Mosin Nagant Tear-Down

20160116_102257The very first thing to do in our gun build is to take it down. As we go along, I will attempt to illustrate each step with a picture. Mosins are easy to take down, so it will be easy to learn this process.

Before we get to the process itself, please remember that you will have to strip the cosmoline the first time you take it apart. Cosmoline is a preservative gel-like substance that was used to preserve rifles through long storage. After the gun is broken into its component parts, rinse everything in hot soapy water. Dish soap like Sunlight works well.

As can be seen in these photos, I have already discarded the original wooden stock. The process shown below is identical for taking apart a rifle in that configuration, with the only difference being that you must take off the barrel bands as well.

Lets get to it.

Step 1) Remove the bolt. Draw the bolt to the rear of the action, as shown above. Depress the trigger, and then continue to draw the bolt out.

20160116_102450 20160116_102515Step 2) Remove the action screws. There is one in the rear of the tang, behind the action. The second screw is at the front of the magazine. Remove with a flat-bladed screwdriver.





Step 3) Remove the magazine and action from stock. Pull out the magazine first, as shown.20160116_102830




Then the receiver and barrel assembly.20160116_103034 I usually insert my forefinger into the rear of the action and lift up. This seems to be the least abusive way to get everything out.



Now the rifle is apart, and for a thorough cleaning, nothing more is required.



The Babushka Gets a Facelift… and some new hardware.

20151010_135948Our story begins in 1889. This was the year that the Russian Czar put an order out for a rifle that would be of “reduced caliber” and using “smokeless powder”. At that time the Imperial Army used the Berdan Rifle. The Mosin-Nagant was the rifle adopted in 1891.

Its cartridge was the 7.62x54R. The (R) designates that it is a rimmed cartridge, like the .303 British or the 8mm Mauser. In the late 19th century rimmed cartridges were all the rage. Of all the late 19th century cartridges, only the 7.62x54R is still in regular military use.

As the British, Italians, Germans, Austrians and Japanese had all been adopting bolt-action small-bore, magazine fed rifles in the decade prior, it was felt Russia ought have one too. The final design was an unwilling collaboration between the Russian officer Sergei Ivanovich Mosin and the Belgian inventor, Leon Nagant.

From a design perspective, the rifle borrowed features from most of the main battle rifles of the day. What the Russians got was a slightly uglier mash-up of the Mauser, Mannlicher, Enfield and Carcano. Considering that it was for use by the Russian Army, not famed for professionalism at the time, this rifle turned out to be fantastic.

Imperial soldiers (and their later Soviet counterparts) carried this rifle into many of the main wars of the early 20th century. It developed a reputation for being impervious to most damage. In the right hands it was even a well-considered sniper platform. A Finn named Simo Hayha recorded 505 confirmed kills on one of these rifles during the Finn-Soviet Winter War of 1939-40. He used the standard iron sights. Vassili Zaitsev and Lyudmila Pavlichenko are two of the more well-known Soviet snipers who used this rifle as well.

Some folks in the blogosphere like to hack this rifle on account of accuracy. They clearly weren’t shot by Hayha. Just sayin.

I bought this rifle for 150$ in a local gun shop, and have since made some changes. 20160116_102124And thus we begin! In this series of posts we will look at each step in the process, and comment on each step. Then we will shoot and evaluate our new Mosin. Let the fun begin…

Chop job

20160116_102237As most of you may know, a standard m91 has a 28 inch barrel. That is ridiculous. There are several reasons to cut a Mosin barrel down.

First, a 28″ barrel looks funny on a Monte Carlo stock. A barrel that long is also difficult to manoeuver in dense brush, which is where most of my hunting spots are. Third, longer barrels have more “whip” than a shorter, thicker, profiled barrel.

Lets look at that last point in particular.

When a bullet is fired from its’ cartridge through a barrel several things are happening. We call this “internal ballistics”.

The basic idea is that when the projectile leaves the cartridge mouth it passes into the barrel. The barrel has spiraled grooves cut in it, called “rifling”. These grooves grab the bullet and impart a spin to it, so that when it leaves the muzzle, the bullet is spinning, like a football. This spin aids accuracy. While the bullet is still travelling through the barrel, several forces are acting on it. There is the pressure wave of the explosion in the casing, which pushes the bullet forward. Friction is created by means of the interaction between bullet and the rifling, which gives spin. Air resistance is also present, as the volume of air in the barrel must be displaced, but this is really minimal.

The “whip” in a barrel is a result of the friction between the bullet and the rifling. We know that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As the bullet spins, the barrel will move in an opposing manner.  To be sure, the barrel posses more mass than the bullet and will not move as much as the projectile, but it moves nonetheless. After the bullet leaves the muzzle the barrel will return to its original position. A shorter, thicker barrel should whip less that a longer one. With less whip comes a higher degree of probability that the barrel will more consistently return to its true position after firing.

All this to say, a shorter, thicker barrel ought to be more accurate, especially over a longer shooting session.

On account of these reasons I shortened my Mosin barrel.

Some other folks are better equipped than I in regards to tooling and such, so I have had to improvise somewhat. Before ya’ll start throwing the blog-o-bombs, hear me out. I cut my barrel down to 22″ with my angle grinder. After using my files and elbow grease, I switched to sandpaper and buffed the muzzle up.

As I do not have a crowning tool, I made use of my drill, a screw, and toothpaste. It makes a decent crown. A crown does not need to be much deeper than the bottom of the grooves. This method works pretty well, and for pennies on the dollar.

20160116_102539Insert the screw into the drill chuck, with the head sticking out. Put a dab of toothpaste on the screw head, and mill out the crown. Toothpaste acts as a grit paste. Move the drill in a circular motion so as not to wear any part of the crown more than another. It is important to get as even a bevel as possible.

We will cover accuracy and results in the final installment at the end of this series. Suffice it to say, the accuracy of this rifle improved over the course of this build. It doesn’t take expensive tools to do a job, nor to do it well. Time, some expertise, and a good idea of the end goal are worth just as much.

In the next post we will examine the drilling, tapping and mounting of the scope rail…




Hello all.

This is a new blog, one where I pursue a passion of mine, which is all things guns. Guns, gear, shooting, reloading, gunsmithy, news. Let the fun begin!20151230_154002