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04/30/2004 Archived Entry: "Ian on Mosin Nagants, bad scopes, & other matters"

FREELANCE BLOGISPONDENT IAN MCCOLLUM HAS BEEN IN THE WOODS AGAIN. This time he's brought back useful lessons about bad rifle scopes, the effects of ammo on car bodies, and the virtues of the (unbelievably cheap!) Mosin Nagant 91/30 for novice shooters.

I love it when other people do my blogging for me and do it well (thank you Debra and Ian). But gun-geek Ian is starting to make me feel guilty about being a poor and negligent rifle shooter.

Ian on Mosin Nagants & other matters

I spent some more time recently out in the boonies shooting, and learned a couple more things that other folks might find useful.

First of all, don't expect your car body to give you any protection whatsoever from bullets. We happened across an abandoned car (known to be legitimately abandoned, and legal to shoot up), and spent a couple minutes perforating it. Even a .22 pistol went clear through the doors (as did 9mm Makarov, .45 ACP, 7.62x39, 7.62x54, and 12 gauge shot and slugs). Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do any serious testing on the engine block. That'll have to wait for next time.

One of the guys had recently picked up a cheap used Bushnell 3-9x scope for his battle rifle...and after 121 rounds of .308 it suffered a catastrophic failure when one of the internal lenses detached itself from the scope body and started bouncing around inside. Whoops. For me, that just reinforced the notion that cheap optics just aren't worth paying for. Better to save up for something really good than have to deal with bummers like this.

I also had the chance to handle a Russian Mosin Nagant 91/30 just ordered last week from AIM Surplus. They're advertised as being in excellent condition, and it's not an exaggeration. They're not brand new, but they are gorgeous rifles in really great shape. And they're being sold with bayonet, pouches for clips, sling, and a couple tools for an underwhelming 60 bucks. Better yet, they also sell 440 round tins of Hungarian 7.62x54R ammo for $37. Seems to me that one of these rifles would be hard to beat as a first centerfire rifle for someone on a budget.

To give you some background, the Mosin Nagant entered production in Russia in 1891, used through World War I, modernized in 1930 (hence the 91/30 designation), and served as the Red Army's primary rifle throughout World War II. They're bolt action, have 5 round magazines, weigh about 9 and a half pounds, and are just under 52 inches long. The sights and trigger aren't great, but are perfectly serviceable. The 7.62x54R cartridge they use is as powerful as infantry rifles have ever used (equal to the American WWII workhorse .30-06). We didn't do any formal accuracy testing on the one we had on hand, but it was minute-of-floating-tennis-ball accurate out at 50 yards or so, which is more than sufficient for learning to shoot with. The rifles are rugged and durable, and are only so cheap because of the huge number of them on the market.

If you're looking for a way to get started on becoming a proficient rifle shooter without spending a lot, I don't think you'll find any better deal than this one (and no, I have no association with AIM Surplus). It's a great way to be able to save your money for a really nice FAL or M1A and still be able to shoot a lot in the meantime.

Posted by Claire @ 08:51 AM CST

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