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Mosin-Nagant M1891

The name of famous Russian armorer Sergei Ivanovich Mosin is associated with his well-known rifle. It was a manually operated bolt-action, magazine fed rifle. It fired 7.62 mm ammunition, fed from an integral, single stack magazine, loaded from the clip chargers, with capacity for 5 rounds. The Mosin-Nagant had a maximum range of around three kilometers but was only capable of effective aimed fire out to ranges of 400-500 meters. The rifle is striker-fired, and the striker was cocked on the bolt open action.

The positive aspects of the Mosin rifles were the reliability and simplicity of both manufacture and service. These weapons can be considered reasonably effective infantry weapons. Fairly good shooting can be done with them at combat ranges, although their sights do not lend themselves to the finer degrees of accuracy which can be obtained with similar United States weapons. But, on the other side, this rifle had some serious drawbacks. This long rifle was awkward to maneuver and carry, especially in the woods and trenches. The horizontal bolt handle was short by necessity, so, in the case of the cartridge case stuck in the chamber this required a lot of strength to extract it. They suffer from an overcomplicated bolt, but in other respects are relatively simple to service and maintain. The safety, in that it is extremely hard to engage and disengage, represents a shortcoming of the weapons.

The Mosin-Nagant rifle, known in the Russia as a "Vintovka Mosina" (Mosin Rifle), was developed under the government commission in the late 1880s and early 1890s, and was officially adopted for service by the Russian Tsar in 1891. During the official trials, two designs were selected - one by a designer from the Tula arsenal - Mosin - and another by the Belgian brothers Emil and Leon Nagant. The final design, adopted by the Commission, utilized features from both. The action of the rifle was developed by Colonel S.I. Mosin, and the magazine was developed by the Nagants.

The most commonly found Mosin-Nagant 1891/30 rifles were manufactured in either the Izhevsk and Tula Arsenals. In 1960 Tula saw the establishment of a special prize of S.I.Mosin. Specialists from various defense enterprises took part in contests for "S.I.Mosin prize laureate" title. A recently published book "S.I.Mosin prize laureates of the XX century" features the names of those who received this title from 1960 to 2000, and lists their merits.

Along with the rifle, a new, small-caliber cartridge was adopted. This cartridge had a rimmed, bottlenecked case and a jacketed, blunt nose bullet. The rimmed case design, which at that time already started to became obsolescent, was inspired by the low level of the Russian arms industry. This decision, kept this obsolete, rimmed cartridge is in general service with Russian army for more than 110 years.

The Mosin-Nagant was one of the earliest small-caliber battle rifles developed in the late 19th century. Its rugged design and construction are borne out by the fact that the only changes ever made to its basic design were to shorten and lighten the rifle as ammunition improved and battle conditions changed. This venerable design is arguably the longest-lived and is also one of the most widely-produced and copied firearm in the world. This design saw action in almost every major conflict of the twentieth century, from WWI, the Russian Civil War, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and even Grenada. The standard North Korean and Chinese rifle of the Korean War was the Russian-designed Mosin-Nagant M1891/1930. The 1891/30 was found on many North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war. Thousands of these obsolete but deadly weapons were given to the Viet Minh and later to the Viet Cong. As the war continued, these were replaced with the AK-47 rifle.

Up to 1943, Soviet infantry was primarily armed with the bolt-action 1891/1930 Mosin-Nagant rifle with iron sights. It was accurate to 400 meters. The scoped Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle was accurate to 800 meters. During the war, the Soviet Union replaced the infantry Mosin-Nagant rifles with submachine guns.

The Mosin-Nagant can be used as a sniper rifle if it is fitted with a telescopic sight. Sniper rifles, based on the M1891/30 rifles, were issued with scope mounts on the left side of the receiver and with bolt handles bent down. The Mosin Nagant M91/30 sniper rifle starred in the 2001 hit "Enemy at the Gates." Red Army snipers hunted in pairs, one spotting and one firing. Both were armed with the Mosin-Nagant 1891/1930 rifle that fires a 7.62x54mm rimmed round. The rifle's four-power scope mount also allowed the sniper to use the standard open sights for closer-in shots. The average soldiers were exhorted to follow the example of the snipers and to kill more fascists using fewer resources. The sniper movement peaked with the widely circulated tale of the duel to the death between Senior Sergeant Zaitsev and Major Koenig in the ruins of Stalingrad. The duel between Zaitsev and Konig is fiction. There is, according to modern research, no evidence that such a battle should have taken place. [In the beginning of the movie, Vasilli is using Mosin/Nagant Model 1891/30 rifle. Later, when he becomes a sniper, he is using an older Mosin/Nagant Model 1891.] Eventually, Zaitsev was credited with 149 kills.

There were several modifications of his rifles, including the Mosin Nagant 91/30, Hungarian M44, Polish Nagant, Russian Nagant, and Chinese 53 Nagant. The M1891/30 rifle was an upgrade, but only slightly. The Mosin-Nagant rifle was in use for more than sixty years by half the world's military forces. Developed in 1891, it was last manufactured in Hungary and China in the mid-1950s.

The original rifle M1891 was considerably different than later versions of the same model. The original rifle M1891 had no handguard, was fitted with sling swivels instead of the sling slots used on later versions, and had a leaf rear sight which was designed for the old conical-nosed 7.62 -mm ball cartridge. In 1908 the Spitzer pointed light ball round (which is still used) was introduced and the rear sight was changed. About this time handguards were added and the swivels were replaced by sling slots bored in tile stock. The original MI891 is now a collector's item, and is unlikely to be encountered in the field. The later versions of tile rifle M1891 are no longer being manufactured, and are believed to be obsolete. The rifle M1891 is the basic bolt action model. Later bolt action rifle and carbine models are variations and attempted improvements of the M1891. This rifle has a notched-ramp leaf-type rear sight which has no provision for windage. The sight is graduated from 400 to 3, 200 arshins {312 to 2, 496 yards). The front sight is the unprotected blade type of sight. The detachable fluted bayonet, with an offset sleeve for the barrel, is fastened to the rifle by a locking ring. The two stock bands are screw expanded (turn to the right to expand and to the left to close). The upper band is at the forward end of the handguard. The lower band is 2 inches forward of the rear sight. The interrupter-ejector is one piece. This rifle has a hexagonal receiver.

The Dragoon rifle M1891 was originally developed as a weapon for heavy cavalry. Manufacture of this rifle was discontinued about 1930, when it was replaced by the rifle M1891/30. The Dragoon rifle M1891 is believed to be obsolete, but was found in limited quantity in satellite armies by the mid-1950s. The Dragoon rifle M1891 is shorter than the rifle M1891. The front and rear sights are the same as those of the rifle M1891. The bayonet is the same as that of the rifle M1891. The Dragoon rifle M1891 has solid stock bands. The upper band is placed about 3-1/2 inches from the front end of the stock. The interrupter-ejector is the same as that of the rifle M189l. This rifle has a hexagonal receiver.

Although Imperial Russia adopted the Mosin-Nagant rifle in 1891, a true carbine did not appear until 1910. The carbine 1910, with its leaf sight and sling slots, has characteristics of both the original and later versions of the rifle M1891. The carbine M1910 has a hexagonal receiver and does not take a bayonet. This model is comparatively rare and is obsolete. The Carbine M1910 weapon is a short rifle, or carbine. It is basically a cut-down version of the rifle M1891. The M1910 is 40 inches in length (about 11 inches shorter than the rifle M1891). The carbine M1910 has almost a full stock. The leaf-type rear sight is graduated from 400 to 2,000 arshins (312 yards to 1, 060 yards). The front sight is the unprotected blade type. This weapon does not take a bayonet. The stock bands are solid. The interrupter-ejector is the same as that of the rifle Ml891. This carbine has a hexagonal receiver.

The rifle M1891/30 is about the same length as the M1891 Dragoon, but it represents many improvements over the Dragoon. The sights used on the M1891/30 are superior to those of the Dragoon, and, because the metric system of measurement was adopted in Russia during this period, the sights of the M1891/30 are calibrated in meters rather than in arshins. (One arshin equals 0.71 meters or 0.78 yards.) The rifle M1891/30 is about the same length as the Dragoon rifle M1891 and 2.8 inches shorter than the rille M1891. The weapon has a curved-ramp tangent-type rear sight. There is no provision for windage adjustment. The sight is graduated from 1 to 20; that is, for ranges of 100 meters to 2,000 meters. The rifle M1891/30 has a hooded post-typetront sight. The bayonet is fastened to the rifle by means of a spring-loaded catch, but is otherwise similar to the bayonet of the rifle M1891. The two stock bands are of the split-ring type. This rifle has a round receiver.

The sniper rifle M1891/30 , which is basically the M1891/30 adapted for use with a telescope, was a standard weapon in Soviet and satellite armies. The telescopes employed are somewhat similar to those used on United States hunting rifles. The sniper rifle M1891/30 is almost identical in appearance to the rifle M189l/30; however, it has been selected specially for its accuracy, and has been adapted for use with telescopes. The bolt handle has been lengthened and bent down to prevent interference with the telescope. c. Additional machining and tapping on the receiver of the sniper rifle M1891/30 permits the installation of three different types of mounts and telescopes.

The carbine M1938 replaced the M19l0. It is similar in many respects to the rifle-M1891/30. It has a tangent-type rear sight, hooded front sight, and rounded receiver. It does not take a bayonet. This model may be encountered in Soviet and satellite forces during the 1950s, although it was not believed to be manufactured at that time. The carbine M1938 is a cut-down version of the rifle M1891/30 and, until the introduction of the carbine M1944, replaced it as an arm of troops other than infantry and cavalry. The carbine M1938 is the same length as the carbine M1910 (40 inches). The rear ramp sight (fig. 31) is similar to the rear ramp sight of the rifle MI89l/30, except that it is shorter and is graduated from 100 meters to 1,000 meters (110 yards to 1,100 yards). The front sight is the hooded post type. The weapon will not accommodate any of the Soviet bayonets. The two stock bands are of the split-ring type. The two-piece interrupter-ejector is the same as that of the rifle MI891/30. This carbine has a round receiver.

The carbine M1944, introduced during the latter part of World War II, was considered standard by the mid-1950s. The permanently fixed bayonet folds down along the right side of the carbine stock when not in use. Except for a slightly longer barrel and the addition of the bayonet, the carbine M1944 is identical to the M1938. The carbine M1944 is identical to the M1938, except that it has a slightly longer barrel, carries a nondetachable folding bayonet, and the right side of the stock is modified slightly in order to accommodate the bayonet in the folded position. When the bayonet is folded, the M1944 is the same length as the carbine M1938 (40 inches); with the bayonet extended, it is 52.25 inches in length.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms [ATF] has determined that a number of firearms are curios or relics as defined in 27 CFR 178.11 because they fall within one of the categories specified in the regulations. Such determination merely classifies the firearms as curios or relics and thereby authorizes licensed collectors to acquire, hold, or dispose of them as curios or relics subject to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44 and the regulations in 27 CFR Part 178. They are still "firearms" as defined in 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44. This includes the Russian (U.S.S.R.), model 1891, Mosin-Nagant rifles, cal. 7.62 x 54R and .22 cal., all models and all variations, mfd. after 1898 (i.e., M1891/30, M1910, M1938, and M1944).This includes the Hungarian Model 48 (Mosin Nagant M44 type) carbine, caliber 7.62 X 54R, manufactured in Hungary, and identified by the manufacturer code 02 on the chamber area and marked with the date of manufacture in the 1950's or earlier. It also includes the Polish Mosin Nagant M44 type carbines, caliber 7.62 X 54R, manufactured in Poland, identified by the manufacturer code "11" in an oval on the chamber area, and marked with the actual date of manufacture during the 1950's or earlier.

Photo #: 80-G-K-12239 (Color)

Korean Armistice Negotiations

Chinese (left) and North Korean delegates leave the conference area at Panmunjom, Korea, circa early 1952.
These officers appear to be Chinese Major General Hsieh Fang and North Korean Major General Lee Sang Cho.
Note North Korean Army guards, wearing quilted winter uniforms and armed with Russian M1891 Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifles.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Photo #: NH 97060

Hungnam Evacuation, December 1950

Marines boarding USS Bayfield (APA-33) at Hungnam, for transportation out of North Korea.
Note details of the Marines' packs. Man at left is carrying a Russian Mosin-Nagant carbine in addition to his M1.
This photograph was released by Commander, Naval Forces Far East, under date of 20 December 1950.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.


Sniper Rifle

Sniper Rifle

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:48:53 ZULU