Medium range defense weapon of choice: Mosin-Nagant (aka 3-Line Rifle)
I’ve always loved the Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle. This weapon is reliable beyond all measure, it hits like a Mack truck, rounds are inexpensive, and it’s solidly accurate. Not to mention it continues to be relevant today, which is very cool considering it has been around since 1891.
Oh, and it was the main battle rifle used in defeating the Nazis in WW2! What more do you need than the weapon that fended off the most threatening foe in the history of the United States?!
The Mosin-Nagant is a war house. In fact, it may be easier to ask which war(s) the Mosin-Nagant hasn’t been a part of than which those it has. Let’s take a journey through time so you can understand the immense significance of this rifle and why it is my favorite weapon.
The Mosin-Nagant M91/30 is a bolt-action rifle that was used by the Soviet Union during World War II and beyond. It was first introduced in 1891 and has been a part of many wars including the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, World War I in 1914, Russian Civil War in 1917, the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and has even been seen in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The M91/30 is chambered for the 7.62x54mmR cartridge and has a five-round internal magazine. It has a simple, reliable design and is known for its durability and accuracy. The rifle has a range of up to 800 meters and is equipped with iron sights.
During World War II, the M91/30 was the primary rifle used by the Soviet Union and its allies. It was produced in large quantities and was often used by snipers, who appreciated its accuracy and reliability. The rifle is still in use by some militaries and is also popular among collectors and enthusiasts.
Russia’s rifle before the Mosin-Nagant
The main Russian battle rifle prior to the Mosin-Nagant was the Berdan rifle. The Berdan was designed by Russian-American engineer Hiram Berdan and was adopted by the Russian Empire in the 1860s. The Berdan rifle was a single-shot, bolt-action rifle that fired a large, black powder cartridge. It was a reliable weapon and saw widespread use in conflicts such as the Russo-Turkish War and the Boxer Rebellion.
However, by the late 19th century, it was becoming clear that the Berdan was outdated and in need of replacement. This led to the development of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, which was adopted by the Russian military in 1891 and served as the primary battle rifle for the Russian and later Soviet armies for many decades.
When and how was the Mosin-Nagant created?
The Mosin-Nagant rifle was designed by two individuals: Russian Army Captain Sergei Mosin and Belgian firearms designer Léon Nagant.
In the late 1880s, the Russian military decided to replace its existing rifles with a new design that would be more modern and effective in combat. Captain Sergei Mosin was assigned to develop the new rifle, and he enlisted the help of Léon Nagant, who had previously designed several successful firearms.
The Mosin-Nagant rifle that resulted from their collaboration was officially adopted by the Russian Empire in 1891 as the “3-line rifle, model of 1891.”
The rifle design proved to be highly reliable and effective in combat and was produced in large numbers and saw extensive use for many years to come.
Why is the Mosin-Nagant also called the 3-line rifle?
The Mosin-Nagant is also commonly known as the “3-line rifle” because the original cartridge it fired was designated as the “3-line rifle cartridge”. The cartridge was so named because it measured three lines in diameter, which was the Russian Imperial unit of measurement for caliber at the time. One line was equal to 0.1 inches or 2.54 millimeters, so the 3-line cartridge had a diameter of 7.62 millimeters, which is roughly equivalent to .30 caliber. Later versions of the Mosin-Nagant, such as the M1891/30, fired a slightly longer cartridge known as the “7.62x54mmR”, which remained in use by the Soviet military for many decades.
The 7.62x54mmR cartridge is one of the longest-serving military cartridges in the world. This round is also used by the Dragunov SVD semi automatic sniper rifle and the Pecheneg PKP light machinegun.
Mosin-Nagant Use Prior to WW1
The Mosin-Nagant was used by the Russian Empire in various conflicts prior to World War I. Below are some examples:
- Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878): The Mosin-Nagant M1870/87 was first introduced during this war and saw limited use by Russian troops.
- Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901): Russian troops used the Mosin-Nagant M1891 during this conflict in China.
- Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905): The Mosin-Nagant M1891 was the standard rifle used by the Russian Empire during this war. It was used in various battles, such as the Battle of Mukden and the Siege of Port Arthur.
In the hands of a skilled marksman, the Mosin-Nagant rifle proved to be reliable and effective. The rifle’s performance during the conflicts above helped establish its reputation as a dependable military weapon, earning its continued deployment by the Russian Empire into World War 1.
Deployment during WW1
The Mosin-Nagant rifle was the primary rifle used by the Russian Empire during World War I and saw extensive use on the Eastern Front. In fact, it was one of the most widely used rifles in the conflict, with millions of rifles produced and deployed by the Russian Army.
The Mosin-Nagant was a key weapon for Russian troops during some of the largest battles of the war, such as the Battle of Tannenberg and the Brusilov Offensive. It was also used extensively in trench warfare, where its long-range accuracy and reliability made it a valuable asset for snipers and marksmen.
The rifle’s simple and robust design made it well-suited for the harsh conditions of the Eastern Front, where extreme temperatures and rugged terrain were common. However, the rifle’s length and weight made it somewhat cumbersome in close-quarters combat, which was a challenge for Russian soldiers fighting in urban areas. To counter this limitation, the rifle was often fitted with a bayonet which did improve its performance in the trenches.
Overall, the Mosin-Nagant played a significant role in World War I and its performance helped cement its reputation as a reliable and effective military weapon. It continued as the primary weapon of choice throughout Russia’s participation in WW1 (ending on March 3, 1918 with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk) and throughout the Russian Civil War.
Most produced WW1 weapon
While the Mosin-Nagant rifle was one of the most widely used rifles in World War I, it was not the most produced gun in the conflict.
The most produced gun in World War I was the German Mauser Gewehr 98 rifle, with an estimated production of over 5 million rifles (source). The Gewehr 98 was a bolt-action rifle that was known for its accuracy and reliability, and it was used by German troops throughout the war.
In comparison, the Mosin-Nagant M1891 had an estimated production of around 3.5 million rifles during the war, which made it one of the most numerous rifles used on the Eastern Front. Other rifles that saw widespread use during the war included the British Lee-Enfield, the French Lebel, and the Italian Carcano.
It’s worth noting that the production figures for these rifles are estimates, and the exact numbers may vary depending on the source. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the Mosin-Nagant was a significant weapon in World War I, but it was not the most produced gun in the conflict.
Mosin-Nagant vs Gewehr 98
The Mosin-Nagant M1891 and the Mauser Gewehr 98 were both bolt-action rifles that saw extensive use in World War I. While both rifles were reliable and effective, they had some key differences in terms of performance.
The Gewehr 98 was known for its accuracy and was considered by many to be one of the finest military rifles of its time. It had a relatively long barrel and an advanced bolt design that made it easier to operate quickly and efficiently. The Gewehr 98 also had a five-round internal magazine and was chambered for the 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridge, which had a flatter trajectory than the 7.62x54mmR cartridge used in the Mosin-Nagant.
The Mosin-Nagant, on the other hand, was known for its durability and ruggedness. It was a simple and robust rifle that could withstand harsh conditions and was relatively easy to maintain and repair. It had a four-round internal magazine and was chambered for the 7.62x54mmR cartridge, which was a powerful round with good long-range performance.
In terms of accuracy, the Gewehr 98 had an edge over the Mosin-Nagant, especially at longer ranges. However, the Mosin-Nagant was a reliable and effective rifle that could hold its own in combat. Both rifles had their strengths and weaknesses, and their performance depended largely on the skill and training of the individual soldier using them.
After World War I, the Mosin-Nagant continued to see extensive use by the Soviet Union and other nations that had adopted the rifle. Here are some examples:
- Russian Civil War (1918-1922): The Mosin-Nagant was used extensively by both sides during the conflict. It was a key weapon for the Red Army, which relied on the rifle’s long-range accuracy and reliability to counter White Army forces.
- Winter War (1939-1940): The Mosin-Nagant was the primary rifle used by the Finnish Army during the conflict with the Soviet Union. Finnish marksmen used the rifle with great effect, often employing it as a sniper rifle.
In addition to its use in military conflicts, the Mosin-Nagant was also widely used for hunting and sporting purposes. The rifle’s accuracy and power made it a popular choice among hunters, especially in regions where large game was common.
World War 2
The Mosin-Nagant was one of the primary rifles used by the Soviet Union during World War II, but it was not the only rifle in use. The Soviet Union had several different types of rifles in their inventory during the war, and the Mosin-Nagant was one of the most common.
The Soviet Union began the war with a mix of old and new rifles, including the Mosin-Nagant M1891/30, which was an updated version of the original Mosin-Nagant. The M1891/30 had several improvements over the original design, including a shorter barrel and an improved rear sight, which made it easier to use in combat.
As the war progressed, the Soviet Union introduced newer rifles, such as the semi-automatic SVT-40 and the bolt-action Mosin-Nagant M1944. However, the Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 remained in widespread use throughout the war, especially among infantry and sniper units.
The Mosin-Nagant was valued for its ruggedness and reliability, which made it well-suited for the harsh conditions of the Eastern Front. It was also relatively easy to manufacture, which allowed the Soviet Union to produce large numbers of rifles quickly.
Overall, while the Mosin-Nagant was not the only rifle used by the Soviet Union during World War II, it played a significant role in the conflict and remained a key weapon in the Soviet arsenal until the end of the war.
Mosin Nagant Variants
There were several types of Mosin-Nagant rifles produced over the years, each with its own unique features and variations. Here are some of the most common types:
- Mosin-Nagant M1891: This was the original design of the Mosin-Nagant, which was first produced in 1891. It had a five-round internal magazine and was chambered for the 7.62x54mmR cartridge.
- Mosin-Nagant M1891/30: This was an updated version of the original Mosin-Nagant, which was first produced in 1930. It had a shorter barrel and an improved rear sight, which made it easier to use in combat.
- Mosin-Nagant M1938 Carbine: This was a shorter version of the M1891/30, which was introduced in 1938. It had a shorter barrel and a folding bayonet, which made it more compact and easier to maneuver in close quarters.
- Mosin-Nagant M1944 Carbine: This was another shorter version of the Mosin-Nagant, which was introduced in 1944. It had a shorter barrel than the M1891/30 and an improved stock design, which made it more comfortable to use.
- Mosin-Nagant PU Sniper Rifle: This was a specially modified version of the Mosin-Nagant M1891/30, which was used as a sniper rifle during World War II. It had a telescopic sight and other modifications that made it more accurate and effective at long ranges.
- Mosin-Nagant Sporter: A civilian version of the Mosin-Nagant rifle that was designed for hunting and sporting purposes. It often had modifications such as a sporterized stock and a new barrel.
These are just a few examples of the many different types and variations of the Mosin-Nagant that were produced over the years. Each type had its own strengths and weaknesses, and their popularity and effectiveness varied depending on the time and circumstances of their use.
Mosin-Nagant use post-World War 2
The Mosin-Nagant continued to be used by the Soviet Union and other countries after World War II. It remained the primary battle rifle of the Soviet Union and its allies throughout the Cold War and saw use in numerous conflicts around the world. The Mosin-Nagant was also widely exported to other countries, and many armies and insurgent groups used it in various conflicts.
In the Soviet Union, the Mosin-Nagant M1944 was introduced as a replacement for the earlier M1891/30 model, and production of the rifle continued until the 1960s. The rifle was also used by Soviet-aligned countries such as China, North Korea, and Vietnam. Many of these countries produced their own copies of the rifle or licensed production from the Soviet Union.
Today, the Mosin-Nagant remains a popular rifle among collectors and enthusiasts, and it is still used by some military and law enforcement organizations in various parts of the world. In fact, the Mosin-Nagant has even seen combat during the Russian-Ukraine war.
Since its inception over 130 years ago, the Mosin-Nagant was a widely used rifle throughout the 20th century, thanks to its reliability, simplicity, and versatility. While newer rifles with more advanced designs eventually replaced it, the Mosin-Nagant remains a popular collector’s item and a symbol of the legacy of Soviet firearms technology.
If you haven’t had the chance to try this relic of history, I suggest you head to the local gun range and try it out. The price has risen over the last decade so purchasing one may cost you a few hundred bucks, but for my money that is incredibly cheap considering the amount of history loaded into this rifle.