Is A Mosin-Nagant A Good Rifle For Hunting And Shooting

Is A Mosin-Nagant A Good Rifle For Hunting And Shooting?

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John Wise
March 18, 2022
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Designed by Russian Sergei Mosin and Belgian designer Leon Nagant and issued to the Russian Army in 1891, only the legendary AK-47 surpasses the Mosin-Nagant rifle in terms of numbers produced!

The Mosin-Nagant is good for both hunting and shooting. Using the right soft-tip ammo can take down deer and bigger game like a bear at good distances. It is also an accurate rifle for shooting under 1 MOA in the right hands with some minor modifications and tuning done.

This rifle has been involved in more than 30 wars, is durable, accurate, and robust, and while not the prettiest rifle ever to grace the war stage, it is a versatile weapon that everyday soldiers or snipers can use to great effect.

Mosin-Nagant Models

The Mosin-Nagant rifle came in a few different models, with the most common being the 1891/30, which was issued to the Russian Army from 1930 to 1945. This rifle saw some change made so it could accommodate a sniper scope.

The scopes used originally were a Soviet copy of a Zeiss scope called the 3.87 X 30 PE or PEM scope, and these were later simplified to the 3.5X21 PU Scopes.

The bolt was changed from a hexagonal one to a cylindrical one. It was refitted with an extended bolt handle to allow for better operation with the scope and had flattened rear sights and distances recalibrated to meters.

Other models include the Dragoon, a shorter version of the original 1891 model almost identical to the 1891/30 model.

The Cossack model was also sighted for use without the bayonet and was issued without them, and the 1907 Carbine model was 11” shorter than the 1891 and was produced until 1917 in relatively small numbers.

Later models included the Model 1938 carbine, the Model 1944 carbine, and the Model 1891/ 59 Carbine. Many Eastern bloc countries adopted versions of this rifle, including Finland, Poland, Estonia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, China, and Romania.

The Mosin-Nagant 7.62x54mm Cartridge

Like the 7.62x51mm or .308 standard Nato round, this cartridge is a member of the .30 caliber family and is a cousin to the .303 and 30-06 rounds used in rifles like the Enfield SMLE’s and Springfields.

The interesting bit about Mosin’s round is that this was in production in 1891, while the US was still using the 45-70 and only switched to the 30-06 round from a modified .30/03 in 1906.

Depending on where you stay, this ammo is freely available. While the standard Russian surplus ammo would be good for plinking and targets, batch quality varies, and consistency with this ammo makes it ok for target shooting. Still, super accuracy would require better rounds and some rifle modifications.

If you compare muzzle energy between the two, the 147 grain has 2290 ft/lbs of muzzle energy against the 2630 ft/lbs of the 203 grain round. That’s plenty of power, and this is why the Mosin is favored as a cheap but effective hunting rifle.

The key to the Mosin’s power is the longer barrel, allowing it to handle a larger charge of slow-burning powder at lower chamber pressures but still deliver high power and velocity. At 56 000 Psi, this chamber pressure is closer to a .223 than a .30 caliber.

Best 7.62 X54 Ammo For Hunting

Several ammo options are available for getting good hunting performance from the Mosin; we will look at the target ammo in the next segment. Here are six options in order from lightest grain to heaviest.

  • DoubleTap 123 Grain Barnes TSX
  • Peterson Cartridge 165 Grain Sierra Tipped Game King
  • Graf & Sons 150 Grain Hornady SST
  • PPU 150 Grain SP
  • Winchester 180 Grain JSP
  • Barnaul 203 Grain SPBT

The top three in this list would be the Barnaul 203 grain SPBT with a ballistic coefficient of 0.451 at 2306 Fps and 2629 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. Using non-corrosive primers with a steel case is the go-to round for hunting with your Mosin.

The next one is the Winchester 180 grain JSP at 2625 Fps and 2751 ft/lbs of muzzle energy and offers good results on both medium- and large game. It’s also one of the few American-made rounds, and it’s reloadable!

The PPU 150 Grain SP with the highest velocity of 2838 fps and 2682 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. As the lighter option, it would seem better to opt for the heavier grains for a bigger game, but with its higher MV, the 150 grain round has enough punching power to take out bear, moose, and elk, as well as smaller game like whitetail and hogs. These are boxer primed brass, so reloading is game on.

Another lighter option is the Graf & Sons 150 grain SST. Having teamed up with Hornady, this polymer-tipped projectile hits with a ton of force – 2612 ft/lbs at 2800 fps and is a good option for a medium-sized game like coyote and deer.

As you can see,  muzzle energy of all these rounds is pretty close, while the lighter 150gr PPU achieves the highest muzzle velocity. The Bernaul may take some hunting around to find, but the time spent is well worth it if you can get your hands on those.

Best 7.62 X54 Target Ammo

If your passion for your Mosin is target shooting, then here is a list of the top-rated target ammo for the 7.62 x54.

  • Sellier & Bellot 174 Grain HPBT
  • Barnaul 185 Grain FMJ
  • Wolf Polyformance 174 Grain FMJ
  • PPU 182 Grain Match

The S&B 174 grain has a 0.500 ballistic coefficient. With a respectable 2585 fps with 2588 ft/lbs of muzzle energy, this cartridge will give your Mosin great performance on the paper, and the brass cases are reloadable as well.

The Barnaul 185 grain FMJ is another great match/target round with a ballistic coefficient of 0.524 and delivers 2470 fps of muzzle velocity with 2511 ft/lbs of energy.

The steel casing is not reloadable, but the round is non-corrosive so that you can shoot all day with no concern about any adverse effects on your bore. They are cheap enough rounds not to worry too much about reloading them to reduce shooting costs.

The Wolf Polyformance 174 grain FMJ is another reliable and accurate round and probably one of the cheapest targets shooting with the Mosin. It also has a steel case and delivers 2558 fps muzzle velocity. Even though it is steel, the round is polymer coated for easy feeding and waterproofing.

Serbian manufacturer PPU’s 182-grain match FMJ is another cost-effective FMJ round, and these are brass, so reloading is an option. With a ballistic coefficient of 0.521 plus a muzzle velocity of 2626 fps, this is certainly another affordable option and will make your Mosin a very happy rifle indeed.

Is Mosin Military Ammo Worth Using

While the old military ammo is freely available and cheap, modern cases, bullets, powder, and primers deliver much better consistency and lower the risk of pitting in your bore.

The issue with the old ammo is that it’s old and corrosive, meaning that if you don’t clean your bore after a range session, you may end up pitting. This ammo is great for blowing away cans and even some target shooting, but they’re not quite as consistent as you would like, so if you are hunting, rather opt for the more modern rounds in this caliber.

MOA’s with these rounds will be on the high side with range work, and if you haven’t yet sorted out the trigger on your Mosin-Nagant, well, it’s a bit of a lottery if you’re looking for 1MOA or better.

Overview Of The Mosin-Nagant

Let’s look at the characteristics that make the Mosin-Nagant a good option, and some of them need refinement.

The Mosin Is Cheap And Affordable Rifle For Hunting And Shooting

As a rifle for hunting and shooting, the Mosin-Nagant is a great choice; considering more than 37 million were made, these tough hard-shooting guns are popular for hunters, shooters, and gun enthusiasts alike!

At around $150 or less, these are often chosen because they are cheap and have a lot of ammo available. Hungarian, Russian, and Polish ammo for the 7.62X54 can be found easily and cheaply.

Compared to a $300 plus Sako or similar, which not everyone can afford, you won’t have any real guilt if you drop it in the mud or it gets scratched up a little as you work through the bush.

What Upgrades You Would Need To Do On A Mosin-Nagant

The issue with large production military rifles like the Mosin is just that – large production.

So elements of the rifle, like the sights, scope mounts, stock, and trigger, were designed for everyday use by relatively untrained soldiers who simply had a weapon put in their hands and told to kill the enemy.

As a rifle, its enemies feared it, and there are countless reports of German soldiers ditching their Kar98’s in favor of the Russian-made rifle. Accurate, durable, and with plenty of power, it’s no wonder that the Mosin-Nagant held such esteem.

Even so, compared to modern rifles, the Mosin-Nagant is a diamond in the rough, and it has a few usability issues that can be fixed fairly easily and relatively cheaply. Let’s start with the biggest one, which is the trigger pull.

The Mosin- Nagant Trigger Is Bad –Really Bad.

Accuracy with the Mosin has more to do with its legendary terrible trigger pull than with the shooter. The long barrel gives it good accuracy, and in modified Mosin’s with a proper trigger, a good shooter can get to 1MOA or less; in fact, reports of 0.75 MOA are not uncommon – but not with the standard trigger.

The trigger pulls everything you don’t want on a hunting or shooting rifle. It’s long, rough, and heavy and creeps like a rattlesnake on the hunt – although the rattlesnake is probably smoother.

The issue with this trigger pull is that you never quite know when it’s going to fire, which creates a lot of uncertainty in the release of the shot itself. The high MOA’s seen with off-the-shelf Mosin’s are usually not the fault of the rifleman but rather that of the very unpredictable trigger pull.

Ways To Improve Your Mosin-Nagant Trigger

The good news is that some great trigger kits can turn your heavy, creepy Mosin trigger into a modern smooth one for about $100. The most popular of which is probably the Timney kit.

The Timney is the complete kit that drops into the old one. Pretty simple to install, and the difference is phenomenal. If you have a Mosin because you enjoy them, this will add a big smile to your face and the rifle- if it could smile!

If you don’t fancy dropping $100 for that, there are some great DIY videos out there that will show you how to improve the trigger pull, which will certainly improve the accuracy and consistency of your Mosin-Nagant.

Using this kit, you could reasonably get down from a 6 or 7 MOA to around 2 or even better, while shimmying the trigger to get the pull shorter could get you to around 4MOA.

The design of the Mosin and its ‘diamond-in-the-rough’ character makes it relatively easy to make mods to improve its performance, and shimmying can be done with anything from epoxy to shims made from steel and brass’s a better option to go for the actual Mosin shims.

Or you can look at the $20 kits, and the one from Mcarbo.com is a pretty good option for transforming your Mosin trigger.

How Accurate Is The Mosin-Nagant Rifle For Hunting And Shooting

The Mosin will give you good accuracy at the standard hunting range of around 200-250 yards as a hunting rifle. If you use better quality ammo and make some upgrades to the trigger primarily, accuracy improves greatly, and the cartridge still has enough power to take deer at 1000 yards.

As you can see from the discussion on the trigger, MOA improves dramatically with a good trigger job. Another very famous account regarding the accuracy of this Soviet rifle, the story of the Siege Of Stalingrad and Vasily Zaitsev should put any of that to rest.

The Mosin- Nagant: The Star Of Enemy At The Gates

This World War 2 film tells the story of Vasily Zaitsev, the legendary Soviet sniper and main character in the film “ Enemy At The Gates,” and what rifle did he use? Yep. You guessed it – the Mosin-Nagant 1891 with a 4x scope.

He used this single rifle for the duration of the war and, in doing so, made 225-250 enemy kills, including killing the ace German sniper Major Konig. The latter had been assigned to eliminate the Russian sniper.

More than this was the ranges he was shooting from, and this was a standard 1891/30 model with the scope and turned-down bolt. The staggering part of his ability was that before he was given the scope for his Mosin, he had made 32 kills at ranges of 880 yards using the standard iron sights.

Once he had the PE Scope, there were consistent reports of kills at 700 to 1100 yards, and although he claimed more than 400 kills, he was only officially credited with 242 largely due to administrative backlogs.

The Mosin-Nagant is accurate in the right hands, as Vasily Zaitsev showed. While we benefit from better ammo and improved trigger options, this rifle should not be underestimated for accuracy based on its very rough appearance.

What Scopes Can You Put On A Mosin-Nagant

Adding a scope to your Mosin these days is a lot simpler, with many scopes mounts offering the attachement to rear sight block and the attachment point for the recoil lug.

The only bit of effort here is removing the retention pin on the ladder sight, which could take some doing. Other than that, the long eye-relief platform is steady and solid and can take most scopes.

If you are looking for an above-the-receiver mount, you will need some professional assistance with the drilling and tapping and rather go this route unless you have some basic gunsmith skills.

Both options are viable, and the above-receiver mount using a rail would allow you to use any scope you prefer. Here are some of the better scope options available for your Mosin-Nagant.

  1. NC Star 2-7 X 32 scope
  2. AIM Sports Scout Scope
  3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7 X 32
  4. AIM Sports Mosin Nagant Kit
  5. Bering Optics Russian 3.5X20  PU Scope

The Bering Optics scope looks similar to the PU scopes of the past, while the NC Star, AIM, and Vortex are the more modern-looking scopes. Each has good eye relief, variable magnification, and MOA adjustment and can be mounted using rings or rails and forward or over the receiver depending on the mounting system.

There is some discussion about drilling and tapping your Mosin. Still, considering the durability of this rifle and the desire to have an accurate scope for hunting or shooting, the consensus is that this is not a major issue in terms of preservation.

Also, these rifles are often available for under $100, so doing some extra metalwork to improve it will not break the bank nor detract from its performance or traditional appearance.

Change The Butt For Better Performance

Aside from the trigger -which needs to be done – and the scope, the other component of the Mosin-Nagant which should be changed is the butt itself. One of the reasons for the rifle’s extensive trigger pull is that the distance from the trigger to the butt is much longer than most standard US rifles.

To fix this issue cheaply and quickly, you can add a Mosin recoil patch that will extend that distance by an inch and for around $10, that’s not a bad option. Getting the one that replaces the steel butt plate will have the rifle fit better, reducing the recoil and improving the accuracy.

The original stock has issues with consistency, especially when humidity is involved. Because there are multiple points of contact along the butt, the effect of humidity on the wood can result in varying points and pressures, leading to inconsistent performance.

Bedding and adding a free-floating stock will solve many of these issues, and fortunately, there are quite a few good aftermarket stock options for the Mosin available.

The free-floating stock only contacts the rifle’s action and not the barrel. Using epoxy or fiberglass to hold the rifle rather than the stock subject to fluctuations due to weather will improve the MOA overall performance.

Tip: Whatever you do, don’t lose the screws that secure the stock to the rifle, as these are almost impossible to find.

The KPYK Chassis – $450

The aftermarket stock options are even better, but it can get a bit pricey on the top end for a product like KPYK Chassis. This takes the Mosin from the 19th Century to the 22nd Century and ends up looking more like a modern tactical weapon than a World War 2 rifle.

This aluminum chassis is adjustable for trigger pull length and is compatible with just about every variant of the Russian rifle ever made. With three Picatinny rails for easy scope mounting and compatibility with ProMag/ Archangel Magazines, this drop-in solution is around $450.

The API Monte Carlo Stock – $110

If you want to give your Mosin that classic full-stock hunter looks, then this is the stock you want. Glass-reinforced polymer is superbly weather resistant and super light, and like the KPYK above, it is also a drop-in job.

This would be ideal for hunting or shorter range, but it may not be suited for longer-range applications because it has flex under recoil.

The Pro-Mag/Archangel – $170

Reinforced with carbon and glass fiber, the ProMag Archangel is one of the most popular aftermarket stock options for the Mosin. Fully adjustable comb height and trigger pull with an inch of play, free-floating barrel system, and drop-in for Russian-made Mosins is why this system is highly rated and the first choice for your stock upgrade.

As the mid-price choice for Mosin-Nagant rifles, the Archangel covers all the bases to improve accuracy and comfort to turn your Mosin-Nagant into a first-class shooting and hunting rifle.

Conclusion

The Mosin-Nagant has come a long way since 1891, but this rifle has stood the test of time and is respected and desired by modern shooters for hunting and target shooting.

Even though there are some modifications needed to get it there, once done, the Mosin-Nagant becomes a worthy hunting & shooting companion and capable of delivering more than acceptable MOA for a very low investment.

John Wise

John Wise has a rich background in the use of firearms and has also worked in building construction, particularly designing and installing soundproofing systems for homes and offices. Over the years, he has acquired a ton of experience in sound dampening techniques, technologies, and equipment. Leveraging that rich experience, John Wise now dedicates a chunk of time to show just about anyone how to drastically minimize noise pollution in their spaces, whether at home or workplace.