The Mosin-Nagant is a Russian bolt-action, magazine fed rifle. It is most commonly chambered in the 7.62×54mmR cartridge, which was designed alongside the rifle.
In the late 1880s, the Russian Empire was in dire need of a new service rifle after having been equipped with Berdan single shot rifles for such a long time, which was a major contributor to heavy casualties in recent wars with the Turks, so a contest was announced for a rifle design to replace it. Three enterprising firearm inventors submitted their designs, being Leon Nagant with his 3.5-Line rifle, Sergei Mosin with his 3-Line design, and then a Captain Zinoviev with another 3-Line. Through some deliberation, it was difficult to select a winner, as initial tests proved Nagant to be the winner, while additional ones turned things in favor of Mosin. In the end however, Mosin's rifle was chosen as the basis and Nagant's rifle lended features to improve what Mosin had.
The colliquial use of "Mosin-Nagant" as a moniker for the rifle was brought about by western writings, as the rifle was never named this in Russia. The rifle was formally adopted as "Three-Line Rifle, Model 1891," a reference to its caliber in the Russian cubit standard measurement series (1 line = 2.54mm or 1⁄10 of an inch), or later the Mosin Rifle - in Russian, "Vintovka Mosina" - "Rifle of Mosin". The reason for the name change was due in part because the improved Mosin M91/30 (1930) did away with many of the old features from Nagant's rifle, and the only surviving part from that design was the magazine spring. This is easily the most common Mosin iteration, making the inclusion of Nagant's name all the more ironic.
The Mosin-Nagant has been in service from 1892-1998 with about 37,000,000 being produced. It was made famous for its use by the USSR in World War II. It has seen action in wars such as the Russo-Japanese war all the way to the Vietnam War and has been used by nations all over the world including Russia, China, Finland, Hungary, Poland and almost every nation that received aid from the Soviet Union. Many nations have also produced their own copies of the Mosin-Nagant.
The Mosin-Nagant was even used by the United States. Remington and New England Westinghouse were commissioned to make Mosin-Nagant rifles during WWI to make up for a deficit in Russia. Many of these American-made rifles (about 300,000) were used for training purposes in the United States, who used some of the rifles in the early 1920s for National Guard and ROTC units. The Russian government defaulted on the American contract for Mosin-Nagant rifles, and some of these American made rifles were issued to U.S. troops of the 'Polar Bear Expedition' during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War in Siberia.
It is also considered to be the most widely used sniper rifle. Sniper conversions were mostly made from M1930 and onward. They were rifles handpicked for accuracy during factory testing and pre-sighting; they were then modified with a down-turned bolt handle and optical sights. Much of them owed their accuracy to accidentally being produced with slightly conical barrels, the choke being 2-4% narrower than 7.62mm, keeping the round tight on the rifling.
Mosin-Nagant barrels were also commonly used to make PPsh-41 submachine guns in WW2, since two PPsh-41s could be made by sawing a single Mosin-Nagant barrel in half.
There are many different versions of this rifle, the most famous being the M91/30.
M91/30 PEM sniper rifle
M91/30 PE sniper rifle
M91/30 PU sniper rifle
P-Series Dragoon (Finland)
VZ54 sniper rifle (Czechoslovakia)
- The moniker "Mosin-Nagant" is actually far more accurate for the 1891 model than the more common 1930 Three-Line, as the only part from Léon Nagant's rifle used in the 1930 is the magazine spring, which could add to the case that it should only be called the Mosin 91/30.
- Many Mosin 1930 rifles are found with hex receivers, which are holdovers from parts originally set aside to build 1891 Mosins.