Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Gunday: The Black Russian

Since I seem to be going to the range every 3 weeks or so, I figure it will be worth my time to make "Monday Gunday" posts until, as is traditional for this blog, I get bored with it and stop the feature without warning.

Yesterday I took Izzy to the range. Izzy, aka The Black Russian, aka Crazy Ivan, is a Mosin-Nagant rifle that I bought shortly after my job with the 2010 Census ended. Piles of information about the Mosin-Nagant exist, so I'll hit you up with the executive summary:

Mine was made in the Izhevsk Arsenal in 1943. Hence the name "Izzy."
  • Originally developed in 1891 as a compromise between two competing rifle designs, submitted by Sergei Mosin and Léon Nagant.
  • Churned out in large numbers for WW1. It was the standard Russian infantry rifle.
  • Design was perfected in 1930. This is why most are called M91/30s. 
  • Rifle was re-issued with a scope in WW2 as a sniper weapon. This should give you an idea of its accuracy. 
  • It is the only rifle to have gone to war with itself, and won.
  • Simo Häyhä, which is Finnish for "Badass motherfucker," killed over 500 Russians with it -- using only iron sights. 
  • It's chambered for 7.62x54R, which is the same round the Dragunov sniper rifle uses. 
  • Over a hundred years later, it is still being used in wars today. This is a testament to its accuracy, durability, and quality. The fact that the Russians churned out 17.5 million of them in WW2 alone didn't hurt, either, nor did the fact that you can buy one for as low as $75 today.

So you can already see why I love this rifle: cheap, tough, and accurate. But there's just one problem with it as I discovered when I first took it shooting last year:  It kicks like a goddamn mule on steroids.

We're talking serious ouch here. This is a big gun, y'all -- it's around 48 inches long, which is about, oh, FOUR FEET. And it fires a powerful round. The first time I shot Izzy was back in December, and the results were not pretty:

Hey, at least I managed to hit the target.

See that rise? I'm not sure what the technical term is, but that's partly from barrel vibration and partly from "Fucking OW my shoulder hurts."  So one of the first things I did was buy an aftermarket stock for it and mount a decelerator pad on it. The Monte Carlo grip also made it easier for me to hold the rifle, which led to better overall control. And then, because I'm an accessory freak, I put a bipod and scope on it as well. Then I bedded the stock and floated the barrel, because at this point why not? I think I've spent as much on accessories for the gun as for the gun itself (which isn't as terrible as it sounds, since it was so cheap.)

Because of the coloration of the ATI, Izzy got his second name: The Black Russian.

Purists can relax: I still have the original stock, undamaged.

Did I mention this was a LONG GUN? And that's not counting the bayonet it comes with (mostly because I can't get the damn thing to fit). If it did, that would be an extra foot or so of length.

Shooter's-eye view.

So, suitably dressed up and hopefully tamed, I took the dread Black Russian out to the range. And guess what? Crazy Ivan is crazy accurate now.

25 yards with scope & bipod. 
This beast still has significant recoil, but now it's more like a strong shove than a sharp kick. And let me tell you, I got lots of looks when I pulled this sucker out of my case -- some were "What the hell is that?", some were "What did you do to that Mosin?" and some were "A tiny thing like you is going to shoot a huge rifle like that?"

Why yes. Yes I am. And let me tell you, after I shot a few rounds I had attained instant credibility ("range cred," if you will) and no few spectators. I think some of them came to watch me get pushed around by the recoil, but everyone appreciated my shot grouping.

So in conclusion: It's cheap, accurate, and tough as all get-out. It's easy to customize for whatever you want it to do. The bullet will destroy pretty much anything that isn't armored, and while modern commercial rounds will run you $20 for 20, you can get surplus ammo by the truckload -- I bought a hundred of them for $30, including shipping. This is a fun gun to shoot, and when you aren't shooting it you can use it to pole-vault, spear something in the next county, or hammer nails into wood.

And let me just say that the bolt makes a delightful thunk-clack when you work it.


  1. This is great, is there way you could do a subsection for the individual accessory review? Good accessories can make all the difference.

  2. Sure, I'd be happy to! That'll be the subject of next Monday's post.

  3. Hehe. You just did the ultimate Mosin Nagant sin and sporterized it (the only thing worse would have been if it had been a 1939 Tula factory)!
    It's now a Bubba-nagant!
    Me, I'm just laughing.

    Just don't ever mention it on
    Ever. The last time someone did they banned him.

    P.S: Isn't that scope placement awkward when it comes to reloading? I mean, a mosin is of a standard WWI design (which means top loaded bolt-action with an internal magazine) and it doesn't look like that scope is displaced like the original Mosin or Lee-Enfield scopes.

  4. As I said, I still have the original stock, undamaged. I can revert it to factory settings any time I want. Which, I think, disqualifies it from being "Bubba'd", as that indicates permanent modifications.

    Not sure why you're laughing, but whatever. I'm 5'4" and it was too awkward to fire in its original form.

    The scope is a subject for next week's post, but in brief: it's mounted to a waver rail which mounts in place of the rear leaf-sight. I've moved it as far back as I can while still able to load, and yes, I can load a full stripper clip; there's about a quarter inch of clearance between eyepiece and bullet tip. The scope itself is a 2-7x32 with infinite eye relief.

  5. I was laughing because when I read the first part of the blog I was thinking "Yeah. That's a clear sign of too much gun. Maybe replace the stock with a shock-absorbing one...No wait, that's an original Mosin Nagant, you just don't do that.". And you did.

    But hey, Eris Discordia respects no conventions for the sake of being conventional. And neither does her priestess.

  6.  "A tiny thing like you is going to shoot a huge rifle like that?"I wonder what Lyudmila Pavlichenko (RKKA 1941-1953, 309 confirmed kills) would have thought of that.

  7. where do you get surplus ammo?

  8. with a mosin at 25 yards with iron sights you should be able to easily get groups less than half an inch on the bench, did you happen to shoot that group standing up?


The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to