Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 3

Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 3

From the Old West, to Prohibition, to the battlefield

By Dennis Adler

The cut down Mosin-Nagant was a handy gun in its time, the rifles were plentiful having been made for over a quarter of a century by the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and easily modified. Some have the front sight remounted on the end of the shortened barrel, most had both sights removed. The Gletcher CO2 version favors the guns that were done by gunsmiths rather than revolutionaries with a hacksaw.

In the realm of military arms the Mosin-Nagant is a classic rifle, the Obrez on the other hand, is almost more of an historical curiosity because they were not made at any arsenal but simply modified individually in the field, much like cut down weapons used during the American Civil War. So, there was no absolute consistency from one to another, unless a revolutionary group with a decent gunsmith among them built a small quantity at one time, otherwise it was a pattern copied by individuals with surplus Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifles. In the Russian Revolution they served as a kind of rebel pistol in a rifle caliber. Some Obrez Mosin-Nagant pistols appeared during the Spanish Civil War and others were either resurrected or made new by resistance fighters during WWII, but still they were a rare gun to find in any numbers. This fact led Gletcher to the Obrez while looking at famous Russian military guns when they started their Russian Legends series of CO2 models some years ago. And while the rifle made most sense, the Obrez was almost irresistible as a unique CO2 model. And I don’t think anyone will disagree with that, even after Gletcher introduced the M1944 Mosin-Nagant WWII era rifle. The little sawed off M1891 had a look that any military weapons collector or arms enthusiast couldn’t shy away from. Many existing Obrez remain only because of the attachment their original owners had for them during the revolution. Those who survived, some maybe even as a result of using the gun, held on to them as wartime momentos. Other rifles throughout world wars and conflicts have been cut down in similar fashion; Obrez roughly translates to cut down, so it is not necessarily exclusive to the Mosin-Nagant. But it is to the Gletcher model.

The Gletcher has a nicely designed self-contained CO2 BB magazine that holds 16 BBs. Extra magazines are readily available for rifle and pistol models, which makes quick work of reloading the gun.
The magazine fits into the receiver and gives the gun the same contours as the 7.62x54mm R cartridge models with internal magazines.
The magazine slaps in with ease and the Gletcher is ready to handle like the actual centerfire Obrez pistols, only without the robust kick of the 7.62x54mm R rifle cartridge.

What can a 5.6 pound CO2 pistol with a 6-inch barrel do?

Impractical to shoot one-handed, the Gletcher Obrez is the ultimate two-handed hold pistol, but for quick operation you need to perfect a rhythm of slightly rotating the gun left while the shooting hand slaps the bolt up and open, and then rotating back as you drive the bolt closed. You can also work the action as close to straight up in the support hand as possible, as if it were a bolt action rifle without a shoulder stock, though it is hard to totally stabilize it. Either way it is not as quick to reload and fire as a carbine, and there is no graceful way to shoot this gun because it is neither pistol nor rifle. If you want accuracy with it as a BB gun though, you have to aim carefully and shoot slowly.

The bolt action is smooth and works easily to ready the gun for the first shot.

I did all of the photography outdoors in the snow, pretty much what a winter might have looked like in a Russian forest and open, snow covered field when the real Obrez Mosin-Nagant pistols were being used in battle. But unlike those 7.62mm guns, the CO2 in the Gletcher didn’t quite hold up to the task and the shooting tests were completed on the indoor range.

The best way to handle the Gletcher is to aim it like a rifle giving the gun as much support as possible with the shooting arm and offside hand. With the tangent rear sight and hooded front sight you can get a solid fix on your target. The weight of the gun when solidly supported in both hands makes it about as steady as possible for close range shooting.

21 feet and counting

First up was a trigger pull test to see how lightly the trigger press is to get off a clean aimed shot. Average pull was 3 pounds, 4.5 ounces with light stacking and crisp break shot after shot. You quickly get a feel for this trigger and that, along with the weight and balance of this hefty pistol keep you locked on target.

Looking over my velocity tests I decided to use Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs for test one at 21 feet, and then shoot it over with Dust Devils. For test 2 I backed up to 10 meters with Dust Devils. Remember, this is only a 6-inch smoothbore barrel, despite the looks of a longer barrel on the outside. Pushing Dust Devils to 10 meters at 380 fps seemed within the gun’s capabilities for maintaining accuracy. All tests were shot off hand with a two handed hold as shown in the pictures.

There is no set way to work the action, I tired giving the gun as much support as possible with the offside hand and arm while slapping the bolt up and back with my shooting hand and trying to keep the gun as level as possible.
With the gun almost leveled after drawing the bolt to rear, closing the bolt quickly kept it balanced and I was able to close the action, drop my hand back on the wrist and put the gun back on target with a smooth follow through.
The angle of the bolt lends itself to a quick return to the pistol grip and trigger. I did it this way for all of the outside shooting and would estimate a little over a second to work the action and get back on target. This would work well with large reactive metal targets and frangible BBs or copper coated Smart Shot outdoors, though not necessarily in below freezing temperatures!

The gun tends to hit left of POA but I had no problem with elevation. The Hornady Black Diamond clocking an average of 378 fps put nine out of 10 shots into 0.93 inches one flyer, if you will, in the bullseye, opening my total group up to 1.125 inches. Of the 0.93 inch group 8 shots were overlapping at 0.44 inches. So, at 21 feet with slow, careful aim the hefty Gletcher Mosin-Nagant pistol can pack them in tight.

On the indoor range and shooting for accuracy, not speed of reloading (also waiting 15 seconds between shots to keep the CO2 from over cooling), at 21 feet with Hornady Black Diamond I piled eight out of 10 shots into a very tight cluster, with one just slightly above, and what turned out with this group to be a “flyer” hitting the red bullseye. The gun consistently shoots left of POA but is very close for elevation (adjusted one increment up at 21 feet with steel BBs). You could correct POA by aiming right of center, which I did on a few targets, but I had the best overall groups with a 6 o’clock hold under the 10 ring. In this picture I have the bolt rotated left to the SAFE position.
Still hitting left with Dust Devils my shots came in higher and more to POA, but didn’t group as tightly. This is 10 rounds at 1.25 inches with a couple of overlapping hits.

I shot 10 rounds of Air Venturi Dust Devils at 21 feet, which clustered into 1.25 inches, so not quite as accurate as the Hornady steel. Stepping back to 10 meters I shot a 10-meter air pistol target. I had to adjust the rear sight down to the lowest position, which kept elevation decent but everything began hitting further left. I corrected POA to the right of the bullseye but shots still went a little left and only two rounds hit the black, the rest grouped left of center for a 10-shot spread of 1.25 inches.

Accuracy shatters like Dust Devils on steel at 10 meters but I still managed to get 10 shots on the target at 1.25 inches, though none tightly grouped, but rather spread out from end to end, and again almost all hitting left of POA. For just plain fun shooting the Gletcher is an interesting gun to handle and with a little practice about as accurate as any other BB “pistol” with a 6-inch smoothbore barrel.

Not a bad total group for Dust Devils at 10 meters from a 6-inch barrel, but for scoring at 10 meters, pretty bad. Still, the gun’s accuracy at that distance is good enough to work with reactive metal targets where accuracy requires that you hit the target not center punch it. At either distance with steel or frangible BBs, this heavy gun will give your arms a workout and you will get a sense of what the real Obrez Mosin-Nagant pistols felt like minus the, so I have read, very heavy recoil.

File this airgun under eclectic.

7 thoughts on “Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 3”

  1. I read somewhere that the M1981 bolt does not need to be fully cycled up and back to load the next BB. I’ve confirmed in my own shooting that flipping the bolt up then down (without pulling the bolt back) is sufficient to load the next BB and cock the bolt. Pulling the bolt back in the vertical position does nothing.

    • This is true but what is does do is give you the feeling of working the actual bolt action which Gletcher went to the effort of duplicating. If you want to speed things up you can just flip the bolt handle up and down to cock the action and set the next BB to fire. My feeling is, that if Gletcher shortcut the design and made it possible to operate the M1891 and M1944 by just flipping the bolt up and down and not having a fully functional bolt action, everyone would have said they didn’t put the effort into making it authentic. Sometimes you can’t win.

      • Yeah, I get it. Given how heavy this short gun is, I was just thinking that to save some energy, time, and effort holding up this gun, a shooter can shorten the cocking procedure. The Mosin Nagant M1944 I found to be even heavier and more difficult to hold up for the time to shoot a single CO2.

        Despite the weight, I like both the M1891 and the M1944 replicas.

        Shooting the M1891 off hand standing at 18 feet today, my Black Diamond 10 shot group was not nearly as good as yours, but I did get 9 of the 10 in a 1.5″ group. Like your group, elevation was good, but left of target. I don’t have Dust Devils, but I do have Smart Shot, and 9 out of my 10 shots were in a 1.25″ group. On both of these I was using a 6 o’clock aim point on the 2″ shot spot.

  2. Sometimes people come back and read an article a couple of times, and if you have read this one more than once since it posted Saturday night, it has had a couple of changes and typo corrections. Bad weather pushed me into a very short window to get the article shot and completed and when you rush you make typos, I do for certain. What would normally be a pre-post edit ended up being an ongoing edit after the article was published. Not what I usually like to do, but hopefully from this point on (Saturday afternoon) you will read a pretty cleaned up article. For those who read it early on and found it confusing, it was, because I read through a couple of blunders where words were missing or spelled wrong but making another word that spell check overlooked. So, sorry about that.


  3. Off topic, but I noticed some new SAA accessories like barrels and hammers and cylinders for sale separately in various colours and finishes.
    Is it reallly so easy to switch them out?

    • Kade, no it isn’t easy. I’ve never taken one apart but the engravers who do the special editions have completely disassembled the guns and there are a lot of parts, actually more than an actual Colt Peacemaker. I’m going to order some of the accessories and do a complete upgrade later this year, so I’ll be able to tell and show how hard it is or isn’t to do. Stay tuned!


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