You can’t go wrong with an old Military Surplus rifle, especially when they still fire just right!
Each Mosin is unique in it’s own way – they all have their own little quirks and personalities. I’ve had 4 Nagants in the past few years and each one was fairly different in the way it handled, and of course, it’s markings throughout the rifle.
The different proof marks and other markings can tell a very interesting (or sometimes not so interesting) story about your rifle.
It can be hard for some to find all of the information you need to decipher where your rifle came from, and what it went through before it came to you.
I would post some photos of my own from my own rifles, but I don’t have enough of the rifles to actually create an entirely original guide. However, I can help you and point you in the right direction to help you learn how to decipher the markings like I learned.
First I’ll explain how you can tell you have a rifle in it’s original entirety.
You will find three serial numbers (not including the modern day import serial number that are ATF compliant, we don’t care about that one in this post), a total of 3 MAJOR ones: on the barrel shank, the magazine and the bolt. All serial numbers should match, if they all match, you have a whole original rifle!
If not, the part that does not match with the others was lost, broken or ghosted off beyond tracing means. Not always a bad thing, as long as you can fire it safely I wouldn’t worry about it!
Some places to look for proof markings are:
- Barrel Shank
- Various places throughout the Bolt
- Trigger Guard
- Trigger Assembly
- Throughout the Stock
- Bayonet Locking Ring
- Spring Carrier
- Front Sight Blade
- Metal Plate, Buttstock
Pretty much anywhere and everywhere all over the rifle. Look closely and carefully, use a handheld LED light (the iPhone flashlight works well). When I just pick up a fresh one, I usually strip the whole rifle down and disassemble the entire thing to remove every dab of cosmoline. (It’s very easy and minimal tools are needed, I promise!) And while I have it strung out, I inspect every little piece and part and write down what I find for proof markings, and then I refer to the guide below.
Here’s a link to an excellent guide that can help you identify what marking it is: Markings Guide
That guide is very detailed with loads and loads of information and there’s A LOT to go through, you may have to browse a little while before you really nail it.
With this guide I was able to figure out that one of my personal Nagants was produced in Russia, and then used in a military training academy, but not for long because then it had a refurbish proof mark in a Tula factory, followed by another that displayed shortly after that is was sealed up into a box slathered in cosmoline until it finally arrived in my hands.
If you ever were curious about your Mosin, this guide will help answer most of your questions about it’s history.