the projectile, and you might as well be firing a poorly made smoothbore musket.

If you are lucky enough to find a decent barrel, then check the stock for cracks. Since the Mosin fires such a large caliber round, recoil is huge, and gluing cracks together won’t work. It would be embarrassing to finally get your new Mosin out to the range and have it crumble apart after the first magazine. Your wife would snicker and you would probably feel silly. If the wood has cracks, pass it up.

Next, look the rifle over for rust. It is hard to kill Nazis with a rusty Mosin! Be sure to remove the bolt and check the inside of the receiver. Next, flip out the magazine, and check for a rusty spring. You may find a lot of Cosmoline® at this stage, but that’s normal, more Cosmoline typically means less rust.

Check the sights on the weapon, too. I’ve had friends actually get all the way to the range without looking closely at the sight of their gun. If they aren’t all bent and mangled, you should be fine. You may note at this point that the sights on a Mosin aren’t exactly high-end precision work, but that’s normal. The Russians designed this rifle to be operated by a conscripted peasant army, so they were pretty much looking for a point and shoot solution.

The most important thing you can do at this point is have the rifle headspaced. If you aren’t familiar with this process, just let your gunsmith or gun dealer do it. The process is simple but it will ensure that your rifle is safe to shoot.

So consider these simple steps when you are looking for your little piece of Soviet history. The lack of rust, proper grooves and a solid stock will help ensure that your $100 dollar rifle shoots like a $500 dollar one.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (24)

  1. Wonderful rifle. My 9130 has an original scope on it. I recently purchased a model 44. It kicked so hard that I got a bruise. The 9130 does not kick like the 44.

  2. I purchased a Mosin Nagant 1891 at Cabella’s. The rifle has the Hex Receiver. On the left side above the stock it is stamped PW ARMS REDMOND WA/beneath that M91/30 7.62X54R/beneath that RUSSIA SER #RMN0130508. The barrel just behind the upper stock has the Russian Hammer and Sickle/beneath that 1929 plus an unknown mark/ below that 91830/below that two proof marks. The bolt and butt plate are stamped 91830 and the bottom of the magazine is stamped 91830 with either 46052,48052 or 40052 marked thru with a line. Can you identify this rifle for me and give me an approximate value. My luck with the computer has just left me totally confused about the rifle. Thanking you in advance./Jess

  3. Hello,I have a 1941 mos in that I have bought almost every add on possible and after all the upgrades I’ve found out that under the rear site is 3/8 dovetail.You can use scope rings that are high mount and your scope will set back far enough just like a regular rifle will.I mounted a small picanty rail on the dove tail and have my scope where I want it with none of the after market crap!I did cut the bolt handle and welded it at the angle for better clearance.It has the after market Monte Carlo stock and a black hawk tripod.Looks very nice and is very accurate with 6-24×50 variable scope I can shoot easily 500 yards and is my favorite gun!

  4. Forgive me for asking such a basic question: I don’t know much about guns, but I want to surprise my husband with a WW2 gun for his birthday. This information on the Mosin is really helpful. Where do I start looking for one? Would retail gun stores sell collector items like this or is it something I have to dig deeper for?

  5. I have a friend that has just acquired one of these M44’s in what I would say is excellent condition. Can anyone tell me an approximate value? Serial numbers all match CA1173.

    Thanks everyone

  6. can some one tell me who and where i can get a scope mount for a m91 just like the pic of the rifle before this page ? i bought one thought it would fit i ordered it after watching u tube it requird me to take off my back site so now its off and i need a mount that will fit on the dove tell can anyone help thank you gary

  7. i have one in 30-06, from my grandfater. I have heard that they are unsafe to shoot. And have heard that they are perfectly fine to shoot. Which is true, the gun is in good shape. My concern was the bolt not being able to handle the pressure.

    1. I purchased a Mosin Nagant 1891 at Cabella’s. The rifle has the Hex Receiver. On the left side above the stock it is stamped PW ARMS REDMOND WA/beneath that M91/30 7.62X54R/beneath that RUSSIA SER #RMN0130508. The barrel just behind the upper stock has the Russian Hammer and Sickle/beneath that 1929 plus an unknown mark/ below that 91830/below that two proof marks. The bolt and butt plate are stamped 91830 and the bottom of the magazine is stamped 91830 with either 46052,48052 or 40052 marked thru with a line. Can you identify this rifle for me and give me an approximate value. My luck with the computer has just left me totally confused about the rifle. Thanking you in advance./Jess

  8. Midwest Gun Exchange in Mishawaka & Elkhart Indiana has been selling genuine Russian early 1940s Nagants rite out of the rushki crate. I’m guessing they are rite out of the arsenal by the crate markings, like new or more likely inspected & re-authorised & repacked for the next war after 1946. Still in the huge crates, all numbers matching, all packed in heavy creosote, with bayonets, slings, ammo pouches, oil tin, etc. $99

  9. This is great info! I’m actually in the proces of investigating Mosin Nagants for purchase and this definately helps in my searching. Thanks!

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