Weapons of War - The History of the Mosin Nagant

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Above: Red Army soldier armed with a Mosin-Nagant.

The History of the Mosin-Nagant

The Russian army, although numerous, consisted of improvised soldiers completely unprepared from a technical point of view. The Russian army's preparation was short on supplies and equipped with old weaponry. This backwardness had been proven in the war of Finland, where the Russian army was crushed and strongly impressed by the small Finnish contingent despite being a larger force.

The somewhat ancient rifle Mosin-Nagant was put on board to make room for new rifles designed by geniuses like Tokarev and Shpagin. These rifles had the disadvantage of not being able to be deployed easily in the USSR products because of the technology which was required, with the Tokarev in particular. The Mosin-Nagant's origins date all the way back to the second half of the 1800s. During the war between the Russians and the Ottomans (1877-1878), it was noted that the new semi-automatic rifles of the tsarist imperial troops were absolutely obsolete. The new revolution, so called by the Tsar, was a race to decide the future of the Imperial Army rifle. In fact, the Nagant was liked in every way, but the production was too expensive and required special maintenance care, as well as having an overly complicated dismantling methodology that made its care difficult. Eventually a compromise was settled on to build on the basis of a Mosin rifle and improving it with the parts (such as the charger) and mechanisms taken from the Nagant. Thus the Trehlinejnaja Vintovka Obrasca M1891 Goda rifle was born, in reference to the new used gauge, 7.62mm. The rifle's name would eventually be changed to Mosin-Nagant in honor of those who planned it, only much later during the First World War.


The Designers

imageSergei Ivanovich Mosin, the designer of the Mosin rifle (pictured right), was born in Voronezh, Oblast in 1849. Already at the very young age of 12 he entered the military academy "tsarist", where he stood out as an excellent soldier. In 1867, he obtained admission to the higher military school Alexandrovskoye in Moscow. After completing his studies in 1870. he decided to continue his studies in the artillery branch and the production of weapons. He died the eighth day of February in 1822.

The lives of Émile and Leon Nagant are not particularly open, in fact they seem almost anonymous. The only thing marking their existence to the world is the design of their eponymous rifle. The two brothers were born in Liege, Belgium in 1830. Founded in 1859 by Émile, the Leon Nagant weapons factory was opened, which remains famous for creating the Nagant rifle and the eponymous revolver design. The two brothers died in 1902 (Émile) and in 1900 (Leon). The company, passed into the hands of the sons of Émile, sold its industrial plants to FN Herstal, specializing in the production of cars. The factory would eventually be entirely taken over in 1931 by the Belgian automaker Imperial.

Technical Features

The technical features of the first model included a platelet five-shot Mauser type, but there was a mechanical system that held the cartridges in the tank that were already in the barrel, in order to reduce the mechanical friction caused from the power spring and to prevent jams. The caliber used was 7.62 × 54mm R (R stands for Russian), the typical cartridge for the use of smokeless powder from Russian primer. This gave a good technical performance from the point of view of power, range, and precision - even in the cold Russian climate. The shutter presented an adjusting mechanism for the head that allowed the weapon to adapt to different climatic conditions, while the handle was straight for the infantry versions and curved for snipers.

The gun barrel had four right-handed grooves on the inside and was 760mm (30 inches) long. The sights for the infantry version were constituted by metallic notches adjustable in Arshin (the previous Russian units before the adoption of the metric system). The rifle was also supplied with a bayonet and a cleaning rod screwed into the castle, located under the barrel. The overall weight of the rifle was 4 kg (8.8 pounds). Its rate of fire was only 10 strokes per minute because of the manual load, with a shot profit of 500 meters and 1000 meters (547 yards and 1094 yards) with optics.


It had been decided that, after the demoralizing Finnish campaign, the rifle would be temporarily shelved only to be recovered later on. The rifle underwent some minor changes aimed at trying to modernize and improve a rifle so decrepit, but easy to produce for the USSR industries. The technical and mechanical characteristics did not change much remaining almost identical to those of the first model. The only substantive differences are constituted by the adoption of a system graduated in meters and by the shortening of the rod. One great feature of the Mosin-Nagant was its extreme precision and versatility, qualities that made it perfect for sniping operations when equipped with discrete optical scopes.

The Russians should have known the rifle's quality better as approximately five hundred Red Army units were eliminated by an armed Finnish sniper equipped with a Mosin-Nagant rifle produced in Finland. The legend speaks of Simo Häyhä, the sniper who holds the record for most kills with a sniper rifle during a war. The Finn was feared by the Russians to the point of nicknaming him "White Death" due of his habit of camouflaging in the snow. To make his record even more impressive is the fact that Simo Häyhä did not use a scope attached to his rifle. At the end of the Second World War, large quantities of Mosin-Nagants were donated to all USSR allies. It should be noted then that, despite its age, the gun often appears today in various parts of the world. In particular, it notes its presence in the Middle East, where it appears to be the favored weapon of the snipers of the rebel forces in Afghanistan.

Written by Pvt. Valitutto.
Edited by WO1 Brewer & T/5 Vonk.
Formatted by PFC Laird.


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