By January 2, 2007

From Russia, with love

I received my Curio and Relic Federal Firearms License from the .gov last month. If you don’t follow the link to Wikipedia and you just want the short answer, a C&R license allows me to buy certain firearms of historical value from a dealer and have them shipped directly to my home. This differs from the usual process of buying from a dealer, wherein you must buy a firearm on-site or transfer from one licensed dealer to another and then undergo an instant background check. Applying for and receiving my C&R license from the Fed counts as my background check on C&R-listed firearms for the next three years.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff. The first thing I purchased with my C&R was a Mosin Nagant M44 bolt action carbine. The M44 is a shorter variant of the famous Mosin Nagant M1891 rifle that was first made in 1892. From the original M1891/30 to the M44, the Mosin Nagant served Russia throughout the Russo-Japanese War, Russian Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (thanks, Wikipedia!). Over 17 million M1891 rifles had been produced by the time the Soviet Union replaced the M1891 with the SKS semi-automatic rifle.

This is my M44. It was made in 1947. I purchased it from Classic Arms over the phone. They are very nice folks. I purchased my M44 for $115, shipped. They threw in the ammo pouch, shoulder sling, and twenty rounds of ammunition (7.62x59mm for those keeping track). It is by far the least expensive firearm I’ve purchased. I received it about three days after ordering. My M44 is beautiful! I was very happy to find the wood and metal components in such great shape. Kudos to Classic Arms for being such honest and great people to work with.

You can see the arsenal stamp on my rifle here. It was made in Izhevsk, as designated by the arsenal symbol of an arrow inside a triangle. You can also see the date of manufacture (1947) stamped there, along with the Russian symbol for year, which looks like a lowercase “r.”

Sometimes the rifles come packed in cosmoline, which is used to keep rust away. It is a major pain in the ass to remove. Someone cleaned my M44 before I got ahold of it; the firearm was largely devoid of cosmoline. I tidied up my M44 with lemon oil on the wood parts and mineral spirits on the metal ones. I ran probably three dozen cleaning patches through the barrel before I was satisfied that it was clean. Yes, it was a lot of work, but not as bad as having to bake the cosmoline out of the stock or leave the metal pieces in mineral spirits overnight as others have had to do.

What good is a rifle without ammunition? I ordered a crate (880 rounds) of 7.62x54mm from AIM Surplus. Lady Jaye and I took the M44 out to an outdoor range about thirty minutes away for a test shooting. We were in for a rude motherfucking awakening.

We are used to shooting more modern guns, with integrated recoil pads, that shoot lighter, faster ammunition, or have fancy contraptions like compensators and muzzle brakes. The M44 has none of these things. The recoil pad is a 1/8″ thick piece of metal screwed onto the butt of the rifle. The outdoor range forced us to shoot from an oversized bench used for sighting in a rifle and scope. Between the odd firing position and the old-fashioned brutality of the rifle and the 7.62×54 round I only fired about nine shots before giving up. Lady Jaye bravely touched off one round before saying, “I’ll try anything once,” and setting the rifle down for good. I didn’t have a visible bruise from the shooting, but I definitely had muscle soreness for the next five days.

I purchased a cheap recoil pad for the M44 but haven’t had a chance to shoot the rifle again. There’s no way I’m going back to the outdoor range run by the state. There are all sorts of things wrong with that place for regular rifle shooting. I’ll write another range report once I get the chance.

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30 Comments on "From Russia, with love"

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  1. Ed says:

    American weakling! In the motherland, we laugh off the bruises.

  2. Stomper says:

    Hey it has to be said. The pictures don’t do her justice. The color and grain of her stock is beautiful and she’s much prettier in person. Cool gun!

  3. Jared says:

    First I would like to say WOW your M44 looks beautiful. And I can relate to the sore shoulder as well, my M44 was the first gun I had payed for and I couldn’t wait to shoot it and when i finally did I fired around 60 of the rounds of the ammo I bought at fleet farm and I decided to call it a day and ice my shoulder I thought to my self who would honestly shoot a gun like this!!! The recoil is insane for the little beauty. But congratulations on the deal you got it sure looks amazing.

  4. drfaulken says:

    Thanks, and welcome to Gibberish! Classic Arms did me right; they’re a super small business and only advertise via word of mouth. I’ve wanted to buy some more long guns from them but they’ve been out of stock. I don’t know if you’ve seen my SKS entry yet, but my “fair” condition rifle from CIA is not nearly as nice. Even my “excellent” condition rifle from J&G Sales isn’t as nice as the M44 I received from Classic Arms.

    Adding a butt pad definitely helped with the recoil, as well as shooting from a natural position. I am never going back to the range I mentioned in this post if I can help it.

  5. Sean says:

    Congrats. I have been afflicted with Mosinitis for some time now…I even have a replica PU sniper (from Classic) like the ones in that fictionalization of the Battle of Stalingrad, “Enemy at the Gates.”

    I would never fire my M44 without a recoil pad. The difference is like night and day. Speaking of night, try touching off a round at dusk in cool weather for the insane 3 foot fireball the 44 roars out.

    Oh yeah, the caliber is 7.62x54r. The “r” is for “rimmed.” Check out the “Collectors Forum” over at…it’s the world’s best source of information on your beautiful new (old) Vintovka Mosina !

  6. jonas says:

    in which price u bought your M44? is it legal?

    i realy want buy scoped mosin nagant. Can i find it original?

  7. drfaulken says:

    Hi Jonas!

    The M44 is legal in the US — I’m not sure about where you live. I bought it for less than $115 US, shipped.

    There are still a lot of scoped Nagants, especially the M91-30s. The going price in the US is about $350.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know where you could find one in Italy. I wish I could help you 🙁 If you do get a Nagant, please let us know! Good luck!

  8. jonas says:

    I am from Lithuania( near Russa).
    My country is in Europian Union, and i want to know from where i can buy a Mosin, maybe from europe some country?

    and what is abaut to shipp to europe from USA ?

  9. drfaulken says:

    Hi Jonas!

    I am sorry I do not know where you could find a distributor in Lithuania. You might be able to ask your question on the Mosin Nagant forum, located here:

    I’m sorry I don’t have better information for you. Best wishes from the USA.

  10. jonas says:

    and one more question: when i am buying a mosin-nagant, how to know which is original and which is not?

    thanks for helping 🙂

  11. jonas says:

    or all of them are original, made in USSR ?

  12. drfaulken says:

    Hi Jonas,

    The rifles were mostly made in Russia. There are more collectable rifles, such as ones captured by the Dutch. There are also Chinese-made rifles, which are referred to as M53s. You can read more about the Mosin Nagant family here at Wikipedia.

    The one thing we look out for in the States is a “counter-bored” rifle, which has had a portion of the barrel cut off and the crown reamed in order to remove a worn muzzle from a heavily-used rifle. Done properly, a counter-bored rifle shoots better than before the procedure. Done improperly or in a hurry, a counter-bored rifle is inaccurate and unpredictable. No counter-bored rifle will shoot better than the rifle did straight from the factory.

  13. Shawn says:

    I have a Russian M-44. The first shot scared the shit out of me. I never expected that it was gonna be that much of a beast with recoil. It was made in 1945. I never new how to tell until I read the article above. I only paid 70 bucks for it. Well worth the money. Good thing it’s just for hunting, gonna have to make it on the first shot lol.

  14. reid says:

    Dont mean to hijack this here thread, but if all ya’ll had the choice between an enfield no 4 and an m44 wich one would you prefer? New to mil-surp collection, and i’m trying to decide between the two for the first (milsurp) rifle. I plan to get both eventually, but am thinking to get the enfield first because there seems to be less of them. what say ya’ll?

  15. drfaulken says:

    Hi Reid,

    The Enfield #4 is going to be all-around more expensive to own and shoot than the M44. However, don’t let that stop you. Apparently it is a fantastic rifle. I got into the Russian bolts because they were so inexpensive. I bought a Mosin Nagant 91/30 from AIM Surplus for $70 before shipping.

    Do you have a C&R license? Will you buy these rifles through the mail, or at a dealer? I think if you can see the Enfield, then go for it. I wouldn’t want to spend more money and raise my expectations on a rifle that might be service or rack grade. You can get nearly-new Mosins for cheap, cheap, cheap (again, $70 before shipping from AIM).

    Good luck with your decision!!

  16. reid says:

    I don’t have an C&R, so would be buying(M44) from a dealer. The local sporting goods stores only have crappy nagants, and the gun shops don’t have any in. I am assuming i can buy from AIM or J and G through my local gun shop, or is this not the case?

    Also, one other thing i was wondering about but can’t find answr to: they say the m44 must be shot w/bayonet extended to group properly. Assuming this is true, if an m38 is the same as an m44, but with no pig sticker, does it group well?

  17. drfaulken says:

    Hi Reid,

    I think you can buy from AIM or J&G without having an FFL — you would just need them to send it to your local gun store as you alluded to in your post. I know that Southern Ohio Gun (SOG) is pretty protective of their dealer network and has different pricing structures depending if you are an FFL or not.

    The M44 groups just fine w/o the bayo extended, it just tends to shoot off a little bit. I adjusted my sights so that it shoots true to aim with the bayonet back.

    If I had to do it all over again, I would have bought an M38 first. I don’t need the bayonet on the M44 but don’t want to remove it, either.

  18. reid says:

    Thanks for the info. One other thing: hows the trigger pull?

  19. drfaulken says:

    Very crisp. I wish I had better details on how long it is, or what the break is on it, but it feels great. No trigger slap, unlike my SAR-1 AK-47 semiauto variant. If I could just manage the recoil, I’d have a lot more fun shooting my Mosins. 🙂

  20. AlexMackinum says:

    I have 2 M44s..I put best wood on one and added a Modern stalk and scope to the other…=)
    I had to leave 1 in original state with bayonet…and at $80 dollars a piece, buying 2 didnt break me

  21. EARL NERGER says:


  22. tony Q says:

    I was able to purchase my M44 (with attached bayonet, belt pouches, gun oil can and take down tools) in very good condition from “Big5” sporting goods for $79.99….on sale from $150…It can frequently be purchased on sale from $89-$99 …and “Big5” has priced it as low as $74.99 with all accesories.
    The Longer Mosin Nagant is usually priced the same…but I am not sure what that includes…It will probably be my next purchase, especially since the make modern accesories for it. (Stalk,Scope mount,etc)
    You may purchase Stripper clips for ammo online on such sites as Cheaper than , and midway.
    Very inexpensive way to start a collection.

  23. JoeR says:

    Hi, just got a M44 in upstate NY for 89 bucks… got 300 rounds for 54 bucks… have not fired it.. holding it in my lab and reading online… so how do I replace the butt plate?

  24. tony Q says:

    The butt plate has just a couple of screws….if thats what yer askin…I use a rubber recoil pad that I got for 9.99 …
    Luckily it matches stock color…

    I can shoot without the pad…but I can shoot longer with it 😉

  25. JoeR says:

    thanks tony Q, yes I was reading all the posts about the kick and was looking at the butt plate… could see some pain coming if I fire off 50 rounds or so at the local shooting range here in Syracuse. If you had to compare this to the M1.. how will they compare. A garand looks sharp , but 4 times the price of this baby.

  26. tony Q says:

    M1 Garands are Great….Just VERY expensive….Thats why many collectors start with Russian made firearms. Same era….just more affordable. If ya want performance, I suggest an M-14…over an M-1. If you can pick up an M-1 at a low price, you wont regret it.The benefit of M-1 over M-44 is Semi auto over bolt action. Otherwise I prefer the Mosin Nagant. Its Accuracy, Ease of maintenance, and Range make it a fine Rifle. With the edition of some affordable accessories, you will have a fine Hunting/Sporting rifle. I am very accurate with the short version with scope =) (M44) =Rounds are affordable to practice with)

    P.S. If you you used our relic and Curio Licence…I dont think you are allowed to modify or modernize typically…so I purchase mine at sporting goods store…and at 70-80 dollars its worth it =)

  27. Wolfi says:

    very nice m44,i’m lookin for one

  28. D Cutty says:

    I hunted with my m 44 for a couple of years, it works well. Many accessories for the winchester mod 94 can be adapted to the m 44. The sling adaptor works perfect. The scope mount will work as well. It is cumbersome, as off set scopes are, but works increibly well and is much cheaper than the original ones made for the rifle. It also is more user freindly than the after market scope mounts available. When I take mine to the range it attracts much more attention than the other guys m 44.

  29. matthew lipsey says:

    I fired my m44 for the first time today at 100 yards. I was an army ranger and an expert marksman with an M16 A2 with excellent sights.
    After fireing the M44, I looked like an amature out there it fired top and to the left
    I need a scope any suggestions on what type of scopes

  30. drfaulken says:

    Hey Matthew, I can’t help you with sights, but it’s possible there’s nothing wrong with your aim at all. The M44’s factory sites are set to compensate for the added weight of the bayonet at full deployment.

    Did you try to fire the M44 w/ the bayonet extended?

    Your other option is to adjust the iron sights back in and remove the bayo.

    Good shooting.