Update 12 Dec 2011: Nutnfancy has a review of the BrassStacker mount for the Mosin Nagant. The BrassStacker is for long-eye relief scopes but allows for use of irons sights out to 100 yards. It’s much cheaper than going the bent bolt route, but I still prefer that method.
Update 30 Nov 2011: My brothers and I have purchased four JMeck see-through scope mounts. We plan to install at least a couple of these over the Christmas holiday season. Expect a post in January reviewing these mounts!
Original Post: So you’ve picked up a Mosin Nagant for an excellent price and the next step is to put a scope on this hi-powered rifle. The 7.62.54R falls in between the .308 (7.62×51) and the .30-06 (7.62×63), and is also similar to .303 British (7.7x56mmR). This rifle is perfect for hunting and long-range shooting – it’s practically begging to be scoped.
Unfortunately, the Mosin Nagant wasn’t really designed to be scoped and the options available will in most cases cost more than the rifle, even before purchasing the actual optic. Some of the solutions involve drilling and tapping the rifle, which can be difficult if you don’t have the right tools or are uncomfortable with potentially marring your firearm.
Overall there are two basic options; the “scout” mount, which is forward on the rifle and uses a long eye relief (LER) scope similar to those used on pistols, or the traditional location over the bolt using standard scopes. Both have their pros and cons.
This is the easiest and least expensive of the two options, but means you must 1) remove the rear sight assembly and 2) use a LER scope (though this might be an acceptable option if you wear eyeglasses). These are both cons for me since I like having see-thru mounts that allow the use of iron sights as a backup, and I don’t really care for LER scopes. If you don’t care about either of those things, you’ve found your solution and are set.
There are a few options here. There are several systems where part of the rear sight is removed and a mounting system, usually with a weaver/picatinny rail, are installed (photos). This allows for standard mounts to be used and a wide variety of appropriate LER scopes.
Some have noted that if the entire rear sight assembly is removed on a 91/30 Mosin Nagant, 3/8” male dovetail grooves are revealed, the same as on modern .22 rifles and airguns. This means you can purchase some cheap but still quality 1” rings for about $10 and mount a scope. However, you’ll have to work to get the sight assembly removed:
[There are] two pins holding the sight base on, and they usually have a dab of solder on the base to dovetail. Gentle heating with a small torch to melt the solder, then tap the base forward and it comes right off.
Besides not needing to drill/tap any holes in your rifle, another pro is that you can retain the straight bolt.
Scopes mounted in the normal fashion are, to me and many others, simple easier to use. In most cases removing the scope allows the use of iron sights, another pro. However, to use a scope in this position the straight bolt on the Mosin Nagant must be bent. Right out of the gates that’s an expense.
There are some kits that include the bent bolt or part for modifying it. Personally I don’t have the tools required and don’t want to take a chance at mutilating my rifle. The most popular kit is from ATI; it includes a rail that must be drilled/tapped and part of a bolt that also requires machining. It doesn’t have very good reviews.
This brings up the bolt. The Mosin Nagant has a straight bolt that comes up right into the space a traditionally mounted scope would be. The only solution for a scope mounted there is to have the bolt bent or in someway modified for the same effect. From all I’ve read, one of the best sources for getting this done is a vendor who goes by “The Boltman.”
There are a few companies that make custom mounts for the Mosin Nagant (again, need a bent bolt to use them).
- Jmeck – I like this one because it’s a see-thru mount and doesn’t require any drilling/tapping. Seems to have a good reputation on the various forums, and there is a You Tube video of the mount installation by a customer.
- Rock Solid Industries – This looks like a well made product that will fit the bill. They note it’s low profile, and offer bolts (higher cost than Boltman, however). Cannot use iron sights.
- Advanced Rifle Parts – This mount attaches to the rear sight assembly to provide the traditional scope placement, and also seems well made. Cannot use iron sights.
- Tick Bite Supply – Offers several options, including the scout type mounts described above, and a hideous tactical tri-rail mount that is just wrong for a Mosin Nagant.
The scout mount is much less expensive and is probably easier to implement, while the Jmeck mount seems to be what I’d prefer (though the mount would cost more than a new rifle and the bolt would need to be bent on top of that, all before purchasing the scope!).
Though I don’t care for the scout setup, I may consider it for my Mosin Nagant due to cost concerns. Perhaps I can get used to it and even prefer it for a high powered rifle, but it’ll be a few months before I need to decide anything.