• 1909 M91/38 Mosin Nagant Carbine

    1909 M91/38 Mosin Nagant Carbine
    (Mfg by the Imperial Tula Arms Factory)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: .......................7.62x54R
    Barrel Length............... 20 in. (508mm)
    Rifling: ........................ 4 groove, right hand twist, 1:9.5"
    Overall Length: ............ 40 in. (1016mm)
    Weight: ....................... 7.62 lbs (3.46Kg)
    Magazine capacity: ...... 5 rounds.
    Qty mfg: ..................... Unknown, low production.

    Sources: MosinNagant.net and 7.62x54r.net

    Canadian Collector Market Value Estimate: $

    1909 M91/38 Mosin Nagant Carbine

    (34 picture virtual tour)

    Observations: (by "Claven2")
    Note: Pics of rifle provided courtesy of Milsurps.com moderator Claven2.

    The so-called M91/38 carbine is essentially an early M91 infantry rifle or dragoon/cossack rifle which has been reworked and converted to a late-war pattern M38 carbine. It is quite likely that these rifles would have been considered simply an M38, the M91/38 moniker being used by modern collectors to differentiate these arms from those originally manufactured as M38's.

    Many, if not most, collectors agree that the M91/38 carbines are Czech in origin. The markings stamped into the receiver and barrel during the conversion are also often observed on firearms of Czech manufacture. Additionally, none of the known Soviet arms or factories are readily associated with these stampings. Other theories exist, but the Czech theory is the only one strongly supported by evidence on the arms themselves. There seems to be little, if any, evidence of the Czechs themselves issuing Mosin Nagant carbines in any numbers, though they did base at least one of their sniper rifles on the Mosin Nagant action. The Czechs do, however, have a long history as capable arms manufacturers and remanufacturers. One prime example is the number of German K98ks reworked in Czechoslovakia after WW2 for sale to other nations including the new (at the time) state of Israel. It has been often theorized that the Czechs converted the then obsolete M91's to carbine length well after the end of WW2 on contract from some other nation, probably a Warsaw Pact member looking to extend the useful life of their aging stores of M91's.

    It is also evident that the vast majority of M91/38 carbines were not initially converted to the M38 pattern, but rather to the M44 carbine pattern. All known M91/38's have an M44 barrel sleeve type front sight fixture with the post-war wide sight base. The fixture has been macined to remove the bayonet lug and the resultant pin channels filled. A true M38 carbine, on the other hand, had only a short collar supporting the front sight base. Most M91/38's are equipped with stocks shortened from M91 infantry rifle stocks. Interestingly, it is invariably true that these shortened M91 stocks have been inlet for an M44 type folding bayonet. Some M91/38's have newly produced stocks and they can be found inlet for an M44 bayonet and sometimes not inlet for one. It is likely that some of these replacement stocks were made when the rifles were first converted to M44 pattern and some of them were made later when the rifles were once again altered to M38 pattern. Evidently when these rifles were first converted from M91's, some of the original M91 stocks were worn or damaged so as to be unsuitable for conversion to carbine stocks. One theory to explain this odd lineage of conversion to the more modern M44 carbine and then reconversion to the older M38 pattern is that the arms were first intended for war reserve as an infantry carbine (the M44), but that later it was decided to issue them to units which did not wish to maintain a bayonet capability such as a Policing agency. At this time, however, these theories remain speculation.

    One thing that is certainly true is that the workmanship employed during the remanufacture of these rifles into M91/38 carbines is well above the workmanship typically seen in most WW2 era Soviet crabines. The bolts are usually better polished and the wood carefully fitted. They also have a reputation for shooting very well if the bore is in acceptable condition. Bore condition does vary gretly however, as the donor rifles would have run the spectrum in that regard before being reworked.

    Naturally, virtually any maker of the Imperial M91 can be encountered as an M91/38 carbine, including Tula, Izhevsk, Chatellerault, Sestroryetsk, Remington, and New England Westinghouse. Sometimes the collector can even encounter Cossack marked barrels and capture marked receivers or barrels. Austrian capture markings seem to be the most commonly encountered on M91/38 carbines.

    Mechanically, an M91/38 carbine functions identically to a Soviet produced M38 carbine. The sights are direct copies of a late-war Soviet sight assembly. Essentially these carbines offer the Mosin carbine enthusiast the opportunity to meld the production quality and milled parts of a pre-WW1 Imperial Mosin with the design characteristics of the often crudely made Soviet era carbine.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. Collectors should consider the relative rarity of the M91/38 carbine when contemplating a purchase. If one is encountered, it is unlikely that a second will be found in short order. Unfortunately, this uncommonality makes conclusions difficult to draw about the weapon and its history. A few even more uncommon examples have surfaced on internet forums still wearing their M44 bayonet assemblies. Such a carbine must certainly be treated as an even rarer find.

    Given that the donor rifles often lived long service lives prior to being converted to carbine length, it is common to find a variety of serial number fonts on the marked parts. On the example rifle virtually every serialized part is struck in a different font. This suggests either several refurbishments throughout the history of the firearm before becoming an M91/38, or possibly that the factory that conducted the conversion applied serial numbers to the parts at different workman's stations using different stamp sets.

    Observations by the author are that about half of the M91/38 carbines encountered have the bolt bodies neatly electro-pencilled to match the receiver, though generally the floorplates and buttplates are stamped matching. The remainder will have stamped serial numbered bolt bodies. Additionally, the barrel bands are generally encountered without maker's markings which is not typical of Soviet manufacture. It is still difficult to draw conclusions about these carbines at this time due to the limited numbers available for study.

    One advantage to the low production is that many vendors are not knowledgeable about these carbines, and thus they can sometimes be sold as a regular M38. The collector should maintain a careful watch for such a find as most sellers who are aware of the M91/38's designation and rarity will charge a hefty premium for such a carbine.

    Finally, collectors should be aware that the M91/38 cabine is not the same as the M91/59 carbine shortened from M91/30 infantry rifles. The easiest way to readly differentiate the two is that the M91/59 will be converted from an M91/30, not an M91, and will have an M91/30 rifle length sight with the graduations from 1000m to 2000m neatly milled off the sight leaf, while an M91/38 carbine will have a true carbine length rear sight assembly.
    ........... (Feedback by "Claven2")
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1909 M91/38 Mosin Nagant Carbine started by Badger View original post
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