A Brief History of the Mosin-Nagant
The Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 bolt-action rifle combined a simple design by Russian Captain Sergei Mosin with a five-round internal box magazine designed by Belgians Émile and Léon Nagant. Entering Russian service in 1892, it remained the standard long arm of the Russian infantry through the Russo-Japanese War, World War I and, in its improved 1930 Soviet version, World War II.
In 1932 the Red Army pulled Mosin-Nagant’s from assembly lines to modify them as sniper rifles. Gunsmiths reconfigured the bolt handle to make room for 3.5–4x telescopic sights; raised the foresight a millimeter, allowing a sniper to use open sights on targets out to 600 meters; and lightened the trigger pull to a range of 4.4 to 5.3 pounds. Snipers still complained about the weapon’s excessive length and weight, as well as its poor quality wooden stocks, which often warped during weather changes.
Despite its shortcomings, the Model 1891/30 was rugged, reliable and accurate, its average minute of arc ranging from a 1.5 to below 1 (less than an inch over 100 meters). It proved murderously successful. In fact, German snipers reportedly preferred captured Mosin-Nagant’s to their own Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles. Although the Soviets also adapted the semiautomatic Tokarev SVT-40 for sniper use, it proved less accurate than the proven Mosin-Nagant, which ultimately eclipsed it. Russia produced some 330,000 Model 1891/30 snipers between 1941 and 1943. These remained in Soviet use until replaced by the Dragunov SVD in 1963.
Our Mosin-Nagant started life as a $97.00 Pawn Shop rifle with a heavy, beat up wooden stock. After a good cleaning we took the rifle out to our range where we were able to get 2″-2 1/2″ groups at 100 meters, 3 1/2″ groups at 200 meters, and 6″ groups at 400 meters using the soviet style open-sights . We used 174 grain Silver Bear Ammo for all of our testing.
When we got done with that initial round of testing we decided to modify the rifle with the addition of the ATI Archangel stock, bi-pod, scope mount, and a 3-9 x 32 Scout scope to see if we could transform the rifle into a more useful survival/SHTF Scout rifle that we could use as a medium range (400-600 meter) sniper and big game rifle.
The Archangel Stock
One of the first things you will notice about the Archangel stock is that it takes detachable magazines in either 5 (one 5 round magazine is included with the stock)or 10 rounds. This allows for much faster reloads of the Mosin-Nagant without having to use stripper clips, getting the weapon back in the fight much quicker. The next thing you’ll notice is that the stock is fully adjustable for length of pull and comb which allows you to “fit” the rifle to the shooter for increased accuracy.
Changing the stock was pretty straight forward, we removed the original magazine and dropped the action into the new stock. The receiver fits very tightly in the stock and according to the instructions that came with the stock, “some actions may require the removal of some material from the stock to allow the action to fit properly.” though we didn’t have to remove any material from the stock it did take a light tapping with a rubber mallet to seat the action properly. The barrel of our rifle “free-floated” in the new stock, though the stock kit does come with a shim in case you need to “lift” the barrel in the stock and get a proper fit.
Zeroing the Scope
The scope mount we used was designed to replace the rear iron sight. The scope mount is a 6″ picatiny rail that will accept just about any modern optics or scope mounts. The rail was mounted with the included screws and leveled using the “adjustment screws, once the rail was level we tightened everything down and mounted the 3-9 x 32 Scout Scope. Once the scope was mounted we adjusted the stock to our test shooter, bore sighted the scope to 150 meters, and headed to our range.
We fired our first three rounds and found that we were hitting 4″ low and 3″ left at 150 meters. After adjusting the windage and elevation we fired 3 more rounds and hit 1 1/2″ low and 1/2″ left, we adjusted and fired again placing 3 rounds in a 1 3/4” group dead center of our zero target.
One we had the scope zeroed we allowed the barrel to cool completely before placing 3 shots each at 150, 200, 300, 400, and 500 meters. For the ranges past the zero of the scope we used Tennessee windage and Kentucky elevation instead of trying to adjust the scope itself for each range.
The weather for our test shots:
- Mostly Cloudy
- 26º F
- Wind SE @ 7 mph
- Humidity 39%
We loaded one 10 round and one 5 round magazine, loaded the rifle and fired our test shots allowing the barrel to cool completely after each 3 round group before firing the next set of 3 rounds.We repeated the test three times for each range, the last time we fired our three rounds and quickly moved to the next range and fired again without allowing the barrel to cool. The average of our results can be seen below:
- 150 Meters- 1 1/2″ group dead center
- 200 Meters- 1 1/2″ group 1/2″ high
- 300 Meters- 1 3/4″ group 1″ low
- 400 Meters- 2 1/2″ group 1″ low
- 500 Meters – 3 1/4′” group 2 1/2″ high
We were very satisfied with the rifle and its ability to handle the role we have chosen for it as a Scout/Big Game rifle.
A short time after we changed out the stock my son, Joshua, used the rifle and the same 174 grain Silver Bear Ammo we used for testing to kill this small Bull Elk that had been hit by a car in front of our house, breaking one of its fore legs. Our local Sheriffs Department asked for our help putting the animal down since they didn’t have access to any weapon capable of killing any type of large game and our game warden wasn’t available. He made a single shot at dusk of 130 yards, hitting it just behind the shoulder that dropped the elk in its tracks.
Joshua trains with the Mosin-Nagant regularly acting as a Scout for our small group. He practices movement techniques, tracking and scouting, camouflage and concealment, and engaging targets at ranges out to 600 meters while training. Since we first did our testing Joshua has gotten used to how the rifle shoots and has been able to score 2″ groups less than 1″ high at ranges out to 600 meters though we are sure that he could hit a man sized target at greater ranges if need be.
As well as the 5 and 10 round magazines pictured he carries an additional seven 10 round magazines on his vest in mag pouches as well as another 200 rounds in their boxes in other pouches.
For a survival/SHTF weapon on a budget the Mosin-Nagant simply can’t be beat. As it comes it is accurate enough to take large game out to 300+ meters using the Soviet style iron sights. By adding an after-market stock, such as the Archangel, you can increase not only its accuracy but its usefulness as a survival weapon allowing you to quickly reload without having to use stripper clips.
The one drawback of the weapon is its weight when compared to modern bolt action rifles. Even with the Archangel stock it still weighs in at just over 8.6 pounds fully loaded compared to the 9.9 pounds of the fully loaded wooden stocked carbine we started with. The only other serious drawback that we found was the muzzle blast of the weapon. When fired it shoots a flame out of the barrel that is at least 3 feet long causing us to nick name it, “The Flame-Thrower”, making it difficult to use the weapon after dark without some kind of flash suppressor (which is available but we haven’t gotten yet).
Over all if you are looking rugged, reliable, inexpensive, entry level bolt action rifle that you can quickly turn into a good Scout/Big Game rifle with the addition of a few after market parts you can’t beat a Mosin-Nagant.
I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!
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The Official Soviet Mosin-Nagant Rifle Manual: Operating Instructions for the Model 1891/30 Rifle and Model 1938 and Model 1944 Carbines; by U S S R Army; Paladin Press; Paperback; 112 pages