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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 07/10/2019 in Firearms

The Most Successful Sniper Rifle Ever

The Most Successful Sniper Rifle Ever

A trigger pull on par with a double-action revolver. A bayonet that is longer than a forearm. Enough furniture to equip another gun.

Loading the ammo into the box magazine has a significant learning curve. And about that rim on the cartridge; could they may it any harder to load the magazine?

Corrosive primer steel-core ammo sold by the case and packed in giant sardine cans.

Once sold for $39 and packed in so much Cosmoline that it week a week to sweat it out of the stock.

It has seven parts in the main mechanism and three in the trigger group.

Nine countries produced versions of it. This is a sniper rifle?

It is the most successful sniper rifle in the history of modern military snipers. Of the top 10 all-time snipers in modern military history, three used this rifle. Together, they probably account for more kills than the rest of the list combined. One of the snipers, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, had 309 confirmed kills with 39 of those other snipers.

The rifle is the Mosin-Nagant, created mostly by Captain Sergei Ivanovich Mosin. It has a few features taken from a rifle also submitted by Léon Nagant during the Russian military test trials in 1889. It is correctly pronounced MO-seen Nah-GON." Most people in the west call the Mosin-Nagant a MO-sin.


The Mosin-Nagant is a 7.62x54r cartridge. The "r" stands "rimmed" not "Russian as many people think. The bottleneck cartridge also has a visible taper from the rim to the shoulder. In terms of firepower, it is just short of the .30-06 and a bit more than .308 Winchester.

The bullet listed as 7.62 is actually .311 as the most common size. When the Finns started making the rifle, they bored it as small as .308. Later versions went to .310. Toward the end of WWII when Russian factories were turning out Mosins as fast as possible, quality control slipped a bit. Bore sizes as big as .316 are occasionally reported. These bore variations are why some Mosin shooters recommend slugging the bore to get the actual diameter.

To slug the bore cheaply, gently drive a pure lead fishing sinker into the barrel and push it all the way through. Measure the lead off the rifling grooves. The Mosin used in the videos for this article slugs out at .3105.

Most Mosins come with a bayonet mount. A civilian defense version produced by the Russians does not have a bayonet mount. Bayonets can be surprisingly long.

The rifle itself has wooden hand guards reaching nearly to the end of the barrel. The stock has a metal plate for the butt.

Weight will vary with the stye of the gun. Russia and China both produced carbine version. The Chinese version, called a Type 53, was made on Russian machinery. Chinese wood is much inferior to the Russian furniture. Chinese Mosins were used in Korea. A few years ago, you could buy a Type 53 with dirt still in the gun from where it was dropped in Korea by fleeing soldiers.

Older Mosins come with Arshin measurements on the iron sights. The Arshin is 28 inches. Later models moved to the Imperial system of yards. Infantry models have adjustable sights to 1,000 yards. In the hands of a good shooter, the Mosin is entirely capable of making 1,000 yard shots.

When left in the original configuration, a Mosin is a C&R or Cruffler federal firearms license eligible gun. However, when the stock is changed, as in the Monte Carlo stock on the Mosin in the video, BATF defines it as a modern firearm.

An extremely rare version, the Obrez, is nothing more than a Mosin chopped down to be handgun by Russian factory workers.


The FFL Dealer Network's South Georgia crew recently took a pair of Mosins to the range to do some shooting. The crew was law enforcement instructor Maj. Richard Purvis, police chief Bill Ryder, firefighter and lifelong hunter Maj. Jamie Turner and gun journalist Ben Baker. Rifle 1 was a 1932 model in a Monte Carlo stock. The rear sight was replaced with a pict rail and a pistol scope mounted to that. It has a hex receiver. Rifle 2 was a 1942 model with a round rough-finished receiver. The original bluing on the '42 is also not to the same standards as the '32.

The positioning of the scope of Rifle 1 made loading the box magazine more difficult than with Rifle 2.

Mosins have tongue-in-cheek reputation as being a hard kicker. The truth is, the weight of the gun with all the original wood and the long barrel go a long way to taming recoil. With the rubber recoil pad on the Monte Carlo stock, recoil was in the range of a .243.

Both guns, when dialed in, dropped bullets where the shooters wanted. Only one misfire was reported. A check of the round showed the milsurp ammo's primer was seated very deep. The firing pin did not make an adequate strike to ignite the primer.

All were impressed by the guns.


Nearly 130 years after the rifle first rolled off assembly lines, it is still being used in combat in places in the world. Pictures of the North Korean army show goose-stepping soldiers with a Mosin in their hands. It is still a sniper rifle too.

The Mosin did its hardest fighting in both World Wars. While it was used by communist forces in Korea, more modern firearms had entered the picture by then. The Mosin, as a fighting weapon, was used by forces that could not afford full auto. It was used as a sniper rifle then.


No discussion of the venerable Mosin-Nagant is complete without comparing it to the AK47 and the AR 15. 7.62x54r takes care of that. Click the link. You'll be glad you did.

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