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Mosin Nagant Model 1891 Bolt Action Rifle
The standard Russian service rifle of the First World War, this bolt action held five cartridges. SN 2298
In 1888, the Tsarist government of Russia appointed a committee to conduct tests and make recommendations on the adoption of a new smokeless cartridge military rifle. After a few years of study, two promising designs emerged. The first of these was produced by Sergei Ivanovitch Mosin, an army officer and employee of the Imperial Armory at Tula, while the other was submitted by Belgian inventor Emile Leon Nagant, who later developed the Model 1895 Nagant revolver used by the Imperial Russian Army.
After additional study and testing, the committee opted to combine Mosin's receiver and bolt, with its two large front locking lugs, with Nagant's clip-loaded magazine. The new Russian rifle, adopted in 1891 and later known as the Mosin-Nagant Model 91, became the standard for the Tsar's army. Also adopted was the 7.62mm Russian rimmed cartridge, for which the Model 91 was chambered. The Model 1891 rifle was manufactured at three Russian arsenals -- Izhevsk, Sestroretsk, and Tula, but production lagged behind demand. Lacking the proper facilities to manufacture adequate numbers of the new rifle, the Russians supplemented their own production with a 1892 contract with the Chatellerault Arsenal in France, where approximately 500,000 rifles were turned out.
During the First World War, an additional 1.5 million Model 91 rifles were produced in the United States by Remington Arms Company and New England Westinghouse. The Tsar's abdication and the subsequent October Revolution of 1917 forced the cancellation of these two contracts, and a large number of Model 91 rifles remaining in the United States were purchased by the U.S. government. Many of these were later shipped to Russia, while others, designated the U.S. Magazine Rifle caliber 7.62mm Model of 1916, were used by U.S. troops as training arms. These rifles were later sold to National Rifle Association members by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship at a cost of $3.50 each.
Other Mosin-Nagant rifles were sold as surplus to an un-named entrepreneur, who converted to them to the U.S. .30-Ô06 caliber. These rifles proved to be extremely dangerous to shoot, and most were subsequently destroyed. The Model 91 was also used by American soldiers who took part in the Siberian Expedition of 1918-20. This little-known chapter in U.S. military history saw the participation of approximately 10,000 American troops as part of a multi-national force dispatched to Russia to secure railheads and stockpiles of war materiel against seizure by German troops after Vladimir I. Lenin's Bolsheviks signed a separate peace treaty with the Kaiser.
The Mosin-Nagant rifle was produced in several variants, including a rifle, Dragoon (cavalry) rifle, carbine, and a sniper model equipped with a turned-down bolt handle and telescopic sights. At least three versions were introduced. The most common employed a 3-power "PU" straight-tubed sight that was inserted into a slide mount which affixed to the left side of the receiver via screws and pins. Another featured a 4-power "PE" scope similar to the German Second World War-vintage Zeiss. This sight also mounted to the left side of the receiver.
The third version utilized the "PE" scope with a center-line over-the-bore mount which was fixed to the front of the receiver ring. All of these sights were adjustable for both elevation and windage, but they lacked a focus adjustment. Captured Soviet sniper arms were equally popular with Nazi troops, even though the Wehrmacht had fielded its own sniper rifles based on the Mauser 98k and Walther G41 and G43. Finland, a Russian protectorate until 1917, also used Mosin-Nagant arms produced at their arsenal at Tikkakoski, as well as contract models manufactured by SIG in Switzerland and Steyr in Austria.
In 1930, the Soviet government introduced an improved Model 1891 rifle which featured sights calibrated in meters rather than the old Tsarist system of arshins ("paces", with one arshin equivalent to 0.71 meters or 0.78 yards). The Model 91/30 also featured a round receiver ring in place of the original Tsarist hexagonal version. A new carbine without a bayonet mount was adopted in 1938. These were used extensively by the Red Army during the Second World War, especially in light of problems experienced with the semi-automatic Tokarev SVT-38 and SVT-40 rifles. The final version of the Model 91, a carbine equipped with a permanently-attached folding bayonet, was introduced in 1944.
In addition to Soviet production, the Model 91/44 carbine has been manufactured in Poland, Hungary, and the People's Republic of China, where it was given the designation "Type 53". Moisin-Nagant long arms were used by North Korean and Chinese People's Liberation Army troops during the Korean Conflict. The sniper version, equipped with telescopic sight, continued in service with North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces throughout the French and U.S. wars in Vietnam. For a time, surplus M91 rifles were also popular with hunters and sportsmen, and the 7.92mm Russian cartridge was available for a number of years from Remington Arms and later from Norma-Precision. Although inferior to the German Mauser and U.S. Springfield bolt-action military rifles, the Mosin-Nagant has proven to be both a rugged and reliable military longarm.