Cleaning Your New Mosin Nagant Rifle/modding the Bolt to Close Easily




The Mosin Nagant is a bolt action, Russian military rifle that was produced from 1891-1965.  These guns are commonly available for usually no more than $150 USD.   The one caveat to owning this rifle is that when you purchase one it will be completely caked and filled with a oil coating known as Cosmoline.  This was coated on to the guns before storage and is an absolute nightmare to get out of all the working parts of a firearm.  But if you take the time to do the dirty deed of removing this gunk you will be rewarded with a great shooting reliable and rust free firearm.

So I'm ready if you are, lets dive into this greasy old rifle

note: please be cautious and do not have ammunition anywhere near this firearm while cleaning. We are all adults and using some common sense and care will help to ensure your safety while handling a firearm.  Also you are cleaning this gun and making modifications at your own will and discretion, and by following this Instructable you are doing so at your own risk. I hold no responsibility if anything happens to you as a result of cleaning and modding your firearm.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

So to break down and clean the Mosin you will need :

-several solvent resistant brushes
-paper towels
-cotton swabs
-mineral spirits
-container to soak parts
-20gauge shotgun brush and rigid cleaning rod (optional)
-cordless drill
-1500 grit sandpaper
-flat screwdriver
-bolt cutters
-solvent resistant gloves
-Rem Oil or a similar firearm lubricant

Step 2: Removing and Disassembling the Bolt.

In this first step we will be removing the bolt from the rifle as well as taking it apart to get all of the cosmoline out of the nooks and crannies.

Step 3: Removing the Bayonet

In this step you will remove the bayonet (optional) that may or may not be on your particular Mosin Nagant.

Step 4: Removing the Magazine

In this step you will remove the magazine assembly as well as the spring assembly that holds pressure against the bullets while in the magazine

Step 5: Removing the Barrel and Cleaning Rod

Step 6: Cleaning the Barrel Inside and Out

In this step you will begin the arduous task of removing the gunked up cosmoline from your fine firearm.

Step 7: Cleaning the Bolt Parts

This is one of the most important steps so be sure to take your time and be extremely thorough.  You need to clean every little nook and crannie of the bolt. other wise you may be curse with a condition known as "Mosin slap" where the bolt needs excessive force, often in the form of a slapping hand to open and close. 

Step 8: Cleaning the Magazine Assembly

In this step you will take apart and scrub the magazine spring assembly. be sure to be thorough as this part has several small hinges that need to be cleaned well.

Step 9: Polish the Firing Pin/ and Modifying the Firing Pin.

In this step you are going to learn a very simple modification that will help to make the firearm operate more smoothly and make the bolt action smoother and with less resistance. 

Step 10: Wipe Down That Stock in Preparation for Reassembly.

This step is pretty straightforward. You want to rub down your stock with some mineral spirits to remove any cosmoline that may have accumulated on the surface of the wood.

Step 11: Bolt Reassembly

In this step you will be reassembling your bolt. Be sure to lubricate all of the parts very well with a thin lube such as Rem Oil

Step 12: Firing Pin Spacing

So most of the Mosin Rifles that I have seen typically come with a little pouch that contains a couple of pieces that give your cleaning rod a "T" handle as well  as a teardrop shaped tool that has some notches on the side of it. These notches are used to space your firing pin.

Step 13: Re Installing the Barrel and Cleaning Rod

At this point you are going to begin re-installing the parts onto the gun stock. You are going to want to wipe down the outside of the barrel with a lubricant as well as run a jag with a patch soaked in oil down the clean barrel.

Step 14: Re Install the Magazine Assembly

In this step you will be putting your magazine assembly back into the stock and fastening it to the barrel assembly

Step 15: Re Installing the Bayonet

You are almost done putting the gun back together at this point, and I would recommend getting another person to help with this step as an extra pair of hands are very useful

Step 16: Re Install the Bolt

This is the last step in putting your gun back together. 

Step 17: Conclusion

Well that is it. I hope you learned something and I hope that you and your Mosin Nagant have many trouble free years of shooting ahead of you.  

I would also like to say a special thanks to: Josh  McAninch of Detroit Gun League . for doing the work while I took all the fancy pictures.

And as a bonus, I took all of the mineral spirits when we were done cleaning and put it in a bottle to allow it to settle. Enjoy the gross photo. and remember mineral spirits start out as clear as water.



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    10 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Are you going to "Sporterize" this with a plastic stock etc., or are you keeping the furniture?

    $99.00 Nagant at local sporting goods store is calling my name. They've got a handful. How should I go about choosing the one I want?

    1 reply

    Look for one with a low serial number and a date from before 1943. That's when they were only produced for getting a bullet downrange quickly but not all that accurately. I prefer Tula to Izhevsk but that's just me. There really isn't a big different between the two manufacturers otherr than the amount of Mosins they produced.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great 'ible! I love my Mosin, her name is "Milla" lol. I have a 1939 Izhevsk M91/30. Great gun, Great instructable, be careful to clean often when shooting corrosive surplus ammo.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Mine is a 1932 Tula hex receiver named "Sasha." Shoots like a dream and was used in battle. Pretty cool Mosin.


    5 years ago on Step 17

    I have always taken my brand new (ish) guns to the local automotive repair place and paid them with a six pack of beer so I could borrow their solvent tank...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    a easier way to remove the cosmoline from the metal is to whack it in the oven, check out iraqiveteran888's channel on youtube. he knows his stuff

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Very true about using heat to remove cosmoline. Though I was fortunate enough not to have to do it, I've seen how someone made an oven using metal trash bins and strong incandescent bulbs as heaters.


    6 years ago on Step 9

    Nice instructable :) Wish I still had mine :(
    I recall a mod I once read about that involved shimming somewhere between the trigger mechanism and the bolt, and it significantly decreased the amount of trigger pull necessary to release the firing pin. It's been many years since I read that, and can no longer recall the specifics. Do you know of, or tried that mod?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    When I got mine a few years ago the Cosmoline had soaked well into the interior of the wood. Wiping it down worked for a little while but left me with a greasy grip just an hour later. A quick trick to get it to rise out of the wood was to hit it with a hairdryer and wipe it down as it bubbled up (being careful, of course, to not let it get too hot for fear of damaging the finish). I used just paper shop towels and avoided solvents on the wood to keep from damaging the finish but this all depends on the condition the stock comes in and whether or not you plan on refinishing it. Another trick I've heard of is to toss the whole stock into the oven but something about the chemicals in a place food is prepared left me a tad nervous . . .
    Great photos and a useful guide!

    Phil B

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. I enjoy Instructables like this. I once came very close to buy a Mosin-Nagant rifle like yours, but bought an 8mm Yugoslavian Mauser, instead. I have done a couple of Instructables related to it.

    During the days I strongly considered a Mosin-Nagant I read about a problem some had. The brass would not eject after firing. The solution was to put a wire brush onto a Dremel tool and scour the chamber to remove a build-up of something, perhaps the cosmoline. When the gun was fired, the residue in the firing chamber fused with residue on the brass due to the heat from the burning gunpowder. It was something that confounded and puzzled many owners. I mentioned it to a friend who knew someone with the problem, and it apparently worked.