Granted, it is a bit dated in terms of technology but there is something wonderful about the simplicity of the thing; If you can work the bolt and pull the trigger, you can fire this gun. Russia has some neat history with making their service officers more or less design the tools they need for the field. Captain Sergei Mosin worked with the Belgian designer Leon Nagant to come up with the concept for the service rifle. As with most things, it borrows concepts from the other rifles of it's time period; The Gewehr and Enfield rifles can be seen a little bit in terms of influencing the design.
My first purchase was a Mosin Nagant 91/30.
One of the main reenacting first purchases (aside from the outfit). I HAD to choose the rifle, simply because it was one of those things that just has character; there were countless millions made, but it was my rifle.
I had to learn how to hold it, clean it, shoot it (without bruising my shoulder, or adding a rubber pad which would have detracted from the "authenticity".) Before this I never really was into firearms, never really cared about hunting, any of it. I played paintball with friends back in high school but that was about it.
Once I took it to the range for the first time, that was what did it for me. There was something about it that just clicked.
So, about the rifle; Learning the history, figuring out how simple it is to care for, and how reliable the thing really was a fun pastime.
Granted, it is a bit dated in terms of technology but there is something wonderful about the simplicity of the thing; If you can work the bolt and pull the trigger, you can fire this gun. Russia has some neat history with making their service officers more or less design the tools they need for the field. Captain Sergei Mosin worked with the Belgain designer Leon Nagant to come up with the concept for the service rifle. As with most things, it borrows concepts from the other rifles of it's time period; The Gewehr and Enfield rifles can be seen a little bit in terms of influencing the design.
The bolt action for the 91/30.
Unlike the Enfield, that used a lever to disengage the firing pin and act as a safety, as well as allowing to lock the bolt, the 91/30 has the rear portion of the bolt separate and twist to lock the bolt in place, sliding into a groove on the frame and physically locking it in place.
An engaged bolt safety on the 91/30
Easier to access and use, but could also be a bear to disengage to make the rifle function.
The Mosin has been chambered in several calibers, but the most widely used is the 7.62x54R. As stated, the round much like the gun is a bit dated and doesn't perform as well as say a .30-06, but is still by today's standards a pretty darn good round, and cheaper than the .30-06 too.
The rounds can be fed into the top of the receiver individually or via a 5-round clip that can be slotted into the receiver for easy loading.
The magazine is a 5 round box attached to the receiver with a drop plate at the bottom.
The stocks are generally made of serviceable walnut, and if you get one built during the war (Or before. Or after.) you have all sorts of fun cosmetic issues; scratches, dings, scuffs, scoring where they forced parts together, storage rough-ups, etc.
The improved close to post-war 91/30s have better banding holding the top hand guard onto the other half of the stock. Most rifles found on the market will be from the 'war stock' ('35-'45-ish) and most will be some form of factory refurb for long term storage.
These suckers are long; a little over 4ft (carbines were a bit shorter; by about 6" so not by much.) So these things aren't your everyday home defense gun. They also have a pretty hefty muzzle flash which would be good for setting adjacent objects on fire. The Russians did a lot of training with the bayonets attached (and once they are on there, some can be pretty darn hard to remove.) so if you want complete authenticity and a rifle that is about 5ft long in total there's nothing like it.
This was my first target with the Mosin at about 15 yards from many years ago.
In terms of accuracy, they are lauded to be pretty darn good, even for being so old. To be fair, there were many used as sniper variants in WW2. (I can't super accurately shoot one to save my life, so I can't give an accurate description of how well it works at a good distance. They are supposed to be relatively accurate with properly set up sights / optics to go out a mile plus.)
Pretty sure I haven't improved much since; taking this sucker to the local indoor range gets me some looks when the boom and muzzle flash makes people wonder what I have.
TL;DR - These things definitely aren't the <200$ price mark they used to be, but for folks who want a solid purchase with ammunition that is still very circulated in today's gun world, you really can't beat one of these suckers.