A sudden calm in the late afternoon made me sit up and
take notice. All the chipmunks and small birds around
the bait stump had vanished. A shadow then moved in the
swamp next to the bait site. A large bear had eased into
the shadows and was watching the area around the bait.
After maybe five minutes of watching, the bear walked
out, and circled the bait and my tree, testing the wind.
Watching from maybe twenty feet up, and twenty five
yards from the bait, I cradled my Mosin carbine in the
crook of my elbow, and eased off the safety. The bear
met all the criteria of a trophy bear, the heavy build,
large head, and thick black fur. After five long minutes
of watching the bear to make sure it had no cubs in tow,
I decided it was time to stop watching, and start
Wrapping the sling around my arm I then placed my
elbow over my knee and held just behind the bear's left
shoulder. Feeding on the bait in a hollow stump, the
bear had no idea a 180 grains of copper-jacketed lead
was about to ruin it's day. I squeezed the trigger and
the sledgehammer impact of the bullet knocked the bear
forward into the stump. As I worked the bolt, the bear
kicked itself backwards, out of the stump, biting at
it's left shoulder and growling. A fast follow up shot
to the base of the neck ended the bear's struggle, and
the woods became quiet again. My eight year wait for a
Wisconsin black bear permit had ended with the harvest
of a 300 lb. trophy bear. Information from a tooth that
the Wisconsin Department of natural Resources (DNR)
requires being submitted for testing revealed my bear
was 9 years old when taken.
So why did I choose a 50 year old Chinese-made bolt
action carbine that was already obsolete when built for
the hunt-of-a-lifetime? Simple, it fit me well, and I
knew exactly where it would place the bullet when I
pulled the trigger. Prior to using it for bear, three
whitetail deer had fallen to the Type 53, all one-shot
kills. Rugged, accurate, and above all reliable, Mosin
carbines and rifles are excellent hunting guns. The
7.62x54 cartridge it fires is a "full power"
military round, right between the popular .308
Winchester and .30-06 Springfield hunting calibers.
Hunting ammo imported from former Eastern Bloc countries
where these rifles used to serve as military weapons
leads me to believe they are popular hunting guns in
I am not the only one using these old firearms to
harvest game. An article on wild boar hunts in modern
day Poland showed maybe half of the hunters and guides
M44's. A Mongolian wolf hunt on the cable TV show
"Going Tribal" showed most of the herdsmen using
M44 or Type 53 carbines. A Snow sheep hunt in the
mountains of Kyrgyzstan on Outdoor Life Network (OLN) TV
showed the guides carrying
M91/30's with various scopes attached. Ever notice
boxes of Czech made Sellior & Bellot 7.62x54 hunting
ammo have Czech as well as English text? Some Hungarian
soft point ammo I bought some years back was packaged
the same. It's a solid bet Mosin rifles and carbines are
harvesting big game all over Eastern Europe, Finland,
the Balkans, and the Asian part of the former Soviet
Rifle or carbine? Probably the most commonly seen member
of the Mosin-Nagant rifle family is the M91/30. Sporting
a 27 1/4" barrel and a 48" over-all length, it's
considered long and heavy even among other WW II battle
rifles. While not my first choice as a hunting gun, it
has been used to harvest big game, and can be deadly
accurate from a steady rest. Finn re- arsenaled
M91/30's, as well as
Finn M39's, and M27's have heavy barrels and tighter
diameter bores. Finnish rifles have a well-deserved
reputation for accuracy, and are harvesting game in
Finland to this day. If you don't mind toting a heavy
rifle, and have steady rest to shoot from, it might be
the right gun for you. For the close quarters of the
blind I bear hunted from, or the thick Eastern deer
woods it would have been rather unwieldy.
The M38 carbine, and more commonly seen M44 carbine with
the attached folding bayonet have 20" barrels.
These seem to faster and easier to handle, and the
shorter barrel seems to speed up target acquisition. The
M38, and 91/59 are the most "user friendly" Mosins for
hunting. As they lack the bayonet, they look ready to
hit the woods right out of the box. The Chinese Type 53
and Warsaw Pact clones of the M44 are identical in size,
weight and handling. If you want to remove the folding
bayonet, it can be taken off by removing a single screw.
The 91/59 is actually a M91/30 re-worked into a carbine
with a 20" barrel. Less common than the M44, 91/59
carbines have a reputation as some of the most accurate
Mosin carbines. If you are lucky enough to own a 91/38,
a post WW II Czech re-work of a 91/30 into a carbine,
I'd suggest wall hanging it rather than hunting with it.
These carbines are so rare, many collectors (like
myself) have never even seen one.
Scopes and accessories: I support the idea of preserving
historic military arms. One has only to look at the "sporterization"
of classic '03 Springfield rifles to what a crying shame
it is to do this. I have always held to the same
principle as the Hippocratic Oath, "first, do no harm".
Simple upgrades like synthetic stocks, slip-on recoil
pads, aftermarket peep sights, etc. can replace G.I.
parts without destroying or modifying the original parts
or gun. Scope mounts for long eye relief scopes replace
the rear sight leaf, and require no drilling or tapping.
Simply save the G.I. parts, and replace them to restore
the gun to it's original state. My Type 53 wears an ATI
black synthetic stock. With the ATI stock, the rifle
fits me better than my Winchester Model 70 .30-06. That
is the only modification, as the trigger, sights, etc.
are all original. Most Mosin stocks seem a little
"short" in length of pull.
A simple inexpensive slip-on recoil pad solves the
fit as well as recoil problems. The stripper clips that
allowed fast reloading of these rifles in battle are
another good hunting accessory. A stripper allows you to
carry 5 rounds, ready to go, silently in your pocket.
The safety: The one big drawback in hunting with
Mosin-Nagant rifles is the safety. The large knurled
knob at the end of the bolt that can be turned to lock
the bolt and prevent an accidental discharge. I prefer
to carry with an empty chamber, then work the bolt and
chamber a round if I jump game when walking in. My first
whitetail deer was harvested this way, as she jumped up
and crossed a fire lane. On stand I will have a round
chambered, with the safety on. By holding the butt of
the rifle in the crook of your elbow, the safety can be
rotated quietly and quickly. Practice doing this until
you are sure you can do it safely.
Hunting Ammo: Wisconsin, along with most other States,
prohibits the use of non-expanding full metal jacket
military ammunition for hunting. Twenty some years ago
when I bought my Type 53, hunting ammunition was scarce
and expensive. Norma was over $30.00 per box, and Privi
Partisan, imported under the Hanson brand name ($15.00
per box) were all that was available. My how times have
changed! Now quality ammo from Russia and former Balkan
states runs less than "green box" Remington .30-06
shells! Wolf and Barnual (Russia) Privi Partisan, and
HotShot (former Yugoslavia) and Sellior & Bellot (Czech
Republic) all produce accurate and deadly soft point
hunting ammo. Winchester imports and markets 7.62x54
hunting ammo as it's Metric brand. Also check out local
gun shows for hunting ammo. I found 150 grain hunting
loads made with quality loading components for $15.00 at
the last one I went to. I suggest range testing several
brands to see what bullet weight and/or brand your rifle
groups best. You can also reload, or load your own with
new brass (www.grafs.com)
and loading components (www.midwayusa.com).
All the major powder manufacturers post loading data on
their web sites.
My Type 53 shoots .308 dia bullets well, some Mosins
may not, and may need .311-.312 dia. bullets. Again, try
various loads and bullet weights to find what your
particular Mosin groups best. If I owned an ammo company
and could make my idea of the "perfect"
7.62x54 hunting round for the Mosin it would be a .310
dia. polymer-tipped 165 grain boat tail at 2600 fps.
So if you own a Mosin-Nagant rifle or carbine, it's not
just for the range or gun collector's safe anymore. Most
will deliver shots into a 3"-4" group at 100 yards, some
like my Type 53 will cut that group in half. If you use
the popular Winchester Model 94 as a yardstick, that's
about similar accuracy, with a cartridge that packs a
lot more power than the .30-30.
Mosin's are harvesting boar, red deer, reindeer and
other big game in Europe, and I'd bet more than one big
Brown bear has been taken with one in Siberia or the
Kamchatka. I have often said the guys who made my rifle
in 1954 back in China would have never dreamed a
Wisconsin hunter would shoot a bear with it 50 years
later. These historic firearms that served well in
wartime are not just collectable. Still accurate and
powerful, they also make deadly hunting arms. Who knows,
you may even want take your old warrior on the hunt of a
lifetime like I did!