Monday, March 16, 2009

Is your 91/30 Mosin rifle an ex-sniper?

During the 'patriotic war' the soviets built a LOT of sniper rifles. I can't answer for the Soviets, but the Russians are not stupid and they knew every shot that hit an important target was better than ten thousand rounds hitting dirt.

For some reason the soviet battle doctrine changed, or Dragunov rifles were adopted, or maybe the vodka ran too heavy one year, and many of these rifles were converted back into infantry weapons. The optics were removed and the mounting holes had plugs installed. These plugs were welded in and the welds ground off on the outside of the receiver. This didn't happen to all the snipers, and they were still turning up in battle right through the Vietnam war, and even today in Afghanistan.

The first clue are barrel markings. In this case, a 'CH' on the barrel shank which shows it to originally be a Tula made sniper rifle. Seeing that, opening the bolt reveals the final proof. Inside the left hand si
de of the receiver are found several screws visible in the bolt lug run. Looking on the outside of the receiver, no screws will be found. These are the 'plugs' installed in the mounting bolt holes and welded in place. The welds were rather roughly ground off, and the rifle refinished and restored to infantry standards. The position of the welded plugs shown here show this was a PU series sniper rifle, the most common type.

Often the ex-sniper Mosin's will have the best triggers of the breed, and the best accuracy of the Soviet 91/30's. This particular rifle has a decent trigger and will easily hold 2" groups at 100 yards using com-bloc military surplus 7.62x54 ammunition with the lighter bullets. Using the heavy bullet ammo, the groups open an inch more. Perhaps with a scope mounted, instead of the rough sights, it might show even better accuracy.

Check your Mosin rifle.... there might be a deeper story there than you know!


4B said...

The more I read about these rifles, the more I want one.

Is there a guide to buying MN 91/30's? They're still easy to find just about anywhere, but I'd hate to spend even $150 and find out I'd bought the worst possible model.

Anonymous said...

They are nice rifles,but I am very fond of my $90 swede mauser which put 5 shots on a nickle the first time I fired it with surplus Ball.I DO NOT shoot that well.

Carteach0 said...

4B, search down my side bar for the link list, and visit

There you will find a wealth of information on collecting and shooting these pieces of history.

Best do it soon, before the idjits in congress declare this 120 year old historic relic too dangerous for us kiddies to own.

Carteach0 said...

Aon, I'd love to own a good Swede Mauser. That $90 rifle is $400 and up around here.... sigh.

Conservative Scalawag said...

Good to know information on the Mosin 91/30,which I would not mind owning one. Gotta M44,but would like to add the 91/30 to it.

Sigivald said...

Mine's a 1914 Izhevsk m1891 with Finnish property marks.

I'm pretty sure it was never a sniper rifle, but it has its own story.

I'm not sure it's better having a rifle that possibly shot Bolsheviks rather than one that possibly shot Nazis, but it's certainly not a bad feeling.

Duane said...

I pick one up last year. Found out that the 11th anniversary traditional gift was steel, and my wife got me some steel. After getting it and doing some research it turns out it is an ex sniper, shoots very nice too.
Posted some pick in another decent MN forum, the site is being revamped but the forums are good, just don's suggest altering your MN as the moderators are die-hard orginalists.

Jeff said...

Sadly, mine isn't a sniper but I like it anyway. It's covered with little markings, some of which I've identified thanks to, some I haven't been able to identify. I can't find a refurb stamp on it anywhere, unless one of the unidentified marks is a refurb stamp. One of the barrel bands has an Izhevsk stamp and the other a Tula, so I assume it's been refurbished.

Anonymous said...

"For some reason the soviet battle doctrine changed, or Druganov rifles were adopted"

Dragunov. Yevgeni Dragunov.

Nyet bolshoi problemi, tovarish.

(It is no big problem, comrade).

Shootin' Buddy

Carteach0 said...

Thanks Shootin Buddy!
'Tis Feexed.

Brigid said...

You are right! I'n still trying to track the original owner of my K-31 from the name tag in the buttplate.

Huey148 said...

Nice article! I am going to have to run home and check mine! These are great rifles and for the price you should own at least one if not more. My M44 especially is a favorite of mine, it is such a great rifle that it always goes with me when I hit an outdoor range. I am getting ready to post my own thoughts on the Mosin-Nagants on my blog (, check it out in a couple of days. I am going to link your article in it.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

I have two, a `42 Tula ex-PU that was "re-snipered" with a postwar PU scope and a `42 Izveshk ex-PEM. I'd love to re-sniper the ex-PEM, but that would cost a grand or so.

The PU shoots under 2" at 100 yards. It could probably do better if I were better.

TmjUtah said...

I've got ... four?.... ex snipers.

The latest is a 1945 manufacture Tula that I got to shoot a few weeks back.

I am taking the same one, plus an armload of her friends, across the lake to shoot jugs this afternoon.

I haven't found significant differences in accuracy between former snipers with counterbores and those that don't have them EXCEPT that my best shooter (1940 Izhevsk) has a repaired sniper stock and what looks to be an original two - step crown.

I have found that the best shooting milsurp ammo for my old rifle is old fifties manufacture Sov copper washed light ball. I have...several cases of everything else ranging from Bulgarian light ball on clips (hooray for the clips at least) to silver and yellow tip to old forties stuff to modern Winchester loads. Hornaday .308 diameter 150gr bullets with cannelure and open base work well enough for jug busting in all but one of my Mosins... and that '42 Tula was bought for the provenance, not for accuracy. She's been there and done that.

Anonymous said...

I just picked one up at a gunshow for $100. Its in very nice shape. There were others for a little more,but money is scarce for me right now. The ones for a little more were the earlier models from the 39 and 40. The ones made in 192-43 like mine show sighns of lower manufacturing quality,for instance the numbers are not stamped in as neatly. The actual quality of the action seems to be about the same between the different years though. Im very happy with my purchase.