I love Mosins, but they got expensive. Here are some tips to get the most Mosin for your Money, and hopefully snag a deal.
Look up the Current Value
The Price of a Mosin is a highly volatile thing. After Obama banned their import, I’ve watched them go from valued at 80 dollars and being nicknamed “the garbage rod” to going for $550 and being called a collector’s item. Starting out in search of a deal, you need to establish a base price. Check Gun Broker’s website and call several gun stores to know the average price. Currently, $300 is a steal for a shootable Mosin Nagant.
Know the Expensive Models
A rare Mosin will sell at up to four times the base price. Most notably are the sniper and ex-sniper models. The sniper model, called PU, is pretty neat. They made better barrels for them. The bolt handle was changed, a scope added, and the reviewer stamped with the Russian letters CN, CH, and a C in a circle. Some were returned to non-sniper configuration.
Some were stamped but never made into sniper rifles. Remington and Westinghouse Mosins are both rare, as well as the Finnish Mosin. Don’t let someone sell you a base model Mosin at inflated prices. Avoid the expensive models, or perhaps you can uncover one at a great price from someone who doesn’t know what they have.
Wall Hanger or Shooter?
If you simply want a Mosin for the sake of having one to look at and show your friends, you don’t really need one in pristine or mint condition. For that use, a shot-out barrel with a bad crown and soft trigger spring is fine and cheap.
If you want a shooter for hunting or just for fun, pretty doesn’t come with a gain inaccuracy. One of my Mosins, known as Frenkenmosin, is ugly as a log, but shoots 1.5 moa groups and is a death ray on deer and hogs. I have a good original barrel and did some nice trigger work to it. Now, it shoots well!
Buy Non-Matching Numbers
These rifles have serial numbers, inspection marks, maker symbols, and proof marks stamped into every part of the gun. To have a rifle with all matching stamps (often over 20 marks) is desirable for collectors. Nice, but it’s not gonna shoot better or feel nicer in your hands.
You’ll often see Mosins advertised as “all matching”. Pass these up for now. Chances are, you will come across a non-matching Mosin with a cheaper price tag. Russian armories often took good parts from broken rifles and used them to refurbish worn older rifles. Accuracy will be on par with or without a matching set.
*Note some modern refurbishing companies have offered a force matching of serial numbers and other stamps. They literally ground off original marks and restamped them, or stamper over the previous symbols to create a non-original matching set. These are hard to distinguish and are a real pain for actual collectors.
Check Pawn Shops
Many pawnshops sell guns, sometimes at inflated prices too. But a good pawn shop owner knows they need to move items with a fast turnaround. Often, guns are priced a bit low so they can quickly sell them and display another item in that spot. It’s at least worth a try. Pawnshops are seldom experts in Military surplus rifles, so you may find a desirable Mosin at a low price. Do your research to know what you are looking at. It can be confusing.
Frequent Small Gun Stores
Small gun stores, particularly rural ones, tend to be a treasure trove of stuff the big stores don’t have, I really don’t know why that is. I know small stores often charge more for things because they’re struggling, but sometimes they’re incentivized to move items quickly due to limited space on the sales floor. The faster they sell a gun, the faster they can put another gun in its place where customers will see it.
Ask People Around You
There are Likely well over a million Mosin Nagant rifles in the US today. Most of them were bought ten to thirty years ago for prices at or below $100. During this time, they were considered garbage simply because they were so cheap. It’s really the same thing with HiPoint too. Because it’s cheap, the serious shooters discredit it.
Chances are you know someone with an old Mosin sitting in their basement that they probably only shot three or four times in 20 years. If that’s the case, I’ll wager they’d be willing to part with it for less than a premium price tag. Bring up Mosins in conversation. Ask around. It might work out well for you.
Find a Bubba
In the gun world, a Bubba is a person who alters an old military surplus gun to “modernize” it. Often these are done with crude tools and only a basic understanding of tinkering. Because of Bubbas, any Mosin with visible alterations is generally less desirable, aka cheaper. Badly Bubba’d rifles sell cheap, shoot decent, and are generally able to be smoothed up a bit
A lot of modified Mosins are in fact improvements, and shoot better for it. The most common mod is to replace that old, two-piece stock with a plastic stock, which makes it look modern and shoot better with a free-floated barrel. One after-market stock even lets it take detachable magazines that do work for the most part.
Cracked Stocks are Okay
Some Mosins have severely cracked wood stocks. Generally, it takes 30 to 50 percent off the price tag for a cracked Mosin. While a cracked Mosin isn’t smart to fire, you can buy a new stock for under $100. the Monte Carlo stock is easy to install, looks nice, and improves accuracy with receiver support and a free floated barrel.
If you can get a cracked Mosin for $200 less, then buy a stock for $100, you’re sitting on a bargain. I’ve even seen Mosins selling online without a stock for a good price.
Surface Rust Doesn’t Hurt Function
Most Mosins don’t have a bad rust problem, but some sure do. Especially the Chinese T-53 Mosin Carbine. Those things rusted badly in a communist storage vault. Severe pitting of surface rust can be dangerous, but that’s incredibly rare. It’s usually an issue of aesthetics. This rifle was first designed in 1891, and saw military use before, during, and after both world wars. Some old rust marks are part of its heritage.
The problem is rust inside the barrel or in the upper portion of the receiver. bad rust pitting where the bullet or cartridge rests before firing may cause a poor gas seal and result in loss of consistent accuracy. light surface rust is easily removed with oil and a rag and isn’t a problem. But it does immediately command a lower price.
Important* Before buying a Mosin, remove the handguard (upper part of the wooden stock) and check for severe rust damage. That is where it tends to be bad.
Avoid the Accessories
Most of the military surplus Mosins came imported with a standard set of accessories. These are: bayonet, oil canister, steel cleaning rod, cleaning rod guide, ammo pouch, and a combination screwdriver/firing pin depth gauge. The accessories are not needed for function. If selling together, you can ask for a price without all the accessories. You might get a deal.
If you do want the acessories, make sure you check out the going rate for them so you nknow if someone is trying to charge too much just because a Mosin comes with “extras”. Also, barring the bayonette, many of the accesories are cheap imitations.
Know What Upgrades are Worth it
The Mosin above has a $120 trigger, a $160 stock, a $70 muzzle brake, and a $160 scope. That’s 510 bucks of accessories plus the rifle. But, a Mosin with all of them sells for around $500 total.
Mosins come with bad sights, triggers and stocks. Therin lies the weak spots. The Mosin stock is too short for the average American and puts uneven pressure on the barrel. A good stock can be bought for around $90, and a nice one for $140. You can also make it a sporter by cutting down and free-floating the original wooden stock. sporters can look nice too.
Mosins were designed clunky, big, and crude. We can seriously improve the function, look, and accuracy of the rifle without a gunsmith bill. I’ve tailored and accurate all my Mosins and I’m glad I did. I even put a scope on one.
If you want to change anything, a free-floated stock and trigger job will give you a whole new rifle. the trigger can be polished and shimmed or replaced with a drop-in aftermarket like the Timney. Timney’s are nice but pricey. With a bit of polish and shimming, you can get a good trigger for pennies.
To polish easily, dab auto polish where the trigger and sear engage. Dry fire the trigger 30 times, then clean and repeat four more times. Shimming is literally placing shimming material in one of the various spots under the sear to shorten and lighten the trigger pull.
Shimming should only be done by a gunsmith or a good tinkerer. If over-shimmed, your rifle may shoot without pulling the trigger. You can find Mosin trigger shimming kits available online, which take most of the concern out of the process.
The sights of a Mosin can be upgraded by adding an improved front and rear sight or peep sight. there are a few companies that sell better sights for the Mosin. Some can get expensive like Mojo Sights peep sight, though it is really good and not too modern looking.
Read the Rifling
There are only a few things that really matter for a good shooting Mosin. A big one is the integrity of the lands and grooves. If the rifling is overly worn, rusted, or corroded, the bullet will not shoot well. Use a bore light or bore camera to read the rifling. If it’s full of rust or has visible pitting, it will shoot poorly and be hard to clean after shooting.
You can also take out the bolt and shine a flashlight up the barrel so you can see what’s going on. Good rifling will look smooth and crisp, with few scratches. Scratches are fine on the high spots (the lands) but if the low spots (grooves) are heavily scratched, it’s likely a poor shooter. If it’s dirty, it may just need cleaning.
Usually, rifling doesn’t play much of a part in cost even if it’s cheap. You should try and get one that will stabilize the bullet well even at a low price.
Check the Crown
When looking for a cheap Mosin, you’re going to see some beat-up ones. The crown (Tapered tip of the barrel) is a part of accuracy that also plays a small role in cost. If the crown is severely worn, I’d pass. Most are at least decent because they were refurbished at the end of World War II.
The crown adds or detracts very little from the value of a Mosin. If you can, get one with a good crown. A cleanly tapered crown will shoot better than a damaged one.
Scope or No Scope?
Mosins were designed long before scopes and scope mounts. It’s not that simple to put a scope on one. The original PU sniper Mosin had a side-mounted scope that required part of the stock to be cut out. It also needed a modification done to the bolt handle in order for it to clear the scope.
Most modern Mosin scope mount systems are fairly expensive and the ones that are not are too flimsy to actually work. Often, someone will spend $150 on the amount, plus time or a gunsmith bill to install it, and the rifle isn’t worth any more.
The picture above is a Mosin I added a scope to for only $20 and the price of the scope. It’s simple and only requires the slightest amount of tinkering. That, and Loctite on all screws.
Under the rear sight base is an approximately 3/8 dovetail rail that runs on a bit of a taper. It’s a thin rail, but I and others have successfully put a solid scope on it. You need a wide base (long bottom) 3/8 scope mount, some brass pins, and a scout scope.
Put the mount on the rail, and drill the mount base to line up with the pinholes in the rail. Torque it down with Loctite on the screws, and pin the mount onto the rail. Peening the ends of the pins will keep them in place. over a thousand rounds and my mounting technique is still going strong. I guess it works.
Scopes on a Mosin are either expensive or a bit of work. if you’re not good with that, you can buy one that’s already been done. especially since it doesn’t raise the value by much.