The $100 Survival Rifle—The 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.
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.