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This Old Russian Rifle Was Used in Both World Wars — Here’s Why

When reviewing antique guns and potential collector’s items, one weapon that comes up is the Russian-made Mosin-Nagant.

This may not be the nicest rifle you’ve ever fired, and it certainly doesn’t have many specialized features which allow for customization like modern military weapons do, but it was never designed or meant for such functions, as it was a military weapon designed and built solely for military use.

The Mosin-Nagant saw action in both world wars, and is still in use today in third world countries as a high powered sniper weapon which is simple to use and easy to train with.

The Mosin-Nagant was first designed in 1882 and began production in 1891. It held five rounds of 7.62x54R bullets, making it a metric version of a .30 caliber rifle with a bullet slightly larger than the .308 with a charge slightly less but similarly powered to the .30-06 round. It was used by the Russian (later Soviet Union) army when Britain and other European countries were using the Lee-Enfield, and Germany incorporated the Mauser for their fighting forces.

The original Mosin was a over four feet long at 51-1/2 inches with a 31`-1/2 inch barrel, a large weapon by today’s standard, and interestingly enough had a very short trigger pull length of only 13 inches, which makes sense when considering the amount of clothing the Russian army had to wear for warmth on a daily basis.

An interesting aspect of the Mosin-Nagant is how it led to the development of many modern firearms. The fact is, before WWII, engineers and artillary units were unarmed, as prior to the war once the infantry was defeated those soldiers were no longer useful, and were either captured or sent home after a losing battle. Among his many atrocities, Hitler trained the German army to actually kill unarmed men providing support to the front lines, so Stalin recognized a need to arm the troops who weren’t intended or trained for close combat.

The shorter 1938 (and later, 1944) Mosin-Nagant Carbines were only 40 inches long, and didn’t maintain a fixed bayonet for trench warfare. That evolution of the gun led to the realization that the longer barrel was no longer a necessary feature as the current manufacturing process was accurate enough not to require the extra length between sights in order to make an accurate shot.

The Mosin-Nagant nearly disappeared from history after Stalin disarmed the Soviet populace and began using the AK-47 for military purposes. In the late 1990s, a cache of stored rifles was found in a salt mine in Ukraine, and began to flood the world and the United States as collector’s weapons. Although the guns were manufactured so quickly in response to Hitler’s actions in Europe, many of them need some work either by a professional gunsmith or a talented layman who can purchase and install an upgrade kit before they are useful as a hunting weapon by modern standards.

All told, they can be great weapons if properly set up and are certainly one of the best bargains you can find for an inexpensive but practical gun in today’s market.

Check out the video below to see the rifle in action!

~ Firearm Daily

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