Thinking idly about guns, as I occasionally do [eyecross], I was pondering the current issue of gun / ammo shortages, and while everyone has ideas about handguns, there is always the thought that at some point, one may be asked to shoot something (animal, anarchist, zombie, take your pick) at a distance exceeding comfortable pistol range — say, more than 25 yards. (Your standard pistol choice of a 1911 .45 ACP or plastic-fantastic Europellet delivery vehicle should be quite adequate at less than 25 yards distance to target, but further out from that, you’re not going to have, shall we say, consistent accuracy grouping to make you confident of taking such a shot.)
And I know: everyone has their Mattel ARs and what have you, but if you don’t already have one and a sufficient supply of ammo, you’re going to be SOL at your local Merchant Of Death establishment. And that goes for a lot of guns, yea even unto unfashionable choices like the AK-47.
What I’m saying is that you need a cheap long gun — any gun, really — that can live in your car’s trunk that can be relied upon to work satisfactorily, and for which there is currently ammo available. And that, for anyone who’s looked at the issue recently, is no longer a given.
Unless, of course, one considers the venerable Russian Mosin-Nagant family of bolt-action rifles, all chambered for the very unfashionable 7.62x54mmR. Mosins are the Rolls-Royce of bolt-action rifles, in that everything you’ve ever heard about them is true: you need a hammer to work the bolt, their accuracy is not universally admired, for instance; but they also work regardless of condition or ill-treatment, and if you do eventually run out of ammo, they make an excellent club or, if you have a bayonet, a wonderful spear, as seen in this old pic of Your Humble Narrator:
As for the Mosin’s boolet, the 7.62x54mmR (rimmed):
…there are millions of German Wehrmacht- and SS soldiers who might attest to its efficacy, but sadly they didn’t survive the Ostfront, so ’nuff said on that score.
Now I see that Century Arms are selling 91/30 rifles for under $400 at the moment — Century Arms guns are very often assembled from surplus parts bins, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to Mosins because there’s almost no such thing as a “collector grade” 91/30 (although the one I’m holding in the picture actually was), so not having matching serial numbers is no big deal.
The one knock on the 91/30 is its length, which can make it quite unwieldy. Here’s a pic of the so-called “ex-Dragoon” (carbine-length) compared to a “standard” 91/30 (more on that topic here):
But what makes the Mosins so versatile is that because they were Commie rifles, all the Eastern Bloc countries made variants thereof behind the Iron Curtain, most were carbine-length, and many cannot hold a bayonet, if that’s of interest to you. The M44 carbine does, an integral side-folder (which I also once owned, prior to the Brazos River Canoeing Tragedy):
…and those of Hungarian, Polish and Romanian origin, to name but the more popular ones, are freely available.
Now, as for the ammo: the 7.62 Russki ammo is not as cheap as it once was, running between 50 cents and a dollar a pop (I know, pick up your jaws), but from what I was able to gather from just a cursory glance, almost all the ammo suppliers have some of the stuff in stock (e.g. here), which is not the case for most of the popular cartridges like 7.62 NATO, 7.62×39 Soviet and 5.56 NATO. Just remember that the mil-surp Russki ammo is highly corrosive, and you need to clean your guns assiduously very soon after firing — before leaving the range, even. The modern commercial ammo is much better in that regard, albeit more expensive. Me, I hate the old corrosive shit like poison and pay the “premium” on non-corrosive ammo cheerfully; but that’s all a matter of choice. Note too that many ranges do not allow steel-cased (as opposed to brass) ammo, so make your choices carefully. From a personal perspective, I’ve always had great results from Wolf, Tula, Prvi Partizan and Brown Bear brands, so be my guest.
As I’ve said many times before in my writings on the topic, I think the M44 is the ultimate “trunk / truck gun”, as it can lie neglected in the back for years, and still be guaranteed to work as promised if needed. Mine certainly did, whether bouncing around in my F-150 or the Suburban. In that role, if it’s stolen or (ahem) confiscated, it’s no great loss — and as an added bonus, the Gestapo in places like New York or California will not treat it the same as they would for example, an AK or AR-15.
So there you have it: relatively cheap, reliable guns which can do the necessary at non-pistol distances, shooting inexpensive, effective (and available!) ammunition.
Every home should have one.