As an avid watcher of shows like “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars” – I’m aware of the fact that antique values and prices frequently have nothing to do with how “cool” something is or the quality of the item, but rather the rarity of the item. Some antiques are expensive and poor quality, and some are inexpensive and fine quality. The latter category presents a great opportunity for a value minded amateur historian or enthusiast.
After seeing Mosin-Nagant rifles for bargain basement prices at my local sporting goods store, I’ve been interested in acquiring one. What has stopped me in the past? Well, some of the Mosin-Nagant rifles look like they were used to smooth out gravel roads, or as boat anchors, or both. Add to that the fact that they have enough cosmoline caked on them to preserve a small-block Chevrolet engine, the thought of preparing the rifle for use makes me re-think the rifle. Even considering the condition, a sub-hundred dollar functional rifle still has its appeal – it’s really a question of which one and when to buy.
My wife and I just celebrated our 16th anniversary, and spent time staying in Sand Point Idaho. One of the great things about this town was the antique stores and gun shops. I looked at a couple of Mosin-Nagant rifles, but one in particular stood out – a 1941 produced Mosin-Nagant model 1891/30. This example had two things going for it- first it was in the best condition of any Mosin-Nagant that I had seen at a gun shop, and second, it had been cleaned and fired by the prior owner (no cosmoline to deal with).
I took a look at the rifle, trying not to look overly interested or excited. It was really clean, in great condition, and the numbers all matched. Hmmmm I thought- perhaps I’ll take a look online and see what these rifles are going for. Being a common C&R rifle, this could make for some great articles and videos (convincing myself this was a good idea). I bought some once-fired 5.56 brass and headed out to ponder the idea. After doing some research, I figured that the “hovering around $100. price-point” was a good deal – so I continued to think about what I would do with this rifle, and whether or not to go back to the pawn shop.
The next day, my wife and I had just eaten lunch, and were shopping for anniversary mementos. I told her that I would like to get the rifle, and she said “sure go and get it”. This was a big moment, this rifle being the first firearm that my wife has “bought for me” (even if I went to the pawn shop ). So I went down with my best game face on, and did some bargaining for the rifle and another bag of brass.
What a thrill to own a piece of history! This is not my first military surplus rifle, but it is my first WWII rifle, and at the prices that these rifles can be had for, this could turn into a collection.
I’m really looking forward to reloading for the 7.62x54R cartridge. One of the challenges for this particular cartridge is finding reload-able brass. Nosler and Lapua both make new brass that is both quality and expensive. Another good option is to buy PRVI ammunition or brass. PRVI ammunition is affordable enough that it may make sense to buy it and shoot it to fire form it right off the get-go. We’ll see!
If you have recommendations on brass, or have articles/blogs/videos that you’d like to see related to the Mosin-Nagant series of rifles, please let me know by leaving a comment on this post!