So the full form of “how to shoot a…” is a big project and then I look at it and decide it’s too much to bite off. Anything involving video is right out, and ain’t none of you producing content, but only I wanna see more content. With words and stuff. So you get “stuff presidentender knows about” various things, starting with the first rifle I bought myself: the Mosin-Nagant, specifically the ’91-30. You could read wikipedia or 7.62x54r.net , but you’ll read this, in addition or instead.
As with most repeating rifles, the Mosin’s development was motivated by a war in which the performance of single-shot rifles was found to be lacking. The Ottoman Turks had made fools of the Emperor in the late 19th century; the Russians won, but it was costly, and part of that was inadequacy of the single-shot Berdan rifle against theWinchester repeater . This trend toward a greater volume of fire would eventually give birth to the assault rifle concept.
In the competition to select the Russians’s new repeater, Captain Sergei Mosin submitted a design for a .30 caliber rifle, because .30 is blessed by the gods themselves. The Belgian jerkface Leon Nagant submitted a .35-caliber rifle for some reason, and there was some other dude too. Mosin’s flimsy and complicated rifle won the design contest; some changes were made to improve it, including the adoption of Nagant’s magazine – hence the rifle’s English name – and an ‘interrupter’ to prevent double feeding. Apparently rimlock wasn’t a concern for the Russian empire.
Despite its internally complicated bolt and rimmed cartridge, the Mosin proved durable, with a low total cost of ownership and simple manual of arms which the populous and backwards Russian empire and Soviet Union found satisfactory, producing a few rifle and carbine-length variants and exporting the design to communist satellite states. The ammo remains in production today for use in machine guns, a testament to the power of backwards compatibility. The rifle was used with few design changes in every war the Russians and Soviets fought in the 20th century, up through Vietnam. There’re a couple of ’em kicking around in Afghanistan, too.
The Finns decided they weren’t part of the Russian Empire at some point, and they had Russian rifles hanging around, which they rebuilt and accurized. The Russians favored quantity, and the Finns found a number of means by which to rebuild that into acceptable quality, notably with a clever little trigger spring and nicer stock. The Finns liked the result so much that they kept refurbished Mosins (visually very different from ’91/30s) around as precision rifles into the ’80s, albeit with a slightly modified cartridge for some reason.
While there were millions of Mosins manufactured, the design didn’t really influence future development – at least not in its specifics. The cartridge itself, like the competitor cartridges of other nations, was used in Soviet machine guns. The bore diameter of the Mosin is the bore diameter of the AK, and a folk tale says that Russian cigarettes are .30 cal too, in order that cigarette equipment might be used to reload ammunition in times of crisis. The Mosin’s short stock, designed for malnourished peasants who wear poofy coats, was also retained for the AK.
Today, you can buy a Mosin for less than $200. Last year, that was less than $100. If you’re a betting man, don’t count on selling a crate for $300 or $400 – the ammunition will dry up some day, and they’re so ubiquitous that you’d lose all your money on the frictional cost of purchase and storage. But to satisfy the childish need for recoil and report, to create the impression of competency and danger that the eternally adolescent male mind relishes, the Mosin serves more cheaply than any other rifle.
EDIT OH CRAP I FORGOT ABOUT THE AMERICAN MOSINS HOLD ON Okay, so imperial Russia didn’t make things. During the 19th century it was still the 4th century there, what with a powerful Caesar (a ‘ROMANov,’ whose title is the literal Russian translation of Caesar) and not so much with machinery to make things like rifles and steamboats and the cotton gin. And during the early part of the 20th century, they hadn’t quite caught up, and there was this big fight where everyone in Europe killed each other. In need of more rifles, they farmed out a bunch of Mosin production to other places, including France and the US. While the Americans (Remington and Westinghouse) were making a bajillion of these things, the Czar got himself very messily dead. The broke-ass no-Czar-having Russians had no interest in paying for the bajillions of rifles they had ordered, and so they declared the American Mosins to be of “poor quality,” which is a joke.
Remington and Westinghouse had invested substantially in this one contract, because useful business adages regarding eggs and baskets had yet to develop. They were gonna be super damn bankrupt. The US Government therefore suddenly developed a need for a bajillion Mosins, which its troops hated. Some others were sold to private citizens, either converted to .30-06 or left in the original chambering. Most of these were sporterized.
When the Americans sent military ‘observers’ up via Arkhangelsk to watch the Russians kill each other and decide whether they were red or white, they armed those observers with the Remington and Westinghouse Mosins. They were largely abandoned there in Russia, which is really too bad, because that’d be a thing to own, wouldn’t it?
You can get American Mosins even now; I saw one in a pawn shop a few years ago but it was all chopped and sportered and missing its front sight. Factory originals were kicking around somewhere for like a grand which is ridiculous.
OH WAIT ALSO FIREFLY So there’s this one episode of Firefly (“War Stories”) where Mal and Wash are captured by this Russian-sounding dude, Niska. When the rest of the crew comes to survey the scene of the capture, Book identifies the rifle that the kidnappers used as a “54R sniper rifle, laser sight.”
That’s right. 500 years in the future, 7.62x54R is still the oldest cartridge in regular combat use.