I have two Mosins, an M94 made in Poland in '53, and a 91/30 made in Russia in '43. Both actions slide like silk, so I'm not sure what the stiff action reputation is about. Maybe some people don't clean their guns as often as they should.. The bolt handles don't need more leverage, a longer one would only create torsional forces on the action, so I don't get that story either. The '43 was probably machined by children, while their other factory in Tula was taken over by the Nazis, so I look at the rough machining (where it doesn't matter) on that one fondly. Both bores shine like mirrors. The workmanship on the M44 is flawless. Ugly rifles? I think they're quite beautiful. Simple, clean lines, functional. You might say the wooden barrel covering is luxurious..
As for the surplus ammo, I've heard five people say it's excellent, for every one that calls it inaccurate (or inconsistent..). At eighteen cents a round delivered, I think it might be making some peoples grapes go sour.
That's my take on it. I don't have the experience with other rifles that many on here do, but when I go to the range my Mosins make me happy.