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.



Chaplain Tim said...

Wait until you shoot it at night! The fireball from the muzzle is impressive. When you take it to the range to sight it in, try it with the bayonet extended. Most you them were factory sighted with the bayonet extended and it shifts the point of impact about a foot to the left at 100 yards.
Youtube the proper way to load the stripper clips, it matters.
Have fun!

Unknown said...

I got my type 53 years ago. The outside looked like the Chinese had done lots of drilling (beating things?) with it but the bore was pristine. Guess it never got shot much

My bayonet is quite wobbly when in the folded position, though. And ideas how to tighten it up? I currently have a velcro strap around it to keep it from banging against the rifle

Anonymous said...

Local gun shop actually had some 7.62x54R in stock Thursday. For $140 per can. What I paid for a case a year or two ago.

Bob said...

Might want to acquire a few of these:

Carteach said...

I... um.... have a leather shotgun pad I use occasionally. 30-40 rounds with the steel buttplate are not an issue, but more than that and I am not above using a pad :-)

Chaplain Tim said...

Check out for history and humor. shows who still has ammo at reasonable prices.
Stripper clips are for sale on ebay and amazon.

Anonymous said...

Found a type 53 cheep for grandson. What is the bore size. Slugged this at .305 Barrel still tight inside. Brown Bear ammo 185 fmj stops about .25 inch before case.

Carteach said...

Anon... I believe nominal bore diameter is .311"

My type 53 and Mosin also muzzle check the same way with a cartridge.

Slugging a bore and measuring it right is a touchy thing.

Anonymous said...

Car teach is the mosin "sniper" worth it at 700$ all in? Should I wait for a better deal?
Vepr alex

Carteach said...

Alex, I guess it depends on why you want one.

AIM surplus has them on sale right now at $579, which I consider high... but I'm still considering it as I have an affinity for such examples of history. To me, $700 is too much.

The thing is, buying one to own the history is one thing.... but if the goal is simply a powerful and accurate rifle, then modern hunting rifles fill that bill easily for less than $500. Often less than $400.

Anonymous said...

I am counting on cheaper surplus ammo vs the 308 or 3006 for the cheaper modern hunting rifles.
Have u seen the snipers cheaper at gun shows?

Carteach said...

Typically, no. They are usually priced well North of $ 700.

Anonymous said...

would you go with this or aim?
Any difference?


Carteach said...

Alex, I have dealt with both Wideners and AIM. Both seem to be pretty standup people.

Without seeing these in my hands, I can't say which is better. I suspect they are both selling the same product, from the same importer. I could be wrong on that.