East German Mosins – or not…

One of the things that makes Mosin Nagant rifles particularly interesting to a lot of folks (myself included) is their tendentcy to appear in a vast number of conflicts all across the globe. Guns originally made in the US, France, and Russia wound up in all the Balkan nations, back in the US, Japan, Spain, Finland, and many other places. Tracing the paths some of these rifles have taken is a fascinating look back in time. Among these paths, one destination was East Germany – the DDR. For a long time, the general understanding among Mosin-Nagant collectors was that East German Mosins (as well as SKS rifles) were identified by a one-in-a-triangle marking:

triangle-1 Mosin refurb marking

Well, some research by a Russian collector named Ruslan Chumak has recently brought to light some new information about this marking and a bunch of others. In fact, it is a mark indicating that the rifle was refurbished by the 1871st ABV (Artillery Base for Ordnance) in the Moscow Military District – it has nothing to do with East Germany. It appears that the East German connection was first put in print by Lee Lapin in his Mosin-Nagant book, based on some similar marks that were used in the DDR on commercially produced guns. From there it became widely accepted, although some serious collectors remained skeptical, as rifles would occasionally surface with the /1\ marking which did not really make sense as being East German, like rifles with Balkan modifications. In addition the marking is never seen on any other known East German weapons, and it is seen on a lot of other Russian weapons (like the PPS-43).

Beyond just the /1\ marking, Mr. Chumak was able to positively identify several other arsenal refurb markings, which are commonly found on Mosins (you can download his full 480-page article in Russian here). Many of these markings have long been a mystery to collectors, and it is exciting to see them being slowly identified:

Mosin-Nagant refurb markings
Mosin-Nagant refurb markings