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My Soviet Military Surplus Firearms

By
Steven Pajak

 

Today I’m writing about military surplus rifles, in particular, those designed in the Soviet Union: the Vintovka Mosina, the Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, and the Avtomat Kalashnikova. Most of you will recognize these battlefield rifles by their more common names: the Mosin Nagant, the SKS and the AK-47. These three weapons systems have been used throughout the world in almost every battle since World War I. In fact, millions of these services weapons are still around today, not only in use by the military or warlords, but in the hands of citizens and private collectors who prize them for their rich history and ruggedness. And in the case of the Mosin Nagant, their inexpensive price tags make them fun to shoot at low cost.

I’m won’t spend too much time going into the history of each of these rifles in detail, nor will I delve deeply into the variations of models, or the different arsenals. If you are interested, I encourage you to spend a Saturday afternoon on the web. One can spend countless hours researching these weapons on the Internet, gleaning the history and much more from experts who are dedicated to the subject. What I would like to do is talk about the three examples from my own personal collection and why I love each.

 

MOSIN NAGANT M44 (Vintovka Mosina)

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As I already stated, these rifles were designed in the Soviet Union, only one of my collection—the Mosin Nagant—was actually built by a Soviet arsenal. The other two are Romanian specimens, which were imported into the U.S. by Century Arms International. Although not as valuable as those from the Russian arsenals, the Romanian variety is excellent quality, which were built exactly as the Russian arsenals, and rate just below the Russian from a collectability standpoint.

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The Mosin Nagant M44 is actually considered a carbine because of its shorter barrel (20”). Unlike the other variants of the Mosin, it is highly unlikely that the M44 saw combat as they did not go into full production in significant quantities until 1944 near the closing of World War II. Most of these carbines were by then covered in cosmoline and stored in boxes for the next sixty years until imported and sold to civilians in the U.S. and other countries.

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My particular example of the M44 is from the Soviet Izhevsk arsenal, dated 1944. Made of wood and steel, this gun is heavy, weighing in at 9 pounds unloaded. The stock is made from laminated wood, which has fared well over the years, considering the age of the weapon.  A unique feature of the M44 is the inclusion of an integrated or fixed spike bayonet, which lifts off the barrel and folds to the side, where it is received by a notch in the stock. The bluing on the M44 has held up well and overall is in excellent condition.  The shiny and crisp barrel leads me to believe this carbine was not fired much, if at all, prior to me purchasing it for $79 nearly a decade ago.

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The bolt is what is known as the straight variety, which poses an issue when mounting optics in the traditional manner.  Some of the other Mosin variants were set up in sniper configurations and used throughout World War II, made famous by Vasily Zaytsev, a Soviet sniper and Hero of the Soviet Union. Such models had a bent bolt handle, which allowed the action to clear the mounted optic. However, many folks have opted for what is known as a “Scout” configuration (read about Col. Jeff Cooper, who coined the phrase, if you’re interested), which allows you to attach a long eye relief optic at a more forward position, out of the way of the bolt action.

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Firing the 7.62x54r cartridge, the Mosin is a heavy hitter. As such, many civilians use many variants of the Mosin Nagant for hunting all sorts of game from deer to wild boar. The powerful ammunition is also extremely cost effective. Ammunition can be purchased in 440 bulk packs for less than $90 and 880 rounds for less than $190. With ammunition this cheap, the Mosin is an excellent fun gun that you can afford to take to the range and fire often without breaking the bank. An in these tough economic times, the Mosin continues to provide enjoyment as well as putting meat on the table.

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SKS MODEL 45 (Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova)

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The Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, known simply as the SKS rifle, was adopted in 1946 and quickly replaced the Mosin Nagant. The SKS was designed by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov, a Senior Master Gunsmith. This semi-automatic carbine was short-lived as the primary Soviet battle rifle, however, replaced by the Avtomat Kalashnikova, or AK-47, which we will get to shortly. Mass quantities of the SKS were produced during its short run, but continued to be manufactured for export, even after the adoption of the AK-47.

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Like many of the Soviet surplus weapons, the SKS was manufactured in many countries, and used throughout the world, in many conflicts. Outside of Russia, these rifles were produced by the Chinese, Romanians, Albanians, and Yugoslavians. It has also be documented that the SKS rifles were produced in Germany, Vietnam and North Korea, although I’ve never seen or handled these variants.

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With a barrel length of 20 inches, the SKS Model 45 is also referred to as a carbine rather than a rifle. Its short stroke gas piston and self-loading capability gave it a great advantage over the earlier Mosin Nagant and its bolt action design. The increased attached magazine capacity of 10 rounds was also an advantage, giving the soldier five additional rounds before having to reload the weapon.

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Also made of wood and steel, the SKS is a fairly heavy weapon, weighing in at a little under 9 pounds. Many of the SKS’s features are very similar to the Mosin Nagant; the front and rear sights, cleaning rod that tucks into the hand guard below the barrel, and an integrated folding bayonet. However, that is where the similarities end. Firing the moderate 7.62x39mm cartridge, the SKS does not pack the punch of the Mosin. Although the 7.63x39mm round has plenty of stopping power, with some applications in hunting, it does not come close to that of the Mosin Nagant’s larger caliber, the 7.62x54r.

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My particular SKS carbine (the inspiration behind Matt Danzig’s weapon of choice in my novel, Mad Swine: The Beginning)  is of the Romanian variety, which is nearly identical to the Russian designed. It is a very nice specimen, considering the fact that most of the Romanian SKS surplus carbines were imported with stocks that looked as though they had been chewed by beavers. My stock, although far from perfect, is in great condition. It is made of beech wood with thick layers of lacquer to protect the wood. The integrated folding bayonet on the Romanian variant is a blade version, rather than the spike type found on the Chinese models. It seats nicely in a niche below the hand guard.

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Another rare feature of my SKS is that all of its parts have matching serial numbers. The large majority of the Romanian imports were parts guns, with old or broken parts being replaced before they were sold and imported. Due to the interchangeability of the weapon, many of the surplus SKS’s had parts replaced from other rifles, including parts from variants built in different countries. These parts rifles are still great shooters, and the mismatch parts had no impact on the usability of the weapon, but decreasing the value and collectability.

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A little more than eleven years ago, the SKS cost me just about $249.00, more than double the cost of the Mosin Nagant. Still an excellent deal for such a handy weapon. Although the cost of ammunition is much higher than the Mosin, the SKS quickly became my favorite carbine to shoot. The SKS has a short length of pull, as do most of the Soviet designs. However, with less recoil, the benefit of the semi-automatic action, additional round capacity, and the sleeker design, the SKS just speaks to me.

Over the years I have done some slight modifications to increase the accuracy and reliability. I have had a trigger job done by an expert for a cleaner, smoother action, as well as I have replaced the floating firing pin with a spring loaded version, like that of the original Russian design, to eliminate the possibility of slam fires, which can be dangerous. Aside from that, I have no plans to modify the SKS from its original design.

 

AK-47  (Avtomat Kalashnikova)

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The last firearm from the Soviet arsenals that I’d like to discuss in this article is the Avtomat Kalashnikova, or the AK-47, the weapon of the enemy. The AK-47 was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. After being hospitalized from a wound during the Battle of Bryansk, Mikhail entered a competition for a new weapon that could chamber the 7.62x39mm cartridge. He submitted his semi-automatic, gas-operated carbine that heavily influenced by the American M1 design and lost to Simonov and his SKS.

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Later in 1944, Mikhail submitted a new design for a fully automatic, gas-operated carbine with a 30-round detachable magazine. This new rifle proved to be extremely reliable and operated flawlessly in all types of conditions and environments and handling conditions. Hence, the AK-47 was born

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In its true form, the AK-47 is an automatic carbine, with select fire capability, detachable magazine and pistol grip. Just like its cousins the Mosin Nagant and the SKS, the AK-47 has many variants and has gone through some upgrades to modernize the weapon, which is still used as the primary battle rifle for armies and law enforcement all over the world.

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The AK-47’s imported into the U.S. as military surplus are not quite the same as the original as designed by Mr. Kalashnikov. In order to legally import these carbines into the U.S., the rifles had to be civilian versions which eliminated the select fire capability, becoming a semi-automatic weapon. I won’t get into how they were stripped down during the assault weapons ban era. Instead, let’s dive into the version I have acquired for my own collection.

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The GP WASR 10, or General Purpose Wassenaar Arrangement Semi-automatic Rifles, was imported after the sunset of the 1994 assault weapons ban, and was legally equipped with bayonet lug, muzzle break. The importer, Century Arms modified the carbine to accept 30 round detachable magazines, rather than the 10 round single stack magazines. Over the years, there have been variants of the WASR 10 rifles of various fit and finish. As far as AK-47’s go, the WASR is normally considered lower tiered.

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Perhaps one of the lucky ones, my WASR 10 was in excellent condition. Purchased in 2004, the WASR had all matching parts, no cant to the front sight post, and no magazine wobble, all complaints about the WASR 10. The original finish and wood furniture, however, did not last long, even with only moderate shooting and handling of the weapon. More on that in a moment.

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The WASR 10 is as fairly light, weighing in just under seven pounds. It shoots the same caliber as the SKS rifle, although it sports a shorter 16 inch barrel. It share some characteristics with the SKS, such as the gas tub and piston design, and rear and front sign posts. With its pistol grip and detachable magazine, however, the WASR is a bit easier to shoot as well as reload. The Tapco G2 trigger is quite nice, too.

About three years ago, I decided to refinish the WASR. The original finish was fading in many spots, down to almost bare metal in some areas. The wood furniture, although sturdy enough, was completely covered in too many coats of varnish for my taste. I wanted to try to refinish it so that it had that fresh from the arsenal appearance. I opted to use Gun-Kote, and ultra thin, friction reducing coating that is said to last and is easy to clean. Over a weekend I stripped the WASR and sprayed all the metal finish which dried to a very nice, rich black.

Not handy with the saw, I opted to purchase a new set of wood furniture from a company right here in the U.S. The stock, pistol grip and upper/lower forends are laminate and shipped completely naked. Although I didn’t trust my hand at making the furniture, I did want the experience of finishing. After some reading, I got out the sandpaper, steel wool, stain and tung oil and went to work. The end result was much nicer than I expected but just like I’d hoped.

Although I am a fan of the AK-47, and I am completely satisfied with my WASR 10, and have had many hours of enjoyment shooting this fantastic weapon, and would completely trust my life to it, I often find that I favor the Mosin Nagant and the SKS over it when I hit the range. There’s just something about the older rifles that I enjoy much more.

So, I hope you enjoyed this brief look at some of my Soviet surplus weapons. Those of you who have not yet discovered the joy of surplus rifles, I hope this article has created a spark. If you’re looking for a piece of history, an inexpensive rifle for defense, hunting or fun shooting, treat yourself. These guns have been around a long time and with proper care and maintenance can be passed along do your children.

Dasvidaniya, comrades!

Mad Swine: Dead Winter is available now! Get your copy today.

Mad Swine: Dead WinterMad Swine: Dead Winter is the long awaited sequel to Mad Swine: The Beginning.

Synopsis:

Three months after the beginning of the Mad Swine outbreak, the residents of Randall Oaks have reached their breaking point. After surviving the initial outbreak and a war waged with their neighboring community, Providence, their supplies are severely close to depletion. With hostile neighbors at their flanks and hordes of infected outside their walls, they have become prisoners within their own community. When new allies arrive with an old friend, the brave men and women of Randall Oaks will be faced with the decision to stay within the confines of the community only to die of starvation or to leave the safety of their walls in pursuit of a promise land, the survivors must make their choice—and face a new enemy unseen. Will the remaining members of Randall Oaks continue to survive the apocalypse or will it be a Dead Winter?

An awesome 5 star review from Ursula at Zombiephiles.com

Here’s what Ursula had to say about Mad Swine: The Beginning:

–As reviewed on Zombiephiles.com

Mad Swine: The Beginning is going to be one of those novels where the zombie fans argue in the message boards about whether or not this qualifies as a zombie novel – even some of the book’s own characters debate over calling them zombies! The “crazies” are infected living, much like 28 Days Later, but due to an ability to regenerate while they sleep, they still need to be killed with a headshot (or decapitation). The infection is suspected of starting with a mutation in the H1N1 vaccines, but some people were immune to the initial outbreak, although those survivors can still be infected by the “crazies.” Also, any bodily fluid can spread the mutated virus, and not everyone realizes right away when they are infected…essentially creating a devastating apocalypse in a small amount of time.

The main character, Matt, is at work on a college campus when he realizes there is some kind of virus making people go crazy and brutally attack others. The prologue did a magnificent job of setting up the story. I enjoyed the novel’s structure in general, with one exception: when Matt is doing a weapons inventory with his brother, Brian, it goes on far too long. It was almost as if the author Steve Pajak was trying to prove to the readers, “I know my weapons!!” It was completely unnecessary, and momentarily derailed the pace of the story for me.

Matt tries to gather his family members from their various locations in the city, but he underestimates the speed and devastation of the virus, and his emergency plans go down the toilet almost from the onset of the attacks on campus. Matt is determined nonetheless, and eventually he makes it back to his suburban community where the neighbors try to make a stand together. It doesn’t take long for the tension to build up between various communities, and that’s when Pajak decides to throw a cliff-hanger at his readers.

I am definitely hooked on this new series; Mad Swine: The Beginning is a brutal introduction to an apocalypse that will leave you feeling you feeling like you’ve been dragged across broken glass & a salted highway.

 

For more reviews, check out Zombiephiles.com!

An Interview with G.R. Mountjoy

I had an opportunity to interview G.R. Mountjoy, author of a new zombie novel 3 YEARS AFTER…

Here’s what he had to say:

[Steven Pajak] As a new author, my readers may not be familiar with your work. Could you please tell them about yourself? What are some things that you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

[G.R. Mountjoy] A little about myself. I am 37, married, I have a daughter and a child on the way. I served in the Army for 15 years, and am medically retired from the Army. I had a bad surgery by a civilian doctor. I grew up in Indiana, knew my entire childhood that I wanted to be a soldier, and joined the Delayed Entry Program on my 18th birthday. I was in the 82nd Airborne and spent 3 years as a Scout Observer in the 1/504 Parachute Infantry Regiment Scout/Sniper Platoon. I then reclassified to be a Blackhawk Crew Chief. I have spent time in Korea, Fort Drum New York, Hunter Army Airfield “Savannah, GA”, and worked on a counter narcotic mission in the Bahamas for 3 years. Right now I am trying to attain my Bachelors degree. I attend Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah Georgia. I work, and spend time playing golf, reading, and have given up my addiction to World of Warcraft. I love movies and Science Fiction.

[Steven Pajak] What made you decide to write zombie fiction?

[G.R. Mountjoy] I have played around and been reading while on my various deployments for years. Last semester I was in a literature class and a Professor told us a 10K short story would be worth a letter grade. I messed around, turned the word count off, and next thing I know, I was had 30K words! So then she read it, and told me I had something. I kept just writing , and then had a story. It was fun.

[Steven Pajak] Please tell us a little bit about 3 Years After… I understand you’re planning a sequel. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

[G.R. Mountjoy] 3 Years After… is about a Special forces team that is picked out to use some government technology, time travel. The problem, it all goes to shit. So the first book is about the team finding out that the zombie apocalypse hats happened. They fight across the country to find the remnants of the government. They get a follow on mission and get told what happened to humanity. I leave off with the team getting on a helicopter that leads us to book 2.  I am close to completing book 2.

[Steven Pajak] Who are your favorite authors? What are some of your favorite books?

[G.R. Mountjoy] My favorite authors range a lot of books. I will start with my favorite reading, and that starts with Star Wars books. That would encompass way too many authors. The next is Christopher Golden and the Shadow Saga. His book “Of Saints and Shadows” is by far the best book that I think is out there.  I like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet Series also.

Onto Zombies, I was really new to this, and to be honest, I feel like a newbie. Last semester I bought a kindle, and a friend told me to read J.L. Bourne’s “Day by Day Armageddon” and that started it! From there I read Tufo, Recht, DiLouie, Meigs, Pajak, Knight, and most recently Talluto and Clines. There are so many great independent authors like myself out there, they are all helpful, and Facebook has helped to connect us.

[Steven Pajak] Did you attempt to publish your work traditionally before you decided to publish your work independently? If yes, why did you stop pursuing the traditional publishing route?

[G.R. Mountjoy] I tried to go through Permuted Press. I submitted via their guidelines, and was told my work was good, but they weren’t interested. This killed me. I then joined the writers store, looked for an agent, and then submitted it to way too many, and never got a response from any of them. I then contacted Mark Tufo “Author of Zombie Fallout” on Facebook. He told me to just do it! And it did. Trust me, I made mistakes, I didn’t get it edited, my cover was done by a friend. I was crucified on Amazon by the reviewers. Trust me, they really didn’t say many bad things about my story, just my grammar. I then contacted Steven Pajak, and got a lot of help with a sweet cover, and help with getting my book out on paperback.  It has been a learning process, but it has been awesome!

[Steven Pajak] How do you market your work and what have you found to be the most successful in marketing your book?

[G.R. Mountjoy] I have really just marketed it by word of mouth, and with reviews. I am not trying to become a millionaire. I had three goals, 10 books, 100 books, and 1000 books. I have passed all three of them. I have a blog that I need to update more, I have been approved for expanded distribution on Kindle Direct Publishing, and have it on Nook. I would love to be picked up by a publishing company, but if I don’t, well that is the breaks. I don’t consider myself to be great, but have made the newspaper and can tell my kids that I am a published author.

[Steven Pajak] What can we expect to see from G.R. Mountjoy after the 3 Year After… series?

[G.R. Mountjoy] I plan on finishing the series, and having it done within the next year. Over the summer I had writers block, aka played a lot of golf. I am also working on a spoof of survival guides that will cover what to do during an apocalypse.  I think that my time in the military and the way that I am writing it will make it a very fun and interesting read.  My main goal is to write more and have people enjoy my super badass military characters.

For more information about G.R. Mountjoy or the book, you can visit him at:

Facebook
G.R. Mountjoy’s Blog
3 YEARS AFTER…

 

Mad Swine: The Beginning — Welcome to the Mad Swine World

Mad Swine: The BeginningSynopsis:

 

People refer to the infected as “zombies,” but that’s not what they really are. Zombie implies the infected have died and reanimated. The thing is, they didn’t die.  They’re still alive; they even breath. They’re just not human anymore. Screams and a pulled fire alarm transform Matt Danzig’s average day in the university admissions office to anything but normal. After witnessing a colleague attacking a student with his teeth, Danzig begins a hectic journey to find his kids, his wife, and perhaps a much darker version of himself than he ever expected.  As the infection spreads and crazed hordes–dubbed “Mad Swine”–take over the cities, Danzig and the residents of Randall Oaks find themselves locked in a desperate struggle to survive in the new world.

Extremely well-written … the story and characters kept me turning the pages faster and faster.”–Zombie-Reviews.com

An excellent addition to the zombie subgenre… will make you look at the swine flu in a whole new light!”—Jessica Meigs, author of THE BECOMING

Project Hindsight – A Psychic Thriller

Project Hindsight Synopsis:

 

A phone rings in the night. A frantic and familiar voice of a woman who mysteriously disappeared thirteen years ago. Joe Meehan is bewildered, confused and even frightened by her sudden reappearance. He finds Rachel alone on the dark and rainy night, shivering in the cold and wearing only a t-shirt and torn jeans. She is frighteningly thin. Her eyes are haunted with horrible memories. He has no idea of her sinister past or her role in a top secret military initiative, Project Hindsight, when he rescues her from the cold night. As Rachel’s secrets catch up to her, Joe soon finds himself in danger unlike any he’s ever faced when he uncovers the deadly secrets hidden on the fourth sub-level of Mount Weather. Pursued by relentless operatives who will stop at nothing to keep their secret, Rachel and Joe must hide from an enemy who can see anywhere.

Available from Chevron Books.        .Trade Paperback     Kindle     Nook      eBook formats.

Darkness Within – A Supernatural Thriller

Darkness Within Reluctant psychic Susan Moore witnessed the brutal slaying of a young boy in a vision. Despite her psychic gifts, she is unable to save the boy fro  m a brutal ending. Riddled with guilt because she was unable to save the boy, she feels her life spiraling out of control.

In a small Texas town, Sheriff Steven Ames is desperate to catch a killer before tragedy strikes again. The town is on edge and demanding justice, spurred on by the father of one of the victims. And all this in an election year.

When fate brings Ames and Moore together, the two join forces to stop the killer before tragedy strikes again. In the midst of chaos and danger Susan must come to terms with the limitations of her psychic abilities while Ames must battle his own feelings of inadequacy and deal with a town that no longer has faith in his abilities as a peace officer.

And when a rogue reporter leaks important information about the investigation, Susan is in danger as she becomes the hunted.

Available now from Chevron Books.           .Trade Paperback      Kindle      Nook      eBook formats