i had a M44 Mosin Nagant; i took the bayonet off as soon as I got home. I think I could compare it to the M38. I thought it handled really well for a 60 year old military-issue rifle.
I say keep the original on this. MN prices won't go down if they're scuffed--it adds to the historical value...
I'm right about the metric system 3/4 of the time.