Many firearms are popular and have been seen often in world history. Some are iconic like the AK47 or M1 Garand. Some are legends in foolishness like the Chauchat. Some like the 1911 are remembered for their simple effectiveness. The mosin-nagant falls into this category.
Produced in figures of no less than 48 million by at least a dozen countries from 1891 through 1973 the Mosin-Nagant rifle was robust, accurate, and reliable. The Mosin was the bread and butter of the Russian and later Soviet Armies until 1947, fighting in the Boxer Rebellion, Russo-Japanese War, Russo-Polish War, Finnish Winter War, Russian Revolution and Civil War, as well as both World Wars. It then started a second life around the world in the hands of Warsaw Bloc proxies from Spain, North Korea, and Vietnam to Nicaragua and Grenada. It is still found in almost every third world country's arsenals to this day. For a design that is 121-years old and predates the Ford Model T by a generation, that's not too shabby.
Author Terry Lapin has written what could be referred to as the best single volume English language work on the subject of this rifle. Entitled The Mosin-Nagant Rifle, (For collectors only) it is currently in its fifth updated edition and is published by North Cape Publications of Tustin, California.
Contents and appendices of the book
The paperback publication is 264 pages or about 3 pages for every year that the Mosin-Nagant was in production. It covers such unique variants as the Hungarian, Polish wz. 91/98, and the Tsarist Cossack models. You can find in depth explanations of the differences in butt plates and butt plate screws, stock bolts, barrel bands, nose caps, receivers, triggers, bolts, barrels and sights. These various parts, not always interchangeable and sometime only very minutely different, are made easy to distinguish through more than a hundred drawings and photographs.
Sub variants from different countries all have their own sections and descriptive texts. For instance, say you figure out that you have one of the 315,000 Finnish made Mosin Nagants. Well how can you tell if it is a Jalkavenkivaari m/24 or a Ratsuvaenkivaari m/27? Check out page 115 and you are solid. From obscure Cyrillic script on receivers to maker's marks and the difference in factory logos between the Tsar and Stalin's era, it is all here.
The dizzying amounts of variations in stocks and hand guards from the French Chatterhault stocks of 1891 to American Westinghouse and Remington type in 1916 to the Chinese orange wood stocks of the 1960s is explained in detail. Special attempts are made to explain the mysteries of Mosin M91/30 sniper rifles including how to tell if yours is legit or an imposter. Chapters are devoted to various loadings of 7.62x54R ammunition as used from country to country and era to era, oil bottles and accessories, slings and other miscellaneous items.
Finally, the rear of the book contains serial number ranges for Finnish and Russian/Soviet production. A hand Russian to English glossary and short but effective sections on field stripping and troubleshooting your Mosin-Nagant are bonus added.
Even if you do not own one of these rifles, the book is a good read simply from a military history standpoint. It is hard to find an army that did not use these rifles at one point or another (including that of the United States and Germany) in the past two centuries. This book covers them well.