Carbine Mosin Nagant

M/91 With Bayonet Scabbard

From Karl-Heinz Wrobel

Author Of  Drei Linien Die Gewehre Mosin-Nagant  

Early Mosin-Nagant carbines are rare. The most „common“ one is the carbine m/1907 in two variations, the one for the cartridge m/1891 with the back sight graduated up to 1900 Arshinii and the one for the cartridge m/1908 with the back sight graduated up to 2000 Arshinii. The rarest one is the so called Gendarmerie-carbine Mosin-Nagant, just 11 guns made by Jurlov in 1895 in Sestroretsk from Izhevsk made dragoon rifles m/1891. There are some slightly different later Gendarmerie-carbines, just 8738 made from 1906 to 1913 for the Russian border troops.

A. Carbine Mosin-Nagant m/91, description of the special features

There is another very rare early carbine Mosin-Nagant, which shall be discussed here. I call it carbine m/91, though this is not the official designation. It has some very unusual features:

  • Short, slightly bent bolt handle

  • Back sight of the carbine m/1907, but slightly different back sight base

  • Stepped muzzle (pretty similar to the Finnish rifle m/24)

  • Completely different bands

  • No cleaning rod or handguard

  • Sling swivel on the left side of the buttstock

  • Permanently attached metal bayonet scabbard on the right side

B. Determination

There are (nearly) no written sources to determine, who made this gun, where and in what time frame. So when I say, the carbine shall be discussed here, I really mean it and I would be glad to hear your opinions.

My theory is that this carbine was made in Russia later than the Gendarmerie-carbine and earlier than the carbine m/07 for the use in the St. Petersburg Cavalry School, together with the very rare Mosin-Nagant m/91 folding bayonet „after the proposals of Colonel Gulkevitch“. The only written source says, that there was a carbine in that school, that was made for the use of that bayonet. And as you know, no other Russian/Soviet carbine Mosin-Nagant (except the late carbine m/44) was designed to attach a bayonet.

The carbine was made similar to the Gendarmerie-carbines, but this time using not a dragoon but a normal rifle m/1891. It was shortened to a length of 1030 mm (slightly longer than the carbines m/07, m/38 and m/44).

1. Back sight

The first indication to support my theory is the back sight. It is made in the same way as the one of the carbine m/07 and graduated (on all carbines I know) up to 2000 Arshinii. This way of graduation indicates, that this carbine was made at least earlier than 1930, most likely earlier than 1918, as from 1919 the Soviets changed their way of measurement from Arshinii to Meters. Of course I know, that the rifles m/91 and dragoon rifles m/91 produced after WW1 still had the graduation in Arshinii also. In my opinion the back sight base indicates, that it was made earlier than the one of the carbine m/07. It has two small sight protections, just like the carbine m/07, but with a little triangle shaped cutout, whereas the protection blades on the back sight base of the carbines m/07 are rectangular. If you have a look into the history of every military rifle you will find, that in all cases the authorities tried to make production more simple, cheaper and faster. And abandoning the cutout is such a way to ease production.

OK, the back sights I found on the carbines m/91 are all graduated up to 2000 Arshinii, whereas the ones of the first carbines m/07 are marked up to 1900 Arshinii only. Does this mean, the mysterious carbine was made later? I do not think so. The carbines m/07 have been made in much larger quantities. There are some around with the old back sight (I know just two(!) of them) and most of the early carbines m/07 have been upgraded for the new cartridge m/1908. I think the same happened with the carbine m/91, and as much less of them have been manufactured you just do not find one with the back sight with the early graduation.

2. Cavalry use

Is it possible, that the carbine m/91 is the one that was used in the St. Petersburg cavalry school? The source just speaks about „a“ carbine, not mentioning anything more but the use of the Gulkevitch bayonet.

But cavalry use of the carbine m/91 is very likely. Cavalry soldiers like handy weapons, most of them all over the world had carbines. OK, the Russian dragoons had no real carbine, but the long dragoon rifle m/91. But even this rifle was shorter than the infantry rifle m/91. The carbine m/91 has some features, that indicate cavalry use.

First there is the bolt handle. It is the normal short one, which became turned down to an angle of about 60 degrees, which makes it much handier to work with this rifle.

Second there are the sling swivels. The upper one is on the left side of the front band and the other one on the left side of the buttstock, which means that the shouldered carbine was much easier to carry on horseback.

3. Bayonet

The strongest indication for the use in the St. Petersburg Cavalry School is the mentioned folding bayonet m/91. This very special and without any doubt Russian bayonet cannot become attached to any normal rifle Mosin-Nagant without removing the cleaning rod, as the folding axis of the bayonet bumps to the head of the cleaning rod when you try to attach it. And the carbine m/91 was designed NOT to have a cleaning rod, it is not just missing on all know carbines. The carbine has no cutout in the stock for the cleaning rod.

You are able to use a normal bayonet m/91 with this carbine. But the normal bayonet does not fit the scabbard! If you turn it backwards it slips into the scabbard, but the tip of the blade will go into the scabbard just the half way before the way back of the bayonet will be stopped by the front sight base. The Gulkevitch bayonet fits, the tip of it‘s blade will be just two millimeters away from the back end of the scabbard.

That means we know about a bayonet, used in the St. Petersburg Cavalry School with an unknown carbine, this bayonet does not fit any other rifle or carbine Mosin-Nagant but just this carbine m/91. My conclusion is: The bayonet was made for this carbine only, this is the carbine used in the St. Petersburg Cavalry School.

C. More special features

1. The bands

The bands are unique ones. Their inner shape is identical to the shape of the bands of the normal rifles m/91. There are two different types, the early ones, with the open locking screw, and the post 1908 ones, with the integrated screw, which indicates use of those carbines before 1908 also.

The upper band has a fixed sling swivel on it‘s left side and on the right side an edged lug. This lug supports the Gulkevitch bayonet blade when it is put backwards into the scabbard. With a normal bayonet m/91 it does not work really, as this lug would bend the bayonet slightly, another indication, that the Gulkevitch bayonet was designed for this carbine.

The lower band has a larger partly oval lug on the right side with a round hole in it. Through this hole you stick the bayonet blade in the resting position.

2. The bayonet scabbard

Just behind the lower band is the bayonet scabbard. It is about 10 cms long, made of very thin sheet metal and fixed to the stock with four wood screws, two on top of the stock and two on it‘s side.

3. Numbers

All known weapons are matching. The numbers are stamped on the barrel, the bolt, the floorplate and the buttplate as usual, but the numerals are slightly larger than the normal Russian ones.

4. Other brands

There are no factory brands except the ones of the former infantry rifles. You find manufacturing dates from 1899 to 1920 and all manufacturers of this time frame, which means that this carbine has been made a pretty long time and even after WW1.

Normally the Czarist Eagles are scrubbed. There is just one known carbine with those Eagles intact. This can be another indication for the use in the St. Petersburg school: Those schools always were highly indoctrinated political institutions, especially in the Soviet Union, and so the Czarist Eagle was no longer political correct and had to be removed.

On some carbines you find unknown brands, like a little cloverleaf on the sling swivel at the buttstock, or the brand „AA 36“ on the barrel and the buttplate. May be the last brand is something like a rack number.

Unfortunately there are no factory brands on the bands and the scabbards. But that might indicate the „rework“ by the school gunsmith also.

This carbine is a very special and ultra rare weapon. I have found no indication that it was made in another country, as those countries would not have used the rare m/07 back sight for instance. But until the time, a written source will be found, I just can guess, and my guess is still:

This is the a carbine Mosin-Nagant, made by shortening a normal infantry rifle m/1891 in and for the St. Petersburg Cavalry School.