Like many gun enthusiasts, I enjoy shooting, collecting and studying military surplus rifles. I find the Mosin-Nagant rifles to be a great value for the shooter and budget hunter.
It should be obvious that I wanted to read the book considered by some to be the definitive reference on the guns. Called The Mosin-Nagant Rifle, I found this book furthered my understanding of the gun’s history and engineering farther than any other resource online or in print.
History of the Mosin-Nagant
While some firearms enthusiasts will disagree, I find the Mosin-Nagant to be particularly enjoyable as a collector’s piece. As an amateur historian, the rifle resonates with me as its use stretched across so many important times.
It saw combat in the Russo-Japanese War, a conflict considered by some to be the first “modern” war and a glimpse of what would come in World War I.
The Mosin-Nagant put down the 1905 revolution and then served Russian troops in World War I. The same rifles were used by and against Bolsheviks in the 1917 revolution. Later it is used on both sides in battles with the White Army, during the Kronstadt Mutiny and throughout the invasion of Crimea.
The rifle is used to help start World War II with the Soviet Union and German invasions of Poland, invade Finland in the Winter War and to defend Mother Russia from its former ally when the Nazis invade.
Though many considered Russia to be a second-rate military power when the gun was developed, most states considered the country to be a formidable opponent based on the sheer number of troops it could muster.
Across all those years and in the hands of so many soldiers, each rifle tells a unique story. Yet, most of them can be obtained at a reasonable price.
A Book of the Same Name
When I first started collecting these rifles, I relied on several Internet sites to help me understand from where, and when, my rifles came. However, there were many gaps in the information that was available.
The Mosin-Nagant Rifle by Terence W. Lapin was recommended to me as the definitive guide to the history of the Mosin-Nagant rifle.
After reading The Mosin-Nagant Rifle, I discovered that a lot of the information I had accepted as true was either not the whole story or was outright false.
To research this book, Lapin has traveled to many eastern European countries and gone through old imperial and communist-era records to discover as much accurate information about the Mosin-Nagant as possible.
Many, if not most, of these records are not online and cannot be found through a simple Google search. Even though the rifle is more than 100 years old, many of its details remain locked up in poorly cataloged military archives.
Throughout, the author clearly states what is fact and offers documentation to support these points. It is his research and documentation that makes the book so valuable as a reference on the rifles.
Now in its sixth edition, Lapin’s research includes production numbers, arsenal manufacturer information, and a lot of significant details regarding the evolution of this gun from the Tsars to post-WWII.
While the Mosin Nagant rifle is closely associated with Russia (and later, the Soviet Union,) the rifle design was found outside of that country.
For example, most Mosin-Nagant collectors know about the rifle’s general history in Russia and Finland.
Some collectors know how these rifles were also made in Poland and the United States.
However, Lapin has sections on other countries and their involvement with the Mosin-Nagant rifle. Countries such as Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, China, Germany, North Korea, Spain, Turkey, and more.
Each of these nations had its own way of marking rifles. The book’s guide to cartouches and arsenal markings is invaluable. This section alone is worth the price of the book.
Mosin Nagant Accessories
Lapin also includes chapters on parts, bayonets, accessories and the 7.62x54R cartridge. Experimental models and rare examples are detailed in the book. Some of them are simply fascinating.
In the above image, you can see one (of many) example of a Mosin Nagant specialty ammunition. It is a armor-piercing, incendiary round that was developed and used during the Interwar Period.
Additional ammunition information is found within the book.
There is a lot of information about the Mosin-Nagant rifles that have been lost to time. Lapin does an excellent job in finding what information is still out there and piecing together an excellent history.
Lapin is very clear regarding fact and supposition in his book. If he is surmising that something may be true based on the research, he indicates that information as his opinion and why he thinks that way.
If you own a Mosin-Nagant rifle and are interested in knowing more about its history, The Mosin-Nagant Rifle is the authority on these guns. I highly recommend it.
Last update: July 14, 2021.
As with all of my reviews, I include a disclosure statement so you are better able to judge any biases that may have affected my evaluation of this book.
First off, I purchased this Mosin Nagant book with a gift card I had received as a birthday present. The photo below is from my order of this book (and several others) from Amazon in 2008.
Second, no one asked me to do this review. I like history and surplus rifles. Since I had the book, I decided to share my thoughts on it .
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