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Old April 20, 2017, 07:13 PM   #1
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Is the Mosin (91/30) a good survival rifle???

Just wondering cause I picked up a mosin 91/30 (with hex reciever!! ) and I am wondering if it would make a good rifle for a SHTF (realistic situations, NOTHING like a "zombie apocalypse) situation because we are getting there. I DON'T USE SURPLUS AMMO as it is corrosive, I only use good stuff (Winchester 7.62x54R) so it's not corrosive. I've heard they are very reliable and strong, but just wondering overall. Thanks!

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Old April 20, 2017, 07:39 PM   #2
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I guess it depends what you're surviving. Probably not very good for surviving car crashes or heart attacks.

Facetiousness aside, it is what it is. A basic, fairly reliable bolt action firing a full powered round which was mass produced that is capable of decent accuracy with the right shooter.

Many of them shoot ridiculously high over point of aim at 100 yards which is a problem unless you see taking all of your shots past that.

The round will do anything a .308 or .30-06 will do if you put it there. Plenty of big game killed with one.

I own a Mosin but haven't shot it in a long time. It's heavy and unwieldy, the bolt is sticky, the trigger sucks, the sights suck (aftermarket sights help), ammo isn't as cheap as it used to be.

It wouldn't be my first pick for somebody seriously looking for a rifle to depend on, but at the price point, it will do its job reasonably well and dependably.
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Old April 20, 2017, 07:49 PM   #3
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Any gun will do if you can do the job with that gun.

Better and nicer guns are better and nicer. This presupposes that the lesser gun can do the job with more difficulty but can do it none the less. What makes a gun "better or nicer" is having something to compare it to after all.

A desperate situation is usually going to be overcome by a cool head, not better tools. If you have the training, and the correct mindset the day is won by the man, not the gun.

I would feel very well armed with a Mosin Nagant.

It would not be my 1st choice, but don't believe for a second it's not worthy of your time or effort to carry. It's a solid rifle and can be made to work well enough to fight 2 world wars with.

If your "survival situation" is more difficult or longer lasting then WW1 or WW2 you may have a reason to believe the M/N is "no good".

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Old April 20, 2017, 08:22 PM   #4
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I'd be looking at something in 308 or 30/06 since good ammo is much more available.
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Old April 20, 2017, 10:41 PM   #5
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Aside from what Mobuck just said, (which I agree with), the Mosin is a good candidate for a rifle that is stashed at a remote cabin or camp, reasonably secured, but no huge loss if it gets found and stolen.
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Old April 20, 2017, 11:35 PM   #6
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The world is full of rifles that would fill that role. I have an older Remington model 700 30-06 that I paid $200 for because the bluing was thin and that shiny finish was about half flaked off.

So I refinished the stock and sanded out most of the dings. I bedded the action and floated the barrel. It will shoot into an inch and a half with about any ammo. I haven't spent any time working up loads. Just full length resize and powder and bullet. It does all I want a rifle to do. And it was cheap. And it is not the exception. You used to able to find guns like this in pawn shops and mom & pop gunstores all the time. Its getting harder to do that.

I have looked at MN rifles but just never wanted one. I would much prefer one of the Mauser variants in 8mm Mauser. But if you like it and it gives decent groups and you have a stock of hunting ammo (soft points) and can keep in a 3" group at 100 yards it should work. But if that is your reason for buying it be sure and back it up with a shotgun and 22 rifle.
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Old April 21, 2017, 04:12 AM   #7
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BTW, there is a cure for sticky bolt with surplus ammo. The lacquer on the steel cases will melt and stick to the left over cosmoline in pits in the chamber. Take a cordless drill to the range. Fire five rounds to warm it up, the pull the bolt and drill out the chamber with a cleaning rod chucked in the drill with a 20 ga bronze brush on it, using some good solvent. Carb cleaner has been known to help, but I never used it. Fire five rounds, and repeat. Then clean normally. This should help the sticky bolt phenomena.
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Old April 21, 2017, 04:40 AM   #8
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Well you're limited to the ammo you have on hand but besides that I guess it works as good as any other gun.

Milsurp is cool to a point but I don't think I would ever buy a MN because a Ruger American or Savage axis aren't that far off the price point.
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Old April 21, 2017, 08:55 AM   #9
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As a Company Commander of an Alaska Native NG Company on the Bering Sea of Western Alaska I would order extra ammo for qualification and training and unofficially let the Natives take what we didn't use. This practice wasn't officially sanctioned but a blind eye was the normal.

The reasoning is most of these people lived and fed their families by hunting marine and other animals. There were few money jobs in these villages so firearms and ammo was hard for these folks to come up with.

That was a while back and the Alaska National Guard changed a lot. With those changes came a tightening up of the government firearms/ammo policies.

This occurred around the end of the cold war, and as we know, with the cold war over this country was flooded with surplus arms and ammo, and the Mosin appeared to be the cheapest of the lot.

These Mosin's started showing up in the villages as a replacement for the Guard guns and ammo.

What's more, THEY WORK. I don't know where you could realistically find a better example of the need of a survival rifle then the Eskimo life style.

Are there better choices, of course, if you don't have a Mosin or had to buy one at todays prices. But when they were in the Sub $100 range, I'm not sure.

The problem with the Mosin, is most people don't put in the time and effort to learn to shoot them. If you end up with a good barrel and like the OP by passes the cheap surplus ammo, then you have a rugged, low cost rugged rifle.

I was in the position to go through a huge pile of Mosin's with a bore light when I got mine. Never used the surplus ammo. I bought a couple hundred rounds of factory Winchester stuff and have been reloading every since.

Going one step further, the Mosin is a good candidate for cast bullets. Properly loaded they can be quite accurate and really cut down on the cost of shooting. Plus still capable of taking any game in North America.

I use 5744 powder and a 200 gr. cast bullet in mine, pushing it to about 2100 fps.

For example prior to the '06 showing up, the 30-40 Krag was quite popular for large game and as a back up when hunting dangerous game such as our large bears. It was a 2000 FPS, 200 gr. bullet.

You could also use lighter cast bullets for small game.

So to answer the OPs primary question, would the Mosin make a good survival rifle?, I think the answer is quite clear, not only could but is being used as a survival rifle, not only by Alaskan Natives but those who live in Siberia as it is popular, common, and legal to own by Russians Citizens. Many Russians live off the land just like our Native Alaskans.

Now days the Mosins aren't as cheap as they were. If I didn't have one, and needed a rifle to feed my family, I would probably go to something like the Ruger American family of rifles which aren't that much more expensive then the current Mosin prices, yet you have a better selection of calibers to chose from.

But if one is of low means, and has a Mosin, it will suit your needs quite will.
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Old April 21, 2017, 09:06 AM   #10
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With an ammunition supply, why not.
The mosin I had looked like a brand new rifle, wrapped in some kind of paper and cosmoline.
It was pretty fun, but when the cheap ammunition ran out, I reverted back to my No4.
Yes it will work, has a pretty potent cartridge and cheap. I don't know current prices, but mine was $80 with all the accessories.
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Old April 21, 2017, 10:14 AM   #11
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Excellent, well thought out post Kraig. It almost makes me want a MN.
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Old April 21, 2017, 10:25 AM   #12
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More on the Mosin:

Many of them shoot ridiculously high over point of aim at 100 yards which is a problem unless you see taking all of your shots past that.
Simple Fix. Measure the Sight Radius. Divide that by 3600 (number of inches in 100 yards).

I'm picking these numbers from memory but I think they are correct.

So If I remember right, I came up with (sight radius / 3600 = .0061). That is the amount of sight movement you need to move the impact 1 inch at 100 yards. So for every inch high you are you need to lower the rear sight .0061 or raise the front sight .0061.

My Mosin shot 8 inches high at 100 yards. I didn't want to modify the rifle which would make it illegal per the CMP Rules for the Vintage Military Rifle matches.

So I had to lower the rear sight .0488 inches. (.0061 X 8) I took the sight out of the rifle. (one pin) I turned it upside down in the milling machine vice. I then shaved .0488 off the bottom of the sliding part of the sight.

You can use a file, but be careful to stay level.

I put the sight back on the rifle and when set on the 100 yards mark (or what ever the Russians used, yards, meters, I dont know). it was right on at 100 yards. I set the sights at 200, again, it was on at 200, again at 300 and 400. 400 yards is as far as my back yard range would let me go, but I see no reason why it would work on any yard setting.

Simple no cost fix. Just be careful to keep the sight level while filling it down. Trail and error eliminates mistakes.

Another Fun Option, again without modifying the rifle is a scout set up.

This mount is attached by the same pin used to hold the sights on the Mosin. Meaning no modifications and the rear sight can be put back on the rilfe. It has set screws in the base that need to be lock tited to keep the base rigid but it works.

I put this set up on my Mosin, adding a scope it makes if a fun, easier to shoot rifle. Then just pop out the sight pin, re-install the rear sight and your back to CMP legal

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Old April 21, 2017, 10:37 AM   #13
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My Mosin shot 8 inches high at 100 yards.
If your rifle was shooting high at 100 yards wouldn't you need a taller front sight instead of a shorter front sight?
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Old April 21, 2017, 10:47 AM   #14
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Good catch, I change it to reflect "lowering the rear sight"
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Old April 21, 2017, 11:01 AM   #15
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It sounds like he meant to say he removed material from the rear sight.
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Old April 21, 2017, 11:38 AM   #16
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7.62x54R ammo isn't going to be found in small places. The rifle is decidedly long too. No parts in small places either. So it's ok for now, but not if things get any worse. Mind you, you won't be finding any kind of ammo, anywhere, if that happens.
Brand name factory ammo is far too expensive to be shooting regularly. And not all less expensive ammo is corrosively primed. Usually is Berdan primed though. And that alone is reason enough to not use it. Not that you'll find Boxer primers(or powder) if bad things happen anyway.
"...ridiculously high over point of aim at 100 yards..." The rifles we had in the shop long ago were dead on at 200 yards.
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Old April 21, 2017, 12:06 PM   #17
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OK Kraig. I sorta thought that might be what you meant.

T O'Heir You make good points but I have always felt that if you waited till things get dicey you dropped the ball. If you are going to have an emergency rifle you better stock up way before hand on ammo, reloading stuff and some food stocks. Opening cans of food you have on hand is much easier than hunting any kind of game or fishing for lunch. Fish don't always bite. At least the fish around here don't.

And just about all factory ammo is too expensive to pop away anymore. It amazes me when I read of guys going out and shooting a thousand rounds of 22 in a days time. A couple hundred rounds a day usually does it for me and I only do that a couple of times a year. I do practice with an air rifle here in my yard. But if you have shooting down it doesn't take a lot to get any kinks worked out. But I do understand shooting just for the sake of shooting. Shooting is fun.

The last shortage had no effect on me at all. I have brass, powder, bullets, bullet molds and over a thousand pounds of lead. A large stash of 22 (and no, I wasn't one of those hoarders at WM every morning buying up all the 22s. I already had it.) So being forewarned is to be forearmed.
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Old April 21, 2017, 12:07 PM   #18
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I am wondering if it would make a good rifle for a SHTF situation because we are getting there.
As a general rule, we don't discuss TEOTWAWKI /SHTF scenarios here on TFL. If you want to talk about what to use for the zombie apockyclips or a Mad Max situation, there are other places on the web to do that.

We do discuss survival situations, and those situations where civil law & order breaks down (FOR A LIMITED TIME) due to something like a hurricane, flood, earthquake (volcano??) or something similar.

A Russian infantry rifle, designed before 1900, will work as well as any other centerfire rifle will, though the specifics of the MN design make it less convenient, and more awkward than other designs.

IF, by "survival rifle" you mean living off the land, there are better choices than a full power .30 caliber military arm, but it will serve, and if you are a handloader, you can create suitable "small game" ammo. OF course, to be useful, you'd have to have that ammo with you....

All of the European military rifles of that era shoot high at 100yds. It's intentional. Many of them were built to be zeroed at 300 meters, and doctrine of the day was that soldiers were taught to aim for the enemy's belt buckle.

A long range zero, and aiming for the middle of the enemy meant that a mis-estimation of the range (which soldiers do, a LOT) still usually resulted in a torso hit (somewhere).

The 91/30 was intended to survive use by peasant conscripts in combat, and the fact that they are still around today proves they did. Odds are you'll have to work at it to seriously damage the gun. SO, as a survival tool that will take a beating and still keep going, something that will stop deer for food and stop predators (2 or 4 legs) it will work.

There are lots of other rifles that will do those jobs as well, or better, both milsurp and civilian design, but if you are adequate to the task, the 91/30 will serve respectably.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old April 21, 2017, 01:02 PM   #19
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I'm of the opinion that the time for the Mosin has passed.

I bought my Finnish Mosin for $75, and it's very well made and in near perfect shape. It will shoot 2 MOA with its favorite surplus ammo (have never tried good ammo yet), and I got stocked up when that ammo still cost 20 cents per shot. I don't think a better rifle could be readily had for $75. For someone truly on a limited budget, they could walk out the door with a 440 round spam can of ammo, and a rifle capable of taking down a deer at 200 yards, for $150.

As others have pointed out, getting to know your rifle and learning to shoot to its full potential matters a lot. I submit it's much easier to accomplish that when you can practice 3 times more often, within the same budget. If it was your first rifle, you could really learn to shoot, and then after you'd burned through a couple spam cans, you could sell the gun again for what you paid (or even make a profit now). Then roll that cash into an upgrade.

But now that the prices of those guns & their ammo have gone up so much, that advantage is gone. Several manufacturers now offer entry level newly made bolt actions in about the same price range. They come in common American calibers, have a much better trigger, are made for easy scope mounting (and some even come with one), are usually lighter, almost certainly more accurate, have a real & practical safety, etc.

So, I'm glad I bought mine. But at today's prices, I'd look for something else. The poor soul who has no gun, and truly can't afford more than $100, is pretty much left out in the cold now.
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Old April 21, 2017, 05:48 PM   #20
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The rifle is primitive and clumsy. The safety is tremendously difficult to operate, the rifle is too long and heavy, the trigger is somewhere between funky and terrible, bolts stick, and the sights are crude.

Just getting the rifle degreased and running properly is a minor gunsmithing project.

Scope mounting is an ordeal unless you settle for a scout mount.

7.62x54r has dried up. It's now more expensive than .308, except harder to find and reload.

Mosins are also climbing in price, and aren't far off from a new or used modern hunting rifle.

I too think the Day of the Mosin has passed. If the rifles were still $65 and spam cans not much more, that would do a lot to mitigate the above.

But now, Mosins and their ammo are just about too expensive to compete.
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Old April 22, 2017, 04:29 AM   #21
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if survival against nature is your main concern and you could only have one rifle

than surely a combination rifle like a baikal o/u 12/308 is the best bet
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Old April 22, 2017, 07:41 AM   #22
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Excellent, well thought out post Kraig.
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Old April 22, 2017, 11:31 AM   #23
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Anything that shoots can work.

I have a PU sniper, which actually is the longest gun in my safe. That is the biggest thing. Storage, use, maneuverability... all going to suck.

I also have a M38 carbine. If I was going to use a Mosin in that role, I'd probably choose that. More manageable rifle.

But 7.62x54mm is a very obsolete round... being rimmed. Rim lock is a pain. Going with something like .308 or .30-06 would be a little easier, even out to 8mm. Bolt action is usually rough... and that is being kind. I cleaned mine up, but still not Remington 700 or Mauser 98 smooth. Safety is a very big pain to use, so you are going to likely carry it with an empty chamber.

Just have to weigh out the negatives and positives. Personally, I'd pick a different rifle... but I also have a few different ones to choose from.
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Old April 22, 2017, 02:18 PM   #24
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The Mosin may have been good enough to fight two world wars but that was not at a time when all your enemies likely have AR platform or similar type rifles that would eat your lunch in terms of rate of fire and accuracy/effectiveness. At 300 yards an AR platform could easily dump 30 rounds into a man sized target in the same number of seconds. I don't know of anyone who could do that with a Mosin, even with the last name Miculek.

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Old April 22, 2017, 03:47 PM   #25
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It depends on what you plan to survive.

Sustained engagement against a platoon with automatic weapons, bad choice.

Hunting for survival in extreme conditions, a very workable rifle for everything from rabbits on up to moose.

With the right ammo, very do-able in conditions that would completely eliminate the plastic-stocked $300 Rugers & Savages that people like to recommend instead.

Very easy to break down its large & rugged parts for cleaning & maintenance.
Try taking the Ruger American's bolt apart in the field without tools.

Built for environments that would send many inexpensive commercial bolt-guns screaming back to the campfire.

In a good one, accuracy more than adequate for deer.

Downsides are the sights will probably shoot high (easy to correct), the trigger will be long & distinctly un-crisp (can be improved), the bolt may be sticky (can be addressed), and optics are tricky to mount (so don't use optics).

Commercial ammo will be expensive.
You can learn to reload.

In a militaristic survival role, obviously not up to the job today.
In a hunting & critter-shield role, can do the job.
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