Build Review: Archangel conversion for the Mosin-Nagant Rifle
After buying so many Mosin Nagant rifles over the years, I’ve grown a fondness for their no-nonsense approach. Bolt action, simple wood stocks, nothing really to go wrong. They fire the powerful and cheap 7.62X54R round and the rifles themselves are commonly found in the $100-150 range. As a C&R holder, I can get them shipped right to my house. Why wouldn’t anyone love the mighty Mosin?
That said, the downfall to these relics is that the wood stocks begin to disintegrate over time. If you keep them clean and don’t use them a lot, they can last a while, but if you get weekly use out of your Mosin (as I do), you’ll find that the stocks cheap easily and they start to rot after a while. Even if your stock is in great shape, you may want your trusty Mosin to be sporterized (read: modern) and dropping in a poly stock is a relatively easy way to do that. Sure, it’s taking a $100 rifle and adding a $150 stock to make a.. well, not a $250 rifle. But, if you like the slick lines and increased functionality of a modern hunting rifle with the predictable and powerful nature of the Mosin-Nagant, the folks at Archangel Manufacturing have your number.
The AA9130 kit from Archangel is a combination of looks, functionality and price that is hard to miss. On the looks end, the clean lines of the polymer buttstock look like something out of a future weapon, yet fit the Mosin like a glove. The kit works with pretty much any Mosin pattern rifle you can imagine, though the one I built is the tried and true (and very common Mosin 91/30). These are also supposed to work with the Mosin–Nagant M91 Dragoon, Mosin–Nagant M07 Carbine, Mosin–Nagant M91/30 PU Sniper, Mosin–Nagant M38 Carbine, Mosin–Nagant M44 Carbine and the Mosin–Nagant M59 Carbine. While the futuristic look and the move from a wood furniture to black polymer makes the gun look mean, my favorite part of this upgrade was the move to 5 and 10 round drop-in magazines. These single stack magazines are easy to load, easy to feed and once they wear in a bit, easy to unload. The first few times I put them in, I played hell wiggling them out. Now that I’ve put some rounds through it and changed mags a dozen times, it’s smooth as butter.
So, on to the build.
You will need the following tools to do this:
- Flat heat screwdriver
- Vice grips or pliars
- A pin punch or center punch with a head small enough fit the front site’s base
- A small hammer
- Gun oil and cleaning kit (not necessary, but makes things way easier)
- A bench vice (again, not necessary, but that makes this a lot easier when you are working with things like the forward grip rings)
Start by laying out both your source rifle and your new stock side by side. This will give you an idea of the size and what you’ll be putting where, as well as give you a chance to unpack the little bag of new screws (you will discard the old ones) and other goodies that come with your kit.
Start by removing the bolt. To do this, unlock the bolt, slide it back as far as you can and then press the trigger with one hand while pulling the bolt backward. The bolt should go from a locked back position to a free sliding position into your hand. Once out, you can see where the trigger assembly catches the bolt, and why this is such a simple operation to do.
Next, you will need to remove the foregrip rings that hold the top and bottom of the wood foregrips together. These are held on by compression and these little metal lips. I’ve included a closeup of the lips for you to see.
As I did this, I found that using a pair of vice grips to carefully (assuming you want to save your old stock and your bands) hold down and lock the indention into place. This gives the ring somewhere to go. Starting with the right closest to your forward site, use a flathead to shimmy the ring over the metal retention piece, using a rocking back and forth action at the top and bottom of the stock. This will loosen the ring and allow you to eventually slide it down with your fingers toward the front site.
You will repeat this action with the ring closest to your trigger and bolt. Same idea, pushing down the retention piece with the vice grips and working the flathead so the band moves forward toward the business end of the rifle.
Once you have the rings free from tension and slid down, you will notice that they get hung up on the forward sight. While you can twist the bands to unsnap them, I found it’s a lot easier to just remove the forward sight.
Using a punch and a hammer, place the punch head at the base of the site (where it connects to the barrel) and tap it lightly a few times to dislodge it. You may want to hit it with some PB Blaster if it’s really on there, but I found a few persuasive wacks pulled it free.
With the rings free and the forward sight removed, the top piece of wood easily detaches. Set this aside, along with the sight and the rings. You will use the sight again. The stocks and accompanying hardware don’t sell for much, but you can probably get $20-30 for a complete stock from a Mosin collector, or you can always hold onto it as a backup for your other Mosins, right?
Now that you’re dealing solely with the lower wooden stock and the barrel/trigger assembly, flip the gun onto it’s top and, using your flathead screwdriver, remove the bottom bolt from in front of the trigger guard. It should rotate smoothly out. Be sure your rifle is well supported on a flat surface, as there are only two screws holding this stock to the assembly and this is the first.
Once the lower screw is removed, locate the second screw (again, a flat head) and remove it. This will be right behind where you pulled your bolt assembly free, meeting up to the top of the wood stock.
Once these bolts are removed, set them aside. You will not be reusing them for this installation, but they should stay with the stock. When I put them back in, I secured them with a zip tie so they would stay together for whatever future plans I have for the old wood stock.
With all of your parts disassembled, you will have something that looks kind of like this on your work area:
Now is a very good time to do a thorough cleaning and oiling of the parts going back in to the Archangel. The barrel and receiver are probably showing their age and could use a good scrubbing with some Dawn and hot water, followed by some rifle oil. I liberally coated mine and worked the bolt back and forth while I had it apart. I lubed up the outside as well so it would slide easily into the stock.
Examine your parts bag. The piece on the left is a foreward clamp that may or may not be needed to improve the groupings of your rifle. The manufacturer includes it but says it’s optional. I left mine out as, from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t do much for accuracy. The two screws you will be using. The sling mount is optional. I, once again, chose not to use it. Since the new screws are hex head, they have included the needed hex-head wrench with the hardware.
Holding your new Archangel stock firmly against your work surface, inspect the inside. You should see a black piece of plastic in the magazine well. You will want to tap this out with your flathead screw driver. Looks like it was put there during shipping to keep the mag well from cracking under pressure. It is an extra part.
Once the mag well is clear, set your Mosin barrel and action assembly on the new stock. Do not apply pressure. Simply sit it in place and look for any areas that might rub. Archangel mentions that most Mosins drop right in but some might need some material removed around the bolt intake or in other areas. This is where the lubing using gun oil comes in handy. With the oil in place, I was able to lightly tap the action and barrel into the stock using only the side of my hand. No tools, no prying and it all slide in nice and snug.
Note how the trigger slides in perfectly. For those wanting to do a trigger upgrade on their Mosin, now is a good time to do it. I like the stock triggers, especially with how worn in this one is, so I decided to stick with my stock trigger assembly.
Now that the trigger and the barrel are set, flip the gun over to expose the belly screw slot in front of the magazine well. Using the new screw, place it in the hole and tighten it a few turns. Do not tighten down all the way, as you may need to make adjustments.
With this screw in a few turns, flip the gun on to it’s belly and do the same with the top action screw. Again, 2-3 turns is enough. You just want it to stay in place.
This next part is critical for a tight fitting installation. Place the gun onto it’s buttstock and give it a light bump against the table. This will seat the barrel and trigger assembly, with your loosely fitted screws as guides. Now, using moderate force, tighten the hex heads down completely. I choose to do this 2-3 turns at a time, then the other screw, then back to the first. This will ensure and even and consistent tightness. Do not over tighten.
Before reloading the bolt or any magazines into the weapon, tap your front site back on the barrel. This is the same process as before, using a punch to push the site back in place with light hammer taps.
Now you are ready for final assembly. Replace the bolt in the opposite order of removing it. Hold the trigger in as you slide the bolt forward so it will catch properly.
Once the bolt is back in place, move it into the locked and then unlocked position several times. Now is a good time to oil it and work the bolt a few times to ensure the fit is tight and nothing is rubbing on the new stock.
With the bolt closed and locked forward, insert the magazine. The first time is going to be a little stiff. Rock the magazine tooth from forward to backward and push it in with your hand until you hear and feel the click. When loading magazines into the Archangel, you should always make sure the bolt is closed. This will keep the feed lips from jamming up. When firing the Mosin, discharge all rounds from the magazine and change the magazine for a fresh one with the bolt left closed. When you go to cycle a new round, your spent cartridge will eject and the new round will feed. If you do it with the bolt open, you risk the magazine not seating correctly and the round not cycling correctly.
A view from the top, bolt open, looking down into an empty magazine. The fit and finish on this kit is noteworthy.
Ammunition loads very easily into the magazines. Since they are single stacked, short and hold a heavy round, there’s not a lot of spring power needed to keep them in place. Each 5 and 10 round magazine loads the same and gives an assuring “click” with each round inserted. As noted above, the magazines get easier to take in and out after they’ve worn in a bit.
With the magazine inserted and the bolt closed, cycle the bolt backward and make note of the round being inserted into the chamber. It’s a very smooth operation and it’s obvious that the folks at Archangel put a lot of time into making sure this functions flawlessly.
Now that we’re all done, look at the Completed Archangel 91/30 compared to a stock Mosin 91/30. Quite a difference!
Now get out there and put some rounds though your new toy!