The Mosin–Nagant (Russian: Винтовка Мосина, ISO 9: Vintovka Mosina) is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations.
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Mosin–Nagants have been exported from Finland since the 1960s as its military modernized and decommissioned the rifles. Most of these have ended up as inexpensive surplus for Western nations.
In Russia the Mosin–Nagant action has been used to produce a limited number of commercial rifles, the most famous are the Vostok brand target rifles exported in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s chambered in the standard 7.62x54mmR round and in 6.5x54mmR, a necked down version of the original cartridge designed for long range target shooting.
A number of the Model 1891s produced by New England Westinghouse and Remington were sold to private citizens in the United States by the U.S. government through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship program between the two World Wars. Rifles from this program are valuable collectibles. Many of these American-made Mosin–Nagants were rechambered by wholesalers to the ubiquitous American .30-06 Springfield cartridge; some were done crudely, and others were professionally converted. Regardless of the conversion, a qualified gunsmith should examine the rifle before firing, and owners should use caution before firing commercial ammunition.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain, a large quantity of Mosin–Nagants have found their way onto markets outside of Russia as collectibles and hunting rifles. Due to the large surplus created by the Soviet small arms industry during World War II and the tendency of the former Soviet Union to retain and store large quantities of old but well-preserved surplus (long after other nations militaries divested themselves of similar vintage materials), these rifles (mostly M1891/30 rifles and M1944 carbines) are inexpensive compared to similar surplus arms, and possibly the cheapest firearm of the day, often found at under $100 USD.
There is serious collector interest in the Mosin–Nagant family of rifles, and they are popular with target shooters and hunters, though a downfall of these rifles in their new hunting and target shooting roles is the lack of elevation-adjustable sights. The notched rear tangent iron sight is adjustable, and is calibrated in hundreds of meters. The front sight is a post adjustable for elevation in the field. Windage adjustment is done by the armory before issue. The battle setting places the round within +/-33 cm from the point of aim out to 350 m (380 yd). This "point-blank range" setting allows the shooter to fire the gun at any close target without adjusting the sights. The field adjustment procedure for AK-47, AKM and AK-74 family requires 4 rounds to be placed in a 15 cm group at a distance of 100 meters. Longer settings are intended for area suppression. These settings mirror the Mosin–Nagant and SKS-45 rifles which the AK-47 replaced. This eased transition and simplified training.
The "point-blank range" setting of the Mosin–Nagant is due to the necessity of quick instruction of conscripted soldiers. However, the lack of fine adjustment leaves some hunters with the desire to add a scope and, as of this writing, two companies make adjustable sights for the Russian version of this rifle, Mojo and Smith-Sights. Generally viewed as highly accurate, these rifles show a capability of two-inch groups or better at 100 yards/meters when used with good ammunition and are capable of taking most game on the North American Continent when correct ammunition is used. If the barrel is free-floated or bedded and has a sound bore, and if the trigger is worked on to lighten it and improve let-off, accuracy of minute of angle is possible with scoped Model 91/30s.
Increased world-wide use
In the years after World War II, the Soviet Union ceased production of all Mosin–Nagants and withdrew them from service in favor of the SKS series carbines and eventually the AKseries rifles. Despite its growing obsolescence, the Mosin–Nagant saw continued service throughout the Eastern bloc and the rest of the world for many decades to come. Mosin–Nagant rifles and carbines saw service on many fronts of the Cold War, from Korea and Vietnam to Afghanistan and along the Iron Curtain in Europe. They were kept not only as reserve stockpiles, but front-line infantry weapons as well.
Virtually every country that received military aid from the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe during the Cold War used Mosin–Nagants at various times. Middle Eastern countries within the sphere of Soviet influence — Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestinian fighters — have received them in addition to other more modern arms. Mosin–Nagants have also seen action in the hands of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan during the Soviet Union's occupation of the country during the 1970s and the 1980s. Their use in Afghanistan continued on well into the 1990s and the early 21st century by Northern Alliance forces.
Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mosin–Nagants are still commonly found on modern battlefields around the world. They are being used by insurgent forces in the Iraq Warand the current war in Afghanistan. Separatists have also used the rifles alongside more modern Russian firearms in the Second war in Chechnya.