It took me over a decade since leaving the SEAL Teams to take an interest in guns again. My falling out with guns was mostly because of “hot desert sun in your eyes” burnout. But lately, I’ve been getting the itch again. And what a better way to scratch it than to talk about the Mosin Nagant and what it teaches us about guns.

A 19th Century Beast in 20th Century Wars

The Mosin Nagant, also known as Mosin’s rifle, was developed in the late 19th century in Russia. It has been used by the armed forces of several nations including Russia.

The rifle holds the distinction of being one of the most mass-produced military bolt-action rifles in history with over 37 million units made since 1891.

The M1891, as is its official name, is a five-shot, bolt-action rifle. It is fed by an internal magazine and is more commonly chambered for a 7.62-54mmR cartridge.

Despite its age, it’s still seen in found in conflict around the world. I actually saw several Mosin Nagants in Afghanistan during my time with SEAL Team Three. Think about that for a moment. It was made more than a century ago, and I’m sure to this day some bearded, five-wived Taliban is carrying one around because of its utility.

What Can the Mosin Nagant Teach Us?

Weapons are primarily designed for hunting and self-defense and there is no better example of simplicity of construction and ruggedness than the Mosin Nagant.

When I was in Afghanistan it was clear to me that I didn’t want to get into a mountainous gunfight with a bolt action rifle and the M4 was not a great option either. Luckily I had the option of the 7.62 SR25 semi-auto sniper rifle (which had its own reliability issues). I would have killed for a lightweight high capacity magazine Blaser rifle.

In Afghanistan, you’ll soon see why body armor, heavy guns, and packs will not win the fight. Look at any serious hunter and you’ll see they aren’t packing around extra junk on themselves or their primary.

Then something crazy happened after 2001. Did we learn from modern warfare? NO!

Mosin Nagant can teaches a lot about rifles.
A pair of Mosin Nagants.

We reversed the evolutionary process and started to go heavier! I’d see guys at SHOT and the range with useless gun components that apparently “look cool.” And don’t get me started on a slow-moving DoD contracting process that gives us a rock and two sticks to rub together in time for Elon Musk to release his “Not a Flame Thrower.”

This was as wrong as a monkey humping a football and made about as much sense to professional gunslingers.

Rifles aren’t meant to be heavy, burdensome, or used as a kitchen pot rack for accessories. Do you jive?

One of the best modern examples I’ve seen is the Blaser hunting rifles. They are sleek, lightweight, reliable, practical, and go against this trend.

The only thing a good rifle needs today is a solid optic or sights to accurately aim to the rifle’s capability and a backup iron sight for the same reason. Save your money on the red dots, lasers, velcro, patches, lights, and gadgets, and just buy more guns, fishing rods, or other guy stuff.

Remember the practicality of the Mosin Nagant and what we can learn from the functionality of a rifle still going strong in third-world “shitholes” over a hundred years later.