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PostMosin-Nagant Rifle (Randy Black, USA, 05/28/13 6:57 pm)
When Cameron Sawyer and John Eipper mentioned the Russian Mosin-Nagant rifle as being part of the arsenal of the pre-Bolshevik and the USSR military, it struck a chord with me (see the 28 May post from Cameron).
The background on this Russian-American rifle is that it was introduced-developed by the Russian Imperial Army in 1882. Leading up to the October Revolution, the Russians could not produce them in effective numbers, thus more than three million were ordered from two US factories in 1916: New England Westinghouse and Remington.
However, while several million were delivered to the Russians, hundreds of thousands were not delivered by the time the revolution was over and the victors defaulted on payment to the American companies. Had not the US government stepped in and purchased the surplus production, the two firms would have bankrupted. See Wikipedia.
Thereafter, the rifles were used in firearms training by the US Army, the National Guard and even high school ROTC units.
The rifles were considered effective to about 350 yards but had only a 5-round internal magazine. Many distributed in the USA were later rechambered to the US 30-06 cartridge, and tens of thousands have been sold to American civilian hunters and collectors over the decades.
The monthly National Rifle Association even has an ad for the Mosin in its June 2013 edition on page 22. The ad is headlined "Quick! Before it's too late. $799, scope included. Get one before it's destroyed." It's billed as a WWII sniper version.
On the matter of which is older, the M16 or the Mosin-Nagant, the M16 was introduced in 1963, which makes it 50 years old this year. The Mosin was introduced in the era, 1882-1891. Thus, the two are approximately the same age as the Mosin was by 1941.
However, the M16 that I trained with at Fort Ord, California in 1970 has no technical resemblance to the one that I might shoot in 2013. The Mosin never really changed or improved over its military lifetime, as far as I can tell. Later models of the M16 improved reliability and accuracy tremendously.
The M16 that I fired "expert rifleman" with was not particularly accurate at great distances, nor reliable if dirty, a common problem in the wet conditions of Vietnam.
I recall shooting my M16 at a target about 300 yards down range on a late spring day when the sun was just above the horizon to my right. The round reflected the fading light as it tumbled end over end at the apogee of its flight about half way to the target. I commented to my drill sergeant that the round appeared to be flying end over end. He confirmed my theory with his that if the round hit someone while tumbling, it would inflict far more damage than if it were just drilling a small hole in the enemy. "That's good, right?" I asked. He smiled and went to the soldier's station.
Many American soldiers considered the M16 a "worthless piece of cow dung." Its feeding ramps were unreliable, the internals rusted quickly, the gas powered rifle tended to leak, the flash suppressor was not effective, the springs were weak, the magazines jammed if fully loaded and the extraction mechanism jammed way too often.
The biggest surprise was that when I broke my M16 down for cleaning the first time in 1970, the production stamp on the inside of the handgrip displayed the "If it's made by Mattel, it's swell" logo of the famous American toy manufacturer! Mattel made the grips for this weapon throughout the Vietnam War. As a point of reference, Mattel also made the Barbie doll. Colt made the rest of the rifle, but it was never respected by the soldiers who carried it into battle.
Most of those flaws were fixed in later versions but the early ones caused the deaths of many US soldiers in Southeast Asia.
To this day, I would not own one nor would want one if it were free.
JE comments: This explains the universal preference for the AK-47. One remark on gun pricing: $799 for a Mosin-Nagant? I paid $85 for mine ten years ago, albeit without a scope.