Building the budget scout rifle I’ve always wanted.
I have always loved the idea of a scout rifle. A light, quick handling rifle with low power optics chambered in a cartridge powerful and accurate enough to be effective out to 200-300 yards. The issue with most off the shelf scout rifles, is the price. With both the Ruger Gunsite Scout and Steyr Scout being $800+ before optics, that put them far outside my price range for a new dad like myself.
One of the best things about working in a gun shop is seeing all the new guns before they go on the shelf for sale. I hadn’t given much thought to building a scout rifle until someone brought an old beat up Mosin Nagant 91/30 in for trade. Most people see an old surplus rifle, I saw a building block. I bought the old Mosin and went home and started looking online at the various aftermarket parts available. From the bottom up I knew I wanted a new stock, trigger and optics with a way to mount them.
Starting with the stock, I had to replace the old laminate stock with something smaller and with better lines(also cheap!). The ATI Monte Carlo stock fit the bill perfectly. I found one on amazon.com for less than $60. The next item I ordered was my trigger. As most of you probably own a Mosin or two, you know the trigger is awful. I’ve been using a Timney trigger on my precision rifle for years and have never had a single issue. The reviews for the Timney were also positive so I ordered one of those too.
This is where things got interesting.The trigger installed easily with no problems in less than a five minutes. When I went to install the barreled action into the new stock, thats where the problems arose. The ATI stock is inletted for the standard Mosin trigger and NOT for the Timney with it’s large block and Remington 700 style safety. I expected a little sanding and fitting, but that’s not what I had. I ended up having the remove the entire area in front of where the trigger goes through the stock to the cut out for the magazine housing and 1/4″ to 1/2″ on the inside walls of the stock to make clearance. Being on a budget and not owning a Dremel tool at the time, I had to get creative with how I went about this. As anyone that has ever build a 1911 from parts will tell you, you will have to assemble and disassemble the gun several times to check for clearances. The two main clearance issues I ran across were the ejector/feed interrupter and the safety. The safety was getting pinched and wouldn’t move. The feed interrupter would stay pressed in and wouldn’t allow rounds the be pushed up to be chambered. If I had to go this route again, I don’t know if I’d go with the ATI stock, but I figure I’d have these fitting issues no matter what stock I chose.
I’m glad I went with the 91/30 instead of the already short M38/M44 for one reason. And that is how I planned to mount my optics. There are several scope mounts available for the Mosin, but most of them are terrible. The work by replacing the rear sight leaf and installing a Weaver/Picatinny mount in it’s place with a pin and and set screw. Not only does it look goofy, but it also raises the scope level up to the point that you almost have to hold your cheek off the stock. I could have drilled and tapped the receiver for a mount, but being on a budget, this also wasn’t an option. After doing some reading, I found out something pretty cool. The rear sight on a 91 and 91/30 is on and 3/8″ dovetail and pinned in place. On the M38/M44 the rear sight base is not removable. You may read this and say, “So!”. The reason this is good is because most of the airgun and .22 rimfire dovetails are 3/8″ and there are numerous optics mounts available already. The way you remove the base is the tap out the low front pin and the drift the rear sight base forward toward the muzzle. I first bought a 3/8″ to 7/8″ Weaver adapter. This worked, but I ran into the problem I was trying to avoid. It raised the centerline of my scope too far for me to be useful. Then I found a 3/8″ mount that had the scope rings built in and this worked perfectly. With all this sorted, it was time to shorter the overall length of the rifle.
The Mosin 91’s are known for the very long barrels. A 31-1/2″ barrel is far too long to have on a scout rifle, so I had to cut it. This is very straight forward. Find where you want to cut, mark and cut. Just remember that anything under 16″(measured from the bolt face) is not legal with out the proper paperwork and tax stamp. I decided to go with 18″ but 20″ would have worked well too. To cut, anything that will cut metal will work, but the cleaner the cut, the less finishing you’ll have to do when it comes to cutting the crown. Also, keep its as square as possible too. My friend has a new fancy cutoff saw and it worked just as advertised. The only “hard” part is cutting the crown. The muzzle is the last thing the bullet touches and the bullet leaves the barrel and any imperfection will cause your rifle to shoot badly. I advise investing in or renting a quality crown cutting reamer. There are several profiles to choose from, but I went with a 11° crown. Use plenty of oil and don’t turn the reamer backwards. After the cutting is done, use a file to round the outside edges and check for burrs.
The optics I chose are probably not the best, but being on a budget, it works well enough and it was cheap. We had a guy bring in a slightly used .44 mag revolver to the shop with a scope. Knowing the revolver would sell better without the scope, we removed it. Having already started this project and needing a scope, I bought it. It is a Burris 3-12x handgun scope. I would rather have used a dedicated 2-7x scout scope with a tad shorter eye relief and I may do so later on and use this scope for something else.
Having completed it to this point, I figured it need some paint. Cerakoat is awesome and I would have loved to have used it for this project, but come on, it’s a $100 beater Mosin. Hopped in the car, headed to Wal-Mart and got a can each of OD green and flat black. Taped of what I didn’t want painted and after a few coats, it turned out pretty good if I say so myself.
And I’m done. Or at least I thought I was. Surfing around on YouTube, I came across a guy named Bryan Cathey and his channel Riflemods ( http://goo.gl/5zJrQt ). Mr. Cathey designed an amazing Mosin 10rd magazine. I started following him on there for a while as he showed his progress in the design. When they became available for order and I had enough money, I ordered it. I will start out by saying that it is not cheap. BUT having seen how much time and energy he has devoted to making it right, I understand the price tag. The mags are $150 shipped. I know some of you are saying that is more than you payed for your rifle. Yes it is, but once you open the box and look at the quality and the engineering that went it to, you’ll understand too.
The magazine is a hinged design that replaces the bottom floor plate on the stock Mosin’s box magazine and requires that you still top load . You can still use your stripper clips as usual. The kit includes the box magazine, extended spring and an extended catch/release. Very high quality materials were used and does not feel cheap or flimsy at all. With the matte black oxide finish, it looks like the gun would have come from the factory with this on it. Other than sticking out the bottom, it has the same style as the rest of the rifle. The installation is very straight forward, but if you need help, there is a video on his YouTube channel that walks through the whole process in detail. I’ve had it installed for a little while now and have cycled several rounds through it and have had no issues as of yet.
I plan to get to the range this week and do some more load development and I’ll either add to this article or create a new one. As being a big cast bullet shooter, as part of this project, I planned to shoot mostly all cast through it, and the results I’ve had thus far have been very promising. As a whole the project has been a lot of fun and I ended up with a pretty nice rifle. No, the fit and finish are nowhere near that of the Ruger Gunsite Scout, but not including the scope, I’ve spent approx. $385 . I think that’s very reasonable for what set out to do and what I got in return.
What things in the firearms industry would you like me to review or talk about? I’m getting back into writing articles after over a year off. I would like to know what you the readers would like to see. Leave me a comment below. Thanks.
Sorry for the crappy pictures. I’ve not a camera guy like Hunter!
ACME Bullet Company INC
1052 East Harden St.
Graham, NC 27253