A good bore is the primary consideration. Most of the refurb rifles from a dealer will have good bores, even if full of cosmoline where you can't verify that until it has been thoroughly cleaned. Decent wood and finish are a plus, matching numbers are a plus. Those that were made in the WWII years will have rougher machining and finish overall, but that does not degrade performance. Overall the Tulas might be a little nicer cosmetically, but once again that does not enhance performance. Those made before 1936 will have the hex receivers instead of the round receiver. The hex receiver is usually about $10.00 higher priced, but once again does not indicate that they are superior. As most have been rebuilt it isn't uncommon to find a Tula rifle with Izhevsk marked barrel bands, or trigger, or trigger guard. Few will be all matching, and a number of them will not have matching numbered parts including the barrel shank, bolt, magazine floor plate, and butt plate. (bayonets also sometimes) Or it is evident that a replacement part was used and re-numbered to match so don't get to caught up in the hopes of finding an unissued, unused, brand new all matching rifle for $99.99. It could happen , but isn't probable.
Especially inspect the bore carefully if buying a prior owned rifle from an individual, or a pawn shop or gun store that has taken it in trade. A lot of those rifle will have been shot with corrosive ammo and left uncleaned for days, weeks, months, or years and their once pristine bores are not so good any more. (some could even be dangerous to shoot)
Last edited by ChaZam; 05-23-2012 at 01:02 PM.
One suggestion, Robs sks. If you can, try to find a Mosin that was made in the interwar years, 1923 to 1940.
Without the pressure to "just git 'em out the door," the arsenal workers were able to take more care with production than wartime guns received. That's not a slam on the wartime rifles, it is just an observation.
Any Mosin that is in halfway decent shape will do right by its shooter, but there are some that are better than others; and I include the hex receiver interwar Mosins in that number. I have one from that period that I have tuned up, that shoots to minute of angle.
If you can find one, get a Finnish M91, Tikka manufacturer. I have one and it's the best shooter out of three that I've fired. They're a little harder to find, may cost a bit more, but are definitely worth the time and effort of searching for one.
As far as any other mosin goes, listen to these guys, they're great at helping.
Another thing that bears being pointed out is that the Model 91/30 is the most plentiful variation and therefore the most affordable. The earlier variants such as the Model 1891, Dragoons, and Cossack rifles are less available and more expensive. The shorter carbines such as the M44, M38, M91/59, T53 are less plentiful and more expensive as well. The Finnish models M24, M27, M28, M28/30, M39, etc are also less plentiful and thus more expensive. Various companies made barrels for the Finn rifles and the Tikka barreled rifles probably command the highest prices.
In addition to Tula and Izhevsk there were 4 other manufacturers that produced these rifles. They are Chatellerault, Sestroryetsk, Remington, and New England Westinghouse. Less of these other 4 being made translates into higher prices.
Lots of information in the sticky threads at the top of the Mosin Nagant forum.