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The Mosin Nagant part 3 - Post WWI to WWII

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Civil War, modernization, and wars with Finland
During the Russian Civil War, infantry and dragoon versions were still in production, though in dramatically reduced numbers. The rifle was widely used by Bolsheviks, Black Guards and their enemies, the White Russians (counter-revolutionary forces).

In 1924, following the victory of the Red Army, a committee was established to modernize the rifle, which had by then been in service for over three decades. This effort led to the development of the Model 91/30 rifle, which was based on the design of the original dragoon version with minor revisions.

Finland was a Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until 1917, so Finns had long used the Mosin Nagant in service with the Tsarist military. The rifle was used in the short civil war there and adopted as the service rifle of the new republic's army. Finland produced several variants of the Mosin Nagant, all of them manufactured using the receivers of Russian-made or (later) Soviet-made rifles. Finland also utilized a number of captured M91 and M91/30 rifles with minimal modifications. As a result, the rifle was used on both sides of the Winter War and the Continuation War during World War II.

In addition, the rifle was distributed as aid to Republican anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War. Spanish Civil

spanish-sling.pngWar Mosins can be readily identified by the wire sling hangers inserted in the slots in the forearm and buttstock meant to replace the Russian "dog collars" for Russian-style slings, so the rifles could accept Western European-style rifle slings.

World War II
At the beginning of the war, the Mosin Nagant 91/30 was the standard issue weapon of Soviet troops and millions of the rifles were produced and used in World War II by the largest mobilized army in history.

The Mosin Nagant Model 1891/30 was modified and adapted as a sniper rifle from 1932 onwards. It served quite prominently in the brutal urban battles on the Eastern Front. These sniper rifles were highly respected for being very rugged, reliable, accurate, and easy to maintain. Finland also employed the Mosin Nagant as a sniper rifle, with similar success with their own designs and captured Soviet rifles.

In 1935–1936, the 91/30 was modified from a hex to a round receiver, this time to lower production time. When war with Germany broke out, the need to produce Mosin Nagants in vast quantities led to a further simplification of machining and a falling-off in finish of the rifles. The wartime Mosins are easily identified by the presence of tool marks and rough finishing that never would have passed the inspectors in peacetime. However, despite a lack of both aesthetic focus and uniformity, the basic functionality of the Mosins was unimpaired.

In 1938, a carbine version of the Mosin Nagant, the M38, was issued. The carbine used the same cartridge and action as other Mosins, but the barrel was shortened, with the forearm shortened in proportion. The idea was to issue the M38 to troops such as combat engineers, signal corps, and artillerymen who could conceivably need to defend themselves from sudden enemy advances, but whose primary duties lay behind the front lines. 

The slaughter of the rear area troops and increase in urban combat led directly to the development of the Model M44 Mosin. In essence, the M44 is an M38 with a slightly modified forearm and a permanently mounted cruciform bayonet that folds to the right when it is not needed. In terms of handiness, the M44 was an improvement on the Model 91/30, particularly for urban warfare; but few M44s saw combat on the Eastern Front.

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In next part of this series, we will explore the post-WWII/modern day uses of the Mosin Nagant. In the meantime, check out our full line of high-quality gear and accessories available for the enduring Mosin Nagant rifle.