Military Surplus Bolt Action for Hunting


January 8, 2011, 10:28 PM
I was thinking of picking up a military surplus bolt action rifle, such as the Mosin Nagant or the Lee Enfield.

I've handled the Mosin Nagant a few times, and while I do like most things about it, I don't really care for safety, or the big metal plate on the back of rifle that slams into your arm every time you fire. I've fired all three variations from the 91/30, M38 and M44 carbine. My dad owns all three and even said he'd be willing to sell either the M38 or M44 carbine for cheaper than I could get them already. M38 for something like around $60. Very, very hard to pass up on.

I've never handled a Lee Enfield but I love everything I've heard about them, their looks, and their history. Actually, both rifles have a very respectable history to them and if nothing else, would be nice to eventually own both of them for that very reason.

I don't really want to use corrosive ammo if I go the route of the Mosin Nagant, as I'd eventually like to reload (I'm just getting into reloading, not even sure if it'd be practical or not given how cheap the ammo is for it).

As far as Lee Enfields go, I know some are reloadable and some are not (I think the ones with Berdan primers are not reloadable). If I do go the route of the Lee Enfield I don't think that .303 British ammo is as common nor as cheap as the Mosin Nagant but I do believe that it may be easier to reload for.

Any suggestions either way? It's not a decision I'm going to strongly make before tax returns. I just want some general ideas and opinions.

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January 8, 2011, 10:44 PM
Planning on using it in its original military configuration, or "sporterizing" it?

January 8, 2011, 10:51 PM
I wouldn't pass up on the deal from your dad. That's a great deal, and if you try it and don't like hunting with it, you still have a good piece of history.

I have a Mosin Nagant 91/30 and a Lee Enfield No1 Mk3. I like them both a lot. If my state allowed deer hunting with rifles, I'd probably use one of them.

January 8, 2011, 10:51 PM
You can get a Bubba'd cut down mil-spec 06 or whatever for very reasonable money. Some have been done very nicely. Others, need help. But they are usually hell for strong and shoot well :)

But, dad's deal is sweet. Just add a recoil pad, even a slip on to take some of the bite out of that gun. And, I don';t think it should be on your arm (?), tight to the shoulder is better. Maybe with a shooting vest?

Shadow 7D
January 8, 2011, 10:59 PM
They are all more than capable, if you want to bubba it, might as well find one that someone has already cut up for you.

Um, almost to all surplus ammo is not reloadable, but there are commercial loads and brass that you can buy.

January 8, 2011, 11:29 PM
Surplus ammo isn't very good hunting ammo either since it is FMJ

Joe in fla
January 8, 2011, 11:40 PM
To me it's pretty much a toss up between the two. Both are good and proven guns. Both have a reputation for being inaccurate but Enfields are frequently very accurate IF you slug the barrel and find or make the proper size bullets. I suspect the same would apply to the Nagants but I haven't heard of anyone doing any serious study with them yet. The accuarcy problem in the run of the mill Enfields is due to the wide variation in both actual barrel sizes and in actual bullet size in the surplus military ammo. When the two sizes are properly matched, Enfields frequently prove to be very accurate. Excepting new commercial ammo, most of the surplus ammo that you'll find for either gun is going to be non-loadable and corrosive. But I don't consider corrosive ammo to be serious problem in a bolt action gun. They're simply not that hard to properly clean! But the problem that I've had is that I've had a LOT of hang-fires and dud cartridges with the surplus Nagant ammo. YMMV. Also I think it's easier to find new commercial reloadable, non-corrosive and/or hunting ammo for the Enfield than it is for the Nagant so I'd give the Enfield a slight edge just because of the ammo. I'm not sure what they're going for currently but the late model No 4 Enfields are WELL MADE (peacetime construction in the 1950s) and I've yet to see one that had any significant use and they were selling for very little so I would seriously consider for one of those if I choose an Enfield. In fact, that's what I'm going to use in my club's service rifle matches IF the one that I have proves to be accurate enough.

Something else to keep in mind is that if you want mount a scope is that it will probably be difficult and/or expensive on a military rifle so you may want to seriously considered a buying an inexpensive commercial hunting rifle that comes from the factory with holes, slots, rails or some way to mount a scope. Ditto if you plan on doing other custom work. The labor and parts to modify a military gun will probably costs more than a decent hunting rifle.

If you intend to hunt with it keep this in mind: You never know what you're going to get when you buy a surplus military gun and you could get a REAL lemon!! There are a lot of decent but inexpensive NEW commercial hunting rifles that already have DECENT triggers, holes for scope mounts, decent stocks, etc, etc, etc. I would SERIOUSLY look for one of those instead of a surplus military rifle. This isn't the 1950s any more and there are VERY few inexpensive surplus military guns available any longer and other than the late model, low use, No 4 Enfields most will have a LOT of use and I suspect that the bores, etc in most of them are rather worn or rotted out!

My 2 cents worth.

January 8, 2011, 11:47 PM
Shooting a mosin would be the cheapest to go right now. If you intend to deer hunt , the Mosin is fine . Try the Seller and Belliot 180 gr SP or Barnaul 203 gr SP , both are available and very good ammo.

January 8, 2011, 11:52 PM
You will find nothing near $60 for a hunting grade Lee Enfield.

As far as hunting ammo, the 303 is easier to come by, but it sounds like you are talking about surplus ammo.

I have had 2 No. 4 Mk II with fancy walnut sporter stocks. They carry and handle very well, but accuracy was just OK (2" at 100 yards).

I you want a hunting rifle, Mauser is the way to go.

Ignition Override
January 9, 2011, 12:02 AM
So many nice Enfields have been sporterized just to reduce the carry weight, that some types of original rifles are often very difficult to find, without using the Internet.
Dozens of the modified types are seen at gun shows here. My middle-aged friends and gun show buddies never modify theirs.
It is always interesting how many altered military rifles are later put up for sale (never imagined by the owner), and draw little attention from gun show visitors, compared to originals, which quickly catch peoples' attention.

You can reload new Prvi Partizan ("British") soft point .303 ammo at least five times with 150 grain bullets and lighter powder loads. Two friends who hunt deer near Jackson, TN usually hit them from about 50 yards in wooded areas (Milan). Do deer hunters need a scope in those conditions?

Shadow 7D
January 9, 2011, 12:41 AM
lets not leave Mauser out, and Springfield

January 9, 2011, 01:05 AM
The Mosin Nagants actually have a pretty good rep for accuracy, based on their use by Finnish and Russian snipers, but that requires a better set of sights.
Rifles with a good rep for accuracy, and receiver sights that can take advantage of it in stock milspec configuration, include the Enfield #4 and P14in .303 British calibre, and the equivalent American 1917 Enfield and Model 1903A3 in .30-06. Also, the M1 Garand, M1a, and M1 Carbine, if you like semi-automatics.

January 9, 2011, 01:09 AM
Get the Mosin M38, and some commercial-make soft nosed hunting ammo. It'll be a dandy deer rifle. The M38's are getting hard to find, and pricier. If it's in an actual M38 stock and not an M44 stock, it'll be worth even more. The M44 stock will have a groove along the top edge of the right side, for the M44 bayonet to fold into. M38's didn't have attached bayonets.

And as far as the safety, you can just grab the safety knob and hold it while you pull the trigger, and gently lower it down. This will uncock the rifle, and it won't fire. To shoot, you just pull the knob back to cock it. Give it 5 minutes of practice (empty rifle, of course) and you'll be good to go.

You can always get a slip-on Limbsaver pad to put over the butt plate.

Float Pilot
January 9, 2011, 01:55 AM
I have taken moose, caribou, black bear and Sitka Black-tail deer with 3 Swedish Mausers
m/94,,m/38 and m/96 all in full issue military condition. When I was a kid I hunted moose and bear with a Kar98. It was no-where near as accurate as the 6.5x55 Swede Mausers.

January 9, 2011, 03:08 AM
"...a reputation for being inaccurate..." Whoever told you that is very confused.
Hi. Where you are matters.
"...Lee-Enfield..." If you opt for a Lee-Enfield, you'll have to decide what model you want. A No. 4 Mk. I or a No. 1 Mk III. Essentially a W.W. I or W.W. II model. Neither is cheap any more. Over $300 isn't unusual.
Get proof of good headspace before you buy. Thousands of both models have been assembled out of parts bins with no QC. The bolt heads(pricey and getting scarce.) come off easily and you'll have no idea if it has been changed. A No. 4's headspace is a bit easier to fix should it require it. Far fewer No. 1 Bolt heads around and you need as handful to try with headspace guages. No. 4 bolt heads are number stamped so it's a bit easier by just going up one number. Mind you, that doesn't always work.
Matching S/N's(S/N on the receiver and the back of the bolt handle) doesn't guarantee good headspace either.
The only other thing about 'em is that the barrel's can vary from .311" to .315" and still be considered to be ok. Over .315" the barrel is shot out. Commercial hunting ammo uses .311" or .312" bullets. Slug the barrel to find out what the diameter is. Hammer a cast .30 calibre bullet or suitably sized lead fishing sinker through the barrel with a 1/4" brass rod and a plastic mallet, then measure it.
Good milsurp .303 British ammo is gone. Isn't legal to hunt with, in most places, anyway. Fortunately, all the commercial ammo makers load .303 British. A 150 grain SP will do nicely for deer. A 180 will kill any game you care to hunt.
"...the M38 or M44 carbine..." Both have lots of felt recoil and muzzle blast with any ammo. Even though they weigh in at 8.9 lbs. It's the 20" barrel that does it. Same bullet diameter as the .303, but without the barrel dimension issue. There's commercial hunting ammo made for it too, but not as much selection. Federal and Winchester, Sellier & Bellot, Wolf and Norma(very pricey stuff) all load it. Usually a 175 grain bullet. The 7.62 X 54R will kill any game you care to hunt too, but the muzzle blast out of the carbine is ferocious.
Reloading for either cartridge is not a problem. Depending on where you are, you may have trouble finding bullets, but there are lots of good bullets. The 7.62 uses a .311" bullet. The .303, well you have to slug the barrel first, then use the closest diameter. There is a guy, up here, who is seasonally making a .313" and .314" 200 grain fmj. Commercial FMJ's aren't the same as milsurp, but they may not be legal where you are. Same shell holder for both and dies aren't hard to get, in most places. Easily ordered.

January 9, 2011, 03:12 AM
I respect the Moisin Nagant for the robust and reliable rifle it is and enjoy my 91/30 and M44 plenty, but I do tend to strongly favor the Enfield (particularly the Mk4 No1).

In practicality, the .303 British and 7.62x54R are equally suited for the same game though you might find a better selection of .308 bullets than .311 once you start reloading (though there are still plenty of great .311 slugs available).

Surplus 7.62x54R is widely available while military 7.7x56R is becoming more and more scarce. As popular as both cartridges are, there will always be ample commercial ammunition available for either for quite some time, I'm sure.

January 9, 2011, 03:17 AM
"...a better selection of .308 bullets..." For sure, but neither the .303 British or 7.62 x 54R use a .308" bullet.

Shadow 7D
January 9, 2011, 03:35 AM
um, the fins mosins do

January 9, 2011, 10:00 AM
um, the fins mosins do

Some, depends on who made the barrel and when.

Have you considered a Mossberg Maverick rifle? I believe Savage has an entry rifle as well. I've seen them in the low/mid $200's around here. A new rifle with a synthetic stock that won't warp in the weather, already a handy length barrel and a scope mounted makes it a pretty nice deal and not too much different cost from sporterizing a milsurp. The modern rifle will also hold its value better than a sportered milsurp if you want to upgrade later.

Either that, or get an already sporterized/bubba'd gun. I rarely see them for much more than $100 here, even with a cut-down barrel, gunsmith installed iron sights and ATI stock.

January 9, 2011, 10:15 AM
Spanish FR8 .


January 9, 2011, 10:22 AM
Ishapore 2a Enfield is in .308

January 9, 2011, 10:26 AM
There is plenty of Brass Cass Boxer Primed reloadable commercial hunting capable soft point ammo for both the 7.62x54R (***690***)and .303 BRIT (***690***)on the market. Click the links I provided.

IMO hunting with the Enfield would be better than a short barrel Mosin, The Mosin will be LOUD, poor safty interface and clumsy bolt if a second shot is needed. The Enfield is a heavier weapon but a powder puff recoil wise with better features.

That said I've not take any game nor have I taken either into the field on a hunt. I own both and have shot thousands of surplus and reloaded ammo through them. Both would do the trick. Of the two I would field the Enfield first.

January 9, 2011, 04:12 PM
Just about any surplus rifle can be a good hunter.

My old 91/30 Nagant does well when asked.

rust collector
January 9, 2011, 06:40 PM
That would be my recommendation.

1. As pointed out earlier, check the stock for the bayo groove. If it has none, it's in relatively original condition and these are getting tougher to find, so it has the greatest potential to grow in value of the Russians. Also check the muzzle diameter to see if it has been counterbored. Most have, but if not, that's a plus.
Good info: Tula, izhevsk, or?

2. Most 7.62x54r rifles use .308 diameter bullets. These are much more common and therefore often less expensive to reload.

3. The short Russian rifles do have some recoil, muzzle blast and fireballs which can be rather fun if not too distracting.

4. The M38 was your Dad's. and that will be significant someday if not now. The cost is much less than the value of the #4, and plinking ammo is very inexpensive. Cleanup is a matter of using hot water, windex or a bore cleaner intended for use with corrosive ammo, then a good protectant as you'd use with any rifle after using.

5. The #4 is one of the alltime classics, but you will pay more to acquire and to shoot one. Most Mausers can be made up into a good gun, but the sights are not good. Other milsurp options tend to be pricey.

January 10, 2011, 12:25 AM
If your father's guns shoot well and are in good condition, why not stick with those to start with. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

451 Detonics
January 10, 2011, 06:19 AM
If you don't want to go with the options you listed in the OP I would say start watching gunbroker closely. Last year I picked up a semi bubba'ed 98 Mauser on the cheap. Two good thing had been done to it however, properly drilled and tapped and the barrel cut to 22 inches and re-crowned correctly. It had ridiculously high rings on it and a cheap plastic stock. I ended up with $140 in it shipped.

Today it wears a Boyd thumbhole stock, has the bolt handle turned down for lower rings, and I use either a Gibbs 3 round detachable magazine or a 20 round mag. Total in the project without the Glass was well under $400. If you stick with the internal mag you would save a good bit. This rifle shoots 1 1/2 inch groups at 100 yards with surplus. Next summer I will start working up handloads for it.

January 10, 2011, 09:32 AM
The major issue for many of us who own Mil surp rifles are the sights. The vast majority of bolt action rifles issued had big barleycorn front posts and tiny notches on rear sights that were zeroed at 200-300 yards/meters. Not well suited for hunting IMHO except under ideal conditions. And with older eyes like mine it's getting darn near impossible for me to focus on the front sight and make consistent hits. I hear good things about the MOJO sights for Mil surp rifles but have no 1st hand experience. Good luck whichever way you go.

January 10, 2011, 05:11 PM
This is my #1 deer rifle - its a surplus FN military Mauser in 30-06.These were sold under various store brands in the 1950s. I have $200 in the gun (pawn shop) and $300 in the scope. I hand load 180g .312 bullets sized down to true .308 diameter with 46g of IMR 4895. Don't hunt with it much because I only shoot what wife and I can eat but its the most accurate gun I've ever used. I have actually flipped large deer with it. Any standard issue WWII era military surplus gun is more than adequate for deer hunting.

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