The Mosin Nagant rifle is an extremely popular rifle in the United States, regardless of the fact it is a Russian design made before the First World War. These rifles are extremely cheap, they fire a powerful round that is also cheap, and they are a blast to shoot. Some people buy the rifle and are perfectly happy with its performance. Others may want to customize their rifle a bit, and improve its performance. As much as purists proclaim, “Nyet, rifle is fine,” the addition of an optic can improve the weapon’s performance. An optic allows shooters to extend the effective range of their weapon, enjoy shooting the firearm a bit more, and being generally be way more accurate with an optic than without.
Since the advent of the Mosin Nagant repeating rifle there has literally been more than a hundred years of refinement in sighting options for firearms. The open sights on the Mosin Nagant are one of the weapon’s weaknesses, they are difficult to see, hard to use at long ranges, and do not take advantage of the weapon’s long barrel, and powerful cartridge. Now attaching an optic to the Mosin Nagant is not a simple snap on affair, while most of us are spoiled with flat top AR 15s, the Mosin suffers from being made in the later 1800s. Optics weren’t really very good or used much at the time. Times have changed though, and optics are often considered standard for any center fire rifle.
The first obstacle in mounting an optic to the Mosin Nagant is a lack of an easy to use mount. There isn’t any method to drill and tap the top of the receiver that would successful. The second obstacle is the straight bolt. When the shooter rotates the bolt to load, or put another round in the chamber the bolt rotates 90 degrees. This long, straight bolt points directly up. This long, straight bolt handle means a scope would have to be positioned very high, or you’d have to change the bolt itself. You are going to have to find a way to overcome these obstacles to mount an optic.
Luckily with the popularity of the Mosin Nagant there are a wide variety of options that allow the mounting of an optic in one way or another. These solutions can change your rifle permanently or can be a simple drop in modification. Even though it’s one of the most mass produced rifles in the world, it still has some historical value. A drop in modification allows no permanent modification to the rifle, and allows the weapon to be easily swapped back to its original, historic configuration.
Scout Style Mount
While we are talking about mounting an optic in a method that doesn’t permanently affect the rifle, we can bring up the Scout rifle style of mounting an optic. This means mounting an optic forward of the receiver. For the Mosin there are a variety of scope mounts that replace the rear iron sight with a small section of scope rail. You mount your optic to this section of rail and you’re done. Again, these are not permanent mods to your weapon.
This is probably the most affordable method. Be cautious, and make sure you get a nice solid scope mount. Cheaper models may wiggle and this does a lot of damage to your overall accuracy with an optic. This mounting method also allows the user to load the weapon rapidly, and still use stripper clips to charge the weapon. You can utilize the original straight bolt as well. If you choose to utilize this method you will have to use a long eye relief scope. (More on scope types a little later.)
Conventional Scope Mounts
The Mosin Nagant is not friendly for a conventional scope, but it can be done. Mounting a conventional, or short eye relief scope, can be done without permanent modification. First you’ll need a proper mount. One of the easiest to install and one of the most effective is the mounts from Advanced Rifle Parts. The company produces scope mount for conventional optics for a variety of different Mosin models including the 91/30, the M39, and the M44/M38.
Like the typical scout mount will take the place of the regular iron sights. Installation is a bit more difficult than simply replacing the rear iron sight, but it can be done at home, with minimal tools. This mount will require the use of a bent bolt. There are a variety of different options for a Mosin Bent Bolt and some may require you to alter your stock to accommodate it. However, there are some bent bolts that drop in with no permanent modification necessary. Big Gorilla Gunworks does produce such a bolt, known as their low profile model.
While the Mosin Nagant was not designed with an optic in mind, the Russians found a way to add a scope. In fact, rarely do Russians build a weapon that is optics ready, and often have to accommodate these weapons with side mounts. The Mosin Nagant sniper model historically used the PU Sniper scope. This low powered scope mounts to the side and does require the most effort to mount.
You will have to permanently modify the weapon, including the receiver and stock. You’ll have to remove a portion of the stock to install the rail, and very carefully drill and tap the receiver. This should be done by a professional to insure the weapon isn’t damaged, and that everything is done correctly. This is an expensive method of scoping Mosin, but for dedicated Mosinites this might be the only method acceptable.
Long Eye Relief Scopes Versus Short Eye Relief
I mentioned both long eye relief scopes and short or conventional eye relief scopes. Before you choose which method you want to scope your Mosin, you should understand the difference in scopes. It would be terrible to utilize a method of mounting and then despise the scope you’re using.
Long eye relief
The most basic method of explaining a long eye relief scope is that the eye box is placed further from your eye. Long eye relief scopes typically start at around 4 inches from the eye, and go on and on. For example long eye relief scopes are what is used on hunting handguns, so the eye relief spectrum is quite broad.
On a Mosin the first advantage is being able to rapidly reload the weapon, and it’s often the cheapest and easiest method to mount an optic. These optics vary in magnification, but are typically top out on magnification well before a conventional scope does. You’re generally stuck with scopes that top out at 8 to 9 power.
Short Eye Relief
Short eye relief is the conventional scope that is right near your eye. The benefits include keeping the weapon’s balance more to the rear and a conventional optic will have a clearer sight picture. Conventional scopes offer a wider magnified field of view, and are capable of having a much more powerful magnification. Other useful add ons include mil dot scales, bullet drop compensators, and more complicated and versatile reticles.
On a Mosin, mounting an optic is of course a bit more difficult and requires a little more money and a little more work. You’ll also lose the ability to rapidly reload your rifle, and you’ll lose the ability to use stripper clips.
The Mosin Nagant is probably one of the most affordable, effective and fun rifles on the market. The Mosin Nagant is a fire breathing monster that launches a heavy, powerful projectile in a relatively straight line. Mounting an optic does allow users to be more accurate at longer ranges and turns the weapon into a very effective hunting rifle. Scoping a Mosin may not be as simple as scoping a Marlin, but it can be done, and the effort is often worth it.
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