Mosin-Nagant: Affordable History

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).

1941 Produced Mosin-Nagant 1891/30 Rifle - Image Copyright 2011 Ultimate Reloader (click for larger view)

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 ­čÖé ). 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.

Mosin-Nagant 1891/20 Close-up - Image Copyright 2011 Ultimate Reloader (click for larger view)

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!


17 thoughts on “Mosin-Nagant: Affordable History”

  1. It is without question one of the cheapest surplus relief on the market. And a piece of history! Here in Europe it costs about 90 – 130 Euro
    I have not one but some of different K98K

    Greetings from Germany ­čśë

    1. Greetings from the USA Preu├čen! Glad you can get these over in Europe as well for a decent price. With 18M+ of them produced, they really should be affordable!

  2. I have been purchasing the Privi Partizan ammunition, shooting it, and reloading the brass for several months now. It seems to be OK. The recipe I have been given and assured is best for accuracy is: IMR 4350, 52 grains. A Sierra 150 grain HPBT, 303 caliber (.311 diameter). CCI bench rest primers. I use Lee Pacesetter Limited Production dies with a Factory Crimp die.
    One set of instructions that seems to be extremely valuable for accuracy is to polish the bore. After using a foam carbon and copper cleaner to clean the bore I use Never Dull car polish (silver can with black lettering) running 5 jags of Never Dull through the bore followed by several clean patches. The first jag is Tar black with each successive patch lightening up. This will polish the bore and greatly increase accuracy. The one concession you might make to modernity is to purchase a drop-down bolt. This enhances safety and also allows you to mount a scope wtihout crushing your knuckles every time you cycle a round.

  3. Good buy Gavin! Great wife! I have a Yugo M48 that I’m planning on reloading for,so as not to deal with corrosive ammo. Looking forward to the videos.


  4. I finally mounted a scope on mine a few months ago. With cheap brown bear ammunition I am getting nice groups at 75 yards (I shot a 0.460″ – 4 shot group last weekend at 75 yards). Nothing to get too excited about, but definitely looks promising for accuracy once I start loading my own.

    Awesome website btw… I definitely look forward to your videos on this one.


  5. Yes I have some advice. Sell that rifle and buy an M1 Garand. If you don’t own any WW2 rifles, the Garand is the first one to acquire.
    J/K. Enjoy your new rifle. Just be sure you set aside some $ for the Garand in your future.

      1. You could do a whole series on reloading for the M1 Garand.

        1. Start with prepping milsurp brass (US Lake City or Greek HXP). Cover trimming and removing primer crimps
        2. Cover powders with the correct burn rates (IMR 4895, IMR 4064, etc..)
        3. Cover bulk/progressing reloading for the .30-06


  6. I built my own scope mount out of aluminum bar stock for $5.00. It mounts to the rear sight using the pin that holds the sliding sight guide. The rear end of the scope is drilled and tapped into the receiver, just behind the chamber. My Mosin has the hex receiver so it was easier to get good holes drilled. I’ll send a picture if anyone is interested. It’s a solid and secure mount. If I had access to a machining tool it would have been prettier but it works great.

  7. Welcome to the Surplus Rifle crowd. Be sure to check out, lots of really knowledgeable guys.

    +1 on the Privi brass. If you choose to use Lee dies, bear in mind that the expander stem is .308 diameter. You will need to order a .303 British expander stem (.311 dia) and swap out the stems. This will expand your case mouth to the appropriate diameter and allow you to use .311 diameter bullets.

    If you get bit by the Surplus Rifle bug, might I suggest the Schmidt Rubin K31 and the M1 Garand next. The K31 is an outstanding rifle and is the epitome of Swiss Engineering. I bought one for $300 and scoped it with a clamp on mount. Check out the link to see what a K31 can do….

  8. This was the rifle used by Simo Hayha (his was a M28/30) in 1939-1940 (Winter War). By far the greatest sniper of all times but sadly unknown here. His tally speaks by itself of the gun accuracy.

  9. I have 2 MN rifles, one is built out w/a synthetic stock, scope mounted over the receiver and I had to cut the bolt handle to reposition it.
    The other one, my Grandfather (god rest his soul) brought home from the war.
    You stated you wanted to reload that ammo. the biggest issue your going to run into is that it is beridian primed. You need special equipment to load that, or you have to convert all you brass to standard primers. It is really cheaper to pick up surplus ammo, just be sure to clean the gun really well after your done shooting it as 95% of the ammo is corrosive and will eat the barrel faster than you can say – “man this gun kicks like a mule”.
    Love the guns, you can’t go wrong.
    for under $250 you can get yourself a serious hunting rifle, if you’re willing to put some time and effort into customizing the gun!

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