Mosin-Nagant M-1891 Series

     Notes: This rifle was designed by two Belgian brothers named Nagant and a Russian Army colonel named Mosin. The 7.62mm Nagant cartridge was designed for use in this weapon (though at the time of it’s design, it was known as the 3-Line cartridge). The weapon has an unusual safety; it is engaged by pulling the cocking handle back and rotating it backwards. Many variants were made over the years.

     The first model was the M-1891; it uses a removable socket bayonet.  The sights were calibrated in the obsolete Russian measurement system of arshins (one arshin is about 711 mm), but in 1917 most of them were converted to metric sights.  The bayonet, though removable, is designed to be on the rifle; in fact, the balance of the M-1891 is so affected that the sights must be re-zeroed if one intends to use the rifle without the bayonet.  The M-1891 is almost an obscenely-long weapon, at 51.9 inches, though this did allow for an incredible 32.3 inches of barrel length.  Receivers were of heavy steel, and a ramp-and leaf sight rear sight and a front bead sight were provided for aiming on original M-1891s.  The stock was straight-wristed.  Experience in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 showed that the sights worked poorly at short ranges, and therefore they were re-worked.  At the same time, some minor changes were made to the mechanism and stock.  Issued in 1910, this version was the M-1891 Type L.  (It is identical to the standard M-1891 for game purposes.)

     The M-1891 Cossack Rifle is a version of the M-1891 with a shorter 29.9-inch barrel, sling slots moved to the side of the stock and fore-end, and a modified cleaning rod.  It was designed specifically for use from horseback.  This version was built until 1914, with assembly continuing until 1915.  The M-1891 Dragoon is essentially the same rifle with a different cleaning rod, but otherwise virtually identical to the Cossack rifle.  Both had special weighting so that aim was not disturbed whether or not a bayonet was attached.  The Dragoon became the standard infantry rifle in 1922, and production continued until the early 1930s.

     The M-1907 carbine used an even shorter 20.05-inch barrel.  It was specifically designed for the Tsar’s Army artillery and cavalry units.  The stock had such a long fore-end that a bayonet could not be attached.  Originally, the sights were graduated for arshins, but with the advent of the Spitzer bullet, the sights were replaced with metric sights graduated for longer ranges.  (Some sources call this version with modified sights the “M-1910,” but this nomenclature is generally regarded by most experts as incorrect.)

     The M-1891/30 is a modified Dragoon rifle with the receiver body changed from a hexagonal shape to a cylindrical shape.  This was done to simplify manufacture.  In addition, the rear sights were changed from leaf-type to a tangent-type, and the front sight was changed from a barleycorn type to a more modern hooded post.  Sling slots were added to the stock and fore-end.  A new bayonet along with a more secure bayonet lug was designed for the M-1891/30.  Barrel length was still an astonishing 28.75 inches.  The M-1891/30 is perhaps the most numerous of all of the M-1891 series, with some 17.5 million being built (mostly just before and during World War 2).  The M-1938 carbine was essentially a shortened M-1891/30, with 20.05-inch barrel and the ability to use the same bayonet as the M-1891/30. 

     The M-1891/30 Sniper’s Rifle was made by taking the best-performing rifles from production batches of M-1891/30s, adding a mount for the PU or PE telescopic sights (both of which were modified Zeiss designs, with the PE being longer and having a 4x magnification, while the PU was shorter and had a 3.5x magnification), and given further treatment to ensure smooth operation of their actions.  The normally straight bolt handles were also turned downward so as to not interfere with the scope, and a slot was cut in the side of the stock for this down-turned bolt handle.

     The M-1891/30 Silenced Rifle is a rare and odd variant of the M-1891.  Designed for use with special “partisan” sub-loaded ammunition, these rifles were never large in number and even recorded uses of them are rare.  They were to be fired only with the special subsonic ammunition; if normal ammunition is used, the rubber-baffle silencer would be ruined in as little as 3 shots.  Even with subsonic ammunition, the life of the silencer may have been as little as 30 shots.

     Starting in 1943, experiments began to affix a permanent folding bayonet to the M-1938.  By 1944, a Semin-type folding cruciform bayonet was settle upon and production began.  Unfortunately, it was quickly realized after World War 2 that the M-1891 series was obsolete, and production stopped shortly after the war.  Production did, however, continue in other countries, most notably China, long after this point.

     During World War 1, the Austro-Hungarians captured mountains of M-1891s and M-1891 Cossack rifles on the Eastern Front.  Most of these were used without modification (as the Austro-Hungarians also captured mountains of ammo), but a considerable number were converted to fire the 8mm Lebel round which was one of the Austro-Hungarian standard rifle rounds.  Some were also modified to use Austro-Hungarian bayonets.  Like the Austro-Hungarians, the Germans also captured large amounts of these Russian rifles and ammunition, but some of these were also converted to use the standard German service cartridge (8mm Mauser in this case).  Captured German examples were far more likely to have been modified to use German bayonets.

     The Poles also used the Mosin-Nagant starting in the 1920s until its subjugation by the Nazis in World War 2.  Theirs were highly-modified, chambered for 8mm Mauser ammunition, designed for German-style bayonets, and having barrels 23.6 inches long.  These rifles were called the M-91/98/25.

     So many Mosin-Nagants were built, and the design so hardy, that they can still be regularly encountered today in the hands of various insurgents, rebels, hunters, and even in some armies. 

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

M-1891

7.62mm Nagant

4.43 kg

5 Clip

$1607

M-1891

8mm Lebel

4.43 kg

5 Clip

$1630

M-1891

8mm Mauser

4.43 kg

5 Clip

$1800

M-1891 Cossack/Dragoon

7.62mm Nagant

3.95 kg

5 Clip

$1582

M-1891 Cossack

8mm Lebel

3.95 kg

5 Clip

$1605

M-1891 Cossack

8mm Mauser

3.95 kg

5 Clip

$1776

M-1907 Carbine

7.62mm Nagant

3.4 kg

5 Clip

$1482

M-1891/30

7.62mm Nagant

3.95 kg

5 Clip

$1571

M-1891/30 Sniper’s Rifle

7.62mm Nagant

4.2 kg

5 Clip

$1778

M-1891/30 Silenced Rifle

7.62mm Nagant Subsonic

4 kg

5 Clip

$2212

M-1938 Carbine

7.62mm Nagant

3.54 kg

5 Clip

$1482

M-1944 Carbine

7.62mm Nagant

3.9 kg

5 Clip

$1485

M-91/98/25

8mm Mauser

3.7 kg

5 Clip

$1712

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

M-1891 (7.62mm)

BA

5

2-3-Nil

9

4

Nil

127

M-1891 (8mm Lebel)

BA

5

2-3-Nil

9

4

Nil

124

M-1891 (8mm Mauser)

BA

5

2-4-Nil

9

5

Nil

131

M-1891 Cossack/Dragoon (7.62mm)

BA

4

2-3-Nil

9

4

Nil

117

M-1891 Cossack (8mm Lebel)

BA

5

2-3-Nil

9

5

Nil

114

M-1891 Cossack (8mm Mauser)

BA

5

2-3-Nil

9

5

Nil

121

M1907 Carbine

BA

4

2-3-Nil

7

5

Nil

69

M1891/30

BA

4

2-3-Nil

8

4

Nil

113

M-1891/30 Sniper’s Rifle

BA

4

2-3-Nil

8

4

Nil

115

M-1891/30 Silenced Rifle

BA

3

1-Nil

11

3

Nil

45

M1938 Carbine

BA

4

2-3-Nil

7

4

Nil

69

M1944 Carbine

BA

4

2-3-Nil

7

4

Nil

69

M-91/98/25

BA

4

2-3-Nil

8

5

Nil

88

 

Simonov AVS-36

     Notes:  Though this battle rifle had been under development since 1931, it was not until 1936 that Simonov (better known for the SKS carbine) developed a weapon that worked well enough to put into production.  Unfortunately, the AVS-36 was never trialed properly, and in battle, its shortcomings became obvious.  The AVS-36 was hampered by an overly-complicated gas operation system that fouled too quickly since it let dirt and dust in too easily.  In addition, the weapon was much too light for the cartridge when fired on automatic, and muzzle blast was far too great due to a poorly-designed muzzle brake.  The AVS was replaced by the Tokarev SVT-38 in 1938.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

AVS-36

7.62mm Nagant

4.4 kg

15, 20

$1161

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

AVS-36

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

3

8

85

 

Tokarev SVT-38/SVT-40/AVT-40

     Notes:  Tokarev’s first battle rifle design, the SVT-38, was for the most part a failure due to the fragility of the weapon.  It has a two piece stock, an external cleaning rod, a complicated gas operation system, and a six-baffle muzzle brake.  These complicated pieces simply broke a lot.  Operation is by gas, and the operating system itself is quite efficient when working.  Steps were taken to prevent an early-on problem – violent case ejection that deformed cases and possibly revealed the shooter’s position.  The receiver is a long affair, with a cocking handle with a ring on it.  The two-piece stock generally divided at the fore-end just ahead of the magazine well.  The handguard was metal and ventilated, and wrapped around to form a barrel shroud.  On the inside of the fore-end was a hole for the insertion of a cleaning rod when not in use. The SVT-38 had a simple safety that rotated into the trigger guard and prevented any trigger or hammer movement.  The barrel of the SVT-38 was 24.7 inches long and tipped with a muzzle brake, and the rifle was a bit on the heavy side. The SVT-38 was first used by the Soviets in the Winter War against Finland, but results were disappointing; it is possible that the brutal winter conditions along with troops poorly trained in its use and maintenance contributed greatly to it’s bad reputation.  However, it is possible that the SVT-38 was not sufficiently strengthened to handle the 7.62mm Nagant cartridge.

     The SVT-38 was replaced by the SVT-40, which was a more robust version of the SVT-38.  There were a number of improvements, such as a one-piece stock, replacement of smaller pieces with large continuous ones where possible, a simplification of the operation, a two or three-baffle muzzle brake, and a number of other improvements.  Tokarev retained as much of the basic SVT-38 pattern as possible, but worked on all levels to correct the SVT-38’s shortcomings.  This included strengthening of the receiver, firing pin, and barrel extension. Unfortunately, the SVT-40 was still rifle that was expensive and slow to build.  Tokarev also addressed criticism that the SVT-38 was too long, shortening the barrel to 24 inches. They were primarily issued to noncommissioned officers and to certain snipers, though to an extent the SVT-40 also became sort of a “showpiece rifle” and used by special units.  Some snipers also made use of them, using a variant of the 3.5x PU scope used on the Mosin-Nagant sniper versions.  Though 2 million SVT-38s and SVT-40s were produced, they came nowhere near to replacing the Mosin-Nagant.

     The AVT-40 was basically an SVT-40 with a sear and selector lever modified for automatic fire. Few such modifications were made, since the resulting weapon was too light for practical automatic use.

     A few thousand carbine versions of the SVT-40 were built with an 18.5” barrel , called the SKT-40.  They were designed for urban warfare, but the muzzle blast proved formidable.  The standard sights were also retained, leading to aiming errors and a lot of “Kentucky windage.”  The standard knife bayonet was retained.  After World War 2, prototypes of the SVT-40 and AVT-40 were chambered for the then-new 7.62mm Kalashnikov round, but these were not proceeded with, and are presented here merely for interest.

Weapon

Ammunition

Weight

Magazines

Price

SVT-38

7.62mm Nagant

3.91 kg

10, 20

$1162

SVT-40/AVT-40

7.62mm Nagant

3.83 kg

10, 20

$1155

SVT-40/AVT-40

7.62mm Kalashnikov

3.5 kg

10, 20

$926

SKT-40

7.62mm Nagant

3.58 kg

10, 20

$1099

 

Weapon

ROF

Damage

Pen

Bulk

SS

Burst

Range

SVT-38

SA

4

2-3-Nil

8

3

Nil

85

SVT-40 (7.62mm Nagant)

SA

4

2-3-Nil

8

3

Nil

81

SVT-40 (7.62mm Kalashnikov)

SA

4

2-3-Nil

7

4

Nil

73

AVT-40 (7.62mm Nagant)

5

4

2-3-Nil

8

3

9

81

AVT-40 (7.62mm Kalashnikov)

5

4

2-3-Nil

7

4

9

73

SKT-40

SA

4

2-3-Nil

7

4

Nil

55