Is a Mosin Nagant Good for Hunting?

I’ve owned two Mosins, a 91/30, and a Chinese T53 carbine.  They are fun, tough, and capable 30 caliber rifles.  There’s something about the setup that I really like.

The Mosin Nagant is a good hunting rifle for large game.  The Mosin is equivalent to traditional 30-06 and .308 hunting rifle. The 91/30 Mosin will kill deer to 600 yards and elk to 400, while the Mosin carbine will take deer to 400 and elk to 200. An accurized Mosin will shoot 1 MOA with good hunting ammo.

To know if a gun is good for hunting, you have to ask three questions. You have to determine how accurate the rifle is.  Second, you have to know how powerful it is at a given distance. Then, you have to ask yourself what you want to hunt with it.

Is the Mosin Nagant a Good Hunting Rifle?

   The Mosin Nagant rifle is northern Europe’s Springfield 30-06. By that, I mean that it was designed as an early smokeless powder rifle, it was designed for military use, and it became a popular option for big game hunting, particularly on deer, bear, and moose.

   As far as ergonomics go (fit and feel), the Mosin isn’t anything spectacular. Although I’ve really taken a liking to them in the past few years. The rifle has a short length of pull.  It’s fairly well suited to shouldering while wearing a bulky oat, but not for a thinner coat or jacket. If you have somewhat short arms or a deep chest, it will probably fit fine.

   There are some great mods and after market stocks for the Mosin, in all of the various iterations. Some are fairly cheap and others are quite expensive. There are even options if you want to just a few bucks, or nothing at all. I’ll talk more about these simple modifications in another article.

   The trigger isn’t so great either. In fact, it’s horrible. It has an unnervingly long trigger pull, like three-quarters of an inch. It’s a big spongey trigger with no tell at the breaking point. This lends itself to poor accuracy.  It’s probably the single biggest drawback to the Mosin.

    However, it’s super easy to fix the trigger with a non-permanent modification, or permanent if you want it that way. I did it to my Mosin t53 carbine and it made a world of difference in my shooting. It only took a few minutes, and it didn’t cost me a dime.  The shimming trick always works wonders on a Mosin.

   Without a trigger job or stock upgrade, most people will have functional hunting accuracy at about 100 yards.  now, for folks in my neck of the woods, 100 yards is considered a long shot.  But out in the plains or hill country, I hear significantly longer sots are the norm. Triggers will be covered in-depth in a post about modding the Mosin.

      The Mosin is said to have a harsh recoil, but it actually has less than the .308 rifles I’ve tested.  The reason why people complain about the reoil is that the gun doesn’t a slim, long-armed person unless they’re wearing a coat. The length of pull doesn’t fit many people. It usually comes up a bit short.

   If the length of pull doesn’t fit, the most common fix is to purchase a Limbsaver (there are other brands) soft rubber butt pad. There is one that is molded for the Mosin Nagant. It fits well, giving you an inch more on the length of pull, and reducing felt recoil a noticeable some.  They are usually $10-$20 on Amazon.

   As far as power, the Mosin is about 5 percent beneath the 308, all things the same.  The thing is, al things are not the same.  Most .308 and 30-06 rifles have a 22-inch barrel.  Some have a 24-inch barrel. The most common Mosin, the 91/30, has a 29 ¼ inch barrel. That’s a serious difference.

   The extra length barrel allows the Mosin to burn more powder and keep the low pressure required by the original 1891 proofing standards. The extra 7.5 inches brings the Mosin up about 300 fps. That takes the Mosin up a few notches in the power sale. A full-length Mosin creates more energy than most 30-06 rifles will.

  In the shorter carbines, the Mosin is ballistically similar to the 30/30. 200-yard max use against a deer, and 100 yards for anything bigger, like elk or bears.  Still, the small size of the carbine is what I like best.  It just feels easier to carry in the woods, even though it’s only like a 13 percent decrease in overall size. 

   If you get anything from this so far, remember that the Mosin makes an adequate hunting rifle at 100 yards and that with a couple of very cheap upgrades, you can increase that to several hundred yards.

Hunting Optics for a Mosin Nagant

You can hunt with the original sight, or you can upgrade. The Mosin was designed with an old military-style leaf sight. Some people like it, some people don’t.  the front sight post is a bit large and blocky and the rear notch is a bit wide. If you want, you can purchase the rear sight for the Finnish Mosin, which is a more precise groove.  A punch and hammer will install it.

   The Mosin was designed with a bolt that gets in the way of a traditionally mounted scope.  If you want to mount an optic, you have to either replace the bolt handle with a bent one or mount the scope further up the barrel. Remember, the Mosin was invented before scopes were really a thing.

 There are dozens of methods and products for mounting an optic on the Mosin. Some are cheap, some quite expensive.  The easiest is to use a method that mounts on the rear sight base. That’s what my friends and I went with.  I mounted a scout scope and my pal mounted a reflex sight.

    If you can get a rail mounted on the Mosin, you can mount any type of optic you want. All the mounting systems are a bit goofy, kinda like with the AK and SKS, but they can be quite solid systems.

   I will mention another option here.  Mojo Sights sells a very well-made aperture (peep sight) for the Mosin. It installs super easy and it’s fully adjustable, and quite precise. The guy at Mojo Sights also sells really nice replacement front sights. They are around $150 for the set, and worth it.

What Can You Hunt with a Mosin Nagant?

   You can hunt just about anything with a Mosin.  I know of elk and deer taken with them.  I personally want to take an unaltered Mosin on a bear hunting trip up north. the bigger question is at what distance the round has enough power to get the job done reliably on the different classes of animals.

My brother in Texas is Hunting wild boars with a 91/30 Mosin I accurized for him.  it’s a one-shot and done rifle. and that’s with the steel-cased Russian, Barnaul ammo he is shooting. He gets funny looks for it but it brings home the bacon.  Now, who doesn’t want bacon?

   the Mosin is more than capable of ethically taking all big game at reasonable hunting distances. that’s within 200-300 yards.  Elk-sized animals are recommended 1,500 ft/lbs. of energy at a minimum for a good shot at less than perfect shot placement.

   The different available loads have a drastic variance of effective range, but they all will kill an elk or black bear within 200 yards, no question asked. 

Best Hunting Ammo for the Mosin Nagant

There isn’t a lot of options in ammo for the 7.62x54R.  There are basically three different hunting loads available from four main manufacturers, all of them in northern Europe.  The four manufacturers are Wolf, PPU, Sellier & Bellot, Barnaul.

   The one to avoid at all costs is Wolf.  Wolf has always been the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality and function.  The powder is the dirtiest, they are loaded horribly inconsistently, and the bullets don’t perform well at all.  They are trying to step up their game, but I’ve yet to see improvement.

   Barnaul isn’t so bad.  It’s the best steel-cased ammo manufacturer out there. They pay more attention to detail than Wolf.  They also have my favorite bullet for the Mosin. It’s a 203-grain soft point. It drops like a brick, but it hits hard.  It’s good for large game out to 200 yards and deer out to 350 yards. 

   Barnaul is what my brother shoots for Texas hogs. Its round nose slows it down fast, but it’s weight hits hard and penetrates deep at closer ranges. They also have a 180-grain soft point bullet that doesn’t have as much drop, and it’s still more than enough at reasonable distances.  

   Sellier and Bellot is loaded into brass cases. That alone is nice.  They also load ammo for Herter’s. Due to similarities, I presume Winchester 54R ammo is loaded by them too. all I could officially find was “made in Europe”. 

PPU is perhaps the best of the European 54R ammo. Although it might actually be a toss-up with Sellier and Bellot.  They use about the same bullets and the brass is pretty much the same too. They shoot a bit dirty, but not as bad as Wolf and Barnaul.

   The three hunting bullets used in the 54R are all traditional soft point bullets.  They have a blunt round tip of the exposed lead.  They’re not super accurate, but it’s a cheap design to build a working hunting bullet. They are a 150 grain, a 180 grain, and a 203-grain soft point bullet.

If you are capable of making a 450-yard shot, the 150 grain still has plenty of power for deer at that distance.  it’s also the flattest shooting. So, if you don’t want to have to figure elevation for a longer shot, go with a 150-grain load.

   The 180 grain will penetrate close up, better than the 150, and shoots a bit flatter than the 203 grain.  Now, the 203-grain load, hailed as a moose load, retains the most energy down range, but has a lot more drop, because it is slower. It has a serious drop.   

*It’s important to note, the velocities listed are from the 29 ¼ inch Mosin barrel.  From the shorter barrels, expect 200-300 fps less starting speed and keep all shots within 200 yards regardless; 100 for the big animals.

Jordan Buck

Jordan Buck is an outdoor writer, a man of faith, and a family man. He grew up hunting, fishing, and trapping. Jordan has taught marksmanship, woodsmanship, and self-defense classes. He has earned black belts in four martial arts and is a certified Krav Maga instructor. He also runs his own Gun Blog and YouTube Channel. Jordan enjoys giving his time and resources to help others and has spent 15 years volunteering in a boy's mentoring program He is and will always be an American Patriot. MOLON LABE

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