Gletcher Mosin-Nagant Model 1944 Part 1

Gletcher Mosin-Nagant Model 1944 Part 1

The Russian sharpshooter is back

By Dennis Adler

History gives us many choices in military firearms because almost every gun, at one time or another has been used by an army somewhere in the world since the 15th century. Almost every handgun and rifle has some military lineage, whether it is a flintlock, caplock, rimfire, centerfire, or CO2 model.

The Mosin-Nagant was not just a rifle but a series of rifles produced in Russia from 1891 through 1948. Many original Mosin-Nagant models are still in use today around the world. With millions having been manufactured they are readily available and affordable for military arms collectors. The Gletcher Mosin-Nagant CO2 rifle is based on the WWII era Model 1944, a variation of the M38 version with a folding bayonet.

For CO2 powered air rifles one of the oldest patterns used today is the Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle, which dates back to the original 1891 design by Russian Army Captain Sergei Ivaonvich Mosin, and Belgian armsmakers Emile and Leon Nagant. The hyphenated sharing of names, however, wasn’t exactly intended, in fact, back in late 19th century Russia it was never known as a Mosin-Nagant, but rather the Model 1891 or the “3-Lineyaya Vintovka obr 1891g” (3-line rifle, model of 1891). In point of fact, the bolt action rifle was almost entirely designed by Sergei Mosin. The Nagant part, however, is quite significant; Emile and Leon designed the magazine follower, the bolt, an interrupter (a specially designed part within the receiver, which helps prevent double feeding) and the charger or stripper clip that was used in the final production models. Originally these key pieces were part of the Nagant rifle design presented to the Russian military at the same time as Sergei Mosin’s in 1890.

This c.1905 Russian illustration shows the various parts and operation of the Mosin-Nagant rifle.

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Throughout late 1890 and into 1891, both rifles were field tested by three regiments and one battalion of the Russian Army. The opinion in the field was that the Nagant design was superior, but politics being what they were (a constant throughout history) it was decided that the military should have a rifle designed by a Russian, and a Russian Army Captain no less. The Nagant’s were Belgian, which held little sway with Czar Alexander III, although they would be in favor four years later with Czar Nicholas II, when the Nagant brothers began selling their Model 1895 revolvers to the Russian military, as well as licensing the manufacture of the 7-shot models in Russia.

The Gletcher M1944 incorporates all of the established Mosin-Nagant features used on the 7.62x54mm R caliber models and improvements developed by 1944. It handles and operates almost identically to the centerfire M1944 with a fully functioning bolt action firing system.

The Mosin-Nagant, as the name implies, was a compromise design combining the better elements of the Nagant with Mosin’s design for the final production version in 1892. The rifles were manufactured at the Russian ordnance factories in Tula, Izhevsk, and Sestroryetsk. Mosin rose through the ranks to become a Major General and ended up director of the Sestroryetsk arsenal until his death in 1902. The Nagant brother’s armory, Fabrique d’Armes et Leon Nagant, in Liege, continued as a successful arms manufacturer until the early 1930s. Nagant had also ventured into manufacturing automobiles at the turn of the century, and in 1931 was bought out by Belgian automotive manufacturer Imperia. Their namesake would be the 1895 pistol and the 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifle.

Here  for comparison is an original M1944 Mosin-Nagant with folded bayonet.

Mosin-Nagant variations

The Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 and subsequent improved models and variations were used by Russian (and later Soviet) soldiers through WWII. The original M1891 rifle was built in three versions, Infantry, Carbine and Dragoon (or Cossack), which had shorter 28.8 inch barrels for mounted cavalry and did not have a bayonet. All three utilized the same bolt action with a straight Mosin-designed bolt handle, and five-shot internal capacity magazine loaded using stripper clips. Early models all used the same graduated rear sight, blade front sight, one-piece beech stock with a full handguard on top, a cleaning rod, sling stock slots, and a rudimentary safety engaged by twisting the large cocking piece slightly counterclockwise. Different barrel lengths, changes to the sights (such as a hooded front sight), and use of bayonets were principal differences between the Mosin-Nagant variations.

The Gletcher CO2 model looks virtually identical (and also has a shoulder sling).

The original chambering for the rifles was a new smokeless powder 7.62x54mm R cartridge with a 212 gr. round nose bullet. The 212 gr. round nose ultimately proved inadequate at the distances the Mosin-Nagant was designed for, and was replaced in 1908 with a lighter grain weight, higher velocity 147-gr. Spitzer (pointed) bullet. The rear sights were also recalibrated to meters from the Russian arshin, a unit of measurement equal to 28 inches that had been the Russian standard since the 16th century. The arshin was dispensed with (along with Czar Nicholas II) following the 1917-1918 Russian Revolution. The Mosin-Nagant rifle and Nagant pistols survived the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, the Russian Communist Party, and Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin. Not to mention two world wars.

Again for comparison, a Mosin-Nagant 91/30 model. Notice the fine details duplicated on the Gletcher M1944 such as the improved rear and front sights.

The Mosin-Nagant design was updated in 1930 and designated M91/30 which was famously used by the Red Army. Among changes was a switch from the hexagonal receivers used on the original rifles to less-labor-intensive and expensive to manufacture round receivers (such as those used on the Gletcher Mosin-Nagant M1944). The 91/30 Mosin-Nagant also introduced a shorter 28.7-inch barrel, replacing the earlier 31.6-inch barrel. A new hooded post front sight replaced the original front blade and a new tangent-type rear sight, graduated from 100–2,000 meters was added.

The 2001 WWII film Enemy at the Gates, starring Jude Law and Ed Harris, put the Mosin-Nagant on the map for gun collectors outside of the military arms crowd already familiar with this legendary bolt action rifle.

An improved carbine version, known as the M38, was issued during World War II, and the M91/30 Sniper rifle with telescopic sight. This model used a modified longer handled bolt design (or “bent bolt”)  to accommodate the optics and is the most famous Mosin-Nagant in current memory thanks to the 2001 film Enemy at the Gates starring Jude Law as legendary Russian sniper Vasily Zaytsev. The film was loosely based on the true story of Zaytsev’s role as a sniper during the 1942 Battle of Stalingrad. More than anything else, the film brought the Mosin-Nagant unprecedented recognition. It remains one of the most famous rifle designs in history and even 70 years after production ended in Russia [1], Mosin-Nagant rifles are still being used in some corners of the world!

As carried in the filed with the bayonet rotated and locked, the Gletcher CO2 model is a perfect .177 caliber version of the most famous of all Russian military and civilian rifles.

In Part 2 we will look at the Mosin-Nagant M44 carbine (Model 1944) upon which the Gletcher model is based.

[1] The Mosin-Nagant design was manufactured by Eastern European and Chinese armsmakers into the 1950s and as late as 1973 in Finland.

4 thoughts on “Gletcher Mosin-Nagant Model 1944 Part 1”

  1. Seems there is still some life in Gletcher. Will be interesting to see how this rifle does in the accuracy stage. Will be hot outside for Russian military winter garb. Gletcher says that the TT33 blowback is still in production but only non blowback in stock presently. Maybe Pyramid can get a few of the blowback models . Put me down for one.

  2. I don’t know if you have a spare mag for the Mosin-Nagant rifle , but I remember reading in an a test of the early rifles that the spare mag gave significantly higher velocity. Would be interesting to see if that holds for your rifle.

  3. I have the M1891 which makes for a great conversation piece. I have reliably torn up tin cans with it at 50 feet so I’m sure this model with the longer barrel can match that and do better.

    Also the 1895 revolver arrived today, left a deserving 5 star review, it’s wonderfully accurate. Really wanted a light weight revolver to round out my shooting options and this fits the bill perfectly. There is a manual safety on the right side but it’s fairly non-intrusive. Small price to pay in authenticity for a good c02 shooter.

    • Surprised your revolver had the safety. It is lusted as anR model which I thought had no safety, the newer F models do . Either way it is a keeper . Enjoy

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