The Mosin-Nagant 91/30 is a bolt-action rifle chambered in 7.62X54mmR. The Mosin-Nagant 91/30 was introduced to the Russian/USSR military in 1891 and stayed in service until the end of World War II. In fact, it became the standard issue service rifle beginning in 1930 to all Russian soldiers and, during WWII, commonly used as a sniper rifle. It has standard features for a military rifle of its time such as iron sights, wooden stock and bayonet stud. It was mass-produced and often rushed through production, however, it was still surprising accurate, but not without faults. Common criticisms, besides its bland appearance, include the handguards heat up and fail to protect the hands, and it is an arduous task to mount a scope on it.
The 7.62X54R is a old Russian combat cartridge and has comparable performance to 7.62 NATO or .308 Win. rounds, which are popular for long-range shooting.
It seems ironic to me that gun stores today are saturated with what was at one time the least likely candidate for a gun to appear in the hands of ordinary Americans. From 1892 through the end of WWII, the Mosin Nagant was the primary battle rifle for Russia and later the Soviet Union. Funny, that a weapon that was closely associated with our greatest enemy during the Cold War (though not the gun most ubiquitously associated with the Reds) has now found its way into pickup trucks and gun safes all over America.
By the end of the WWII it was clear that semi-automatic and selective fire weapons were the way of the future and the Soviets switched to the SKS and later the AK-47. Many millions of bolt action Mosin Nagants were either shifted to reserve status or handed out to rebel groups and ‘third world’ governments. After the fall of the Soviet Union, vast warehouses of mothballed Mosin Nagants were finally declared surplus and sold on the international wholesale market, so perhaps it’s not so surprising that most of these guns seem to have found their way into the US.
It is an odd-looking rifle to American eyes. One of the few bolt action rifles that owes nothing to the 98 Mauser, it has a completely unique action and a stacked, mannlicher-style magazine that protrudes from the bottom of the hog-backed stock. Pre-war versions often exhibit fine craftsmanship and have very slick bolts. By the time the battle of Stalingrad was underway they had given up on details like polishing the tops of the receivers and tapping in the brass sling ferrules. In some cases they were making the guns so desperately fast that they were being issued mere hours after rolling off the production line. I suppose that a really fast Panzer assault in the general direction of one’s gun factory will tend to discourage one from much concern about tool marks on the stock. Some of those rough-looking war-time rifles still shoot well, however.
With very rare exceptions, all variants of the Mosin Nagant fire the 7.62x54R cartridge. The rifle’s action is pretty well tailored to the dimensions of the ‘Russian thirty’ and it is impractical to rebarrel the gun for more popular cartridges. But that’s ok, because the cartridge is roughly the ballistic equal of the .308 Winchester. Enough of the rifles are out there that many ammunition makers are loading it and even if you can’t find it at Walmart it is easy enough to track down online.
Like any surplus military rifle, quality varies greatly and a close inspection of the bore should be made before spending more money on it than you would on a tank of gas. These can make good deer or bear rifles and there are many aftermarket parts available if you want to put a scope on it or restock the rifle.
I doubt that the Mosin Nagant will ever become as accepted in the US as the Winchester Model 94 or the 1903 Springfield, but it has found a place in American gun culture and is probably here to stay.