Mosin-Nagant rifles and carbines have a long history. The "Rifle Mosin" began as a competition to find a replacement for Russia's aging Berdan single-shot rifles. The new rifle needed to be comparable to other repeating rifles of the time, such as the Mauser, Mannlicher, Schmidt-Rubin, Krag-Jorgensen and Lee-Medford rifles in use by other militaries. Sergei Ivanovich Mosin submitted several designs starting in 1884, but all were in 10.6mm caliber. However, in 1887 and 1889, Mosin submitted a rifle similar to his earlier designs but chambered for 7.62mm rounds. Around the same time, Leon Nagant, a Belgian weapons designer, submitted a rifle in 8.89mm caliber. Military trials favored the Nagant design, but Russian patriotism prevailed and the Mosin was deemed the "base" design that should be used. The finished product was Mosin's rifle, but utilizing Nagant's feed system. The rifle's design was finalized in 1891 and went in to service in 1892 as the Pekhotniya vintovka obr. 1891g (or "three-line rifle of the year 1891" in English). "Three line" comes from an old Russian unit of measurement, the liniya, which is approximately 0.10" or 2.54mm...Since the rifle was chambered for a round with a diameter of three liniya, it was called the three-line.
The Mosin-Nagant was updated in 1930. Instead of the rear sight graduations marked in arshini (one arshin == 71.12cm), the 91/30's rear sight is graduated in meters. All 91/30 receivers are round instead of octagonal. A hooded post front sight replaced the front sight blade used on previous Mosin-Nagants and the barrel length of the 91/30 was 5mm shorter than the 1891. The 91/30 was the standard-issue Soviet infantry rifle starting in 1930 and running through 1945.
In 1938, the Mosin-Nagant 91/30 was cut down to make the M38. The new rifle was 1020mm long, with a 517mm barrel instead of the 91/30/s 1218mm overall length and 730mm barrel. The M38 had no bayonet and was issued starting sometime in 1938 and ending early in 1945.
The Soviets missed their bayonets, so the M38 became the M44. The M44 featured a cruciform bayonet with a flat, screwdriver-like tip. Otherwise, the M44 is almost identical to the M38.
In 1959, a bunch of 91/30s were re-worked, cut down and issued to the Reserve Police as the 91/59. Not much is really known about these rifles.
Even the advent of the automatic battle rifle couldn't completely stop the Mosin-Nagant. Many communist-bloc nations built Mosin-Nagant-based rifles for many years. There are many non-Soviet nations that used Mosin-Nagant-style rifles. Finland used Mosin-Nagants for many years. The Mosin-Nagant is still a popular collectible, plinking and hunting rifle.
I've wanted a Mosin-Nagant (or several) ever since my interest in WWI- through WWII-era battle rifles started to grow. The Mosin-Nagant I have was not a planned purchase. On 2007-09-29, my friend Janusz, Janusz's girlfriend Lana and I were strolling through a local gun show and I spotted an overly clean-looking Mosin-Nagant M44. After examining the rifle thoroughly and being generally floored at its amazing condition---including a spotless bore---I started talking to the vendor. Apparently this particular carbine was never issued. The guy had the rifle marked at $250; I offered him $200. He declined and counter-offered $210. After it was all said and done the final price was $228.28, including a cleaning kit, sling and a few extras I haven't messed with yet. I bought thirty rounds of 7.62x54R so I could shoot her at the next range trip from a different vendor. The price seems steep, but considering the excellent condition of the rifle, not having to pay for shipping or FFL costs, etc., I don't think what I paid for the rifle is too awful. Unfortunately, due to the God-forsaken state of Illinois' stupid firearms laws, I had to wait a day before I could pick the rifle up. So, the next day my Dad and I went back to pick up the M44.
This particular M44 was built in 1943 at the Izhevsk factory, according to the markings on the receiver. The stock is in great shape; it's not dented up too much and the lacquer finish is in great shape. The finish and the grain of the wood combine for a retroreflective effect that reflects light almost like a stop sign does---just not as brightly---when you look at the rifle with light behind you. None of the other rifles I own have a finish that exhibits a similar effect.
I haven't been able to shoot the rifle at any long distance, but the short-distance shooting I've done has shown very consistent performance from the rifle. I haven't noticed a difference in the point of aim when the bayonet is extended (since I almost always shoot the rifle with the bayonet folded), but that could be due to the short range I've been shooting at.
This M44 is a lot of fun. It recoils about like my K31. The fireball from the M44's barrel is impressive, particularly at night. The disassembly procedure is is braindead-simple and the gun is pretty easy to get back together. The lack of pressure from the magazine follower, plus the overall fit and finish of the M44 allow the unlocked bolt to slide back and forth under its own weight when the M44 is tipped one way or the other. The trigger isn't bad, but isn't anywhere near as clean, smooth or nice as my K31's trigger. The stubby little bolt handle works, but it seems like they should have done a bit better in that department for the infantry rifles. The sniper versions got turned-down bolt handles.
Looking for more info about Mosin-Nagants? The following sites may be helpful.
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