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The Mosin Nagant part 2 - First Combat

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Mosin Nagant - First combat

Once the Chagin Commission adopted the Mosin Nagant design for Russian forces, production of the Model 1891 began in 1892 at several Russian imperial ordnance factories with an initial production goal of 3.3 million guns. Due to a lack of machining tools and skilled labor, and additional 500,000 units were ordered from a French arms factory. The new Mosin rifles would replace the Berdan rifles then in use by the Russian army.


                                                         Berdan Rifle

Russo-Japanese War

The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) would be the Mosin Nagant M1891 rifle's first major action. By the time the war broke out in 1904, approximately 3.8 million Mosin Nagant M1891 rifles had been built, with over a million and a half in the hands of the Russian cavalry when hostilities commenced. The Mosin Nagant proved to be a sturdy and reliable weapon in the harsh, primitive conditions of northeast Asia, but somewhat inaccurate even at short ranges due to poor sighting.



After initial production, a number of design changes were made to the M1891 in the years up to about 1910. The original flat leaf rear sight was replaced by a convex version; a metal bolt was added to strengthen the stock against recoil; and the Berdan-style swing swivels were replaced with sling slots. There were also several model variations: the Dragoon model Mosin Nagant was slightly shorter and lighter than the original Infantry rifle and used mainly by mounted soldiers. The Cossack version was also developed for horseborne soldiers, but did not come with the stock bayonet found on the Infantry and Dragoon models. The M1907 Carbine also had no bayonet and was significantly shorter and lighter than the M1891, more suitable for the engineers, artillerymen and cavalrymen of the time. Soon the existing Dragoon and Cossack rifles were altered to carbines. Although manufacture of the M1907 was discontinued early in WWI, it is rumored that unofficial production continued into the 1920s.

  M1907 Calvary Carbine


World War I
With the start of World War I, production was restricted to the M1891 dragoon and infantry models for the sake of simplicity. Due to the desperate shortage of arms and the shortcomings of a still-developing domestic industry, in 1915 the Russian government ordered 3.3 million M1891 infantry rifles from U.S. manufacturers Remington Arms and New England Westinghouse Company. They manufactured 750,000 rifles before production was halted by the 1917 October Revolution. The new Bolshevik regime of Vladimir Lenin cancelled payments to the American companies manufacturing the Mosin Nagant (Russia had not paid for the order at any time throughout the Great War). With Remington and Westinghouse on the brink of bankruptcy, the remaining 280,000 rifles were purchased by the United States Army. American and British expeditionary forces of the North Russia Campaign were armed with these rifles and sent to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in the late summer of 1918 to prevent the large quantities of munitions delivered for Czarist forces from being captured by the Central Powers. Remaining rifles were used for the training of U.S. Army troops. In 1917, 50,000 rifles were sent via Vladivostok to the Czechoslovak Legions in Siberia to aid in their attempt to secure passage to France.


 
Many of the New England Westinghouse and Remington Mosin Nagants were sold to private citizens in the United States before World War II through the office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, currently known as the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Overseas large numbers of Mosin Nagants were captured by German and Austro-Hungarian forces and saw service with the rear-echelon forces of both armies, and also with the Imperial German Navy. Many of these weapons were sold to Finland in the 1920s.

In the next installment we'll follow the Mosin Nagant from Civil War and wars with Finland through WWII. In the meantime, check out our full line of high-quality gear and accessories available for the enduring Mosin Nagant rifle.