Lucked out on a 91/30

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. First impressions can always be, of course, somewhat deceptive, but the Mosin Nagant 91/30 I ordered from J&G arrived today, and so far at least, I am well pleased. I ordered one of their laminated stock rifles ($99.95) with the "hand pick" option added (an extra $10.00). It came complete with an original dog-collar sling (that looks as if it has hardly been used) a couple other bits and pieces of original gear, and a pig-sticker bayonet that makes the rifle seem 20 feet long when it's in place. I wonder how many Russians got goosed with this one while its owner was swilling vodka? :D

    Anyway, the bluing on this rifle appears very close to 100% and the stock is virtually free of dings or gouges. It appears to have been made in 1940, according to the date stamped on the receiver. The arsenal marking is a five-pointed (Soviet?) star with a feathered arrow in the center pointing upward. Help me out here, Polish: what arsenal used that marking? Was it Tula or Izzy? I'm still getting a grip on the various arsenal markings.

    Much more importantly, however, was what I found when I inspected the rifle. The stock is--as usual with a laminate model--coated with that god-awful Russian shelac, but that should come off easily with a judicious application of chemical remover. Underneath though, there seems to be an excellent piece of laminated wood with a beautiful grain. I plan to remove the shelac, carefully sand smooth as a politician's promise, refinish with a similar colored stain (probably red oak which looks very nice on these rifles), then add several coats of true oil. By the way, another question for you, Polish: what did the Soviets normally use as the base wood, and what did they commonly use for the laminate? Just curious.

    The heart of the rifle, however, is obviously the barrel and action and this is where I am particularly pleased. The bolt on this one is very, very smooth, no binding and an excellent lock-up, though I will polish it to a high luster. The barrel is dirty (as I expected) but the lands and grooves, on first inspection at least, seem to be in excellent shape. I think I REALLY lucked out on the trigger for this one. As you Crufflers all know, the triggers on these Russian-built rifles (unlike those saintly German Mausers :p ) are really a crap shoot. Some are burdened with too much creep and overtravel and have a very "spongy" feel to them. This one, however, seems nice and tight. I would estimate the trigger breaks at about 6 lbs or so, maybe 7. Not bad at all for a military rifle.

    After I complete the stock-refinishing and the very minor rebluing that will be necessary, the only changes to the rifle I plan to make will be to add an aperture sight (removable) in place of the existing rear sight and attach a slip-on recoil pad, both to lengthen the pull by an inch or so (military stocks are so damn short!) and to keep my shoulder from getting pounded so hard. When I'm finished, I hope to have a nice example of a pre-war Mosin that I can shoot 'til my heart's content or I run out of ammo, whichever comes first. :D
  2. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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    Sounds like you got a great deal. I have been thinkin of picking up a Romanian AK from them.
  3. My experience has been that J&G is very reliable, Southern, so if you do buy that AK, it will likely be just as advertised on their site . . . in other words, worth what you pay for it. You might also want to check out Classic. He has some AKs for sale that look pretty nice. I bought a Yugoslav SKS from Classic a few weeks ago that was brand new, never issued. The price was right ($169.00) and it's turned out to be a real shooter.
  4. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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    The only thing I am debating is my dealer has own for $379.00 It would be like $50.00 more from the dealer but their wouldn't be shipping and FFl fee and at my dealers shop I can see the actual gun (DESCISION DESCICION)
  5. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    You got a nice Pre-war Tula, PS! That is the "Famous" Tula star...no need for any Commie hammer and sickle crap on it to REMIND you oh yeah by the way this is a SOVIET rifle ;)

    They restocked them in laminated stocks at rearsenal later, mostly post -war, but SOME were restocked with laminated DURING the war. I assume it was easier to actually make the laminated stocks during the war getting the veneers from lesser quality logs, glueing them in blocks, then cutting the blanks from the chunks when dry. You can tell the wartime laminateds sometimes just like the wartime hardwood stocks...by the sling slots and escutcheons, or lack thereof!

    Post war stocks have both the front and rear slots protected by sheet metal escutcheons on either side with spring like "ears" that hold them in on either side. "Pre war" stocks many times have the escutcheons front and rear actually screwed in with tiny screws, just like the 91s. Wartime stocks USUALLY only have a flat sheet metal reinforcement on the BOTTOM of the front slot, and NOTHING over the rear slot, just a hole in the wood, which is USUALLY deformed a little from wear of the "dog collar," I read it as the more the deformation, the MORE the rifle actually saw service, probably in the war! I ALWAYS prefer the wartime stocks when I have a choice!

    You know, I've usually left my laminateds alone, even with the heavy varnish, they can be beautiful stocks!

    As per the wood used, outside of the "Circassian Walnut" (Which has about as much meaning to me as "Corinthian Leather" :p ) I have no idea. Many Russian stocks are EITHER dark which are a walnut, I know that much, or blonde, which I assume to be some sort of maple??? I'm not a wood expert, which is probably making my father (who was a logger, sawmill operator, wood worker, AND carpenter in his life) at least wince in his grave! SORRY Dad! I should have listened better! ;)

    Even though I have actually found NO discernible difference in the way they shoot, there is the "myth" that Tulas are more accurate than the Izzys.

    I think MAYBE it is because fewer Tulas were made than Izzys, so just MAYBE you hold the Tulas just a LITTLE tighter and caress that trigger just a LITTLE easier, so THAT is what makes them "more accurate..." :D :D
  6. Southern, do you have a C&R FFL yet? If not, get one post haste! They only cost you $30.00 for three years, and easily pay for themselves the first time you buy an old military rifle. The dealer price you quoted ($379.00) is VERY high for a Mosin Nagant these days. The online sources (J&G, Classic, SOG, for example) are selling their top-end Mosins for $100.00 or less, many far less than that, and with the FFL there are no transfer fees and only a small shipping cost. Here's a link where you can download the form to send in to BATF&E:

    http://www.cruffler.com/becomingcruffler.html
  7. Great! You just confirmed what I thought was the case, Polish. I remember that the triangle with the arrow in it denotes the Izzy, so I kinda thought the star might well be the mark of the Tula. My other Mosins are all Izzys, so it's nice to have a Tula in the collection as well.

    I checked this rifle out even more thoroughly last night and, believe it or not, the bluing really is almost perfect. I suspect it was rearsenaled at some point in its history. I also noted, after comparing it to both my M38 and M44, that the finish work on the rifle is MUCH better. It appears they went through the final machining phase and smoothed out the tang and other parts so they fit properly, instead of leaving them with tool marks and rough edges. The arsenal and proof stamps on the receiver also stand out clearly, indicating that more care was taken in manufacture.

    The escutcheons that protect the sling slots on this one don't appear to have nails holding them, though because of the dried cosmoline still clinging to them, I can't be entirely sure. I did notice they seem to be of a brass colored metal, though that could simply be from that yuky shelac that was sprayed on the stock. They're probably just sheet metal. I don't see much, if any, sign of wear in the slots. It looks like there has never been a sling attached at all. The wood between the escutcheons seems undisturbed, not worn smooth from a sling.

    As you note, Polish, the shelac (or varnish, or whatever it is) doesn't look too bad, but it does appear to have been simply sprayed on so there are a few rough spots. I think I can make it look MUCH better with a little TLC. I want the rifle to look good as well as shoot straight. :cool: I suspect you are right on the woods used, Polish. The laminate consists of alternating light and dark layers of wood. The dark layers are most likely walnut, while the light ones may very well be maple, or possibly beech. The result is a beautiful contrasting grain in the stock that I can bring out nicely with the refinish. It seems clear this is a pre-war Mosin, built well before the German Panzers started eating Russian tanks for breakfast, and serving up Russian infantrymen as hors d'oeuvres. :D I'll try to snap a picture of it before I begin the refinish and post it here, then post another one after the work is all done so you can see what I intended. This is DEFINITELY a rifle to keep in original military configuration, I think. No synthetic stocks or scope mounts for this one! :D I do want to add the removable aperture sight on it though, mostly because I can shoot much better with one than with the regulation leaf sight.
  8. OK, here are some pictures of the Mosin before I begin the refinish:
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2008
  9. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

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    Pistol I was talking about a Romanian AK, Traded a Ruger to the dealer today and got the 469.00 side folding AK at no cost.
  10. Oops! My mistake, Southern. Yeah, you're right, a Type 01 FFL license is needed for an AK, thanks to our "dear" former President Can't-Keep-It-In-His Pants-Clinton. If you got an AK for that Ruger trade, you did right well indeed, Southern. Now, go out and blow up something and let us know how it shoots! :D Lordy, I can still remember to well the distinctive sound of those things on full auto, especially when I was the intended target.
  11. Polish, you absolutely, positively, unquestionably, and without doubt even,must plan a new Mosin project using one of those laminated 91/30s like I just bought from J&G! Well, you should plan one I think, given your predilection for Mosins. :rolleyes: Seriously, you would doubtless be in hog heaven, happier than a hungry Polack with a plate full of kielbasa and a mug of beer. ;)

    I stripped down that 91/30 today, sanded it, and applied the stain. You would not believe the fabulously beautiful grain I ended up with, Polish. I used a good chemical varnish remover (Jasco) to get rid of the Russian spray varnish job. The varnish was on there so thickly that it took four applications of the chemical to get all of it off, while using coarse steel wool between each application. Next, I sanded with medium sandpaper (120 grit), then moved down to a fine (180 grit), then a very fine (220 grit), and finally finished up with crocus cloth. The stock ended up smoother than greased owl . . . well, you get the picture. :p The grain contrast is absolutely fabulous, Polish. The lighter areas look almost iridescent in contrast with the darker layers running through the stock. I then applied a rather light stain (Minwax Red Oak #215) that darkened the wood just enough to look like a gunstock, but not so much that it detracts from that gorgeous grain. If you should happen to use that stain, don't be concerned that it initially looks a little too red when it's applied. As soon as it sinks in (about a half hour), it turns a beautiful medium brown color with just a bare hint of red in it. Next step is to begin applying the Tru Oil. I think this stock definitely deserves at least 10 coats, perhaps even 12!

    Yeah, I know, I sound unsually enthusiastic over this rifle, Polish, but it really deserves it. I think Stalin must have kept this one in his closet in case he spotted Trotsky walking across the Kremlin plaza. :rolleyes: I won't say it is a mint rifle, but it's awfully close. I looked carefully at the barreled action after I took it out of the stock and I don't even see minor spots of rust anywhere, which is usually the case with a 66-year-old Russian rifle. The bluing is also deep and even, so apparently they got the temperature right when it was put in the bluing tank. I'll keep everyone posted on my progress, including pictures when it's finished.
  12. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Believe it or not, PS, AIM once ran a "One Day Internet Special" with M44 wartime Laminateds for $29.99 each a couple of years ago! I was leaving for work, checked this forum, and saw that somebody had posted about it the day it happened! Everything came together, I got to change my schedule, and I raced over there and bought the LAST 2 they had!

    The BAD news is I sold BOTH of them for $125 each! I'm Kicking myself I didn't save ONE of them, ESPECIALLY since my wife made the comment "Those are the prettiest ones you've bought yet!" I ALWAYS find time to check the AIM website, but never have found anything like that since.

    And I CRIED (literally!) when I saw the laminated stock 91/30 Snayperskaya get dropped in the rubble during 'Enemy at the Gate" when that one sniper got shot crossing the opening! I would have GLADLY offered one of my "dropped in the rubble" 91/30s to be used in the movie in place of THAT one.... :eek:

    Yeah,. the laminateds look great, but I'm looking for a wartime laminated...

    I just might buy an M38 laminated...I know they will be an M44 stock, but I could live with that...they STILL are "correct" for a rearsenaled M38...

    You can tell if any Mosins are "rearsenaled," by looking for the Rearsenal marks...if the METAL was rearsenaled it will have a small "box" with a parallel line through it somewhere on the receiver or the barrel, if the WOOD was rearsenaled. somewhere on the stock will be a small box with a DIAGONAL line through it...
  13. I would have changed my schedule too, or driven 100 miles, to get that kind of price! :D I agree, AIM has good stuff. I've bought a couple of rifles from them myself, an M38 and an M44.

    I can understand quite easily why you want a wartime laminated. From a historical and collector's point of view, that makes perfect sense. Yet--and this may be where we differ a tiny bit in our respective C&R perspectives--I think there is also a place in one's gun cabinet for rifles that have very little or no direct collectior value, but are simply good RIFLES--good, inexpensive tools for putting rounds downrange. In fact, I sometimes try to buy that kind of military weapon purposely for the simple reason I don't feel like I'm engaged in some sort of tomb robbery of historical artifacts! :eek: Truth be told, Polish, I really, really enjoy taking an old, beat up, POS military rifle and turning it into a thing of both utility and beauty. It satisfys my (rather barbaric!) aesthetic sense, I suppose. Kinda like making the Phoenix rise from the ashes. :rolleyes:

    I checked out my 91/30 based on the info you gave (thanks for that, by the way), but I could not find any rearsenal marks of the kind you describe, either on the stock or on the metal. I'll look again to be absolutely sure, but I certainly didn't see any in my fairly close inspection. I did see a diamond-shape stamped into the receiver, and the stock does have what looks like a small "X" stamped on it immediately behind the trigger guard. Is it possible this one could be a never-issued, or little used, original from 1940?

    I'm about half way through putting on the Tru Oil finish now, and man is this rifle coming out beautifully if I do say so myself. That stock is GORGEOUS, Polish! Every coat of Tru Oil I put on just enhances it even further. Since I've had the action out of the stock applying the Tru Oil coats, I took the opportunity to clean the barrel very thoroughly with Blue Wonder, bristle brush, and patches while waiting for the coats to dry. The lands and grooves are not just in good shape, they look like the rifle barrel has been barely broken in. No sign of pitting "fuzz" or rust anywhere in the barrel and the lands are very clear and distinct. I suspect it will shoot better than I can aim. I plan to test that theory next week!
  14. RussianRifle

    RussianRifle New Member

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    Pistolenschutze: One of my M91/03s has a diamond mark stamped into the receiver, just south of the barrel. I had heard that it was another kind of refurbishment mark. Either way, it sounds like you got a very nice one.

    Your 91/30 looks mighty good as is. I will truly be looking forward to some pics of your project when it's done.
  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I doubt it on original unissued, first, because the laminated stock places it at the EARLIEST late war, but with the post-war escutcheons, probably a post war rearsenal. I'm pretty sure anyway that NO laminated stocks were made in 1940, and definitely not by Tula. I'm not sure ANY 1940s could POSSIBLY have NOT seen service!

    I also believe the diamond MAY be a rearsenal mark, now I'm not sure if I've ever seen the box with a line post-war rearsenal mark on anything but M44s.

    They made substantially less 91/30s at Tula than at Izhevsk ever, and even less in 38-40 since Tula was the main arsenal where they were building the crappy SVT- 38 and SVT-40s.

    They made about a Million and a half total 91/30s of all types in 1940, which was more than any year prior, but even then, they only had made about 5 million total since 1930...heck, they probably LOST 3 million + just in Finland and the last 6 months of 1941....and they only made a total of 800 some odd thousand in 1941, but started cranking them out in 42, 43 and 44...

    Did you see any arsenal marks in the finger grooves of the stock? that's where they usually put them, along with on the butt, usually on the side.

    And have you noticed yet that the RIGHT finger groove is LONGER than the LEFT finger groove? :cool:
  16. I also doubt very strongly it is an original unissued, Polish. While the rifle is indeed in excellent shape, it has obviously seen use.

    No marks of any sort in the finger grooves, and yes, I had already noticed that the right-hand groove is about a half inch longer than the left one. I assume this is simply to make them fit the hand better when the forward part of the rifle is grasped with the left hand to fire the rifle. It fits my hand better anyway. In fact, ergonomically, I must admit the Mosin simply "feels" better in the hands than any other WWII battle rifle I've handled, including the Mausers. :eek:

    Well, the rifle is finished and I am well pleased with it. I'm taking it out to the range this afternoon to test it out. I'll let you all know how it shoots with that new Mojo aperture sight in place. I'll also try and get some pictures made and posted of the final result.
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