Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 4: The Old Russian Workhorse

I think it’s about time to take a step back after doing some posts about the Glock 20 and its various ammo types. We'll look back at one of the most widely produced, used, and now a days cherished firearm of all time - the Mosin-Nagant.

The year is 1891 and after employing one of the most technologically advanced rifles of the day - the Berdan Rifle - the Russian Empire is looking for a new rifle design. They eventually decided on what will become the infamous Mosin-Nagant. Designed by Russian Sergei Mosin and Belgian Leon Nagant, this rifle was adopted in 1891 with the official designation ‘3 line rifle, model 1891’. At first production was slow, but by outsourcing the design Russia was able to fulfill its need which could not be met domestically. When Russia entered World War One, outsourcing increased to also include American firms such as New England Westinghouse and Remington, an odd and somewhat overlooked part of American firearm history. Unfortunately with the civil unrest that began to plague the Tsar towards the end of the war, the American contracts were soon disbanded as the Russians could no longer afford the rifles. Many of these “American Mosin-Nagants” were in turn sold to private citizens in the United States and are prime historic pieces.

At about this time adaptations of the M1891 began to come to fruition, mainly cavalry versions of the original rifle. By cutting down the rifle’s overall length a cavalrymen could now wield the rifle much more efficiently, a trend that would continue as battlefield tactics progressed in the coming decades. Two very similar versions of the cavalry version were the Dragoon and Cossack, both just a few inches shorter than its predecessor.

In 1930 the rifle saw yet another change. An updated Dragoon rifle was designated M91/30. As opposed with previous updates to the rifle the M91/30 saw vast changes such as to the rear and front sights, barrel retention bands, and fashioned a round receiver as opposed to the hex receiver found on the Dragoon. This rifle would be the mainstay of the now Soviet army for the major of the next two decades, only to be replaced by the AK47 and SKS45 towards the end of the 1940s. That takes us to the outbreak of war in Europe and Asia.

The year is 1937 – the Asian continent is engulfed with war and Europe is mobilizing. The Soviets seeing a need for a more lightweight and un-encumbering rifle begin to research a carbine version of the M91/30.

In 1938 the Soviets designed a 40’’ version of the M91/30 that was unable to accept a bayonet, and designated it the M38. This is an extreme leap from the 48.5’’ M91/30 and while originally designed for support units, it finds itself on the front lines time and time again.

Flash forward to the year 2007. While looking for my first firearm purchase I had narrowed it down to wanting something with historic significance, as history is a passion of mine. I decided the Mosin-Nagant family and eventually on the M38 because it was readily accessible to purchase and was, I thought, more unique than the M91/30. After buying the rifle I went to the range by myself and after firing about 100 rounds of 7.62x54R ammo I was hooked! When I got home I emailed an old friend of mine who I had spoken with in a while and told him all about my new found passion for my rifle – not only shooting aspect but also the history of it. He was extremely interested and after going with me to the range once he was also hooked. The rest is history.

To this day I still own that rifle – an all matching 1944 Izhevsk M38 – and I love it just as much as the day I bought it years ago. Even though we have a lot nicer, newer, or interesting guns to shoot, when we have a chance to go to the range I still like to bring the old workhorse out and enjoy shooting it as much as I did in 2007.

That’s all for now – feel free to let us know what your favorite Mosin-Nagant variant is, or ask any questions regarding the 3-line rifle!

1 comment:

  1. Where is the M44? My god!

    Anyway the M91 is the best but I'll take my 91/30 anyday.