I thought I might address this post to the pepper community. There's always a lot of talk within that community about having a solid bolt-action rifle as a hunting gun or an adjunct to the AR-15 platform carbine, which should of course be the first long gun purchase. Somehow, that discussion invariably returns to a Mosin Nagant as the ideal choice. I once got a long lecture on how the Mosin was not only the equal of model rifles, but surpassed them in many ways, so the smart move was to buy an inexpensive Mosin and "build it up."
The person pointed me to the now huge Mosin aftermarket — stocks, bent bolts and custom knobs, accurizing, triggers, barrels, sights, magazines, scope mounts, rails, etc.
Okay, color me confused. As a fan and owner of custom rifles, I'd have to say that all the Mosin stuff is indeed cool. and you can build up really neat custom rifle. Plus I understand the appeal of old military guns...my father spent many many happy hours building up a couple of Swedish 6.5 X 55 Mausers and one really ugly Turkish Mauser, which he kept in the 8mm Turk caliber.
But that's all about building a custom rifle, not having a good bolt gun around for hunting or back-up self-defense uses. Yes, you can still find Mosins on the cheap — $169 at Cabelas, for instance, or Classic Firearms selling them by the crate for $180 a pop per gun. Or pick one up on Gunbroker.com for maybe less. But after you spend the money to soup it up, you're approaching the $1K or above number.
If I was in the market for a good, inexpensive bolt gun, I'd have to take a long hard look at CDNN's July sale on Ruger Americans — .308s at a penny under $300, with scope mounts; a black 30-06 for roughly $280. We had one of the 30-06s in Africa a couple of years ago, and it was a workhorse gun. I would take the .308, shop around for a good scope in the $150-200 range (there are plenty from all the major manufacturers) and go from there.