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How To Turn A Cheap Old Mosin Nagant Into A Formidable Modern Rifle

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Image source:

The Mosin Nagant has to be one of the most iconic rifles ever produced. Developed in 1891, this Rusky five-round bolt-action beauty was an extremely deadly battle companion. But times have certainly changed, so what exactly has paved the way for the gun’s popularity, even into the 21st century?

The Mosin was the primary infantry rifle for Russian forces during both World Wars. A staggering 37 million were manufactured during its production years.

Buying A Mosin Today

Thanks to hefty production numbers, the gun is squarely in the affordable price range of just about anybody who enjoys to shoot on the cheap – and doesn’t mind a mule kick to the shoulder. At Cabela’s of all places, you can still get your hands on a classic 91/30 for $169. For an old truck gun beater, I can’t say that I’d complain – especially considering gun prices these days.

The really fun part is that the Mosin Nagant also makes for one heck of a fun project rifle, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. Before you know it, your Mosin artifact can start looking tacti-cool in no time. And by the way, with these mods, you’ll actually get a boost in combat effectiveness. It seems as though old dogs really can learn new tricks.

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But of course, it does make sense to wonder why you’d even try to make tactical modifications to a rifle that’s got more mileage than Sputnik. To that, I would first say, “Well, it’s fun.” Second,’s post does make a pretty good point:

“…but the even bigger draw is that the ammo, which is comparable ballistically to the .308 or 30-06, can easily be had for a stunningly low $.25 a round. At this point in time there is no other large centerfire rifle that is this inexpensive to shoot.”

It is true that prices are in near constant fluctuation these days, but the Russians seem to have overproduced their ammo for the Mosin in proportion to their overproduced rifle.

Getting On With the Ergonomics-Cool Factor

Now, let’s take care of the most obvious part of the rifle that makes it look more at home in some dark corner of Grandpa’s barn than propped up in your safe next to the Ruger Mini-30 – ye olde wooden stock. So, how do we fix this? Well, the Archangel AA9130 stock happens to offer quite a few convincing advantages, such as the following:

  • Polymer, reinforced with carbon fiber
  • Gooseneck grip
  • Adjustable buttstock for better cheekweld
  • Magazine well (we’ll get to this later)

The strangest part about this aftermarket stock is the fact that it’s about $200, at least on the ProMag online store. But, so far, we’re only at $369 for what is now a highly ergonomic and weatherproof 30-06 that eats super cheap ammo.

Let’s Talk Optics

If we’re going to give this old Mosin a mall-ninja makeover, then we’re going to need to throw an optic on this bad boy. However, there is a small problem.

Image source:

Image source:

Unless we do some fairly comprehensive (and most often, expensive) work on the bolt to give it an angel that won’t be obstructed by a conventional rifle scope set-up, then we’re going to have to go with a scout scope or a long eye relief (LER) scope. Fortunately, Brass Stacker makes a $59 mount that’s made specifically for the Mosin Nagant LER scope positioning. Brass Stacker was even nice enough to leave a small space through the middle, so you can still use your irons and you don’t have to do any gunsmithing to install the unit.

All that’s left is for you to throw a Redfield or Leatherwood LER scope on there, sight her in and you’re ready to rock.

Top It Off: Magazines

When I originally heard about the Archangel setup, I could not contain my skepticism. It wasn’t long, however, before such thoughts were silenced.

Do you remember how the Mosin originally comes with a five-round magazine that must be fed from the top? Well, this system actually allows you to run a 10-round, polymer, bottom-fed box magazine (for about $17 by ProMag).

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As a result, that 10-round mag nearly makes this weapon as lethal as a Ruger Gunsite Scout. That’s if you are working with an LER and your Mosin is an M44 carbine shorty, at least. Provided your barrel wasn’t already shot out by 1927 and the bolt doesn’t require your entire body weight to action (they can be like that sometimes), I’d say that your Russian retro-scout rifle might be able to go toe-to-toe with Ruger’s tricked-out M77.

Step Back and Take It In

So you just dropped about $300 for modifications to a $169 antique truck rifle. Not only do you now have a highly functional gun that uses cheap ammo, but if we were to compare specs to specs, then you could feasibly use this as a Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper “scout rifle” alternative if the internals in your Mosin Nagant are still working properly.

It’s probably silly to expect AR-15, Ruger Mini-14/30, Winchester 70, Remington 700 or even a classic Mauser’s performance out of your modified Mosin. But there is a good chance that you might snag a great deal on a Mosin that barely ever saw the outside of its wooden crate. Considering the fun you can have with this gun, that seems like a win to me.

Are you a fan of the Mosin Nagant? What are other upgrades you would make? Share your tips in the section below:

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  1. I have mine “sporterized”, while not “tacti-cool”, it IS extremely accurate and MILD shooting thanks to the stock and recoil pad I have on it. Reloading for the M-N is a breeze as well. LOTS of information out there on good loads to use for sporting use an/or hunting use. It is now my main hunting rifle and long-range rifle as well. I don’t feel under-gunned either. Yes, I do have lots of non-corrosive ammo for it as well that I have loaded and acquired from commercial sources.
    One cannot go wrong with the M-N or it’s many variants especially for preparedness “needs”, whatever those may be for you.

  2. I got my first Moisin-Nagant ay the Marin County Flea Market in 1971 for $8. At that times ammo was almost unavailable and cost a buck a round… at a time when gasoline was 29 cents a gallon. But it would punch holes at 400 yards with that stupid ladder sight.

  3. You can get a bent bolt for it for $70 or so and use one of the many standard type scope mounts make for the Moisin.

  4. A modified front sight, a good notch on the rear, shim bedding, and a two-stage trigger are what I consider essential to making the common Mosin into an excellent shooter.

    The Finns did this, and they churned out some of the best rifles of that era.


    Josh Smith

  5. archangel stock $150.00 on eBay, or if you want a more traditional composite stock, monte carlo stock on eBay $69.00. ATI makes a nice scope mount that allows you to use a traditional rifle scope, not long eye relief. you will have to drill and tap to mount it as well as send your bolt off and have the handle modified. there is a guy on e-bay who did mine for $40.00 It was very well done and looks like factory work, he also polished the bolt for free. Brownells also sells the scope mount $60.00. Muzzle brake on eBay $50.00 trigger spring kit $10.00 reduced trigger tension.. I opted for the 91/30 with the Octagon breach vs. the round one, and paid a little more for hand select to get a barrel with good rifling.

  6. The Mosin is definitely an “old truck gun beater” but for what is it, isn’t bad. Ive never consider the mods you’ve mentioned but definitely worth taking a look at. What did you find the Leatherwood LER priced at?

  7. I think it is a stupid idea when it comes to shooting for long distances

  8. Even now ammo is about ,40 cents cheaper then .06 and 308 per round. These are great rifles to have.

  9. Put my 39 Mosin in an ATI stock, rewelded the bolt, threw a Vortex crossfire on it and a break on the barrel. It’s got the best barrel cuts of any Mosin I’ve ever seen and shoots great. Just ordered a Timiny trigger for it to tighten my groups, but she out shoots damn near everything else in my safe at longer range. (700+ yards)

  10. I’m just a a poor Am Vet looking for a way to defend myself. Nothing more. Nothing less

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