Due to their availability, fair price and good conditioning, older surplus bolt action rifles have become very popular weapons with survivalists who are seeking cheaper alternatives to higher-end automatic weapons such as AK-47s, AR-15s  and M1As.
The Russian-made Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle is a prime example of a weapon that is praised for its ruggedness, accuracy, track record, cheap pricing and cheap ammunition. The Mosin-Nagant has been used in many conflicts since the late 1890s up until today, and has proved itself again and again. Other bolt-action rifles like the Mosin-Nagant that have found favor with survivalists and gun enthusiasts include the British Lee-Enfield, the German Mauser rifle, and the American Springfield M1903.
The question is: How would one of these older but rugged bolt-action rifles compare to a modern day AR?
When it comes down to it, an AR or similar automatic weapon is a more versatile rifle, and someone with a Mosin-Nagant going up against someone with an AR or AK may not exactly have good odds. But at the same time, semi-automatic rifles are expensive. A good, military style semi-automatic rifle will cost around $1,000 for the gun alone, and a lot more for enough ammunition to be proficient with it. Owning a rifle is one thing, but being proficient with it is another. Proficiency requires a lot of rounds, as in over a thousand rounds, to be used at the range.
The ultimate reason why many people go with the older bolt-action rifles is because they provide a cost-efficient way to put bullets downrange at long distances. There are four categories of guns you should own: pistol, shotgun, .22 rifle, and center-fire rifle. Many see the Mosin-Nagant as filling the last category nicely.
As an example here, let’s compare a surplus bolt action rifle, the Mosin-Nagant  in 7.62x54r, with a modern day semi-automatic rifle in a similar chambering, an AR-10 or M1A in .308 Winchester.
A good quality Mosin-Nagant will cost no more than $200 without a scope, and that is no doubt an excellent deal. In comparison, a new AR-10 or M1A will cost in the $1,500 range, again without a scope.
Now let’s look at ammo: You need 1,000 rounds of ammo spent at the range in order to be proficient with the weapon, and at least 1,000 more rounds in storage. This is 2,000 rounds total, minimum.
Let’s say we buy the 7.62x54r ammo and the .308 Winchester ammo in bulks of 500 rounds each. A bulk of 500 rounds of 7.62x54r ammo is going to cost you around $190 to maybe $220, depending on the manufacturer and type of the ammo. That’s approximately $760 for 2,000 rounds of ammunition.
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A bulk of 500 rounds of .308 Winchester, on the other hand, is going to cost around $350 to $400 each. At the minimum, that’s approximately $1,400 for 2,000 rounds of .308 Winchester.
All in all, to buy the Mosin-Nagant, to become proficient with it, and to have adequate stores of ammo for it is going to cost you around $960. That number would be a little higher with a Lee-Enfield or a Mauser rifle, but you get the idea.
To do the same with an AR-10 or M1A variant is going to cost you around $2,900. That number would be a little cheaper with an AR-15 or Mini-14 chambered in 5.56 NATO, but a .308 is more comparable to the 7.62x54r, so we’ll settle with that.
When the math is calculated, the Mosin-Nagant is clearly the better deal. The new question is if it is worth saving the money to sacrifice becoming proficient with a modern day weapon in favor of an older rifle.
Owning both weapons would be nice, but when it comes down to buying one or the other, you should go with the modern day semi-automatic rifle if you can afford it. And by affording it, you still have plenty of money left over to continue to live comfortably the way you are. If you can’t afford it, you should go with the Mosin-Nagant or similar bolt-action rifle until you can afford the semi-automatic.
Bar-none, an AR-10 or an M1A is going to outperform a Mosin-Nagant with larger capacity, a faster rate of fire and availability of accessories.
But the Mosin-Nagant is not a bad option. If money is a serious issue for you, and you need a good rifle for putting rounds downrange at long distances, give the Mosin or similar bolt-action rifle a look as an interim weapon before your big purchase of a semi-automatic, modern rifle.
What are your thoughts on the Mosin-Nagant or other bolt action rifles? Share your thoughts in the section below: