Sunday, August 26, 2007

Russian 3-line 1891 Rifle - UPDATED

I was given this rifle for services rendered. It is a Russian/Soviet M91. I won't bore you repeating the history of the firearm you will find in the link. This particular gun was obviously manufactured at the Tula arsenal in 1917 and property marked by the USSR. I was reading an article, "The Moisin-Nagant in Finnish Service" by Harris R. Bierman in Guns of the World - THE Complete Collectors' & Traders' Guide (ISBN 0-517-225182) and lo and behold I find a photo of a rifle like mine with sling swivels and sling like mine which Mr. Bierman ascribes to Finnish service. I need to relook all the marks and see what I can decipher. Knowing though that the Finns might not have marked rifles needing few to no modifications prior to re-issue to their army this might not be a big deal but it sure is interesting. You can find more about the rifle at whence I acquired the following video.

Usage of this model all over the world is interesting, too. Most interesting to me is the use by AEF troops in North Russia and Siberia 1918-1920 (yes, to 1920 in Siberia). However, I've had a hard time finding photos on-line despite these links.

Related links:
- American Troops in Siberia
- My Grandfather in the AEF Siberia (not MY grandfather...)

So, I finally got some photos of the rifle and they were reviewed by Cubrock. I quote
The sling may be Finnish. I’d have to see more of it to be sure. Finnish slings of that style have been around for sale for several years, so it is possible someone added that on. The sling swivels are definitely not Finnish and are of the style associated with Balkans service. Of course, anyone can bend a piece of wire to use as a swivel, so it could have been another country that did it.

The MADE IN USSR marking and the general mismatching of parts still makes me think that this gun went to the Spanish Civil War. The Soviets supplied a lot of weapons to the Spanish Communists who fought Franco. The Spanish guns also commonly have a flaming bomb proof on the stock or “MP-8” or both. The flaming bomb looks similar to the US flaming bomb, but is normally quite large and often has “MP-8” stamped in it. If your stock has such a mark, that removes all doubt where the gun went. I suppose it is possible that the gun went to Finland , but I don’t see any Finnish markings or modifications that would indicate that.

I've received a proper bayonet and cleaning rod for my rifle. I still need the cleaning rod extension. I also need to find a source of brass. I can get Winchester Metric 7.62x54R from MidwayUSA but I'd rather just get brass and load 150 gr. bullets to service velocities. Then again, I've found that stripper clips aren't the easiest thing to run down. I'd like some of those as well.

I think my gift is quite nice. I saw another, also sans cleaning rod, at a show today asking $149 but the guy was willing to take $125. M91/30s were asking $99, there was also one M38 and 3 M44s asking about $125 each. So assigning a value of $125 + $80 for bayonet and cleaning rod, makes me a happy camper. Now, to the range and see if it shoots!


I got to the range today (8/29/07) and got to shoot the rifle some. Recoil is moderate with 180 and 206 gr. bullets. Rock busting at 25-50 yards was easy despite the open sights and my bifocal wearing eyes. The rifle would do for deer hunting, that's certain. However, that barrel heats up fast!

There was no indication of excessive headspace or other problems. One thing I know I need now is screws for the barrel bands.

2nd UPDATE...

Today I received my order of accessories from For the 1891 I bought 5 stripper clips, oiler and cleaning kit with bag, chamber brush, rod extension/jag, "T" handle and muzzle protector. I now have one complete "stand" of arms with a value of about $250. While that about does it for me for the 1891 Mosin-Nagant series (I would never have bought the rifle), it certainly is an interesting item with many historical connections.

Here's a photo of US soldiers, Company D 23rd Infantry Regiment NYARNG, armed with the Mosin-Nagant.  These are likely rifles contracted by Russia and abandoned after the 1917 Revolution.

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