Before attempting any type of
activity with a firearm you must verify
that the firearm is unloaded and safe to
handle. Be certain that both the chamber
and magazine are empty. Check again. It is
also an excellent idea to handle firearms
in an area without access to ammunition so
that accidents can be avoided. Even if you
have verified that the firearm is not
loaded, always assume that it is loaded
and ready to fire and handle it
In the case of military surplus firearms,
a thorough check by a qualified gunsmith
is critical prior to using the firearm for
the first time. The procedures and
opinions presented in this article are not
meant to take the place of a professional
gunsmith's services and are presented only
for the education of the reader.
After assembling the bolt of a
Mosin Nagant firearm it is extremely
important to verify firing pin protrusion
When you get a Mosin you
need to know how to disassemble it and do a
complete initial cleaning. Taking the Mosin
apart is easy and can be accomplished with
just a screw driver. Remember, you are not a
trained gun smith nor do you or I play one on
TV. and we darn sure didn't stay in a Holiday
Inn Express last night! So, what we will be
doing is performing field maintenance.
Although some of you may be very experienced
in fixing up firearms, try to remember that
these rifles are old and age is not kind to
metal or wood. A 50 year old stock is going to
be as dry as firewood and very brittle.
Forcing out a band spring can be all it takes
to crack the stock. Likewise, a cross bolt
that is been in the rifle for 50 years may be
stressed just enough to snap. On war time
produced rifles, the metal can be of lesser
Note: Read Everything
On This Page!!!
Lets talk about what
needs to be disassembled.
First of all there is no
reason to mess with the cross bolt or barrel
band springs. Attempting to remove the cross
bolt can result in its breaking. Removing the
band springs can result in a cracked stock if
not done correctly. We have beat this to death
so lets move on...
To do a good inspection
and cleaning, you will need to get the metal
pieces separated from the wood pieces. Some of
the instructions that follow will be model
dependent so keep that in mind. Depending on
the model, the pieces-parts disassemble
differently. For now we will discuss the
process in generic terms. The first thing you
do when ever you pick up a rifle is to open
the bolt and inspect the chamber to ensure it
is not loaded! Each and every time you pick it
up, you open the bolt, hold the rifle up so
that you can see into the chamber (tilted
slightly and at a 45 degree angle) and
visually check the chamber. After you have
satisfied yourself that it is not loaded, you
grab the rear of the open bolt while pressing
on the trigger and pull it back and out of the
Set the bolt aside. At this time, you will
remove the hand guard. Remember I said some
information is model specific? No? Well pay
attention dammit! I said that and if you read
this article over you will see where I said
it. No, don't start reading it over now! Take
my word for it...anyways, here's the deal. If
your rifle is a Model 1891, Model 24 or other
M91 variant, it will have different barrel
bands than the more modern Mosins. The barrel
bands will have a screw in them. Now here's
the deal, these screws are backwards from
normal screws. To loosen them, you need to
turn them clockwise. Stop! Don't try to think
about it now, just pay attention...that means
that they unscrew in the opposite direction a
screw would normally unscrew. Why is this
important? Because I get all this mail from
folks who break their band screws. Do not
break your band screw! It is embarrassing and
finding a new barrel band can be darned
difficult. Another thing, these barrel bands
on the M91 type rifles were often pinned to
keep the bands from creeping forward under
recoil. Check to see if there is a pin or tiny
screw inserted next to the barrel band and
remove that. If it is a screw, this screw will
unscrew in the normal fashion. Once you have
the barrel bands unscrewed just enough to
slide forward, remove them. Oh, did I mention
that if your rifle has a cleaning rod to go
ahead and remove that first? No? Well I didn't
and I was just trying to see who was paying
attention! After you remove the barrel bands,
remove the hand guard and set it aside. Never
mind gawking at the naked barrel, you have
work to do and there is plenty of time to do
Now, about barrel bands
and later model Mosins...Again this will be
model specific. On converted Dragoons,
carbines, 91/30's and later constructed Mosins
of other types like the 91/59 and 91/38, the
barrel bands are held in place by the band
springs which are under them and recessed
slightly in the wood. They push up against the
barrel bands to keep them tensioned so that
they hold the hand guard on. They also like to
collect all kinds of crap underneath them
which makes it hard to depress them to remove
the barrel bands. Your first task is to
determine how much crap is under there and
remove it. Push down on the band spring. Push
hard because this isn't a job for the wimpy!
If it resists depressing, get your self some
round tooth picks and a syringe filled with
hot water. Grab the one your significant
other's or mom's that she uses in the kitchen.
Just don't let her find out about it! Inject a
strong stream of hot water under the barrel
bands. Why hot water? Well, it will help to
dissolve grease and cosmoline and will flush
out loose crap. It will also dry faster and be
less prone to corrode the band spring. Now,
take your tooth pick and dig around as best
you can under the spring and pick that crud
out of there. Once you are satisfied you got
all you that you can, try depressing the
spring again. It should depress enough to
allow you to slip the barrel band over it. If
it doesn't, we go to plan B. I didn't tell you
about plan B yet you say...well of course I
didn't because everybody knows that B comes
after A and we weren't there yet!
Plan B is the screw driver in the cleaning rod
trick and it takes a little finesse to keep
from scratching the heck out of your stock.
First, obtain a flat blade screw driver no
wider than the cleaning rod channel. Turn your
rifle upside down so that you are looking down
at the cleaning rod channel. What's a cleaning
rod channel? Its the slot were your cleaning
rod was under the stock. Take your screw
driver and a couple of cleaning patches. Fold
the patches over the tip of the screw driver
and insert the screw driver behind the barrel
band between it and the wood of the stock
behind the rear band. Do not force it! Wiggle
the barrel band far enough forward to get the
screw driver behind it. Now, this takes some
talent because you are going to balance the
rifle in your lap, while holding down the band
spring with one hand and using the screw
driver with the other to ease the band forward
over the band spring. You need to do this in
stages. Pry a little bit as you press down and
then while still pressing down, push the
opposite side of the band so that it does not
bind on an angle. Keeping this up, gently walk
the band over the band spring. I say gently,
but realize that this will take a little force
because what you will be doing is spreading
the band spring a little. If you were paying
attention to what you are doing, you would
have noticed that the band spring is not
connected underneath therefore it can spread
apart. Again, don't mess up your stock while
you are doing this!
You can do the same thing with the front band.
Now, remember I mentioned model specific
differences? No? Well wake up! I did and here
is another one. You cannot completely remove
the barrel bands on a M44 Carbine. Don't try
and as a matter of fact don't even think about
it and don't write to me asking how to take
the bayo mount/front sight assembly off to do
so because that is even a dumber idea! Just
slide the darned things down towards the bayo
mount so you can remove the hand guard.
Now that we have the hand guard off, we can
turn our attention to separating the metal
from the wood. Look at your rifle from the
top. See that area where the bolt was? At the
very rear of that area as you look down, you
should see a screw head sticking out of the
tang. You can't see the screw because the bolt
is in the way? I thought I told you to remove
the bolt? Failure to follow instructions is
the sign of a weak mind so next time pay
attention. Now go ahead and remove the bolt
and look down there.
Using a larger flat blade screw driver, remove
this bolt. Turn the rifle over. Just in front
of the magazine, you will see another big old
screw head. Remove this screw but make sure
you are holding on to the barreled receiver
(the metal stuff) because the barrel and
receiver may just drop right out in your hand.
However it may not until you grab hold of the
magazine and give it a sharp pull to remove
After that, the barreled receiver should just
drop right out but don't let it! Remove it
slowly because there just might be shims in
there that you need to note where they were.
Most likely they will be under the pillar or
the tang. If there was a shim in the pillar
area, note if it was behind the pillar or
under the pillar with the bolt that you took
out running through it. Set these aside and
don't loose them because I won't be telling
you how to make new ones in this article.
After you have removed the metal from the
wood, set the wood aside for a minute because
we are going to check out the metal. Start at
one end and look for signs of active rust.
Active rust will be brown or reddish in color.
Check the receiver part (everything that is
not your barrel) for cracks or deformities.
Inspect the barrel for deep pitting and
bulges. Deep pitting is anything that is
deeper than your little brother's acne scars.
Anything else should be checked by a gun
smith. Of course a bulged barrel means that
you have a wall hanger. After inspecting the
outside of the receiver, it is time to get
down to cleaning it and the barrel. See the
The Mosin Nagant bolt is
frequently referred to by the uninitiated as
over-complicated, poorly designed, roughly
finished or just plain ugly. I must admit
that, before becoming familiar with the Mosin
Nagant series of rifles and their history, I
too considered the bolt to be old fashioned
and unsafe looking. The simple fact was that I
had not learned to appreciate the bolt design
for what it is – an incredibly efficient,
robust design that is actually simple and easy
to understand. This unusual organization of
seven pieces of steel has withstood the test
of time, battle and extraordinary political
In addition, unlike many
parts of the Mosin Nagant series of rifles,
the bolt has remained almost exactly the same
– no matter if the firearm is an 1895 M91 or a
mid-1950’s M44. Although aesthetic differences
do exist between the various manufacturers,
what other firearm design can claim a bolt
design that remained essentially unchanged
through its entire service life – of
approximately 100 years! By unchanged I mean
that nearly* any piece of the Mosin Nagant
bolt can be interchanged without modification
with a bolt from another Mosin Nagant rifle.
- NOTE: Although bolt
heads can be interchanged, the rifle’s
headspace must be verified after such a
change is made. In addition, because bolt
heads are not generally marked with
identifying numbers to match them to a
specific receiver, it is critical to have
the firearm’s headspace checked by a
professional before firing a Mosin Nagant
for the first time. This is true even if the
bolt body has a stamped serial number
matching it to the receiver. Remember, these
rifles have been around for a long time and
parts may have been swapped (perhaps many
times) before you received the firearm.
The bolt is made up of
seven individual pieces:
1) Cocking piece
2) Bolt body (also called
the bolt handle)
3) Firing pin
4) Main spring
5) Connecting bar
6) Bolt head and
extractor (2 pieces)
Take it from someone that learned
the hard way - the firing pin is under
considerable spring pressure. If the
firing pin is unscrewed from the cocking
piece without being held in place, it may
(will) fly in an unpredictable direction
and cause damage to itself, you, or a
bystander. Follow the directions below
carefully and wear eye protection.
Never disassemble more than one
bolt at a time. This will prevent the
interchanging of parts, particularly bolt
There are a number of
methods to disassemble the Mosin Nagant bolt,
all of which work and each of which has its
advantages and disadvantages. The method I use
does have an element of risk, in that the
firing pin can be broken when the spring is
compressed and the cocking piece is removed.
Read the entire set of instructions carefully
– if you are not comfortable with each step –
and the possibility of breaking a firing pin
if your hands slip (in Step 5), do not attempt
STEP 1: While holding the
bolt in your left hand as shown above, grip
the cocking piece with your right hand and
pull it toward you slightly. Turn the cocking
piece counterclockwise ¼ turn and then gently
let the cocking piece move away from you. Keep
the bolt head pointing upward or it could fall
off of the bolt body!
STEP 2: The bolt should
now look like this. I call this the bolt's
"fired position". Continue to hold the bolt
head end upward!
STEP 3: Hold the bolt as
shown and pull the bolt head and connecting
bar away from the bolt body.
STEP 4: Put the bolt head
and connecting bar aside. Now for the hard
STEP 5: This is where you
can break the firing pin. The photo above
shows several “dimples” in my kitchen table
that were created when I took the photography
for this article. My wife does not know where
these dimples came from and blames the kids.
Please do not tell her the true story. Any
HARDWOOD surface will suffice for this step,
but be thoughtful of your marriage when
selecting the “right spot”. Do not use metal –
the firing pin will skid and (possibly) break.
Softwood will not support the pressure and the
firing pin will probably sink into it like a
nail (and possibly break).
While holding the bolt
body in your left hand as shown, maintaining a
perfect 90 degree angle from the hardwood
surface, push down on the bolt body, thereby
compressing the spring, until you can turn the
cocking piece in a counterclockwise direction
without hitting the bolt body. This is a
somewhat awkward procedure and considerable
downward pressure on the bolt body is
Continue turning the
cocking piece in a counterclockwise direction
until you can remove it from the firing pin.
SLOWLY raise your left hand and gradually
release the spring pressure on the firing pin.
When the pressure has been completely
released, remove the firing pin and spring
from the bolt body.
Hey – you did it!
- note: Clean all of
the parts while you have them apart, with
special care not to forget the inside of the
bolt body and the inside of the bolt head.
Lightly lubricate the firing pin, spring and
internal surfaces; however, try not to get
any oil on the exterior of the bolt body.
Your hands might slip later if you do…..
STEP 6: Put the spring
back on to the firing pin and insert both (as
shown above) into the bolt body.
STEP 7: As in step five,
while holding the bolt body in your left hand
as shown, and while maintaining a perfect 90
degree angle from the hardwood surface, push
down on the bolt body and install the cocking
piece onto the firing pin by turning the
cocking piece in a clockwise direction. After
you have turned the cocking piece clockwise
three full revolutions onto the threads,
SLOWLY raise your left hand and gradually
release the spring pressure on the firing pin.
; SAFETY CHECK!
Keep the firing pin pointed away
from anything important (such as your
face) and wear eye protection. I have
mistakenly turned the firing pin in the
wrong direction in step 8, and it will fly
off in a random direction if you do this.
STEP 8: Hold the bolt as
shown above, and using the connecting bar as a
wrench (as shown above), turn the firing pin
STEP 9: the rear of the
firing pin is flush with the cocking piece and
the index mark is aligned, as shown above. Be
certain that the cocking piece is in its
“fired” position (turned 1/4 turn
counterclockwise; see step #2). If necessary,
adjust the firing pin again using the
connecting bar as a wrench (see step #8).
STEP 10: Put the bolt
body assembly aside for a moment and pick up
the connecting bar and bolt head. While
holding them as shown above, slide the bolt
head on to the end of the connecting bar…
STEP 11: …and turn it ¼
turn counterclockwise to the position shown
STEP 12: While holding
the bolt body assembly in your left hand and
the connecting bar/bolt head in your right
hand as shown above, slide the connecting
bar/bolt head onto the bolt body. Make certain
that the connecting bar’s left end mates with
the “nub” (cocking notch) on the cocking
STEP 13: This is what you
should end up with. While holding the bolt
head and connecting bar in place on the bolt
STEP 14: …rotate the
entire assembly and hold it as shown above.
Grasp the cocking piece in your right hand,
and while continuing to hold the bolt head in
place, pull the cocking piece toward you and
simultaneously rotate it ¼ turn clockwise…
STEP 15: …until it clicks
into place as shown above.
You have successfully assembled the bolt!
Be certain to check the firing
pin protrusion using the screwdriver /
protrusion tool found in a standard Mosin
Nagant Cleaning kit. If you do not have
this tool, the cleaning kit is well worth
the money and can be obtained from most of
the better known Internet firearms
vendors. Failure to check firing pin
protrusion can result in insufficient
protrusion and the awful "click........".
Excessive firing pin protrusion can result
in pierced primers and a sudden release of
high pressure gas into the receiver. Both
situations are extremely dangerous and can
cause severe injury or death to you and
First, verify that the
bolt is in its "fired" position and that the
firing pin is flush with the cocking piece
(see step 2, above). The index marks must be
Second, as shown below,
the firing pin must (at least) touch the top
of the milled out area below the number "75"
on the protrusion gauge. If it does not,
firing pin protrusion is insufficient. Be
certain that there is no gap between the bolt
head and bolt body (hold them together) when
performing this test.
Finally, the firing pin
must *not* touch the top of the milled out
area under the number "95". If it does, firing
pin protrusion is excessive.
Although it is possible
to adjust firing protrusion in the field, a
matched bolt should not have this problem,
assuming the firing pin and the cocking piece
are flush and the index marks are aligned. A
bolt failing the protrusion test under these
circumstances is suspect and must be checked
by a qualified gunsmith.
Bottom line: Be safe and
use common sense!
Cleaning Your Mosin
Now that you have
successfully disassembled your Mosin, you are
ready to clean it. You don't have it
disassembled yet? Well go back and do it and
make sure you read the article and not just go
and try pulling it apart on your own! There
are reasons for this other than increasing my
Now, for the rest of you
that have properly disassembled your Mosin,
lets talk about cleaning it. First of all, we
want to clean it while preserving its
collectable status. Using improper cleaning
methods can destroy its value as a historic
firearm. What do you mean its not historic
because its just another old M44? Don't get me
started! Just go look in your gun safe or
closet and tell me how many 1903 Springfield
rifles are in there or how many Mausers with
all matching numbers and Waffenampt stamps?
Probably not a heck of a lot because you can't
find them any more. There were millions made
and they were all either placed in collections
or messed up and destroyed through home
workshop projects and improper cleaning. Your
M44 might be cheap rifle today but twenty
years from now, it could be one of a hand full
on the open market when you get ready to sell
it for the money to pay your nursing home
bill! Even though it might be mismatched, if
you knew your Mosin history, you would know
that when it comes to Mosins, they are
expected to be mismatched. Now where the heck
was I? Oh, yes...cleaning and preserving the
rifle's value. The first rule of thumb is
(repeat after me...) Do No Harm. Do not do
anything that will harm the finish of the
rifle, it's markings or stock cartouches. Try
to keep the original finish intact if at all
possible. This means we need to select
cleaning materials that are non-destructive.
So there you are with all
of your Mosin parts spread all over the
kitchen table and you are getting nasty looks
from your significant other or parent.
Hopefully you remembered to put a drop cloth
or news papers down first! If not, don't blame
me because I am not responsible!
Now, lets approach what
materials we will need based on what we need
Cleaning the Stock
For the stock, you will
need a non-abrasive, non-volatile cleaning
product that will not remove the finish from
your stock. Since finishes are either oil
based or alcohol based, we need something that
will not contain petroleum products or
alcohol. We recommend Kotton Cleaner or a mild
citrus based cleaner. Check your cleaner on a
small un-noticable section of your stock
before use of any cleaner. It should cut the
grease and cosmo without harming the finish.
You will need plenty of rags or paper towels
and plenty of elbow grease to get the gunk
The stock, spray an area
of the stock with your stock cleaner and
remove the larger portion of crud and
cosmolene. Methodically cover the the entire
stock and get the major crud off and then go
back and clean the rest and pay attention to
getting the crud from around the outside of
the cross bolt and out of the band spring
inlets. Use a toothpick to for this job as it
won't harm the finish. Allow the stock to dry.
Cleaning the Metal
For the metal, you need a
good degreaser like break cleaner or Gun
Scrubber. You also need some a solvent like
paint thinner, turpentine or good old
fashioned kerosene. Don't know where to buy
kerosene? Look no farther than your corner gas
station as diesel fuel is nothing more than
upwardly mobile or refined kerosene. Once you
have your cleaning products assembled, you can
get started on the cleaning.
Spray the receiver and
barrel as well as the magazine assembly inside
and out with a degreaser. Wipe down the
outside and then run a cleaning rod with a
patch through the barrel to push the crud out
of there. Go back over the inside and outside
of the receiver with your degreaser and get
the film off from it. Use your break cleaner
to spray into the feeder/interrupter assembly
to clean that. If you are really adventurous,
you could disassemble that and the trigger
assembly and clean these parts separately.
Soak a patch in your break cleaner and run it
through the bore to clean the residue out of
there. Now, grab your chamber brush...what?
You mean you don't have a chamber brush? Well
go get one because you are going to need it.
Did you read my list of Mosin tools? While you
are at it, if you don't have one already, dig
out your three piece cleaning rod and attach
the chamber brush to just the handle piece as
you would attach a jag for pistol cleaning.
Squirt a health amount of break cleaner into
the chamber and scrub the heck out of it with
the chamber brush! Make sure the brush
contacts every nook and cranny in there.
Concentrate on the locking ring area and the
chamber walls. When these rifles were placed
in storage, they were packed with cosmolene.
Over the years that cosmolene dried out and
formed a nearly transparent film in the
chamber. If you don't get that film, it will
cause you all kinds of hassles later on with
extracting rounds that are lacquer coated.
When you are thinking it is clean, scrub it
some more and then finish off with your
chamber brush liberally soaked with Sweet's
7.62. I can't say enough about this product.
It is the best bore cleaner on the market and
it does an outstanding job on the chamber.
Now, before you go to the fridge for your
favorite beverage or pour yourself a cup of
coffee, get an old pan and fill it with
solvent and toss your bolt parts and magazine
assembly in there and let them soak. Go ahead
and release the floor plate latch of the mag
assembly and remove the floor plate by
pinching it like one of those spring
clothespins. Dump everything in th solvent. Go
enjoy your coffee, smoke a butt or play with
mamma and get back here to finish up. Done
already??? Heh, heh, gettin' old huh? Well no
matter...back to the bolt. All of those bolt
pieces are hollow from the bolt head to the
bolt guide, the bolt body and the cocking
piece. That means that there are plenty of
places for crud to collect. Get yourself a
small Phillips screw driver (star point if you
are from Podunk) and stick a patch on the end
of it. Pull the bolt head out of the solvent
it was soaking in and stuff that patch inside
it and rotate it. You might have to get
something to hook the patch back out with.
Give the bolt head a final squirt of break
cleaner (inside and out) and dry patch it. Do
the same thing with the bolt guide, bolt body
and cocking piece. when you are done, the
metal should be dry and free of any oily or
greasy film. Do the same thing with the
magazine assembly. Coat everything with a
light coat of your favorite gun oil. Pull the
spring and firing pin out of the solvent and
spray them down with the break cleaner and
wipe dry and coat with gun oil too.
Now before you get all
excited and want to put everything back
together again, don't forget to clean the
bore. Remember we only got the crud out but we
didn't do any serious cleaning. I like to
start out by using Sweets and I run several
patches through to get out the last century's
worth of copper fouling. What? You said the
dealer told you this rifle was un-issued?
Yeah, ok...if you want to believe that go
ahead but trust me, use the Sweets. You will
be surprised at what comes out of your bore.
Now if you look down that puppy and it looks a
little dark, I might suggest picking up some
J&B Bore Paste not to be confused with JB
Weld!!! Remember, J&B Bore Paste....are
you listening to me??? Quit thinking about
getting your gun out to the range and pay
attention....J&B Bore Paste! Use as
directed and you will be happy you did. I have
resurrected some real sewer pipe bores with
Now we are ready to put everything back
together so clean up your mess before you end
up sleeping in the garage and put your
cleaning stuff away and go back back to the
Disassembling Your Mosin Article.
For reassembling the bolt
see article above ("Bolt Assembly").
OK...now, pick up your
stock and the barreled receiver. Hold the
stock in a horizontal upright position. If
there were shims in there before, put them
back to where they were. Now pick up your
receiver and lower it into the stock.
Turn the stock over and
put the magazine assembly back on.
OK...now, pick up your stock and the barreled
receiver. Hold the stock in a horizontal
upright position. If there were shims in there
before, put them back to where they were. Now
pick up your receiver and lower it into the
Don't forget to reattach the floor plate. Make
sure the mag housing is seated properly and
pinch it against the receiver assembly by
squeezing it and the top of the receiver with
the stock in between and drop the mag housing
bolt in and hand tighten.
Now rotate the rifle right side up and drop in
the tang bolt and tighten with a screw driver
and go back and tighten the magazine bolt with
a screw driver.
Now you are ready to put the hand guard back
on. Place the hand guard on top of the barrel
and line it up properly.
Take the rear barrel band because it would be
pretty dumb to put the front one on first and
make sure the joint is pointed down and slip
it past the front band spring and slide it
back to rear and over the rear band spring
until it clicks into place.
Now do the front band.
Remember the model
specific stuff we mentioned before? On your
M91, slide the rear band on with the crack
pointed down and the screw head on the right
side of the barrel as you are looking down
range. Slide it all the way back and replace
the pin or screw you removed earlier. Don't
tighten it yet. Do the same with the front
band. You did remember to put the hand guard
on first didn't you? Now you know why I said
not to tighten it yet! Now, you can tighten
the rear band by turning the screw which way?
Well...I'm waiting? Don't look up there on the
page, you should know this by now! That's
right...clockwise! Same goes with the front
Now, replace the cleaning
rod and screw the darned thing in so it
doesn't come snaking out of its hidey-hole
while you are shooting the rifle at the range!
When you are done with that, you can reinsert
the bolt by depressing the trigger and sliding
the bolt home.
the table and tell me if there are any parts
If not, you are done!
If there are,
go to the top of this page and start over.