View Full Version : Refinishing C&Rs

November 22, 2012, 05:33 PM
I know there are some purist collectors who advocate not altering a "collectible" firearm. I am more or less in the same camp except when it comes to repairing non-working examples. However, a few years ago, I picked up a Mosin M44 for around $90 out the door at the LGS. They had a 55 gallon drum full and I picked through them to find one with good metal. I found one with really good metal and all the S/Ns matched, and took it home.

Now, the problem was, the metal was about 95%, but the wood was horrible. There were dents and scratches and about half the varnish was gone. The wood was totally inconsistent with the metal on the gun, so I decided to refinish.

I steamed the dents and sanded the scratches. Then I refinished the wood, which was European birch with a stain and a tung finish which I concocted to make the stock look like the reddish varnish that was found on many of these carbines.

I think it turned out well. But, it is not original. I don't know that I would have done this on a rifle that was rarer than an M44, say like an M1895 Krag Jorgensen. With the Mosin, I felt at ease, and I do not think I affected its value negatively.

What other C&R guns do you think could benefit from refinishing?


November 22, 2012, 11:40 PM
I like your M44, it looks good. I have mixed feelings about refinishing C&Rs, if a C&R is not too beat up, I say leave it alone, but if a C&R is totally thrashed, why not improve it?

November 23, 2012, 08:46 AM
Considering the number of Mosin M44 on the market I do not see any reason not to refinish using the product of your choice.

If you had something that was not as common then I would recommend keeping the original finish.

I've cleaned up dozens of mil-surps with BLO.

I have a few K31's and I would like to refinish one in multi coats of Tung oil after stripping and bleaching the wood. This particular K had damage at the muzzle and the best recourse was the turn a new crown and then thread the barrel for a muzzle devise. Being no longer original it's a great candidate for a non military finish.


I think this one would look good with a higher gloss wood finish.

November 23, 2012, 03:49 PM
Right now, I'm working on a Springfield 87A. It was someone's beater .22. The stock has a crappy re finish and the barrel is pitted with surface rust spots.

There's no real collector's value outside the fact that I wanted one. With that being said, I want it to be nice and presentable.

Waiting on the stripper to finish working on the stock right now. I guess I'll go out and wave a few more dollar bills at it, then evaluate the progress.

November 23, 2012, 07:31 PM
On firearms built with numbers in the millions, Mosins...some Mauser models....I don't see any reason not to if needs it.
On less numerous models, I'd be reluctant.
I have a Swede M38 that I had to because the previous owner removed almost all of the finish. Thankfully they did an extremely good job of removing the finish so there was no damage to the wood and it looks great now. But I would have preferred the original...especially since were less than 70-80K of them made.

November 23, 2012, 07:41 PM
I think you did an excellent job.
And I think, like the others have said, this is not a rare historical artifact. So probably to have it in the condition you have is the best for it.

November 23, 2012, 08:12 PM
You did a good job, saved a nice rifle from the Bubba category as well.

November 23, 2012, 11:12 PM
Although I do love that a lot of C&R purists refer to a gloss finish on a C&R as "Pimp Snot".

November 24, 2012, 08:40 AM
Thanks for the complements, guys.

The combination of really good metal and refinished wood is like plastic surgery on an aging actress. It takes years off of her looks. I sometimes look at that carbine and it is hard to believe it is over 50 years old.

That was also my first tung oil project. I have become a big believer in tung for wooden stocks now. you can cut it with mineral spirits for a satin effect, and if you ding it in the field, it is extremely easy to repair.

November 24, 2012, 10:55 AM
"Considering the number of Mosin M44 on the market I do not see any reason not to refinish using the product of your choice."
How many rifles were as available at some point and now hard to find?

With that said, if you find one that is in bad shape and you sporterize it with quality work, not some half-butt bubba job, I'm not opposed. I LOVE heirloom quality sporters built off of military actions.

November 24, 2012, 02:24 PM
Good Job.

I am of the opinion that if someone is a milsurp purist, it is their responsibility to save their own piece of history, not force their views on others. Getting all bent out of shape because someone sporterized/refinished thier rifle, which is their own personal property, should be frowned upon.

November 24, 2012, 11:45 PM
I frowned when the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan. I'm not Muslim or Hindu and have never walked on Afghani soil, but I still frowned.

If you have an all numbers matching excellent condition Mosin, I frown upon sporterizing it. More so if a variant with lower production numbers. It isn't like trading it for one with a few blemishes poses and difficulty.

November 26, 2012, 09:22 AM
With respect to doing anything with the wood on a milsurp, I've had good luck with Tom's 1/3 mix after the wood has been cleaned.

November 26, 2012, 08:07 PM
I have refinished several milsurps only because the stocks were far over-saturated with cosmoline. I had a Lee enfield that was so saturated. I ended up replacing the wood.

November 27, 2012, 03:57 PM
I couldn't stand the ugly red shellac the Soviets used on my Mosins, so I finally did something about it.

I started by removing the shellac with Denatured Alcohol and 0000 steel wool, then cleaned and degreased the stock as much as I could. Next I applied an Oil Scrub with Boiled Linseed Oil (http://www.surplusrifleforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=137&t=51760), 4 coats with 0000 steel wool, followed by one hand rubbed. Finally I sealed it with 1/3 mix (equal parts Boiled Linseed oil, beeswax and turpentine)

I think they turned out pretty good. The wood underneath was pretty nice. Really interesting that both rifles came from the same factory, Izhevsk, in the same year, 1943 yet the wood is so different. I have read that the Soviets used Pine tar to treat some of their stocks, that it probably the case with the sniper.

The top photos are with the shellac, middle is after stripping and degreasing, and the bottom is the finished rifles.

Both are 1943 Izhevsk, the top is a Century Reproduction Sniper.



I am having no luck at all getting a photo of the blonde rifle that does it justice. Artificial light makes it look darker than it is, and sunlight, even diffused by the trees in the photo above makes it look shiny, which it really isn't.

In person, the finished product looks a lot like the photo of the stripped stock, which also looks brighter in the photo than it did in person.

It is also hard to tell from the photo, but the pistol grip area on the blonde is also considerably darker than the area around it. Almost as if some oily handed Russian conscript spent a long time holding it there defending the Motherland from the fascist invaders. Big part of why I love old rifles. I wish they could talk.

November 27, 2012, 04:17 PM
Where I do strongly oppose the "hackin' and wackin'" done by some in an attempt to make a sporting rifle out of a milsurp, I agree with your project. It is much more like a "restore' job than a Bubba sporter. Nice looking Mosin!:D