Is a Mosin Nagant a Good Rifle for Hunting and Shooting?

I’ve owned several Mosin Nagant rifles. It’s by far my favorite military surplus bolt-action rifle.

The Mosin Nagant will kill every animal in North America and can shoot as good as 0.75 MOA with basic modifications and good ammo. It is a practical hunting rifle and is common at milsurp shooting competitions. The drawbacks to using a Mosin Nagant for hunting and target shooting are its weight and ergonomics.

This article is everything you need to know about the Mosin and making it a sweet shooting gun. There’s a lot here and you’re going to want to read through the whole thing. I’ll start with the basics then get into accurizing tips and modding.

Is a Mosin Nagant Good for Hunting?

The Mosin can successfully take every animal in North America. According to Chuck Hawks, a rifle length Mosin with a 180 grain or heavier controlled expansion bullet is just enough for Brown Bear, Grizzly, and Polar Bear. A Mosin effectively can kill a deer at 600 yards. It’s a decent hunting rifle.

The Mosin Nagant can be a great option for a hunting rifle. It fires s a powerful and highly functional 30 caliber bullet that rivals the 30-06. In fact, in many cases, it overpowers the 30-06. And it does this with lower chamber pressure.

There is some carbine length (shorter) Mosins. The Chinese made T-53 and Russian M-44, as well as longer Mosins that were cut down from their full length of nearly 29 inches. The issue with the shorter barrels is that they don’t burn as much powder and end up with a less powerful round.

A Mosin Carbine and a cut-down rifle are still good for most hunting. It just runs a little less powerful. With my favorite large game hunting ammo, a Mosin carbine will fire at around 2300 fps, and the full-length 28.7-inch barrel will shoot that bullet at around 2500fps. The difference is a few hundred yards more effective hunting distance.

Below is a pair of links to a set of ballistics charts and tables showing data on the Barnaul 203 grain SP hunting ammo, a popular moose, and bear load. The first link is for stats on a full-length rifle. The second one reflects a 20-inch barrel Mosin like the Chinese T-53 or the Russian M44 carbines. They show the approx. velocity, energy, and drop out to 500 yards. Most hunting is done under 250 yards

Full-length Rifle Ballistics

Carbine Length Ballistics

Are Mosin Nagants accurate?

Mosin Nagants will usually shoot 3 -4 MOA with old military ammo. Quality ammo will improve a Mosin’s accuracy by 50%. Simple accurizing techniques will improve it even more. Most Mosins will shoot 1 MOA with proper accurizing and good ammo.

Now, the Mosin isn’t the best hunting rifle by any means. It’s not considered a great one by today’s standards. In days past, it was an average shooting rifle with above-average power due to its long barrel and powerful cartridge. The Mosin shoots as good as any military standard Mauser or Springfield 03A3 rifle.

These older rifles were designed around the expectation of shooting 3 MOA, or three-inch groups at 100 yards on a good day. That was considered acceptable for any large game hunting. These days, a rifle that doesn’t shoot MOA is thought to be lousy.

My grandpa’s hunting rifle would never shoot 1 MOA, but he used it for decades. My dad’s model 94 30/30 won’t shoot better than 3 MOA  That’s considered a classic hunting rifle.  A Mosin is on par with all the classic old hunting rifles as far as accuracy goes.

The Mosin has taken deer, moose, and grizzly across North America and Northern Europe. In its homeland Russia, it’s considered a general-purpose hunting rifle for up to the largest moose and bear with suitable accuracy for the job.

Most shooters don’t shoot well with their Mosins.  Not even the 3 MOA the gun should be able to shoot. That’s because the gun has a really bad trigger. The trigger pull on a Mosin isn’t overly firm, it’s just incredibly long.  it’s a smooth trigger pull, just super long.

The long trigger pull has no detectable stop, or point just before the trigger releases. That means that you don’t know exactly when the trigger will release the firing pin. It often causes the shooter to not be able to make a good shot.

When shooting, you always have small movements of the gun and you have to shoot at a specific moment when the sights and target line up. If you aren’t sure exactly when it will fire, you will have a hard time shooting when you have the perfect target/sight lineup. It also encourages flinching, a bad shooting habit.

The largest inhibiter of accuracy in a Mosin is the trigger on Russian and Chinese-made models. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to greatly improve that trigger at a low cost.

Rifle Gun Ammunition Bullets Size 7.62×54 Caliber

What is the Most Accurate 7.62x54R Ammo for the Mosin?

The most accurate 7.62×54 ammo is generally Norma or Winchester. Barnaul makes the best steel-cased ammo. The most accurate ammo is subjective to each specific rifle, but these are common proven performers in the field and at the shooting range.

Most of the available ammo is old, low-quality military surplus. You may get a good batch or a really bad one. They weren’t made with much precision in mind. Of the Military surplus, the 147-grain Russian military surplus ammo is alright for target shooting, but not super accurate.

I’m a fan of Barnaul. They make steel-cased ammo with more precision than other factories, and they have a nice heavy hunting load, a 203-grain expanding soft point. As a general rule, Mosins seem to like the heavier stuff, but it really depends on your rifle. Here’s a good video comparing commercial ammo.

How Powerful is a Mosin Nagant?

Average Energy of Mosin Nagant Ammo

Bullet Weight148 gr.174 gr.*185 gr. Match203 gr.        
Estimated Energy at muzzle2,290 ft/lbs.2,590 ft/lbs.2506 ft/lbs.2,630 ft/lbs.
*this ammo is match grade and is loaded a bit softer than it could be.

That’s some serious power. The Mosin doesn’t fire a super cartridge. The cartridge and load data has hardly changed since it was first made in 1891. It’s limited in part due to its low designated chamber pressure of 56,000 SI, about equal to a .223, but, the long barrel balances that out.

The long barrel of a full-sized Mosin allows for a large charge of a slower burning powder with a lower peak pressure. So, the long-barreled Mosins can keep up the power and velocity even with the low-pressure limits.

The Mosin can technically handle quite a bit more pressure than that. It was very overbuilt and I’ve seen it handle chamber pressures over 85,000 PSI. I’ve also seen a Mosin blow up, so don’t push your luck. Besides, the ammo will fail, i.e., split and get stuck at much over 56,000 PSI. If you handload, just don’t overdo it okay?

What is the Max Effective Range of a Mosin?

The max effective range of a Mosin is around 500 yards. That is the max most shooters can consistently make good hits with good ammo, optics, and a good rifle. In Rare examples, Shooters can push accuracy to 900 yards, but that’s the exception.  It has enough energy to kill a deer at 1,000 yards.

Can You Put a Scope on a Mosin?

A reproduction PU scope can be installed on the side, or a modern scout scope can be installed over the rear sight base with a little know-how. An extended mount over the rear sigh base allows the use of a standard scope. Installing a scope on a Mosin can be simple, depending on the specific model.

How to Put a Scope on a Mosin?

Scopes can be mounted on a Mosin in a rearward or forward position. They are mounted on the left side of the receiver, or over the rear sight base. Some Mosins can have a scope mounted on a dovetail rail under the rear sight base with a little tinkering.

You’ll need to replace or modify the bolt handle to a bent configuration or mount a scope further up, over the rear sight base. The Mosin was developed long before scopes, so it was an afterthought.

To install a PU scope, you have to cut out part of the stock left of the receiver, and drill and tap holes for mounting into the side of the receiver. That’s a very sturdy method, but it definitely requires some gunsmithing. Don’t forget to replace the bolt handle, and no, those cheap DIY kits don’t work. Call a gunsmith

Most Mosins have a removable rear sight base with a tapered 3/8 dovetail rail underneath it. Although they are usually soldered and pinned in place. A plumber’s torch will re-melt the solder for removal. This video shows my preferred mounting method, using a long base mount. It works on models with a removable rear sight.

With a long-base 3/8 scope mount, you can snug a scope mount to the dovetail. It’s recommended to use blue Loctite on the screws, and you can pin the mount in place on the dovetail for added durability. The rifle in that video has a cut-down stock, which allows for easy accuracy mods.

Increasing the Accuracy of a Mosin

Accurizing a Mosin will dramatically improve its shooting capability. Mosins have bad triggers, stocks, and sights. Modifying or replacing them will greatly improve the accuracy and precision of the rifle. Quality ammo will also significantly improve accuracy. Many shooters report improved accuracy after adding 1-inch in length of pull.

There are three ways to improve the poor trigger. You can shim it, have it reground, or replace it. The most economical option to upgrade the trigger is to buy a Mosin trigger kit. For 20 bucks, it’s a super improvement. My recommended kit is sold by, and it’s probably the best out there.

The kit will come with some polishing materials to smooth out contact points, a new trigger spring, trigger and sear shims, synthetic trigger grease, and an improved firing pin spring. It will significantly shorten and lighten the trigger pull, making a nice improvement.

Shimming the trigger is placing something underparts of the trigger to shorten the pull, or literally make it so the trigger doesn’t go forward as far in a static position. The result is the trigger doesn’t need to be pulled back as far to fire it.

I’ve seen triggers shimmed with playing cards, a piece of a soda can, a dab of epoxy, and proper steel or brass shims. I only recommend actual Mosin trigger shims. The simple design of the Mosin allows a ton of in-field modifications like that which were often exploited to make a better shooting gun.

I’ve shimmed a trigger and got very nice results. I went from shooting 7 MOA to 4 MOA by only shimming the trigger. That was me, not the rifle, but I altered the rifle to make it easier for me to shoot accurately. With that rifle, no other mods, I can shoot clay pigeons at 50 yards with confidence.

The best but more costly option is buying a new trigger, specifically, the Tinmey. Timney Triggers make a drop-in trigger assembly for the Mosin.   You simply remove all the original trigger parts and replace them with the Timney trigger unit. This will get most standard rifles to shoot around 2 MOA. It costs about $100.

**Cutting the stock off here allows for an easy free-floating and classic sporter style look

Modding a Mosin Nagant Stock

Next up is the stock. The stock on a Mosin is too short. The length of pull (distance from the trigger to the butt) is significantly shorter than the average rifle in the US. That means that most shooters will find it uncomfortable and awkward. The simplest fix is a $10 Mosin recoil pad that adds an inch.

There are several of those available online. Get one that replaces the original steel butt plate, not the one that just slides over it. The extra inch makes the rifle fit most shooters. It will improve accuracy and reduce recoil. You’ll shot better with one most likely.

The other issue with the stock is that it has multiple contact points along the barrel and chamber. As the humidity of the wood stock changes, it will shrink, swell, and warp, resulting in different points contacting with different amounts of pressure. The rifle may shoot good one day, then shoot far right the next just because the humidity changed.

What we can do is have a free-floated and bedded stock. Free floated means that the stock doesn’t contact the barrel, only the action. Bedding is making a perfect fit between the action and stock with solid material like fiberglass or epoxy. Literally, filling pat of the stock with epoxy so the epoxy is holding the rifle, not the stock which can change with the weather.

Free-floating the unaltered original stock is hard to do because it goes all the way down the barrel and clamps over the top too. it almost has to be cut down to near the first barrel band to work well, and you have to toss the wooden upper handguard.

I altered an original stock to a free-floated, bedded stock by shortening it, removing wood with coarse sandpaper inside the stock, and bedding the action with epoxy. It went from shooting 4 MOA to 2 MOA with old military ammo.

If you want to learn more about bedding a Mosin, there is tons of really good information available with a quick Google or YouTube search.

Aftermarket Stocks for the Mosin

If you want to really step up the game, look at after-market stocks. The main three are Boyd’s (they have really nice wooden stocks) the Monte Carlo, and the Archangel. If you want to drop 300 bucks on a beaut, go with Boyd’s.  They have sweet options and make world-class custom gunstocks.

The Monte Carlo aftermarket stock is popular for Mosins. It was the first one out. It just replaces the 100+-year-old wooden stock with a sleek, free-floated design for around $75 bucks

If you’re like me, look at the Archangel Mosin stock. It’s my favorite, but it costs around $130. It’s fully adjustable to fit any shooter, nicely free-floated and allows the gun to funs=cion with special removable box magazines that should be included. Read the product description to be sure.

Don’t lose the screws that hold the original stock onto the rifle. You almost can’t get them replaced. They are a thread size that technically doesn’t exist anymore. The Archangel stock does come with a new set. The manufacturer spent forever to find a company that would custom make them.