The Mosin Nagant has taken the place of ‘the poor man’s hunting rifle’ well away from the Marlin 30-30 lever gun. The Mosin Nagant’s low price point means it attracts a wide variety of different people, and not all are looking for a historical rifle. Some are looking for an affordable rifle for the deer stand or blind, to hunt hogs with, and to use and abuse. That brings us to the first question. Is the Mosin Nagant a good option as a hunting rifle?
There is two factors one needs to consider when looking for a rifle for deer hunting. Is it accurate enough? Is it powerful enough? If you answer yes to both questions then you have a good hunting rifle. A deer hunting rifle doesn’t have a to be much more than that. Any additional features you get is a plus. The 7.62 x 54R is a powerful round, that is comparable to the 30-06. The 7.62x54R is more than enough for North American deer.
In my experience most Mosin Nagants are accurate enough for shooting deer at 500 yards for shooters who know what they are doing. When it comes to hunting anything from two to three hundred yards is considered ‘long’ range. Mosins vary in condition greatly, most are capable, but to be accurate the weapon needs to have a good bore, not a pitted one, and proper bedding is critical to accuracy (check out the article on how to make your Mosin more accurate). Of course you need to take the time to shoot your rifle, and you’ll know if your specific model is accurate. My conclusion is the Mosin is a perfectly capable hunting rifle.
If budget wasn’t an issue I’d pick a M44, but those are pricey for Mosin Nagants, and if I was being pragmatic I could buy a more modern rifle for the same price of M44. I would choose the M44 because it’s a bit shorter and I have no need for the incredibly long barrel of a 91/30 for hunting. A 91/30 is still a good choice for a hunting rifle, but it’s not the best choice (although the least expensive model by far). The 91/30 is very long, and quite heavy. This makes the weapon difficult handle over a long hike, and makes the weapon more difficult to fire ‘off hand’.
I want a budget minded Mosin, that’s a bit shorter, so I would go with a T-53, the Chinese copy of the Russian M44. The T-53 is probably the cheapest Mosin Nagant style rifle on the market right now. they are commonly in beat up stocks and have what I would call a rough finish if I was being kind. How the rifle looks isn’t important to me or the deer. The T-53 is light and handy, while remaining powerful and just ass accurate as any other Mosin Nagant. The typical T-53 costs between 99 to a 150 dollars. If you already have a Mosin Nagant and looking to take it hunting then price at that point isn’t a concern.
If I was constrained to a tight budget I wouldn’t modify the Mosin Nagant, I’d invest in quality ammo and call it a day. I happen to live in Florida and do most of my hunting in swamps, so everything is close range and I have need for a scope. If I was hunting out west or in any kind of plainsland I would look at obtaining a scope. The simplest and cheapest option for mounting a scope is to mount a forward scope, in a scout style mount. This does require the use of a long eye relief scope which has several limitations.
Mounting a traditional, short eye relief scope does require a bent bolt, and a good mount. Personally this would be my choice. The extra funds are well worth to mount my scope of choice. I would use a mount by Rock Solid. They make very high quality mounts, easily the best purpose built for the Mosin Nagant. As an optic I’d keep it very simple, a Bushnell Trophy 3-9 x 40 with a mil dot reticle, or a Leupold VX-1. Both are excellent all around optics that would perform well on a Mosin Nagant. They are also simple, and very easy to use, just like the Mosin Nagant.
The woodstock of a Mosin Nagant is pretty tough, it’s also somewhat heavy, and they are often beat up pretty bad. The T-53 variants are often in worse condition than any Eastern Euro variant. I would choose a simple ATI Monte Carlo stock. It’s simple and lightweight, with a better length of pull, a bette comb for using a scope, and sling swivels for modern slings.
These leads me to my final modification, a good solid sling. Slings are invaluable when they are needed. Especially when it comes to climbing a tree stand, or moving over rough terrain. I prefer the Slogan Outdoors UltraFlex rifle sling. It supports the heavy Mosin rifle quite nicely, and it is incredibly comfortable. The Ultraflex isn’t vulnerable to moisture, snow, chemicals or near anything else. The sling is as reliable as the classic Mosin rifle.
One of the best things about the Mosin Nagant is how cheap the 7.62x54R round is. Military surplus ammo is ridiculously cheap, and a ton of fun to shoot. This military surplus ammo is a poor choice for hunting though., It’s not the most consistent or accurate ammo, it is corrosive, and it does not expand, but zips right through a target. My preferred load for deer hunting would be the Hornady 150 grain SST steel ammunition.
The SST round delivers tremendous shock when it hits the body, while expanding significantly. Hornady ammunition is typically very consistent and very accurate. This Hornady round is one of many ammunition choices for the Mosin Nagant, but it’s the one I find to be the most consistent.
Time to go hunting
The Mosin is a great choice for hunting when we look at how it performed in some of the harshest conditions in the world. The Mosin Nagant is a weapon that has likely served in every environment you can imagine. From jungles, to desert, and Russian winter the Mosin works. As an outdoor rifle the Mosin always performs. It may lack the finesse of other weapons, but the Mosin can be a fine hunting rifle, and it has been for generations of shooters around the world.