Is a Mosin Nagant a Good Rifle for Hunting and Shooting?

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

When it comes to bolt rifles, Mosin Nagant is a prestigious name. A Mosin Nagant hunting rifle can kill every animal found in North America, that’s why it is used for hunting and military surplus competitions. There are a few downsides as well when utilizing this rifle, such as its ergonomics and weight.

We will be sharing everything you need to know about Mosin Nagant in this article, so read it thoroughly. Let’s dive in without further ado.

A piece of History

Mosin Nagant is a bolt-action rifle that has became popular among American hunters after the Second World War. Its design was an improvement upon the earlier Imperial Russian M91 Mosin Nagant, which was based on the design of Finnish rifles.

The history of Mosin Nagant is rather interesting too; it starts with its predecessor - Model 1891 Dragoon Rifle. Some things changed over time, like caliber; it went from initial .315 (7.62x54mm) to .30 (7.62x51 NATO). One more change is the sights - originally it had open sights, but then another ring was added to the front sight base. This rifle was widely used in World War 1, by both sides of the conflict.

World War I

In the early 20th century, 7.62x53R was changed from the rimmed cartridge into a rimless one, but the casing dimensions stayed the same. In the 1930’s it was used in Mosin Nagant M1938 Carbine, Dragunov SVT-40, PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle, and their modern counterparts have a lot in common with this cartridge too. This round is so popular because at range its ballistic profile matches .30-06 Springfield rounds pretty well - even today many hunters use weapons chambered for this caliber!

At the moment Mosin Nagant is not the most common weapon found on battlefields around the world, but it still has its users and it’s not going away ever. Millions of Mosin Nagant M1891 Dragoon rifles were made, but after World War 1 they became obsolete because they had less power than other rifles that soldier could get their hands on at that moment. At the same time USSR was doing research into self-loading infantry rifles and one of its modified versions - Fyodor Fedorovich Tokarev's SVT-38 - saw service in 1938.

But even before WWII started, the Soviet Union started looking for a new bolt action rifle with powerful rounds. The main requirements for this weapon were simple: high range, high accuracy, and powerful cartridges - preferably 7.62x54mm R, which later turned into 7.62x53R after the metric system was adopted. There were many designs submitted for this rifle, but the winner was Valerij Petrovich Mosin's improved variant of his 1891 design - M1891/30 Mosin Nagant.

World War II

During World War 2, Russia used millions of Mosin Nagant to fight against German Troops - it got more experience during the Winter War against Finland. The Finns had a lot of battle-hardened soldiers and they knew how to handle their weapons well; they outgunned Russian soldiers with their 7.62x55mm rifles (which is also exceptionally good at a range), so the Soviet Union needed something better than just an upgraded Model 1891 Dragoon rifle.

They had to make their rifles better, lighter, more durable, and with better sights - two years later Mosin Nagant M1930 was created. It had an improved design over the older model, but it didn’t have a lot of differences compared to its predecessor.

The old Model 1891 Dragoon Rifle has not seen any action in World War 2, but it still served soldiers during the Winter War against Finland. Because this rifle was already used during that conflict, the Soviets decided to upgrade it instead of simply buying new weapons from other countries

The upgraded variant - Mosin Nagant M1891/30 proved itself well enough for the Soviet Union to mass-produce them before WWII started too, so it ended up in the hands of many Soviet soldiers. Nowadays, it’s still used by not only Russian special forces but also some other countries like Serbia and Finland (who provide this rifle to their reservists).

Another important moment

The 7.62x54mm round is another important part of Mosin Nagant's story. It was originally designed for Dragoon rifles back in 1891, at the same time when the first Berdan rifle appeared. This cartridge has a rimmed case with a significant amount of power behind it - even today you can find modern sniper loads that have more energy than the old ones.30-06 Springfield cartridges from the early 20th century!

The reason why so much power is required is that Dragoon rifles were used for defending against Berdan rifles and they had to be able and penetrate through helmets and other things like that because it also had to be effective against cavalry units.

Depending on the nation that uses Mosin Nagant, there are different variations of this rifle. The Russian version of Mosin Nagant M1891/30 was used until 1956 when it was replaced by AK-47, while Finnish rifles stayed in use until 1991 - they were all reworked to accept 7.62x39mm ammo and got a new name: M62.

Is Mosin Nagant Rifle Good for Hunting?

The claim that a Mosin Nagant can kill any animal in North America might seem slightly exaggerated, but it’s true. A heavy bullet such as 180 grain or more chambered in Mosin Nagant is enough to kill a grizzly and polar bear. 

You can also use Mosin Nagant for hunting a deer from 600 yards with it, so all in all, it is an incredible hunting rifle. At the same time, you can use it for shooting competitions to enjoy yourself.

Is Mosin Nagant Accurate?

Talking about the accuracy, a Mosin Nagant will generally shoot 3 to 4 MOA if we use older military ammo. We can say that the quality of ammo is directly related to the accuracy, and using good quality ammo can increase its accuracy up to 50%. You can increase the accuracy even further by utilizing some accurizing techniques. The bottom line is a Mosin Nagant can shoot 1 MOA with proper technique and ammo.

We cannot say that Mosin Nagant is the best hunting rifle out there. In fact, it pales in comparison to other rifles of the modern age. It is a decent rifle with above-average power only when we compare it with modern rifles. 

But keep in mind that Mosin Nagant is a classic, and during its prime time, a rifle that can shoot 3 MOA was considered very accurate, and almost none can shoot at 1 MOA. So by this scale, you can imagine how accurate Mosin Nagant is.

This weapon can take an elk, moose, or grizzly down without any hassle with proper precision. It all comes down to the shooter. If he cannot make a good shot, no matter how good a rifle is, it will not easily take the animal down.

How Powerful is a Mosin Nagant?

Let’s see the average power of Mosin Nagant's ammo. A bullet with 148-grain weight produces an average power of 2290 ft-lbs. Similarly, a slug with 203 grains can deliver up to 2630 ft-lbs energy, which is a lot! Its long barrels can bear pressure up to 56000 SI. 

Mosin Nagant rifle can bear a little more pressure than that, but I will recommend not overstepping the limit because the barrel can blow up, especially if you are a hand loader.

Mosin Nagant will shoot a 150-grain bullet at 2910 ft/lb, which is a lot. Especially if we think that a similar amount of energy can be found in the .30-06 Springfield round which has 50% more weight! If the bullet has 165 grains weight, it delivers up to 3260 ft-lbs of force, and 180grain one - around 3620 ft lbs of energy.

The power difference between different types causes some problems for hunters because bigger bullets such as 180gr will penetrate much deeper than lighter ones which makes tracking an animal harder – especially if there’s a blood trail involved too.

Max Effective Range of Mosin

500 yards is the max effective range of Mosin Nagant. In this range, with good optics, rifle, and ammo, you can make consistent shots. Some people also say that they have taken animals down from 900 yards, which should be an exception if true. The rifle does have enough power to take a deer down from 1000 yards.

People say that Mosin Nagant is accurate up to 800+ yards because after all, it was used as a sniper rifle in World War I and II. That’s not entirely true because the effective range of this gun is around 500 meters which means about 300 yards.

The good thing about this rifle is its ballistics - the high velocity will let you shoot further than other rifles with similar rounds. Another thing worth mentioning is that Mosin Nagant isn’t picky when it comes to the choice of ammo; if you don’t like surplus ammo then you can use it.30-06 Springfield (which has slightly better ballistics!) or even 8mm Mauser (which is very cheap too!).

Can I Customize my Mosin Nagant Rifle?

There are plenty of different accessories for this gun to improve it. But if you decide to do so then you must be careful because it can void your warranty.

People that want ammo pouch on their Mosin Nagant rifle often opt for American-made 5-round En-bloc clips. They’re easy to use and very durable too. However, the drawback is that they hold an en-bloc clip which means no quick reloads! If you don’t mind a bit slower reloads then these will work great for you. Another good thing about them is that they’re inexpensive and readily available online or at your local gun shop.

Is Mosin Nagant Rifle Good for New Shooters?

Mosin Nagant is a great rifle if you’re new to shooting and need something affordable but durable. For the price of one SKS, you can buy two Mosin Nagants and will have twice as much fun with them! Just keep in mind that the recoil on Mosin Nagant is pretty hefty so it might not be ideal for smaller shooters.

Let’s sum it up


  1. Affordable
  2. Durable
  3. Can use different types of ammo
  4. Fun to shoot
  5. Powerful


  1. Heavy
  2. Due to the first aspect, it may be unconvinient

If we had to pick only one, we would go with Mosin Nagant because of its fun factor. You can’t go wrong if both you and your friend have one of these guns!