October 2011

Mosin Nagants: We Pit Two Versions of the Hoary 1891/30

We found the Sniper version not to our liking, at four times the price or more. But the standard M-N we tested was a genuine bargain ó great wood, tight fitting, and surprising accuracy.

The ancient Mosin Nagant rifle has a storied history. It was the first magazine rifle adopted by Russia, back in 1891. The early versions harked back to Civil War rifles as to overall length. The first version of the rifle was over 50 inches long, and by 1930, as with our test rifles, the length is still over 4 feet. Add a bayonet and the gun resembles a spear more than a modern rifle. However, the basic design is still being used by many troops who need a stout bolt-action rifle, well over a century after its introduction. The Mosin Nagant will never win any beauty contest, mostly because of its drop-down magazine, and we donít know of any custom sporters built on them, though they surely exist. However ugly the rifle may be, it has served long and well as a prime military weapon.

In this report we tried to find out how good a military rifle the 1930 variant was, and if it was any better with a scope. To that end, we acquired two of the long Model 1891/30 rifles, which designation indicates the original design was seriously modified in 1930. One of our test rifles was a common variety and the other, the "sniper" version with a reproduction period scope. The two rifles came with a package of bayonet, sling, and cleaning materials. We tested them with three bullet types and weights, 150-grain soft-point boattail, 182-grain FMJ BT, and 203-grain soft point. The first two types of our test ammo were made by the Serbian Prvi Partizan company, and the third by Brown Bear, out of Russia. Hereís what we found.

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