The Mosinnagant Sniper Rifle

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Although now obsolete, the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891-30 sniper rifle may yet be encountered on Third World battlefields. This World War D Soviet rifle was the North Vietnamese Army's primary sniper weapon during the Vietnam War.

Distinguished by its lengthy barrel and turned-down bolt, the Mosin-Nagant fires the same

7.62x54mm rimmed cartridge as the SVD sniper rifle, making it battistically comparable to the American .30-06.

High-quality versions of the Mosin-Nagant were produced in Finland and the Czech Republic, which I've personally examined and found to be quite nicely made, with a smooth action and excellent fitting of wood to metal. The triggers, too, are honed and as good as those on the best Mauser sniper rifles. These high-grade Mosin-Nagants are still in service in the hands of Eastern European SWAT officers.

The military model Mosin-Nagant is outfitted with a 3.5x PU or 4x PE scope, both of which use an adjustable centerpost instead of crosshairs and are claimed to be effective out to 800 meters—which seems a bit of an exaggeration. I've been told these reticles are adjustable in 1 MOA increments to more than 1,000 meters.

I once examined a Mosin-Nagant and 4x PE scope that had been taken off a dead North Vietnamese by U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade troopers. Its absolutely perfect condition said a lot about the enemy sniper's meticulous maintenance, and I was surprised by the action's buttery smoothness. This was no off-the-rack rifle but a tuned weapon almost akin to an American match-grade firearm, but I didn't have a chance to test-fire it.

While not as sophisticated as current Western sniper rifles, the Mosin-Nagant still sent many thousands of Germans to their graves in World War II. And thanks to generous Soviet arms aid to regimes and rebels throughout the Third World, it may still be encountered even in the 21st century.

Thousand Yard Spotting ScopeChechen Sniper

An American armorer deactivates a gold-plated al Kadesih sniper rifle so it can legally be brought home as a war trophy.

The Iraqi sniper's maximum effective range is limited by the capability of his optics. The obsolescent Soviet-style PSO-1 scope found on most Iraqi sniper rifles has a fixed 4x magnification, keeping his well-aimed shots to 400 yards or less. Beyond that range, a talented marksman can hit a human torso, but he won't be making precision shots.

Further, because he lacks a spotter and spotting scope, the Iraqi sniper cannot effectively adjust his fire like a Western sniper. I've not come upon a single Iraqi sniper engagement that involved a night weapon sight, so I doubt thai they have them—however, there have been shots fired in well-illuminated areas after dark.

As a rule, the Iraqi sniper does not have a radio, but sometimes he communicates via a cell phone—which, if you think about it, is much less incriminating if he's stopped by security forces. Likewise, he carries no gear beyond his rifle and perhaps one spare magazine, both to remain flexibly mobile and to keep it simple to discard incriminating evidence when he must blend back into the population.

While on an operation he often wears a black balaclava, a practice perhaps influenced by similarly attired Palestinian terrorists. Partially this ski mask generates a mystique, but more practically it also conceals his identity so he cannot be identified by Iraqi bystanders. Some Iraqi snipers further hide their identities behind a nom de guerre or code name.

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