Sunday, February 15, 2009

Affordable Homestead Rifle

When I was younger, I bought and sold a lot of guns. As an older guy, I am hesitant to own any one possession that is very expensive. My guns are tools. I cannot bear to strap a $1000 rifle to a tractor fender or throw it in the back of a truck. I don't abuse my guns, but they get used. This means little scratches on the stocks or blueing. For that reason, I mostly own and carry bargain basement guns. One of of my favorites is the Mosin-Nagant M44. It is an accurate rifle that can be bought for $100 or less and the money saved can buy a lot of ammunition to practice rifle craft with. I am posting about it today because it accompanied me on a winter picnic two weeks ago.

I killed my first groundhog of the year with is this weekend.

The M44 was made for the Russian military beginning in 1944. It can be bought in arsenal refinished condition for about $70 (I payed $65 for my handpicked one at a gun show a couple of years ago). It fires a 7.62X54 rimmed cartridge that is basically equal to the 30-06 US round. For around $75 a sealed can of 300 rounds can be bought at a gun show or stocking dealer. I pay about $11 for a box of Russian hunting ammunition at a dealer. The hunting ammunition is a big 202 grain bullet made for hunting Finnish and Russian moose.

The advantages of the M44 are many. It is physically strong and well made. As it was made for military service, it can be dropped without worrying that a fragile part will break. For target shooting, it quickly reloads from 5 round stripper clips.

It is short and handy; about the length of a saddle carbine. In spite of its short length, it weighs about as much as an M-1 Garand. I like this as I do a lot of shooting from a rest. The 7.62X54r cartridge will take any North American game. In military full metal jacket loads it will take out the engine block of most cars. after a century of use, the cartridge remains the standard Eastern European sniper round. The M44 also field strips as easy as any rifle ever made. The bolt can be disassembled for cleaning without tools. You tube has an extensive selection of dis-assembly information. It will kill groundhogs at 100+ yards from prone, and today an easy 45 yard offhand shot. Its accuracy is more than sufficient for practical use with the stock military open sights.

This is not a perfect rifle. The safety is not particularly positive. The safety spring is hard and must be twisted just right or it will click off. I would not trust a youngster with it. Due to the short barrel, the rifle is loud and recoil is sort of stout. The inexpensive ammunition is all from foreign sources. Much of it is corrosive primers, which means the rifle MUST be cleaned within 24 hours of shooting or the agents in the primers will deteriorate the bolt and barrel. The m44 was also sighted to be fired with the side attached bayonet extended. Many shoot slightly to the left (Mine was zeroed at about 6" left at 100 meters unless the bayonet was extended.) unless the shooter either extends the bayonet, learns to compensate, or manually adjust the sights. I have never used the bayonet for anything but a kickstand to keep the rifle out of the dirt. The final disadvantage is again from the foreign ammunition. It is cheap, but not available at Walmart or most sporting goods shops. It may not always be cheap so stock up. Years ago I bought a lot of .303 British surplus ammunition at about $5.00 for 60 round bandoleers. As the surplus stocks dried up, the prices rose. Also, foreign ammunition could be subject to an import ban or our continued good relations with the countries that sell it, such as Bulgaria. If you buy this rifle; use the money saved to buy enough ammunition to last a while. Happy shooting.


Kaira said...

Thanks for this article - I'll share it with my husband.

Anonymous said...

Where I live, the main sporting goods stores have been running out of ammo. Be glad that you can at least find ammo from an international source.

The gun shows down here have been so busy since the new administration that it really is hard to get a good deal at one. They're charging a premium.

I do enjoy your gun reviews.

The Midland Agrarian said...

Thank you both for thr kind words.

I don't think it is legal to buy ammunition internationally as a private citizen. I buy from importers. However, I can legally buy ammunition via phone orders to dealers in other states and have it shipped to my home. You may be able to as well, dependent upon your state and local laws. try googling "ammoman" or "aim surplus"

Prices on guns and ammo have been rising locally here too. Barack Obama is the best gun salesman I have seen in a long time. Our guns shows are like zoos too. One of my favorite local gun shops put up a sign thanking all of their customers for their best year ever.

KJC402 said...

Mosin-Nagant rifles are great.

A bunch of the guys at work and I have this M-N love affair though, I sold my Russian ones to buy a Finnish M-39 and boy was it worth it.

Don't count on Wal Mart for any ammo, all of them around me are selling what they have on hand and not restocking or continue to carry ammo.

Best bet - reload. Re-loadable brass is coming from Serbia and a few other sources & bullet diameter is in the .308-.311 range. A simple single stage press and accessories and your good to go.

The Midland Agrarian said...


Th Finnish Mosin is absolutely top of the heap. I would just be afraid to use one for a truck gun!

Good point about reloading. Years ago, I had an OK setup for loading 44 Special/44magnum and 38/357. two single stage presses, a Lee auto prime and a thrower. Sold it all to an acquaintance about 12 years ago.

Might have to stock up on some of that PRVIPartisan ammo from Serbia, and look around for another setup.

KJC402 said...


No truck to have a truck gun and I suppose it would look weird to have a rifle rack in a mini-van. :)