The scourge of Stalingrad and perhaps the most exceptionally efficient sniper rifle of WWII, this deadly weapon was mass-produced in the Soviet Union with up to 330,000 in circulation between 1941 and 1943.
The design was a modification of the standard Mosin-Nagant 1891/30 rifle – or Vintovka Mosina – a prominent model throughout the 20th century. High-quality examples of this model were hand-picked for the superiority of their barrels and pulled off the production line. From here, the conversion process began. The rifle was fitted with a solid scope mount. Its bolt handle was lengthened and bent down to prevent it from colliding with the attached telescopic sight.
Snipers were issued with two different scopes, the PU and the PE/PEM, the PU being the favourite among the sharpshooters.
The trigger housing was lightened, bayonets were not issued, and the foresight was raised by 1mm, allowing the open sights to be used at up to 600m. This meant that the marksmen were not restricted to taking long-range shots. Otherwise, the sniper rifle did not differ from the standard issue Mosin-Nagant.
The idea of converting an existing rifle into a sniper weapon was conceived in the early 1920s, when similar changes were tried using the Dragoon. The accuracy of this variant, however, was not considered to be up to par, and a series of other complaints about it led to the introduction of the 1891/30 Sniper.
Although widely regarded as remarkably reliable, the rifle was not without its faults: the new, lighter trigger was not adjustable, and many snipers found themselves stuck with triggers which had been poorly aligned at the factory; the wood used was not high-quality, and so was prone to warp with changes in the weather; even without a bayonet, the rifle was very long and heavy, making it cumbersome in the field and an impediment to mobility – a serious matter for a sniper, for whom stealth was paramount.
Despite these defects, the Mosin-Nagant Sniper is considered one of the most deadly rifles of WWII. It is believed that many German snipers adopted captured 1891/30s as their personal rifles, favouring them over their own Mauser 98ks. It had an outstanding service history right up until it was replaced in the USSR by the Dragunov sniper rifle in 1963. It remained in service in many other communist countries until the 1970s, and was used by the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War.
The Mosin-Nagant Sniper weighs just over 3.6kg and is a little over 1m in length. It _ res a 7.62mm x 54mm rimmed cartridge, ballistically comparable to the US .30-06 cartridge. It is highly accurate up to approximately 500m (although the sights have settings up to 2,000m).
The rifle is robust, with a stiff recoil typical of most .30 rifles. Bolt manipulation is smooth, and the rifle cocks on opening, requiring a sturdy upward push to unlock.
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