Gratuitous Gun Pic: Mosin-Nagant M44

From Reader Brad_in_IL comes this love letter:

[I have a] Mosin-Nagant Model 44 carbine, built in 1945. Rifle probably never saw combat as the bore is bright and shiny [I’ll say — K.]. Was probably Ivan’s gun when he stood a guard post.
I call it my Russian Blunderbuss. Damn thing BELCHES fire when touched off… and makes a roaring concussion. I once had an “AR” guy at the next station ask, “What the CHRIST was that?”

I myself have always had a soft spot for the Mosin-Nagant rifle, most especially the M44. Here’s one (not Brad’s):

Like Rolls-Royce cars and Chicago politics, everything you ever heard about the Mosin rifle is true. It kicks the crap out of you — true. It sometimes requires a mallet or a piece of two-by-four to work the bolt — true. When you shoot it, the jet of flame from the M44’s muzzle is almost as long as the gun itself — true. It will carry on working almost regardless of ill-treatment or neglect — true. And so on, and so on.

I think the reason I like the Mosin is that at the end of it all, it is a man’s gun. This is not something that any G.I. Jane (of almost any nationality except maybe a Russian dyevochka circa 1943) would be able to handle — whether operating the bolt after the fifth round, being able to shoot ten rounds in a row of the manly 7.62x54mmR without developing a massive flinch and/or dislocating a shoulder, or loading the mag through the open bolt action  without coming away with pinch-blisters. Hell, most men can’t do all the above, so it’s not anything to be ashamed of, ladies.

In days gone by, the M44 made for an excellent trunk gun, in that it could be banged around ceaselessly and still function, was small enough to fit in just about any size trunk, was cheap enough to be easily replaced if stolen, and would be capable of handling just about any circumstance of mayhem, especially if equipped with the issue cruciform bayonet, thus:

If the expression “pig-sticker” comes to mind when you see that picture, it should.

But we live in a different world nowadays [deep sigh], where the rising tide of Obama-era inflated gun prices has affected even the lowly M44. Case in point:  the rifle pictured above which, even though it is of Russian make in mint condition (!) with matching serial numbers (!!), still has an asking price of $600 (!!!) — which makes it roughly ten times the cost of the same rifle a decade or so ago. (My old Hungarian M44 cost me, if I recall correctly, about $90 and I was teased mercilessly by some old Mosin cognoscenti for having spent so much.)

Which kinda takes away the fun part of the Mosin for me. It was always a rough-and-ready, go-anywhere and handle-anything gun precisely because of that sub-$100 price point — the perfect weapon for peasants, as it were. Now… not so much, because $600 is a serious investment for us pore working-class types, and the perverse joy of owning a piece of stubbornly-utilitarian junk like the Mosin has been sadly diminished.

I hate the modern day. Here’s me with my old 91/30, in happier times (note the length of the bayonet):

The smile says it all.


  1. I think I was first I introduced to the Mosin by one of your NOR articles.. I can’t remember when. In any case I got mine for around $150, selected from a stack of them at a local gun show. Cleaned up it remains a lovely gun with all that old school wood and heft typical of Soviet guns of that era. You are right on about the flame and noise pleasure of firing this thing. It never fails to turn heads at the range. One thing you didn’t mention is it’s astounding accuracy. I can land in the black every single time at 100 yards and iron sights. Not bad for an old geezer of our vintage, and it’ll go much farther than accurately. I’m sure if I wanted to spring for a ‘bent bolt and expensive scope, it would be even more amazing, but that’s not what I bought it for. Oh, and it’s cheap to shoot too – ammo cost are low enough that I don’t wince every time I send one down range.. twitch maybe after getting pounded.. but that’s the joy of shooting it.

  2. I have a 91/30 which, when I posted a picture of it on your old blog, you pronounced “a purty one”.

    I remember one time I brought her to the range and she was producing patterns instead of groups (not that she was a tack driver, but she wouldn’t even manage minute-of-Nazi this time, she barely made minute-of-backstop). Inspection showed that the action screws had worked loose, tightening them obviously tightened the groups.

    One point though, the 91/30 didn’t have an integral folding bayonet, it has a socket spike bayonet. If memory serves the M44 has the folding bayonet, the other carbine (M38?) doesn’t but uses the socket bayonet.

    I miss the days of cheap Mosins, SKS’ and Yugo Mausers.

  3. Somewhat amusingly, the M44 is one of my female friends’ favorite rifles.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of it for a litany of reasons, but, respect the “club that goes bang” aspect of it.

  4. Kim,

    Thanks for telling my tale. For full disclosure, at one time I also owned a 91/30 but sold it. As I am somewhat “vertically challenged”, the overall length of the 91/30 made it cumbersome for me. The carbine size is a better fit for my frame.

    And as Mark D said, the M44 has the integrated pig-sticker, not the 91/30. One note about the M44 — they were intended to be shot with the bayonet extended. Due to barrel harmonics or some such techno-babble, the point of impact (relative to aim point) changes when the bayonet is out vs. folded in.

    @MarkD – yes, the much rarer M38 did not have a bayonet. When I bought the M44, I was really wanting the M38 but none were available. Also, the M38’s center of gravity is better than the M44 as it is less “nose heavy”, but I digress. Ah, the concessions we must make.
    And speaking of cheap stuff, I still have two spam-cans of surplus 1970’s vintage Bulgarian ammo. The stuff is great. It goes ka-BOOOOOM every time I pull the trigger. EVERY TIME.

    – Brad

  5. I have a real nice, for Russian made long ago 1939, Mosin 91/30 hand picked off the rack of lots of them at Cabelas over ten years when they were on sale for $129 or something like that. They went in the back and found the bayonet with matching serial number and a packet of the accessories, sling, oiler and a gauge to reset headspace. The barrel is dingy but not too worn, the rifle looks as if it set in a rack in an armory packed full of cosmoline most of its life. I spent an entire afternoon sitting in the backyard taking the gun apart, using a small pan of gasoline to clean that ancient hardened crap out. The Mosin is such and easy gun to tear down, and reassemble, made by peasants to be used by peasants.

    My son and I shared the price of buying one of those sealed cans of ammo, I think it was 440 rounds with nasty primers packed in paper packs of ten. I saw some info somewhere about how I could polish the bore a bit to make working the bolt easier but since it takes a long time to clean each time I shoot it my Mosin is one gun that sits in the safe and does not get much time at the range. I was also smart enough, and that does not happen too often, to read about the nice long bayonet and the fact that once they are put in place they were not designed to be removed by the common soldier without a mallet and a lot of whacking so I never seated it completely in place.

    There is a lot of history in the old battle rifles designed at the turn of the last century and used in WWI and WWII and of course they are a lot more powerful than some of the rifles in current usage. 7.62X54R-150 Grains-2,715 fps-2,454 ft.-lbs.

  6. Firing the M44 at the range will usually clear out the spaces on each side of me – that muzzle blast is pretty intense. I regard it as a triple-threat weapon – stab them, shoot them, and set them on fire all in one motion! I’ve also got a Mannlicher/Steyr M95/30 carbine with the same (maybe even a tad worse) muzzle blast. Just something about firing a full-power rifle cartridge from a short-barreled carbine…

  7. A few comments in no particular order:

    1. You are a bad, bad man, Kim. It’s one of your old articles’ fault that I have 9 Mosins.

    2. Girls – I had a Chinese Type 53 that I’d bought to fill out the set. Saw an ad on Armslist where someone was looking for one. He was buying it for his daughter because “that was grandpa’s gun” (a bringback from Viet Nam). I asked about her size – 5’8″, 150 lbs, and some sort of athlete. I felt better about selling it to him. Selling it is what brought me down to 9.

    3. The Polish M44 – I shot someone’s at the NOR shoot (2006?). Beautiful rifle. I was driving past a small pawn shop one day, and I thought, “I wonder if they have a Polish M44 in there for $100?” They did! I bought it.

    4. 91/59 – hard to find, murky backstory, but great to shoot. I think it’s my favorite.

    5. M39 – I got a 1970 at a gun show. Probably my 2nd favorite. History says it was built for officer matches in the Finnish Army.

    6. Swedish Mauser C96 – also your fault, but off topic. 😉

    7. I love the GGP’s.

  8. You lot are surely daft! Those things are built by peasants, for peasants, to kill other peasants! If one a you guys killed me with a POS like that, I would haunt you to the end of your days! For gawdsakes, take some pride in yourselves. A fashionable Smelly, or a reasonably priced K11, or any outhouse Mauser 98 will surely be a better choice… 😉

    1. “reasonably priced K11” he sez!

      But your proposition intrigues me. Whom do you choose, and which Mosin model to be killed with for the haunting?

        1. Does that slightly alleviate or exacerbate the level of haunting?

          I think we need a “scope of killing” and a “scope of haunting” drawn up with some options. For example, if he chooses an M44, and he catches fire, to what level may he elevate the haunting?

          1. LOL – Well I think the order of operations for those godless scum sucking commie bastids – is to run the victim through with the bayonet, and while he’s wriggling around and screaming on the blade, you blast him off it with one caress of the trigger!

            Boys have a point about milsurps though – I almost fell over when I saw the price on a Longbranch No.4 the other day. The K11’s are getting stupid too. I can’t even think about M1’s or Springfields at the prices they’re fetching.

            What kind of accuracy are you fellas getting out of those, typically?

    2. Well, the M39 is better than I am. I took some foreign college students who were new shooters to the range. One was Russian, so I brought an M38. After some coaching and practice with 22’s, they were ringing railroad tie plates at about 80 yards. Not every time, but often enough to grin really big. And they got some pictures of fire balls. It was a pretty good day.

  9. My dear, late wife LOVED her Mosin…..being of Finnish descent she wanted one that may have been in the Winter War….and I found her one, an M91/30 with a stained stock… perhaps blood?

    With the bayonet fixed, it was taller than she, and did all the great M-N things like setting the range on fire (more than once). She also managed to kill an elk with one. She was not an especially large woman (nor small), but had no trouble shooting it…but for more than two or three shots she would find a rest.

  10. I feel a little bad, I never bought one, shot one, or seriously considered one even when they were cheap at the local gun shops and stacks of ammo filled the halls. Sorry, too busy saving money to buy 1903 Springfields, M1 Garands, and cases of M2 ball, and dreaming about a Krag carbine or a Winchester Lee Navy.

    Because America, Fuck Yeah!

    (Nothing against Russki guns, the MNs just didn’t tickle the fancy enough to overcome the ‘yet another caliber’ obstacle)

  11. Yeah, way back when I drove ~150miles up to Gainesville to do a deal with a guy who had three short ’91’s; a Polish, a Russian, and a Hungarian. IIRC I paid him $210 and got one M-38 and 2 M-44s. Still have all of them in the safe. My M-91/31 got stolen when I had the house tented for termites, but I still have the Finnish M91/39 by Sako as well.
    Used one of the M-44’s a while back to do sound effects for a friend who does audio for video games. And yeah after about ten fast rounds we were having to use the handle of a hammer to open the bolt, heh, heh.

  12. Duodec said “I feel a little bad, I never bought one, shot one”

    @Duo – I seem to remember seeing that you’re in IL. I live in the Lake County burns almost due north of the city. I occasionally venture to an outdoor range in Southern Wisconsin to let my M44 stretch its legs. Kim has my email address (obviously). If you ever want to try your hand at the M44, “ping” me and we can setup a range trip.

    @0007 – I once setup a game to rip off 25 rounds as fast as I could cycle the bolt on the M44. That’s four reloads from stripper clips. I also setup an 18×12 target at 75 yards. When the smoke cleared less than 90 seconds, my shoulder was throbbing a bit, and 24 of the 25 rounds were on the paper. Not sure I could do that today as my eyesight isn’t quite what it used to be. Still, would be fun to try. And for the record, I had a nice vertical oval-shaped bruise for about ten days !!! Yeah, I’m a sucker for punishment.

    – Brad

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