· Larry the Conservative
This pretty much said it all.How good are they? That depends on your definition of good. Few have the nice fit and finish and bluing jobs we have come to expect in guns these days. Most have see hard use and neglect in their long historical life.
Are they accurate? That would depend on the condition of the barrel. Some have had the crap shot out of them over the years. Many were rode hard and put away wet. Most have had a steady diet of corrosive ammo. These usually adds up to a barrel in mediocre condition and mediocre accruacy. If the barrel is in good shape or if its is rebarreled, they are quiet capable of producing some good groups down range and at a considerable distance! The barrel aint the only aspect of accuracy though. The bedding of the action in the stock and the quality of ammo used can make a profound difference as well.
Are they reliable? Are you kidding? These guns are built like a brick crap house! They were designed to operate in temperature extremes that would be challenging for many other designs. They were built to be used by conscripts and take the abuse they often dish out to guns due to a lack of training or just plain old neglect. Simple and Rugged are two adjectives that always have to be used when describing a Mosin. A Mosin will be still running after many other guns have given up the ghost.
Cheap as hell? Yes they are. Most have been used hard and put away wet. Thats why they are so cheap. The other reason is that a gazillion of them were made. Many can be cleaned up and spiffyed up. Some are in good enough shape that with some gunsmithing they can actually be superb shooters and look rather nice doing so. Finding a good one that will require minimal work to reach that level will be hard to do. These guns have been on the market for a while. A lot of the surplus has diminished considerably. They used to be as cheap as 39.00 with ones in nice shape going for about 59.00. Those days are long gone! There are still a few good ones out there to be had though. Even a ho-hum condition Mosin is a decent shooter. Makes a great truck gun. Just dont expect to win a 1000 yard match anytime soon unless you put way more into it than its worth from a cost perspective point than most are willing to spend. Its very comparable in ballistics to the 30-06 and few will challenge the 30-06's ability to take a deer, elk, black bear or moose at reasonable ranges. There is still a good bit of those tuna cans of ammo out there real cheap. A number of European ammo makers are offering some pretty good modern loads suitable for hunting as well at pretty reasonable prices too.
While your BSing, I think the next time I walk into Cabelas and they have those arsenal refinished sporterized Mosin's for a song and dance, I just might pick one up even though they seem to be priced about as cheap as some of the entry level bolt actions with tons of plastic parts are new...and I need another gun about like I need a bullet in the head! If your truely on a budget and like to shoot often and a lot, then a Mosin just might be the ticket for you.