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The Mosin Nagant 

M91/38 Carbine

The Czechoslovakian Mosin Nagant

From Tuco Of Mosin-Nagant Dot Net


The M91/38 Carbine has been confused with a number of other carbines over the years and has somewhat suffered as a collectable because of this fact. There are many reasons for this confusion as the name and the appearance of the carbine is very similar to the Russian made Model 1938 Carbine. The M91/38 is also very similar and is often confused with the later M91/59 Carbine that have been imported in mass over the past three years. In short the M91/38 is a unique and interesting variant of the Mosin Nagant, that makes an interesting post WW2 item for the Mosin Nagant collector.

After the great conflict of World War Two had ended the Soviet Union found itself with many new lands under their domination. One major dilemma encountered by the new Soviet regime was the lack of serviceable firearms, as they found in their stockpiles various firearms of different makes and caliber. There was a dire need to standardize, as the Soviet did fear both revolts in these new realms and possible intervention from the West. The Soviets were also faced with the fact that the condition of their stock piled firearms had quite a range in quality standards. While there is no doubt that some were in like new condition there were many more that would be categorized as poor at best. The endeavor of refurbishing this vast amount of weapons would have been staggering and could not be looked at as a viable option at the time (it should be noted this option was used later when the Soviets were not limited by time and monetary constraints). This situation was quite prevalent in the nation of Czechoslovakia where the fighting of World War Two had been very intense at times.

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Top To Bottom: M91/38's, M38, and Polish M44.

The Czechs had always been independent thinkers as it applied to firearms and the Czechs had for years produced outstanding examples of military shoulder arms. Rifles of the past like the 98/22, the VZ23 and 24, as well as other Czech manufactured firearms had set a lofty standard for others to follow. It may well have been this history that set the “manufacture” of the M91/38 into motion.

The Czech M91/38 is basically an older Russian M91 ( there are examples made from M91/30's but these are uncommon)  that has been cutdown to Model 1938 Carbine specs. In outward appearance these two carbines are nearly identical. The length, weight, inner workings, and sights are the same and unless one closely examines the carbines, the similarities can fool one into thinking they are looking at a Model 1938 Carbine.  The M91/38 is also a close cousin to the M91/59 Carbine which many new Mosin Nagant owners have encountered.

Here are some differences:

  • The M91/38 Carbines in many cases are fitted in M44 Carbine stocks. It is assumed this was a time saving technique, as the Soviets would have had additional stores of these stocks on hand. While the Model 1938 Carbines are often seen in M44 stocks, they are much more common on the M91/38’s. The M91/59 Carbines have stocks that are copies of the Model 1938 Carbine.  A small number of these have shown up in M44 stocks but those seem to be few and far between.   It is interesting to note that many of the M44 stocks the M91/38 Carbines are fitted to seem have been altered M91 stocks.  It is not clear why these M91 stocks would have been cutdown and a bayonet groove added, but it is possible this was done during a stock shortage.   The reason for this is a mystery and many theories could be put forward.
  • The markings of the M91/38 will be of Imperial Russia in almost all cases. These are quite different than the later factory markings of the Soviet Union and these Imperial proofs are a dead giveaway in identifying the carbine.
  • The M91/38 will have an additional stamp of a circle T. This is a very well known Czech marking. One has to be careful here and not confuse the old Tula factory markings of a hammer in a circle with this circle T. They are much alike but one can clearly see they are different.
  • Unlike the M91/59 Carbine, which has filed down M91/30 rear sights, the M91/38 Carbine has true carbine sights from 100-1000 yards.

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The proof markings of the M91/38 Carbine.  One can see the older Imperial Russian markings that denote Izhevsk manufacture in 1901.  Notice the circle T Czech proof at the bottom.

Another slight difference that has been noted between the M91/38 and the Model 1938 Carbine appears on the front sight.  It does seem that the M91/38 has a more "raised" front base that is more similar to the later Model 1944 Carbine that to the early Model 1938 Carbine.  This "raised" front base , which may be more correct to call thicker on the bottom, also seems to be common on the M91/59 Carbine so may indeed be a latter improvement.   

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The first mention of these carbines in official Western reports came from then East Germany and an incident dealing with the Berlin Wall. Terence Lapin, author of the Mosin Nagant Rifle, points to a British report of two defecting East German border guards armed with Mosin Nagant carbines. It was assumed these were a known model but upon inspection it was discovered the former guards of the DDR were in fact armed with a previously undocumented weapon. At the time of their interrogation, the defecting Germans stated these carbines had been manufactured in Czechoslovakia. This report was later confirmed as the circle T proof marking was identified.

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M91/38 in a laminate M44 stock

Although it is not known what accessories were issued with these carbines, it would be a safe assumption they were issued with standard Mosin Nagant carbine slings, cleaning kits, and ammo pouches. It was also common practice to use certain versions of the SKS sling on Model 1944 Carbines so it is assumed these might have also been used with the M91/38. It does seem clear these were not issued with a bayonet.

 

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An interesting M91/38 Carbine as there is not a crossbolt in the stock.  This seems to point to an early M91 or Dragoon stock.  A very interesting variant that would have to be considered rare.  Also of note this M91 stock has the added groove for a bayonet so is in the same configuration as a M44 stock.

The usage of these carbines is also not entirely clear. It was an issue weapon, as the incident with the East German border guards proves, but the scale of issue is not known. Most Mosin Nagant Carbines manufactured post war were a guard, secondary, training, or emergency issue weapon. The capture of these carbines in Germany does raise some interesting topics of discussion as these could have been manufactured for export (at least in a small scale).   It has been rumored these carbines have been seen as "bringbacks" from Vietnam but that is not documented.  The "bringback" from Vietnam is a common claim when it comes to the Mosin Nagant, and in most cases the facts do not always meet the claims.   There is no doubt that a large number of Mosin Nagants served in Vietnam but it is not clear in the M91/38 was one of them.  It does seem clear that if these were used by the Czechs it would have been in VERY low numbers if at all.  There are theories these might have been issued as police-reserve units by the Czechs but nothing has been proven on this front.

The heavy wide base front sight as used on the m/91-38 carbine. Notice the width of the m/44 carbine front sight base as opposed to the thinner sight base of the m/38 carbine

To further cloud this issue it is not know the exact time frame of manufacture or the numbers produced. With the massive influx of Mosin Nagants from the nations of Eastern Europe there may be more clues on the horizon. The lineage of these carbines is a subject whose study is far from complete as new info comes to light quite often.

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The collector’s value of these carbines is a bit hard to gauge. On the one hand they are in many cases a mint example of the Mosin Nagant, and they are also an interesting example of a post war Mosin with unusual roots. The M91/38’s are also known as very well made and accurate firearms. These are all pluses when it comes to value, as is the fact these seem to have a somewhat limited production number. These fall into the niche of the Cold War versions of the Mosin Nagant and are a good fit in any collection.   The "Cold War" collector is a growing section of the collecting community and their interest in these carbines could effect value somewhere down the line.

I do not think they have nearly the value as the Model 1938 Carbine as the M38's are a true WW2 weapon and I feel that WW2 dated firearms will always command a higher price. It is at least as valuable to the collector as the post war M44’s from Russia, Poland, Hungary, or Romania. Their collector value would be neck and neck with the M91/59 Carbine, although I personally feel the M91/38’s are of a higher quality with their Czech heritage.

Setting value is always conjecture so the exact value of these carbines is difficult to judge. It can be stated that many owners of the M91/38 feel they are one of  the finest Mosin Nagants they own. This in its own right says a lot about these Czech carbines.   If one was to find a M91/38 made from a M91/30 and not a M91, that would also add a bit more to the value.  I do feel the M91/38 above without the crossbolt demands a higher price than the others listed as it has to be looked at as a rarity.

To summarize the M91/38 is a high-quality relic of the Cold War. It is a true and worthy example of the Mosin Nagant that does belong in one’s collection. They also represent the Czechs distinguished ability to create quality firearms with whatever they had on hand. The overall quality of these carbines is outstanding and their prices are also quite good. There is no doubt these are a lot of bang for the buck and I am sure all Mosin Nagant collectors will want to have at least one.

 


 
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