Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mosin Nagant PU Sniper Buying Guide

The Soviet Mosin Nagant rifle is one of the most affordable and collectable rifles available today. Their popularity remains strong and has only been enhanced by World War II movies like Enemy at the Gates. Full length Model 1891/30 rifles can be had for as little as $70, and some of the carbines (the M44 carbine with Bayonet) can fall into the same price range as well. One of the more prized variants of the Mosin Nagant is the M1891/30 sniper, which came in several varieties including the what are called the “PU” and “PEM” based on the type of scope used and its mounting mechanism. The “PU” sniper is the most common.

There are several Mosin Nagant PU snipers available on the market today – and not all of them are created equally. Make sure you understand what you’re buying before you put your money down. Generally there are four levels of PU sniper – reproduction, restored, refurbished, and original. The value of these rifles varies greatly.

Reproduction sniper (above): These rifles usually made on a low-wall (non-sniper) receiver. They generally have the right "look", and are fun to plink with, but are generally worth the sum of parts or about $350 to $450, which is what most distributors sell them for. Many of these will have reproduction mounts and post-war scopes. The reproduction mounts are made from anodized aluminum – easy way to tell if you have an aluminum mount is to hit it with a magnet. If the magnet sticks to the mount, it’s an original steel one. If it doesn’t, it’s an aluminum reproduction. Remember, just because the mount is steel doesn't necessarily mean it's WW2 vintage as there were many original mounts fabricated after the war (and many scopes as well!).

Restored sniper (above): Many sniper rifles were “decommissioned” after World War II during the mass refurbishment of Soviet rifles for storage. During the decommissioning process, the scope and mount were removed, the mounting holes were filled, and the rifle was placed in a non-sniper stock (with no cut-out for the scope mount). Sometimes it was returned to its original stock with the scope mount cut out filled as an arsenal repair. A restored sniper takes a decommissioned sniper and restores it to sniper configuration. Best ones use vintage parts, some are using reproduction parts. These command a little bit of a premium over a straight repro, but unless you have original parts, you're still looking at a $450 rifle - add another $50-$100 for an original scope and mount with the high end of the range reserved for WW2 vintage parts. Some vendors have offered a few of these from time to time. You can occasionally get an ex sniper that’s drilled and tapped (maybe with the pins present) and then add your own mount and scope. Mounts and scopes vary up to $250+ for a set.

Refurbished sniper (picture coming soon): This a legitimate sniper rifle that did not go through a decommissioning process as a part of the post war mass refurbishment. Generally refurbished snipers will have a matching scope and mount numbered to the rifle. As these are actual sniper rifles with matching parts, they command a hefty premium over the repro and restored versions. Prices for restored sniper generally run in excess of $800, with Tula arsenal rifles starting around $900.

Original sniper (no picture): Original Soviet weaponry from World War II is exceedingly rare in the United States. Generally most Soviet weaponry has been through the post-war refurbishment program. An original sniper is going to have its original mount and scope, these will be matched to the number on the receiver. As these rifles are very rare, they command a huge premium – figure at least $1200 if you can find one, and quite frankly I’d plan on even more than that!

Hopefully this buyers guide helps you pick out the rifle that is right for you – and at the right price!

Until next time!!!

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