Ancient Rifles Still Do The Job

Recently, a young man acquired a refurbished Mosin-Nagant rifle. When challenged why such an antique was desirable he mentioned:

  • collecting/nostalgia,
  • target-shooting, and
  • hunting.

The old clunker can do that. Despite it’s ancient heritage with European, US and Russian influences, and a sloppy trigger, it does the job:

7.62X54R ballistics

Top Line (red) 168 gr BTHP at 2650 ft/s
Bottom line (green) 150 gr SP 2900 ft/s (31 inch barrel)

Performance With 150 SP Bullet

Performance With 150 SP Bullet

There’s plenty of energy at 350 yards to make short work of a deer and with a scope such rifles are plenty accurate for the job. I hope to shoot this thing sooner or later… With a new barrel it will probably shoot as well as many modern firearms. Reloadable ammunition is still made around the world. This cartridge is sometimes seen on the news in coverage from Syria where they serve in modern sniper’s rifles.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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2 Responses to Ancient Rifles Still Do The Job

  1. George Hostler wrote, “The U.S. Civil War was considered a major milestone for benchmarking rifle development.”

    There have been a few major advances since then:

    • smokeless powder and brass cartridges made all kinds of improvements possible,
    • doubling muzzle-velocities,
    • doubling accuracy (and more), and
    • semi-auto and full-auto working reliably.

    The US unCivil War triggered a lot of these developments but many arrived a generation later:

    • smokeless and brass ~1880
    • full-auto ~1914
    • gas operation ~1930

    Thankfully, the bolt-action rifles of all the world’s armies are still available for us hunters.

  2. George Hostler says:

    Speaking of ancient rifles, move the clock back 165 years ago. The .58 caliber Springfield musket and similar Enfield .577 caliber with rifling using minié bullets during the civil war brought a new era of accuracy.

    The Springfield rifle-musket was a .58-caliber percussion weapon that weighed nearly 10 pounds and cost about $15. It was 58 inches long with a 40-inch barrel, and came with an 18-inch bayonet. On the negative side, bullets exited the Springfield’s barrel at the relatively slow speed of only 950 feet per second (about the same as a modern .22-caliber rifle), but the gun’s deadly accuracy at long ranges outweighed that shortcoming. Armed with a Springfield, a competent shooter could hit a 27-inch bull’s-eye at 500 yards, the best performance to date for a standard-issue infantry weapon. […]

    The deadly effectiveness of the rifle-musket loaded with a minié bullet was largely to blame for the Civil War’s appalling casualty rates. During the nearly 10,500 skirmishes and battles of the war, more than 110,000 Union soldiers and 94,000 Confederates were killed, and an additional 275,000 and 194,000, respectively, were wounded. Rifle bullets, primarily the minié bullet, caused 90 percent of all these casualties. Artillery projectiles accounted for less than 9 percent, and swords and bayonets, less than 1 percent. Considering all this evidence, it is no exaggeration to conclude that the rifle-musket and minié bullet greatly affected the overall course of the Civil War and foreshadowed 20th-century warfare.

    The U.S. Civil War was considered a major milestone for benchmarking rifle development.

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