Saturday, February 23, 2013
Putting a few aside: The Chinese Type 53 Carbine
I recall my Dad used to buy canned food by the case when he saw it at a good price. It was stored in the cellar, on shelves, and there was no inside door to the cellar. Not infrequently, 'Boy' got sent for a few cans to round out the dinner menu. I used to catch a lot of crap because I thought putting on shoes a waste of time when I was only going to be a few seconds going to the cellar..... snow or no snow.
The point is.... my old man would buy it when cheap, buy a bunch, and put it away til it was needed. That's not a bad philosophy, and applies to far more than canned peas.
This brings us to today's adventure.... unpacking a pair of Chinese Type 53 carbines recently added to the collection.
The Chinese worked hand in hand with the Soviet Union for quite some time, and that included transfers of technology. Thus, the Russian M-44 carbine, itself a shortened version of the 91/30, which in turn was derived from the Mosin Nagant of 1891...... became the Type 53 carbine. Obsolete before it was ever built, the Type 53 had the feature of being cheap... very cheap.... and very easy to manufacture by the boat load. That, and the fact the Soviet Union would quite literally trade/sell ammunition for the rifle by the shipload, and suddenly the recycled Mosin design looked pretty good. At least, to the Chinese it did, when they had a stupendously large army and a stupendously tiny treasury.
Now collectors and shooters are seeing the Type 53 in the United States at deeply discounted prices. A few years ago, they were available for $69 at every gun show, by the dozens. Now, one will bring $130 or so pretty easily, and have been seen changing hands at $200 since the crazy times set in (Thanks Mr. President!).
The Type 53 (slash M-44) is indeed a Mosin rifle, chambered in the full power 7.62x54mm Russian round designed at the turn of the century. The last century. As in the 1890's. It's a rimmed cartridge of roughly 30-06 ballistics in it's modern loadings. Loaded for shooting from the longer barreled 91/30, the short barrel of the Type 53 gets rather 'barky' when fired on the line.
To paraphrase something The Fat Man overheard from a nice lady the last time someone brought a Mosin Carbine to the match..... "Who the %$#@ brought the %^#@!$^%# CANON??"
Looking exactly like a shortened and much handier copy of the Mosin 91/30... because it is.... both the M-44 and the Type 53 bear a rather unusual feature. That being a permanently attached bayonet that is hinged to the barrel and swings back alongside the stock.
The rifle itself is .... um..... how to say....... ugly. There is no other way to put it. It is, in fact, so ugly that it's attractive in many ways. Like a scraggly puppy who's the runt of the litter, you just want to pick and up and play with it. Shooting it reveals this puppy to have a hell of a bark, and a pretty stiff bite as well. That said, it's a fairly effective battle rifle for very little money, no matter how one looks at it.
Now, regarding that whole notion of 'putting things aside'. Here, the relative cheapness of the Type 53 carbine, and the ammunition to feed it, make it a natural for such things.
Depending on local markets and the power of bulk buying, a Type 53 and a 'spam can' (440 rounds) of surplus Russian ammunition can be purchased for roughly $200 to $250. At that price level, hiding away a few of these rifles and a case of ammo is not such a crazy idea. At the very least, it's an investment who's value can only grow. At the very worst.... well, lets save that thought for another day.
There is a bit of work associated with owning such a beastie. They will typically arrive as packed by a Chinese conscript, and that means in occasionally rough condition and so-so preservation. Care must be taken to thoroughly clean the rifle, with special attention to scrubbing the bore. The 7.62x54mm round has always been corrosively primed, which is no problem when a weapon is properly cleaned after use. Not all the Type 53's were, sadly.
It's not uncommon for the first swab pushed down the barrel to pile up an eight inch plug of grease ahead of it. This is the equivalent of a blocked bore, and under NO circumstances should any surplus military weapon be fired till the bore is cleaned out and the unit function checked by someone who knows what they are doing.
Completely stripping the rifle down would be a good idea, and is not difficult at all. Remember.... these rifles were designed to be used and maintained by peasants drafted into the military. Much of what the rifle might need can be done with little more than a crude screw driver and a handy rock.
Consider the possibilities. Despite being more than a little outdated, the little carbine is quite powerful, fairly effective, and extraordinarily cheap. Ammunition is plentiful and inexpensive right now, and stocking away a case or two and a few rifles won't break most budgets. It can be used for recreational shooting, hunting, and...... for hard times. As this cost, a few can be set aside for giving to the neighbors in a 'Katrina' like emergency, even, or whatever other perilous time should come along.
Think about it.