How to Use the Sights on a Mosin Nagant Rifle

Written by cassandra tribe
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How to Use the Sights on a Mosin Nagant Rifle
The rear sight is adjustable for distance and windage. (trigger image by Rick Sargeant from

Mosin Nagant rifles were an early form of repeating rifle used by the Russian Army. The rifle used an adjustable iron sight with a fixed front post sight and a rear adjustable sight. What makes the rear sight of the Mosin Nagant unusual (for its time) is that the rear sight was not only adjustable for windage (allowing you to move the sight from left to right), but also could be set for distance. You will need a brass punch made for adjusting sights when you use the sights on a Mosin Nagant rifle. With practice, you can set the sights quickly to handle any condition on the firing range.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paper shooting target
  • Mosin Nagant Rifle
  • Brass punch
  • Small hammer
  • Notepad and pen (if needed)

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  1. 1

    Set up your paper shooting target.

  2. 2

    Adjust the rear sight of your Mosin Nagant for the distance you will be shooting (from rifle to target). Pull the side locking pin out from the rear sight and slide the sight forward or back in the sight rack until it is lined up with the appropriate marked distance on the left side of the sight. The distance is marked in increments of 200 units. If you have a pre-1920 Nagant, the distance will be in arshini (200 arshini = roughly 142 meters, or 466 feet). Later Mosin Nagants began to use meters. Push the locking pin back in place.

  3. 3

    Fire three rounds at your paper target. Sight down the barrel of the Mosin Nagant, making sure that the post of the front sight is centred and even in the crotch of the rear open sight. You want the top of the front sight to bisect the target.

  4. 4

    Unload the rifle and collect your target. Look at the grouping of shots and determine if you need to move the rear sight to the left or right to adjust the windage to bring your shots closer to the centre of the target.

  5. 5

    Using a small hammer and brass punch, tap the base of the rear sight to move it to the left or right. Make your adjustments in small increments. Reload the rifle and fire another grouping and check the target to see if further adjustments are needed. Continue to do this until the rear sight has been adjusted enough to bring your groupings to the centre of the target.

  6. 6

    Adjust the elevation of your shooting by adjusting how you hold the front post of the sight on your target. To lower the grouping, for instance, hold the front sight slightly lower then the middle of the target when sighting on it.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep a shooter's book and note the adjustments made for terrain and weather each time. This will help train you so you will eventually be able to set your rear sight before you leave the house based upon your knowledge of the weather and where you will be shooting.
  • Do not use a punch made of any material other than brass to adjust your windage or you could wind up scratching the metal of the sight and damaging the value of your Mosin Nagant.

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