Having once again decided to hell with various things I probably should have done, I went shooting today. Nice day for this time of year, though a bit windy and gusty. No serious testing or whatever, though I did get to try out a Finnish M39
Short version, this is the rifle the Finns made using Mosin-Nagant receivers. I've heard that they're the best version made of this rifle type, and having shot this one I believe it. For the full rundown on these go over to Head's Bunker and look down the sidebar; he's got a lot on them. Short version:
heavier stock, particularly in the forend. Instead of a long, skinny one it's a heavier piece dovetailed into the buttstock.
Better sights. Instead of a shallow notch in the rear and a post up front, it's a wing-protected front blade and a very clean rear notch. And where every other rifle of the type, although the low setting says '100' is actually set for 300 meters? This Finn rifle has a low setting marked '150', and it means it; with the ammo I used(Czech and Polish light ball) it hit just about dead-on at 100, I'd guess would be on at 150.
Windage adjustment on other Mosins means drifting the front sight in the dovetail, and if you've ever done that you know it's a bit touchy at times to get it just right. With this? There's a screw on each side of the sight base; to move the sight left, you'd back the left screw off a bit, then tighten the right screw. Presto, very controlled, positive adjustment. I like it.
And it's got the best trigger I've personally seen on a Mosin, long first stage, positive stop, then a light, clean second stage. Very nice. I've fired much newer sporting rifles with worse.
First five shots were done at 50 yards
Which impressed me. Then moved back to 100
The flier I blame on myself, which gives a 1" group. Which was not a fluke, I got several more this tight with it, though the rifle showed a bit of a preference for the Polish ammo.
If I were going to set one of these up for target shooting, I think the main thing I'd do is get another front blade and mill it a bit thinner. These are battle-rifle sights, not match sights, and for the purpose I imagine they served- would serve- very well.
As an aside, I read that when the M1 Garand was first officially introduced to the public at the Wimbledon matches, the two big gripes were the coarse sights and 'too heavy' trigger. The Springfield people kept telling them "It's not a match rifle, it's a battlefield rifle, too fine a sight and too light a trigger can be a problem". This is my big gripe with the 1903 and 1903-A3 Springfields; fine rifles with lousy sights for woods or battlefield use. With the -A3, a fine rear aperture sight combined with that damn thin front blade; with the '03, skinny front blade and a too-complicated rear. Excellent on a target range, a pain anywhere else. In my humble opinion, anyway.
In any case, back to the M39, this is a fine rifle, and happily there are a bunch of them out there. I get my finances back on track, I may have to search around for one.