100 Dollar Survival Rifle


The $100 Survival Rifle—The Mosin Nagant

Mosin Nagant

What makes a rifle ideal for a survival situation? It just depends on what you anticipate your survival situation to consist of. The tactical minded individual will say it should be a proven military rifle. The outdoorsman will say it should be suitable for hunting four legged animals and protection from wild predators. The practical minded will say it should be simple to operate, easy to maintain and hard to break. When you add all these parameters together, the list of potential rifles starts to get smaller and smaller. When you place a budget constraint of $100 or less on the rifle only one stands out among its peers–the Russian Mosin Nagant.

The Mosin Nagant is a bolt action rifle that was the primary battle rifle of the Russian Army from the 1890’s until after WWII when it was replaced by the SKS and the Kalashnikov. The Mosin Nagant is still used by insurgent forces throughout the world. In fact, when I was serving as a counterintelligence officer in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, it was common practice for the enemy insurgents to use the Mosin Nagant against the coalition forces due to its superior range during mountain combat. A recent influx of military surplus Mosin Nagants over the past few years have brought thousands of these battle rifles to the United States at budget prices. As I write this article you can readily purchase these rifles for well under $100. Aimsurplus.com is selling them for $89.95 which also includes a bayonet, sling, oil bottle, cleaning kit, and two ammo pouches.

For a more expensive and less powerful, but still very cool and effective survival rifle, checkout this post about the AR-7 Survival Rifle.

The Mosin Nagant certainly meets the criteria for a survival rifle listed above. It is a simple yet rugged rifle with very few parts that has withstood the test of time. It is without a doubt one of the most proven battle rifles in the history of warfare. The Mosin Nagant holds five rounds and can be loaded with stripper clips or individual cartridges. It is chambered in the powerful 7.62x54R caliber which is able to drop any animal in North America. It ranges in power between the .308 and the 30.06 Springfield. Unlike the two American calibers (.308 and 30.06) which sell for approximately $20 per 20 round box, the 7.62x54R can be purchased in bulk military surplus ammunition tins. Aimsurplus.com is currently selling tins of 440 rounds for $72. For hunting purposes new manufactured soft tip rounds can also be purchased. It should be noted that most of the older military surplus ammo has corrosive primers so the rifle must be cleaned after each use. A common way to deactivate the corrosive properties of the surplus ammo is to spray the action down with ammonia (or Windex with ammonia) after your range session and then clean the rifle as normal when time allows.

(Note: From left to right 7.62x39mm, .308 Caliber, 7.62x54Rmm, .30-06)

So who would benefit from a survival rifle that cost under $100? A lot of people would. Not everyone has the financial means or the desire to spend north of a grand on a tricked out AR15. In reality, a survival situation likely won’t depend on a high rate of suppression fire. Even for those of us who are willing to invest in a high dollar black zombie killing rifle, an inexpensive Mosin Nagant makes an ideal knock around rifle to keep in your truck or out at the cabin (we wouldn’t want to get that tricked out HK or AR stolen or scratched now would we). For those truly dedicated preppers, you can purchase four Mosin Nagant rifles and a case of 880 rounds of ammo for around $500. That’s not a bad arsenal for stocking a Bug Out Location (BOL) in order to arm untrained friends and family members that may show up during disaster scenarios. You could arm an entire fire team for half the price of a single AR (without ammo or mags).

Mosin Nagant Specifications and Range Time:

The Mosin Nagant may not win any beauty contests but it is effective. The standard model (M91/30) per Wikipedia is 48.5 inches long with a 29 inch barrel. This makes it rather unwieldy for close quarters combat. There are carbine versions of the Mosin Nagant available which I would highly recommend; however, they usually cost a bit over $100 so they do not qualify for the purpose of this article. The Mosin Nagant weighs 8.8 pounds and has a listed effective range of 500 meters (550 yards) with iron sights and 800 meters with optics. It has a muzzle velocity of 2,838 fps. The accuracy you can expect from a surplus rifle will vary from rifle to rifle. Although some are capable of minute-of-angle accuracy, my personal experience is not quite as impressive. I have fired five different surplus Mosin Nagants and I would estimate the average in my experience to shoot around a 4 inch groups at 100 yards using iron sights with 40 year old surplus ammo. With new production ammo the groups drop to about half that size. Many people will enhance the Mosin Nagant with a synthetic stock and a scope (Cabela’s carries modern accessories for the Mosin Nagant). Being a bit of a military historian, I prefer the traditional look and feel of the Mosin Nagant.

Mosin-Nagant Safety

When it comes to ergonomics these rifles are a bit lacking. That said, they are incredibly rugged and reliable. They were designed for the Russian soldier wearing a heavy winter coats. Therefore if you are not wearing bulky clothing the Mosin Nagant may feel a bit short in the stock for large folks. The bolt, while reliable, is not as slick as its western counterparts of the day (1903 Springfield, Lee-Enfield, Mauser, etc). The Mosin Nagant has a straight bolt (not bent), therefore when working the action it sticks straight up and can block your field of view. To engage the safety it requires a significant amount of force to pull back on a cocking piece located on the rear of the bolt. This is so difficult that most people simply don’t bother with it and just carry an empty chamber for safety. Even without all of the creature comforts of other firearms, the Mosin Nagant does what a good survival rifle is intended to do—shoot a center fire bullet of adequate caliber, is highly reliable, operates under adverse conditions, and requires minimal maintenance (especially with non-corrosive Ammo). And it will do all this at a fraction of the price of other rifles.

Do you own a Mosin Nagant?

If so please tell us in the comments section below if your experiences with the Mosin Nagant have been good as well.  What are your thoughts on accuracy, reliability, maintenance and price?

Note: This is a guest post written by Dave.

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18 thoughts on “100 Dollar Survival Rifle

  1. I currently own two Nagants and love them.

    I have mounted a long eye relief scope on one. I’ve only had limited range time to sight it in but initial results are giving me about a 5 inch group at 100 yards. For me, this is decent results since I’m not all that great of a shot. I believe with more range time I can shrink the group to 3 inches or slightly less which exceeds any need I may ever have. I live in an area where a 100 yard shot is about the maximum.

    One of the biggest problems I have in sighting this monster in is kick. It does kick like a mule. I mounted one of the hard rubber butt pieces and even drilled it out. It’s worthless so I’m now looking for another which will help tame this beast a bit.

    The other is currently undergoing a refinish on the stock. I’ve been careful to keep all the markings and left all the dings and other blemishes “as is”. The armory lacquer coating in places was 1/8″ or thicker and had been applied after the unfinished stock had been cosmolined. After four weeks in a home made hot box filled with shredded paper and kitty litter, cosmoline is still oozing out.

    The triggers on Nagants are famous for being heavy. I’ve polished the spring and matching surfaces on one which resulted in a somewhat lighter, but heavy none the less pull. The other I shimmed which resulted in a nearly pleasant pull. Since the safety on Nagants is virtually useless, any trigger work should be approached with great caution. I personally recommend not carrying the rifle with a round chambered to be on the safe side.

    As a survival rifle a Nagant can’t be beat. At the price, having one in every closet and two buried in the yard isn’t out of the question.

  2. I have the M-44 model of the Mosin and i absolutely love it. The only complaint i have is that it is so loud you cannot effectively use it without ear protection. In a survival situation you would not have earplugs readily available. Especially if you had to use it in a pinch. You will literally go deaf shooting more than a few rounds from the M-44.

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  4. The M44 (and all the carbine models) are much handier though they are also much louder and have more recoil. My M44 kicks significantly more than my full length Mosin. The carbines also have an impressive muzzle flash. The benefits of the short barrel comes at a price.

  5. I own an m91/30 built in 1936. It’s a good ol’ Izzy with the hex receiver. The last year they built them there, I believe.
    Some of you may think that these rifles are displeasing to look at. I think they’re beautiful.
    I also own a m1895 Nagant. It’s the revolver designed by Leon Nagant. It fires a 7.62x38R. It’s a very interesting little revolver. The actual bullet is recessed inside the casing!

    Anyways, I love my m91/30. I have always suggested this gun to people that I know, with the exception of a few. They’re dead-on accurate. Sturdy as all hell and the ammo is relatively cheap. I don’t think that it can be beaten! The only problem, in my opinion, is the corrosive ammo, but there are ways around that. I would like to have a bent bolt, though. The thing is that I don’t want to sacrifice my original bolt to do it…

    Nonetheless, I would say that anyone of you reading this article, and are on the fence about buying, just go ahead and buy one. You will not regret it.

  6. Got to agree with Anthony: if you’re considering buying one but aren’t sure, just go ahead and pick one up (unless you’re taking food off your kids’ plates to do it). Most places you buy from will have screened out the bad ones, so you probably won’t end up with a lemon. And these are really cool old guns, trust me. If you have any interest in military firearms or history you’ll be thrilled just to have one to hold and play with. I’ve read that if you have one built in the 1930s or 40s it’s virtually guaranteed to have been issued to a Soviet soldier at some point, and there’s a decent chance it may have seen actual combat in WWII. Mine came with an original sling, mag pouches, bayonet, etc.

    I just received mine and haven’t had it out to shoot yet. One thing you should let your readers know is that if you order one online or get one from a gun shop that hasn’t cleaned them up, they will arrive absolutely drowning in a preservative grease called cosmoline, which looks and feels like vasoline but smells much worse. This is how they have been stored for 60 years in Russian arsenals without rusting. Googling “mosin” and “cosmoline” will give you tons of ideas on how to remove the stuff. The most promising seems to be soaking the parts in mineral spirits, but I haven’t gotten around to cleaning mine yet; perhaps someone else can offer their first-hand experience.

  7. I currently have two and have had others in the past. I don’t think the safety is really all that difficult to engage if you tuck the butt into the crook of your arm. Some come with bolts that are a bit stiff to cock while others work smoothly. Accuracy is OK with most rifles with good bores, but they do kick hard compared to an Enfield, for example. I like the feature of the ejector that helps keep the rimmed cases from double feeding. It holds down the next cartridge in the magazine until the bolt has loaded the top round into the chamber. I owned a couple of Finnish versions a few years ago and they were both incredibly accurate even if they each had stiff bolts. Of course I stupidly traded them off.

  8. I hear ya! I have a rule…Once I buy a gun I keep it. I don’t ever sell guns anymore. I have made that mistake and regretted it too many times!

  9. I bought a real beater when I first read/heard about the Mosin. It is actually the model 38 which is like the M44 without bayonet or lug. She’s in pretty rough shape but shoots well. I have an ATI stock for it and plans to scout scope it. I can never pass up a great deal on a firearm and although prices are creeping up (will we ever see more from Russia now?) they are a smokin’ deal! I also bought a 91/30 in very nice shape and an M44. I’m a huge 30-06 fan and this round – 7.62-54R, which recoils about the same, keeps most of my shooting skills on par at a cheaper rate!
    The cosmoline thing – I live in a state blessed with REAL summertime heat (112 -115F) so I just strip the rifles down (field strip okay but remove the stock) throw newspaper down on the truck bed and let the sun do the work. You’ll want to rotate the parts once in awhile and wipe off the cos. Depending how thick the cosmoline is this may take a few days of exposure until it stops oozing. I’m convinced you will never get all the cosmoline out of the stock but most of the surface cos will melt away. Next, get a bucket or parts cleaning bin and fill it halfway or at least a few inches deep of mineral spirits. Just drop as many parts as will fit into the bucket and let it soak for a day. Get some of those cheap but stiff parts cleaning brushes (not a regular paint brush or brass toothbrush) ones like the machinists use and start brushing off the cos! The more you can disassemble the rifle the cleaner you will get it. Pay close attention to bolt/firing pin and trigger group. Cosmoline left there will cause you problems later. Using clean mineral spirits, clean the bore with a brass brush and patches. Use a rag soaked with mineral spirits to wipe down the stock. Clean and oil, reassemble, check function and shoot! I have done 3 Mosins, 3 SKSs and an Enfield this way. Good luck and have fun!

  10. I have a 91/30 mosin nagant I got mine for $85.It is a 1944 make.I shoot it quite often and it is also my deer rifle. I would recommend this gun to anyone that wants a powerful gun for a good price.But make sure if u get one to check the barrel to see if it is in good condition.When I clean the cosmoline out of the nagant I field strip it then put newspaper on my floor and use a hair dryer on max heat.

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