Mosin Nagant Review

Mosin Nagant 1891

Full rifle

It seems a bit silly reviewing the hunting capabilities of a rifle in service since 1891, but the cold hard truth about hunting is that even a rifle this old is fine for the shots most people take. This is the 3rd Mosin Nagant that I’ve owned, and I bought is exclusively to do this review. Most hunting occurs at 50-150 yards, and so long as your eyesight is OK, this is the most inexpensive rifle you can hunt with. That does mean something, because not all of us can afford Sako’s to hunt deer with. Even the ultra-budget Remington 770 is right around $250-$300, while a Nagant is half of that. This review will be focusing on the capabilities of the Mosin Nagant as a short-medium range, ultra inexpensive hunting rifle. I purchased a Mosin Nagant model 1891 just for this review from Wanstalls. If you’re looking for history or more than just hunting utility, check out Wikipedia or 7.62x54r.

Video Review (for hunting purposes) of Mosin Nagant 1891

Usability

In short: terrible. By examples of other bolt actions in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, I guess it’s OK. Better than a Carcano, but completely terrible by modern standards. Bolt close/open on some rifles is extremely rough, the safety is laughably bad and inconvenient from a hunting perspective, and the hinged floorplate is not exactly a paragon of usability. The stripper clips, especially when compared to those that work great like the SKS/AK47 stripper clips, are crap. The length of the 1891 is unacceptable for blind hunting and pretty inconvenient for hunting dense brush, while the muzzle blast and recoil from the M44 and M38 are ridiculous in their own way. You could get a Pro-Mag chassis to improve much of the stock/mag, but that adds cost to our otherwise very thrifty backup/short range hunting rifle. Even adding a $100 cost to this rifle brings it up to compete with much better platforms. If you’re going to be thrifty, be thrifty, but don’t find false economy in adding expensive aftermarket parts to an otherwise economical rifle.

Mosin Nagant Safety on

rear action safety on

The trigger on some can be complete garbage. It’s long, creepy, heavy, and rough. If you’re a bit handy, you could redo it yourself (I followed this video) or for ~$100, you can buy an incredible Timney trigger that’ll be way better, but that only makes sense if you love the Mosin platform. Otherwise, you could get a Savage Axis and be done with it. Again, these “inexpensive” $100 add-on’s quickly reduce the price difference between the Mosin and a brand new, value priced hunting rifle.

There are 1 or 2 inexpensive add-ons that may make sense and won’t throw the price out the window. A rubber buttpad off Amazon will replace the sting of the steel buttplate, and if your eyes aren’t up to the task anymore, a rear sight mount with a low profile red dot or long eye relief scope may be the ticket. If you’re looking to take the sting and much of the recoil out, check out my review on the Howling Raven Muzzle Brake for the Mosin Nagant.

Quality

Quality on Mosins ranges widely. During wartime, machining was typically very rough and fast, and stock work can look like it was done by cousin Cletus just after he finished making up (and testing) a batch of moonshine. One positive I can have on these rifles is that they were definitely designed with durability in mind. You won’t shed a tear dropping one into the mud and it won’t care much either. And while you might have reservations about bringing your Sako through the rough brush where it’ll get scarred and scraped, you wouldn’t mind at all to bring a durable, $150 Mosin-Nagant.

Cartridge: 7.62x54R

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with 7.62x54R. Sure, it’s an outdated design (released with the Nagant in 1891) but accuracy is good enough for hunting purposes, as is take down power for our 100-200 yard range. With soft points, you’re good to go for hunting North American game.

Mosin Nagant Cosmoline

Conclusion

If you’re a Canadian, your inexpensive hunting rifle should be a sporterized SMLE in .303. The bolt is faster, it’s accurate enough, and you’ll at least find 303 at Canadian Tire. 7.62x54R hunting ammunition is still pretty rare in most areas. The stripper clips on the SMLE work better, it comes with a mag that detaches, and the triggers aren’t usually so awful.

If you’re not a Canadian, or if you’d like to plink with cheap ammo on the off-season, the Mosin starts looking attractive. Surplus 7.62x54R is cheap practice ammo, though there are better rifles for building marksmanship. Sorry that I kind of beat up the Mosin Nagant in this review: it’s great for the dollar, but just another $150 buys such a better rifle for hunting. I try not to be a price snob and I try to be sensitive to people who don’t have $300 for a Rem 770, Mossberg ATR, or Savage Axis, but they’re just soo much better as hunting rifles than a refurb Mosin Nagant 1891. The trigger, safety, loading, weight, length, ability to scope, consistency, lack of buttpad, it’s just all bad news on the Mosin where it’s a lot better on a modern bolt action hunting rifle, even the cheapest ones out there. Even other Milsurps like the SKS, M14, etc can be good choices with some limitations. I don’t want to say all this to dissuade the new shooter who can’t afford anything else, but just to inform: there are better hunting rifles out there. If you have to start with the Mosin, start with it and love it.

  • dustysquito .

    Something I was curious about, in the video, you mentioned the bolt being very smooth and easy, but in the written review, you described the bolt much differently. Did something not go back together correctly when you disassembled it to remove the cosmoline? Also, I have a 1936 91/30 that might have benefited from pre-war manufacturing. There definitely seems to be a large gap between the one I stumbled upon and some of the wartime rifles. For the money, their a tough rifle to beat, but I do see your point about not spending so much on accessorizing it that you could have just bought something new.

  • Snakebiteloo

    where are you finding any king of Lee Enfield for less than 600$? I just spent the last 3 days looking for a few of the rifles ive been wanting (enfield, K98, m14, k31) and the cheapest was the k31 with a low point of 550$…

  • Are you in the US? K31’s are available in Canada for $300, and sporterized Enfields are around $100-$200.

  • I think I confused how easy it slides/cams without firing vs slapping the action open after firing a round. The short bolt and cock on open can require a spirited slap to open the action on some rifles. This one opens fine with commercial, nickle plated SP ammo, but can be stiff with Bulgarian light ball surplus.

    Agreed on the value per dollar, and for a short range shot (or medium range if you’ve got an excellent shooter and make good use of the iron sights), it’s fine for the hunter on a limited budget.

  • Matt

    I live in Alberta, who is selling enfields for under $200? Store name or website, please.

  • CanadianGunNutz Equipment Exchange. I see several 303’s at around $200.

  • some guy

    Nice article! Yes, it’s an awesome rifle, both my son and I have one. He’s wanting to sporterize (well, sort of, he’s not cutting any metal and keeping the old wooden stock) his with an Archangel Stock and a Dragunov Scope. I’m just looking for an inexpensive reproduction PU scope and mount to keep the old Soviet Union style sniper looking rifle (like on Enemy at the Gates…). 7.62x54R is an awesome hunting round and getting easier and easier to find.

  • Martin

    Have you tried using a PU scoped Mosin? They’re much better than most of the war year rifles. If you’re aiming to buy a Mosin 1891/30 model I suggest looking for pre war rifles as those are much better made. And by the way, it’s nice to see a fellow firearm owner in the Vancouver area.

  • Ravinder Badesha

    Hi I recently bought 91/30 . After cleaning I noticed that the bore is smooth at muzzle about inch and half. It used to be sniper because there are four plunged holes on side. Can you shed some light on that why the bore is smooth at muzzle?

  • Ravinder Badesha

    Yes it exactly looks like the picture in the link. Is it good or bad? I couldn’t find out at the time of buying because of grease.

  • Usually counter-boring helps with accuracy on a rifle that had issues. So it might make your rifle more accurate, but may also affect collectability.

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