Is that old Mosin Nagant rifle kicking around in the back of your gun safe more valuable than you think it is?
The short answer? Probably not.
But it could be, maybe.
It is no secret that the vast majority of Mosin Nagant rifles are not worth more than the few hundred dollars they tend to sell for at gun shows, gun shops, and pawnbrokers.
However, as with just about anything even remotely collectible, there are certain specific items that can be incredibly valuable.
The same thing holds true in the world of firearm collecting — even with a rifle like the Mosin Nagant with over 37 million individual weapons manufactured.
Certain Mosin Nagants can be much more valuable than the run-of-the-mill, gun show rifle.
Although the odds of your old Mosin Nagant being worth a significant amount of money are very low, there is a small chance that your specific rifle is worth at least a little more than the average.
So, let’s take a look at some of the factors that could lead to a Mosin Nagant being more valuable than most.
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This is a pretty obvious factor of value when talking about any sort of collectible or historic firearm.
Dings and damage that possibly occurred during battle on issued rifles add some character to a Mosin Nagant. But let’s be honest here…damaged rifles are typically worth less money than rifles of a higher quality.
Of course, that is unless you happen to have Vasily Zeitseiv’s sniper rifle.
That said, even a pristine Mosin Nagant packed in cosmoline and stored in a warehouse since WWII isn’t going to allow you to retire to an island somewhere.
Over the course of its 120+ year history, there have been many different variants and experimental models of the Mosin Nagant rifle.
Some of those models are incredibly rare. A fair rule of thumb is that the rarer a certain rifle is, the higher the value of that rifle will be.
Let me just take a moment here for a small disclaimer.
I’m no expert on the history of specific Mosin Nagant rifles or their value. There are experts out there on which specific models and serial numbers make some Mosin Nagants very valuable, but I am not one of them.
This article is more about the basic concept of what could make a Mosin valuable.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk a little more about rarity.
There is an interesting historical anecdote that I think is worth sharing.
Without going into extreme historical detail, here is the basic story.
In 1916, the Russian government ordered approximately 3.3 million M1891 Mosin Nagant rifles from Remington Arms and New England Westinghouse in the United States.
Remington got an order for 1.5 million rifles and Westinghouse was set to make the other 1.8 million.
Russia ordered these rifles due to a shortage of arms and the lack of a well-developed domestic industry capability.
Before all of the rifles could be made and delivered to Russia, certain events occurred. And this led to Bolsheviks taking over the Russian government and quickly defaulting on the contracts with the arms manufacturers in the United States.
This meant that Remington and Westinghouse were left with several hundred thousand rifles.
The United States government then bought all of the remaining rifles and saved the companies from bankruptcy.
But some of the remaining rifles had already been shipped all the way to Great Britain. Those were used to arm the U.S. and British expeditionary forces in 1918 and 1919.
The rifles that remained in the U.S. became training guns for the Army. They were also used to arm some National Guard, SATC, and ROTC units.
This is where it gets interesting for collectors and those interested in firearm history…
During the interwar period, the precursor of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, known then as the Director of Civilian Marksmanship, sold some of the rifles to civilians for $3.
These rifles, designated as “U.S. Rifle, 7.62mm, Model of 1916”, became treasured by collectors.
Because they lack any stamped or engraved marks required of any military surplus arms imported into the States.
Even more valuable...any of these rifles not rechambered for the .30-06 Springfield round.
You might see why it’s so hard to pinpoint the value of certain Mosin Nagants and why only certain rifle models are truly valuable.
The markings on Mosin Nagant rifles can help collectors and gun owners understand if they’re in possession of a valuable firearm or not. These markings really tie into the rarity discussed above.
Frankly, there’s not enough time in this single article to even attempt to scratch the surface of all of the different markings for all of the variations of Mosin Nagants.
But some examples of rare Mosin Nagants include the PEM Side Mount Sniper version, the Tula 1891, the Finnish “SA” marked rifle and M91rv Cavalry Rifle.
Rare accessories for the Mosin Nagant rifle can also be extremely valuable to collectors.
There were quite a few oddball add-ons made in small quantities for the Mosin. And those small quantities make these extras rare.
So rare that fakes or reproductions are common and also that they can fetch a very pretty penny on the collector market.
Some of the more interesting ones include an experimental bayonet designed in 1905. It may have even been issued in small numbers during the Russo-Japanese War.
There was a wire-cutter attachment that paired with the experimental bayonet allowing soldiers to cut wires on the battlefield.
And if you think that is cool, then the Modrakh Device will interest you even more.
Using a simple non-magnified periscope and a trigger with the mother-of-all trigger connecting rods, this device allowed a soldier to fire the Mosin Nagant from below a trench without exposing themselves to enemy fire.
The odds that your gun show Mosin Nagant rifle is extremely valuable are pretty doubtful.
However, there are Mosin Nagant rifles out there that can be much more valuable than many of the common, mass-produced versions.
Even if you don’t have a valuable Mosin Nagant, it may still be worth your time to do a little research into the history of your specific rifle.
If you find it’s a common model, you at least learned a little more about a fascinating topic.
And if you’re looking to pick another one up, there’s plenty of retailers happy to accommodate.