Across World War II, the belligerent powers wielded a wide variety of rifles. Some, like the early Mauser Kar.98k and the Springfield M1903A3, were finely machined works of military art. Others were less refined. Among the rifles that consistently draw criticism are those in the Mosin family. It would be a great stretch to call the Mosins “refined.” They are heavy, the actions are usually difficult to work, and loading them is often an exercise in frustration. Based on these qualities, the Mosins are sometimes derisively called “garbage rods” or other derogatory terms. While I cannot ever describe the Mosins as elegant, I do not think they deserve the criticism they have received.
Mosin rifles, in large part, are solid blocks of steel that have been machined into a receiver, bolt, and barrel. The stocks are simple and sturdy. Tangent rear sights and the post and globe front sights are serviceable. The bolt is strong and heavy. While it does not feature gas escape ports in the event of failure, I am not aware of very many failures. The bolt locks snuggly and strong. Most importantly, the Mosins are reliable, easy to service, and accurate.
During the First World War, the revolution, and the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Mosin rifles served throughout the Imperial Russian and Soviet armed forces. The 91/30 was the backbone of the infantry. Later, shortened models served capably and reliably in cavalry and support units. Scopes were added to the most accurate rifles, giving Soviet snipers a very capable weapon. Over the course of production, Russian and Soviet factories turned out over 37 million Mosins, making them one of the most produced rifles in history.
In some parts of the world, Mosins still soldier on. They still turn up in war zones in the Middle East, Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. They also appear in the gun cabinets and safes of thousands of collectors and recreational shooters. Even after years of hard use, the Mosins usually perform very well in the hands of a knowledgeable shooter.
I suppose this isn’t a very convincing argument for anyone who likes to use the term “garbage rod.” Next to a Lee Enfield or even an Arisaka, the Mosins lack sophistication. Yet, along with all of the other rifles of World War II, the Mosins are functioning pieces of history. What is your opinion?