M1891 (M91)



  • 1 Russia/USSR Mosin Nagant
  • 2 Three Line Rifle, Model of 1891
  • 3 Typical Barrel Shank Markings Found on the M91
  • 4 M1891 (M91) Variants
  • 5 Typical Barrel Shank Markings Found on the M91 Dragoon/Cossack
  • 6 Sight Styles
  • 7 Barrel Band Styles
    • 7.1 Righty - Loosey, and Lefty - Tighty!
    • 7.2 Model 1891 (M91) Chronology of Design Upgrades

Russia/USSR Mosin Nagant

General Specifications M91 Design Changes and Year of Upgrades:

Weight -- 9 1/2 lbs.(4.3 kg)
Length (over all) -- 51 1/2" (130.8 cm)
Barrel Length -- 31 1/2" (80.0 cm)
Stock length -- 47 1/2" (120.7 cm)
Rifling -- 4 groove, 1 to 9-1/2 right twist
Initial Model -- Finger Rest
No Handguard, Mag and front band swivel

  • Dropped Finger Rest, mid 1893
  • Added Handguard and Second Pattern Type-1 barrel bands, early 1894
  • Lengthened Cleaning rod, 1896
  • Dropped front band sling swivel, between 1896 and 1898.
  • Introduced 1908 spitzer bullet
  • Dropped rear magazine swivel, and cut sling slots in stock, 1908
  • Changed to Konovalov rear sight, mid 1909
  • Added wooden (unknown time), then steel crossbolt, late 1909
  • Introduced final Type-2 barrel bands, 1909 - 1910

Three Line Rifle, Model of 1891

M1891 (M91) : In 1891, Russia adopted a repeating bolt action infantry rifle in 7.62X54r with shared design from Sergei Mosin of Russia, and Leon Nagant of Belgium. Hence, the title Mosin Nagant is given. The Three Line Rifle, Model of 1891 (bore diameter, a 'line' equaling one tenth of an inch) is the official name. Three Russian arsenals were contracted for production at Tula from 1891 to 1926, Izhevsk from 1891 to 1926, and Sestroryetsk from 1892 to 1918. Very early on, France supplemented production from its Chatellerault Arsenal from 1892 to 1895.

During WWI, the United States also supplied Russia with rifles built at New England Westinghouse (all dated 1915) and Remington from 1915 to early 1917 when overseas shipments halted due to the Russian Revolution. Production continued at both American arsenals under a U.S. Government Contract from late 1917 to 1918.

A robust and reliable design, the Mosin Nagant and its many variants served as the main battle rifle of Russia and the Soviet Union for more than half a century. Many other countries adopted the M91, as well, and it is still in limited use for military purposes around the world today.


Mosin Nagant Model of 1891, Three Line Rifle - Original Production (representative photo)

Typical Barrel Shank Markings Found on the M91

Izhevsk M91
1891 - 1919
Tula M91
1892 - 1912
M91 1892 - 1918
Chatellerault M91
1892 - 1895
Remington USA M91
1915 - 1918
New England Westinghouse
M91 1915 - 1918

A more complete list of Barrel Shank Marks may be accessed by following this link: Barrel Shank Marks

M1891 (M91) Variants

General Specifications Izhevsk Dragoon/Cossack, Tula Dragoon:

Weight -- 8 3/4 lbs.(4.0 kg)
Length (over all) -- 48 1/2" (123.2 cm)
Barrel Length -- 28 3/4" (73.0 cm)
Stock length -- 45" (114.3 cm)
Cleaning rod length -- (below head) 25-3/4"

  • Dragoon - Manufactured from 1893 to 1932 at the Izhevsk arsenal (1923-32 Tula)
  • Cossack - Manufactured in 1894 to 1922 at the Izhevsk arsenal
  • All models had barrel bands with retaining springs, and sling slots in stock.
  • First models designed with flat rear sight, handguard wrapped around rear sight
  • 1909, updated with steel crossbolt, Konovalov rear sight.
  • Handguards were redesigned (no specific date) with partial wrap around rear sight

Dragoon Rifle : Intended for use by Dragoons (mounted infantry). Shorter and lighter than the M1891. The Dragoon rifle's dimensions are identical to the later M1891/30 rifle, and most Dragoon rifles were eventually reworked into M1891/30s. Most such rifles, known to collectors as "ex-Dragoons", can be identified by their pre-1930 date stampings, but small numbers of Dragoon rifles were produced from 1930 to 1932 and after reworking became impossible to distinguish from purpose-built M1891/30s.

Cossack Rifle : Introduced for Cossack horsemen, these rifles were issued without a bayonet. It is nearly identical to the dragoon model but originally had a flat rear sight leaf similar to that of the M1891/30. This sight was changed with the adoption of the M1908 spitzer bullet, and was thereafter a saw tooth ramp-and-leaf sight similar to that of the Dragoon. Unlike the Infantry and Dragoon models, the Cossack rifle was sighted to be used without a bayonet as they were not issued with this weapon. The Cossacks were traditionally armed with sabers. The Cossack rifle was initially made without the reinforcing bolts in the stock, but rifles made in and after 1909 did have the reinforcing bolts. It is also possible that older weapons were retrofitted with the bolt after adoption of the new cartridge. Cossack rifles are recognized by the letters KA3, just below the serial number.

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1927 Tula M91 Dragoon - With Konavolov rear sight, and Model 91/30 handguard

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1915 Izhevsk M91 Dragoon - With Konavolov rear sight, and second pattern handguard


Early M91 Dragoon/Cossack flat rear sight and first pattern 'wrap around' handguard

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M91 Dragoon/Cossack curved rear sight and second pattern handguard

Typical Barrel Shank Markings Found on the M91 Dragoon/Cossack

   Izhevsk Dragoon     Izhevsk Cossack     Tula Dragoon  
Ka3m91-30 010

Refer to Barrel Shank Marks link for a more complete listing.

Sight Styles

From its introduction in 1891 to the year 1908, the Mosin Nagant M91 (and Dragoon/Cossack variants) utilized a berdan primed, smokeless powder cartridge and a heavy round nose bullet. The early flat leaf rear sight rested on a notched base with the incremental numbering of 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 on the left side (Chatellerault examples are numbered on the right side base). The graduations for the ballistic range of the round nose bullets are measured in hundreds arshini (an arshin being roughly one man's stepping distance, or 28"). The rear of the leaf could also be raised to the vertical position, and the graduations of 13 through 27 are stamped on the back side, to offer sighting out to a range of 2,700 arshini.

In 1908, Russia adopted the pointed and less heavy Spitzer bullet. The faster muzzle velocity required the rear sight leaf to be changed for the differing ballistics. The resulting design was a curved rear sight leaf called the Konolavov, named after the designer. While the graduations on the side of the base remained the same, the rear of the leaf was graduated from 13 through 32, for sighting out to 3,200 arshini. The Konavalov sight leafs for the Dragoon and Cossack were marked KAB and KA3, respectively.

The front sight, called a barleycorn, was a wedged shape - sloping rear to front - and was fitted to a dovetailed base on the front of the barrel.

Early flat leaf sight: Dragoon, Cossack Early flat leaf sight: M91
Konovalov curved rear sight: Russian arshini graduations Konovalov curved rear sight: Finnish metric graduations Konovalov curved rear sight: Austrian schritt graduations
M24KLP 004.jpg
Barleycorn front sight: Dovetail base Barleycorn front sight: Dovetail base Barleycorn front sight: Dovetail base
M24klp 012
KAB marking, Dragoon Konovalov rear sight leaf      KA3 marking, Cossack Konovalov rear sight leaf
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Flat rear leaf, back side to 2,700 arshini   Curved rear leaf, back side to 3,200 arshini
                                                        1001 (3).jpg

Barrel Band Styles

The Model 1891 Mosin Nagant encountered many upgrades following initial production. Barrel bands evolved over the years to incorporate design changes of the rifle as a whole, and pattern changes to the parts themselves. One common theme in all designs is the 'Captured Head' on the tightening screw. Though all barrel band screw are actually right hand threads, the capture head feature creates a perception of left hand thread application. Clockwise turning of the screw loosens the clamping action of the band, and counter-clockwise turning will tighten the band. For this reason, many M91 barrel bands are damaged due to unawareness of the capture head application.

For over-simplicity, when removing or installing the bands, follow the general idea of:

Righty - Loosey, and Lefty - Tighty!


Captured Head


The following section illustrates the evolution of the barrel band.

1. Early M91 first pattern bands (extremely rare), or Type-1, were installed before handguards were introduced, therefore there were no notches cut inside the upper interior region to accommodate the handguard retaining tabs. The front band also doubled as a sling swivel attachment. These bands are rarely encountered today.

2. Early M91 second pattern bands (front w/swivel, extremely rare), or Type-2, were of the same overall design, but had notches cut inside the upper interior to accommodate the handguard retaining tabs, and the front sling swivel was retained.

3. Early M91 third pattern bands (common), or Type-3, were essentially the same as the second pattern, but the front sling swivel was eliminated.

4. Late M91 fourth pattern bands (common), or Type-4, were a complete design change, where the lower portion of the band thickness was enhanced around the tightening screw and capture heads, no longer leaving them exposed to possible outside contact or snagging.

As first and second pattern bands (Types 1 and 2) are uncommonly found, there is also a general terminology which refer to the most commonly encountered third and fourth pattern bands - and they are simply referred to as Early M91, and Late M91.

   First pattern rear: Early M91 Type-1      First pattern front: Early M91 Type-1  
  Second pattern rear: Early M91 Type-2      Second pattern front: Early M91 Type-2

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   Third pattern rear: Early M91 Type-3      Third pattern front: Early M91 Type-4  


   Fourth pattern rear: Late M91 Type-4      Fourth pattern front: Late M91 Type-4  



M91 Dragoon and Cossack barrel bands

The Model 1891 Dragoon and Cossack rifles incorporate a Solid Band and milled retainer spring system. The design was not upgraded over the entire span of exclusive Dragoon/Cossack production. During the transition period of overlapping model production of the Model 91/30 (1930-1932), it is possible that some late original Dragoons were outfitted with the upgraded Button Band and Split band. And as the majority of Dragoons were upgraded at some point, the Solid Band and Button Band were swapped out in favor of the Split Band.

Dragoon/Cossack rear Solid Band and retainer spring Dragoon/Cossack front Solid Band and retainer spring Button Band M91/30 (1930-1932): Split Band M91/30 (1932-1945):



Model 1891 (M91) Chronology of Design Upgrades

Dating from its initial production run beginning in 1891, the M91 experienced design changes, or upgrades, that were implemented for many possible reasons:

1. Economics. Parts deemed unnecessary were eliminated.
2. Field testing/Battle performance. Ergonomics were enhanced for ease and efficiency of use.
3. Cartridge change. Stock reinforcement was needed, and sighting for differing ballistics was incorporated.
4. Development. New manufacturing designs were implemented for efficiency of production and improved performance.

Below are pictures, descriptions, and brief listings of the Chronology of Design Upgrades for the M91, the arsenals of manufacture, and dates of changes when known. True examples are not available for all noted configurations, and some photos are altered for the purpose of representative design display only. No actual rifles were altered in any shape or manner.

1. Features (present at first model): Finger Rest on lower wrist, first pattern Trigger Guard, no Crossbolt, no Handguard, short Cleaning Rod, no Sling Slots, Magazine rear Sling Swivel, Early M91 Type-1 front (w/sling swivel) and rear Barrel Bands, Flat Leaf rear sight.

Configuration One (first production). Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Chatellerault, Sestroryetsk in 1891 and/or 1892.

2. Features (added/eliminated): Eliminated Finger Rest, added second pattern Trigger Guard, and altered lower stock inletting to accommodate.

Configuration Two. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Chatellerault, Sestroryetsk from mid 1893 to early 1894.

3. Features (added/eliminated): Added Handguard. Eliminated Early M91 Type-1 Barrel Bands, and added Early M91 Type-2 front (w/sling swivel) and rear Barrel Bands.

Configuration Three. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Chatellerault, Sestroryetsk from later 1894 to early 1896.

4. Features (added/eliminated): Changed position (rearward) of Cleaning Rod Nut, and added longer Cleaning Rod of dimensions commonly found today, at 29 inches.

Configuration Four. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Sestroryetsk in 1896, or later.

5. Features (added/eliminated): Eliminated Early M91 Type-2 front band (w/sling swivel), and added Early M91 Type-3 front Barrel Band. A sling with a front 'hook' was incorporated to attach around the front band tightening screw.

Configuration Five. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Sestroryetsk after 1896 and by 1898.

6. Features (added/eliminated): Eliminated magazine rear sling swivel, and added sling slots to the buttstock and forestock.

Configuration Six. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Sestroryetsk in 1908.

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7. Features (added/eliminated): Eliminated Flat rear sight. Added Konovalov curved rear sight leaf, to accommodate ballistics of the M1908 spitzer bullet cartridge.

Configuration Seven. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Sestroryetsk in mid 1909.

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8. Features (added/eliminated): Added wooden crossbolt to reinforce stock, behind recoil lug of receiver.

Configuration Eight. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Sestroryetsk unspecified date.

                                                          003 (2).JPG

9. Features (added/eliminated): Added steel crossbolt.

Configuration Nine. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Sestroryetsk in late 1909.


10. Features (added/eliminated): Eliminated Early M91 Type-3 barrel bands, and added Late M91 Type-4 barrel bands.

Configuration Ten. Manufactured at Tula, Izhevsk, Sestroryetsk from early 1909 through 1910, to production end.

Standard configuration for Remington, New England Westinghouse from 1915-1918.



Photos courtesy of desdem12, member, and Karl Heinz
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