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The Mosin-Nagant Rifle Model 1891/30:

The Last Dragoon Rifle

KH-Intro-M9130.jpg (6848 bytes)

 

 

Text: Karl-Heinz Wrobel with editing from MJL

Photos: Vic T, K-H Wrobel, Jean P, Tuco

During World War I several Mosin-Nagant rifles served the Czarist Army well; the standard infantry rifle M1891, the dragoon and Cossack rifles M1891 (in fact the same rifle with two different names) and the carbine M1907. After W.W. I, there was no need to have three types of rifles in service. The infantry rifle was too long, the carbine too short and inaccurate when compared with the rifles of other nations.

The Supreme Military Council of the young Soviet Union decided on October 3, 1922 to abolish the use of the former four Russian rifles in favor of one universal weapon. To that end, the dragoon rifle M1891 was their choice, in a slightly modified, modernized configuration. The Councils decree read,"Planning to equip the Red Army with a new standard rifle as soon as possible up to the time, a new rifle, which fits all necessaries and the experiences out of the last wars, will be ready, the M1891 dragoon rifle with bayonet shall be the standard rifle for all units".

As had been done in the Czarist era, the Artillery Commission was given the order to carry out this decree. By early 1924 all modernization research had been completed. Only changes that were absolutely needed would be included in the new design.The modernizing changes indicated by research included the sights (Russia introduced the metric system September 25, 1918, abandoning the Imperial Arshin), the barrel bands and the method of fixing the bayonet onto the rifles. The newly modernized dragoon rifle was to be introduced in a manner that would not decrease the monthly output of the functioning firearms factories.

KHreceivertula1929.jpg (9678 bytes)

Nearly eight years after the order of 1922 the Revolutionary Committee for Military Affairs decided on April 28, 1930 to introduce the"new" rifle under the name"7.62 mm rifle model of the year 1891/30". Start of production was June 10, 1930.

To understand the reason why it took eight years between inception and execution of the new rifle order you must know, that Russia, in fact, faced massive internal ruin . Many reasons can be found for the sad internal situation in Russia in the 1920s. Firstly, World War I, and subsequent foreign invasions from Germany, Austria, Great Britain, USA, and Poland took their toll. Secondly, the Civil War against the"Whites" (Russians who continued to support the Royal Family of Russia), and other counter revolutionary groups like the Czech Legion, Cossacks etc. Thirdly, the loss of Poland, Finland, and the Ukraine, arguably some of the most productive farm and industrial regions of the former Russian Empire, made for a disastrous situation in the Soviet Union. The young state was compelled to sign the peace treaty of Brest-Litowsk on August 27, 1918 after which they were obliged to pay Germany six billion Marks. During this period little or no hard currency was generated by the Soviet Union to assist in the payment of this massive debt. In fact The Soviet Union never was able to meet this financial obligation to their enemy. In 1924 the Soviet Union had trade relationships with only 18 countries allowing it few opportunities to raise much needed cash or aid. As a result of the unstable internal situation production of rifles decreased in 1918, compared with 1916, by approximately 84% in Tula and 72% in Izhevsk. By February 12, 1921, more than 100 factories had to be closed, because they did not get supplies. The Russian people had few avenues of resupply left, resulting by 1922 in at least 33 million people suffering from starvation. Food shortages were aggravated by the forced collectivization of farms resulting in a series of refusals to plant by farmers. This situation continued through the 1920s as late as March 22, 1928 when farmers staged their last refusal to farm their land in protest of their own sad treatment at the hands of the Soviet Government.

1. Rifle M1891/30, early pattern

Most collectors are familiar with the rifle M1891/30 So I do not have to describe it here. The thing few people realize is, that the first pattern of the rifle M1891/30 is nothing more than a normal dragoon rifle M1891 (with a new name). The main differences to the later pattern are the hexagonal receiver (instead of the later round one) and the large stepped rear part of the cocking piece (instead of the later smaller round one).

    • Backsights
    • The first M91/30 rifles therefore, used the curved backsights of the old dragoon rifles. These were developed by V.P. Konovalov at Sestroretsk in 1910, and were graduated from 400 to 3200 Arshini. It became obvious that a new backsight was needed. The thin sight leafs were damaged often and had to be sent to repair shops. It was impossible to repair the sights in the field, because special tools were needed for such work. Additionally, the Soviet Union had accepted the Metric system, making the former sight graduation in Arshini obsolete. In 1930 a new tangent sight leaf was developed. It was much stronger that the old one and graduated from 100 to 2000 meters. The first rifles with the new backsight left Izhevsk in 1931. Tula shipped their first a bit later in 1932.

      KHbacksightlatedragoon.jpg (33804 bytes)

      Late Dragoon Rear Sights

      KHnewbacksight.jpg (37329 bytes)

      Metric Rear Sight
    • Frontsights
    • There are three versions of the M91/30 frontsight: First, Tula and Izhevsk used the sight blade of the old dragoon rifle up to the1932-1931 period. Secondly, with the new backsight came a new frontsight too; a higher bladed one, which was in use up to 1933. These M91/30 rifles with the bladed frontsights used a special new (rather rare) bayonet. This bayonet had an integrated sight hood, and was developed by Panshin. The widely known bayonet M1891/30 (developed by Panshin too) was introduced in 1933 along with the final version of the frontsight; the hooded post. It was very easy to change this sight, even in the frontline. Most of the older M1891/30 got this new frontsight later. If you find a real Russian M91/30 with the first types of sights, donīt ask about the price. Buy it!

KHfrontsightdragoon.jpg (23791 bytes)

Dragoon Front Sight

1.3 Bands

There are three types of bands too. The first ones, of course, are the same as the dragoon bands. Solid metal ones with slightly convex outer side. But, it was too expensive to produce these bands and the bands did not tighten the handguard as tightly as was needed. Therefore, new ones were introduced in 1932, developed by I.A. Fedortsev. They were made out of steel nib with a flat outer side. On the bottom, where the two ends of the band come together they overlapped. On the outer part of the band is a slot, the inner one has a rivet, which was implemented through the slot and riveted. This second version band has a little knob at its bottom. It was impossible to remove the bands from the barrel without destroying them.

The design of the well known third version was done by I.A. Fedortsev too. They are made of steel nib too, but open at the bottom with a tongue-and-groove construction.

 

KHbandsdragoon.jpg (31099 bytes)  KHbandssecondtype.jpg (39798 bytes)  KHbandsthirdtype.jpg (29708 bytes)

Click on small image for larger photo.   Band styles one, two, and three.

1.4 Bandsprings

You can find two variations, the first made of steel, used with the dragoon rifles (or the carbines M. 1907) and the second, made of wire. Production of the later one started in 1934.

1.5 Release point

When the Three Line Rifle M1891 was adopted, a doctrine was, that instinctive shooting was preferable. Therefore those rifles had no release point unlike nearly all rifles of other countries at that time. One of the first improvements of the rifle M91/30 therefore was to give it a release point. It was developed by Evgeniy A. Kabakov and Irinakhr A. Komaritsky.

2. Rifle M1891/30, later pattern

In the years 1936-37 the Soviets fell back on something, which the co-designers of the old three-line-rifle, Emile and Leon Nagant, used in their test-rifle of 1889; the round receiver. This is the most significant feature of the rifle Mosin-Nagant M91/30, second pattern. The other important feature is the simplified rear part of the cocking device. With introducing the round receiver the Soviets tried to save material and working time. The new rear part was significant smaller and completely rounded without steps.

The receiver is found in many forms, from best workmanship to crudely manufactured rifles made in WW II. The first round receivers had the little edges behind the receiver bridge, later changed to the straight shape. The left side of the receiver was strengthened later, the back of the right side you find in many different shapes.This was the last modification of the normal rifles M91/30.

M9130rec.jpg (76784 bytes)

Round Receiver Top Hex On Bottom

 

3. Markings

After WW I the Soviets abolished the Czarist markings (not only) from their rifles. The double headed Czarist eagle disappeared. As Sestroretsk factory was closed in 1918 only two factories manufactured rifles. So you find the markings of Izhevsk and Tula only (on Soviet rifles).

3.1 Izhevsk

Main factory inscription

Factory logo on parts

KH-IZproofwrite.jpg (7527 bytes)

1918-1928

1870-1928

1928-

1928-

3.2 Tula

Main factory inscription

Factory logo on parts

KH-Tulaproof1.jpg (11520 bytes)

1920-1923

1919

KH-Tulaproof2.jpg (10668 bytes)

1923-1928

 

wpe9D.jpg (1201 bytes) 1920-

1928-

wpeA6.jpg (1201 bytes)

I mention the earlier types of markings, because there are many former dragoon rifles, later converted to M91/30. On those rifles you find the earlier markings in the above table (3.1-3.2). A "real" M 91/30 must have the arrow in triangle or arrow in star markings.

KHpanshinbayonet.jpg (28972 bytes)

Rare M91 Panshin Bayonet

There are some other markings on those rifles, nearly all mentioned in the good books of Lapin and Bowser. The encircled "y" means KH-circle-y.jpg (7072 bytes) (pressure proof mark), the encircled „K" means KH-circle-k.jpg (6629 bytes)" (proof for correct sighting). If you find the characters KH-next-proof2.jpg (6753 bytes) it is a training rifle. It is found mostly on the rare cutaway rifles.

4. Numbers

Up to the year 1937 the serial numbering system of the Czarist era was continued, which means, rifles started with serial number one every year. There are no numbers with more than six digits. Tula used the German influenced, as my Russian friend told me,  "No." in front of the numbers, Izhevsk did not.

Beginning 1938 the system of numbering changed. Serial numbers still began the year numbered from one, but now with a Cyrillic character (like KH-proof55.jpg (32616 bytes)) as a prefix, followed by one to five numerals. After making 99.999 rifles the Soviets used two Cyrillic characters (like KH-proof54.jpg (26186 bytes)), followed by up to four numerals. There was no system in using the Cyrillic characters, which had the purpose to code the production data. The same way of numbering is found on the carbines M1938 and later M1944.

KHcutawayrifleMN.jpg (41132 bytes)

Cutaway photo of the M91/30

5. Production data

The rifle M1891/30 was built in the Soviet Union between 1927 and February 1944 (with the exception of M1891/30 sniper rifles).The production data can be found in the following tables, excluding sniper rifles:

5.1 Production Tula and Izhevsk together:

1927

1928

1929

1930

1931

1932

Production of prototypes and rifles for test purposes

102,000

154,000

283,451

 

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

239,290

300,590

136,959

 

560,545

1,124,664

 

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1,396,667

1,375,822

1,873,391

3,026,765

1,833,506

168,000

5.2 Production per factory:

Factory

Year of production

1927

1928

1929

1930

1931

1932

Tula

Production of prototypes

72,000

108,530

155,340

Izhevsk

Production of prototypes

30,000

45,470

128,111

(Remark: There are many M91/30 out of the years 1927, 28 and 29 or even much earlier. Those are normally no prototypes, but later conversions of dragoon rifles M1891)

Factory

Year of production

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

Tula

104,989

151,052

77,489

?

307,548

596,401

Izhevsk

134,301

149,565

59,470

203,367

252,997

528,263

 

Factory

Year of production

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

Tula

760,423

877,121

982,211

153,068

   

Izhevsk

636,244

498,701

891,180

2.873,697

1,833,506

168,000

The huge amount of rifles manufactured could only happen, because the entire way of working was simplified and standardized. Building of one rifle M1891/30 used only 13 hours of work in 1942, whereas a three-line-rifle M1891 needed 42 hours.

From:

Karl-Heinz Wrobel

Author Of Drei Linien Die Gewehre Mosin-Nagant

(Please see book information in the Interactive Area)

Soviet M91/30 Mosin Nagant Photo Section


RussM9130round.jpg (28903 bytes)

Another view of the standard Russian M91/30 with round receiver.

RusM9130.jpg (28040 bytes)

M91/30 with a hex receiver.   The round receiver replaced the hex in or about 1937.  It is not all that uncommon to encountered a later manufactured rifle that has a hex receiver. While not uncommon this was not the norm and would be a nice addition to a Mosin Nagant collection.

 


9130russian2.jpg (16129 bytes)

Standard M91/30 that served in the Red Army in the Winter War and WW2.  It did see some service later as a sniper rifle, but as a main Soviet battle rifle had been phased out by the M44 Carbine and the SKS.

RussM9130lam.jpg (29957 bytes)

The uncommon laminate stock M91/30.   There are not many of these in "known" collections as laminate stocks are more commonly seen on sniper rifles.  This is a prime collector's item.  These have become more common in recent imports but are still quite rare, demanding top dollar in value.


DDRammo2.jpg (52227 bytes)M9130cleangingkit1.jpg (37805 bytes)

m9130cleaningkit2.jpg (42472 bytes)

Soviet WW2 M91/30 ammo pouch.  Accessories M91/30 cleaning kit. Closed cleaning kit.  In most cases the pouch is green in color.

 


 
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