The Vault

Bannerman .30-06 Mosin Nagant (Video)

According to internet wisdom, today’s video should have been cut short by a rifle exploding in my face…but you’ll have to watch it to see if that actually happened. Okay, the fact that I’m still here writing this is probably a pretty solid clue that it didn’t…

Today I’m taking a look at a Mosin Nagant converted to .30-06 caliber in the early 1920s by Francis Bannerman & Sons. They were a huge surplus arms and equipment company for many decades – the Century International Arms of their time, in some ways. They bought a bunch of surplus Remington and New England Westinghouse Mosin Nagant rifles as surplus after WWI, and converted many of them to .30-06 for the American hunting market. While a military rifle that was sporterized yesterday has little remaining value, these Bannerman guns are old enough that they have acquired newfound collector status as an interesting curio of the 1920s.

Common legend is that these is particularly unsafe, but I think that is significantly exaggerated. I wouldn’t run hot 220 round-nose loads through one, but I think mild ammo is just fine (if you own one of these, you can make your own decision about firing it or not). Anyway, let’s take a look, and see what the characteristics of the Bannerman conversions are…

For more about Bannerman and their Mosin-Nagant conversions, I recommend reading Kevin Carney’s article at MosinNagant.net.

25 comments to Bannerman .30-06 Mosin Nagant (Video)

  • Steve

    I love seeing commercial conversions of rifles such as this, any chance of showing off a Blindee Mosin Nagant in 7.92×57, or a Geha shotgun in the future?

  • eric

    why didn’t they just produce the 7,62 x 54r? a lot easier than all the work they have done on these ones.

    • Leszek Erenfeicht

      That’s a good question – but remember that before WW2 US ammunition industry generally did not manufactured ANY foreign calibers, as a rule. Some 9 mm were manufactured for thousands of Lugers war souvenirs, and that’s about it. The “exotic” military rounds were introduced only in the last years before WW2 and mostly for foreign contracts. Good example is the Winchester 7.62x54R made for Finland, but mostly not delivered after Finland joined the Axis, and supplied to Dutch East India (!) for use in Hotchkiss Mle 1914s Bannermann-converted to the Russian cartridge. Now that’s a combination:
      American made Russian cartridge ordered by Finland send to Dutch East India (now Indonesia) to fight the Japanese invasion :)
      So getting back to your question: ammunition availability is king. As the British did not ordered ammunition (they manufactured the 7.62x54R in England) only rifles, no surplus of Russian ammunition was available. Manufacturing costs of the totally new type of ammo, doing nothing better than the .30-06 (both bullets are very similar ballistically) readily available for peanuts from post WW1 surplus were prohibitive – seems much more than reworking the rifles.

      • fgd135

        The US had tens of thousands of cases of 7.62x54r left over after WW1, and they were sold thru the NRA and DCM for the price of $5 per thousand rounds. A brand new (unaltered) M1891 rifle could be also purhcased thru the DCM for $2.90, plus shipping. According to an article in the American Rifleman, December 1928, the Russian rifles had sold out. Bannerman advertised his conversions as early as 1926 or 1927, according to catalogs I have seen.

      • Magus

        Remington, Winchester, Western and US Cartridge all made 7.62x54R during WW1, and based on the 1920 headstamps I’ve seen Western continued to make them at least briefly after the war. You’d think that between the brief US military use of Mosin-Nagants for training, National Guard, etc. and the subsequent surplussing out of them, there’d have been enough of a market to keep the production line open. But I guess the market was just weird in those days.

  • Leszek Erenfeicht

    Very nice video, and miracolously matching my writing schedule – I just finished a story on Mosin rifles up to 1918 for my parent Polish gun magazine.
    The first to make a similar coversion were the Germans during the WW1, when after they ceased to win great victories in the East and were left with over 1 million captured Mosins – but with no ammo for them. For a spell they manufactured their own ammuminition, but the demand for the 8×57 was insatiable and the production capabilities of ammunition factories were used up. So, despite manufacturing modest amounts of German 7.62x54R, they started to convert captured Russian rifles to the 8×57. One salient difference between German WW1 and Polish interwar Mosin conversions to 8×57 and the Bannermann’s is the wooden filler piece glued into the stock to fill the gap when barrel was shortened.
    As for the US manufacture of Mosin rifles: it was not the Russians who arranged for it, it was the British. UK gave Russia a huge war credit in December 1914, part of which was used to buy rifles, that both the Brits and the Russians were lacking. At first these were 650 000 Japanese Arisaka rifles and 300 000 Winchester 1895s Muskets converted to Russian cartridge, then in 1915 contracts were signed – again, by the British – with two US companies, New England Westinghouse (NEW) and Remington. Four contracts for a total of 3 million rifles were signed, and Remington, who simultanously got a British contract for 2.5 mln Enfield P14s and 2 milion French Berthier rifles, had to build a new factory from the scratch to catch up with the schedule. Remington hired a freshly retired US Army Ordnance General, one John Taliaferro Thompson, to manage the project – and in 1916 the new plant, in Eddystone, PA, was up and running.
    The Mosin production was a nightmare from the start, as the documentation and jigs supplied by the Russians were a curious mix of the oldest model infantry rifle, as manufactured in France in 1893 (Chatellerault) with the Dragoon Model 1891 with all modifications introduced since. Both sets of drawings were in foreign languages, Russian and French, the drawings had to be redrawn to American standard, then when first parts were manufactured, they didn’t match, and couln’t be assembled into a working rifle. After some 1500 alterations were introduced (each had to be allowed as far as Petrograd, the head of the Russian acceptance committee was too small a figure to allow them), it was already late 1916. As for the numbers reaching Russia before the Bolshevik revolution and the separate peace with Germany, NEW sent out to London (where from they were exported to the destination in Russia) 600 000 out of 1 million manufactured, and out of these 470 000 actually reached Russia before the separate peace. The remaining 400 000 were retained by the NEW to enforce paying the bill by the English, who were very reluctant to do so. The lacking 130 000 NEW Mosins was send from England with the intervening troops, and supplied to the Whites.
    Of the Remington order 870 000 rifles were shipped before the Bolshevik revolution, and the US govt took only remaining 280 000, and only Remingtons (don’t know where you found these “2 million” taken over by the Uncle Sam – there were more or less that amount manufactured at all). The most curious was the fate of the lacking 400 000 NEW Mosins: at the end of the war, these were packed in boxes and stored in the attic of the NEW Bridgeport plant. Stored – and promptly… forgotten weapons :-) These were found again only in late 1920s, when the Bridgeport NEW plant was demolished, and taken over by Bannermann’s. Hence the NEW conversions, as only Remingtons were ex-US Property. Not all of these were converted, and Bannermann kept selling them throughout the 1930s – the remnants of the non-converted ones were sold to Finland in 1940…

    • John D.

      Leszek -

      American (and Canadian) engineering drawings use a different projection for the three dimensions of a part; this is why all European drawings are redrafted when an American or Canadian factory undertakes the manufacture of a European-designed part. Nowadays, the projection conversion can be performed at the touch of a button in the typical CAD program, but this was a never ending source of aggravation into the late 1990′s.

      The Pattern 14, Number 4 Mark I, and other firearms made for England were ensnared in this situation, as was the Inglis High Power and Bren gun.. It was also responsible for most of the problems producing decent FAL (T48) rifles at H&R after the war.

      My U.S. ammunition catalogues show both Remington and Winchester producing 7.62x54mmR from 1920 up to the present day. I have Remington 7.62x54mmR cartridges from the early 1930′s in my collection. A fair number of the American made Moisin’s were sold cheaply in the American mail order market after WW I.

      • MG

        The drawing difference is called “1st angle projection” versus “3rd angle projection”. The information is the same, it’s just a different convention followed when “projecting” the views.

        By the way, it’s not the case that *all* drawings get converted, at least not in Canada. In many cases companies don’t bother as it’s easier to just train people on the differences between the drawing conventions than it is to keep two sets of drawings. Also, many people who aren’t familiar with drafting can often work with both types of drawings and not realize that the differences exist! Although it’s true as you said, these days 3D CAD has made traditional “drafting” obsolete and replaced it with solid modelling, so the drawings are now made automatically.

        The more important reasons for re-drawing were three-fold. First, differences in units (imperial versus metric) can be critical. This was particularly the case in the days when measuring equipment and machine tool scales were precision mechanical elements, unlike today where electronic scales change modes at the push of a button. Someone needed to convert all the dimensions, so that means a new drawing. That’s less often a problem these days since today most serious mechanical engineering gets done in metric anyway.

        Second, if there are purchased components such as screws, pins, springs, etc. involved, the “original design” components may not be readily available to the new manufacturer if he is located on another continent. In that case the drawings must be re-done to reflect the new purchased components and any changes in other pieces which must be made to accommodate them. Again, “globalisation” has made that less of an issue now.

        Thirdly, and this is probably the most important, in “the old days”, drawings were often viewed as a general guide rather than an absolute standard. It was not unusual for tooling to be modified on the spot by toolmakers to make the thing work (because the “as drawn” design didn’t) without updating the master drawings. The toolmakers may update their tool room copy, but “toss it over the transom” engineering practices meant that those changes never made it to the master drawings. Getting a set of drawings from an existing source was usually an adventure as there were often a lot of important things that were not on paper. If you were lucky you could get some of the original toolmakers to come to your plant temporarily to help you to start up. If not, you were in for a hard time.

        I said this was common in “the old days”, but it still happens occasionally today. The main reason it’s less common today is that now people want the CNC cutter paths to make tooling from the CAD model so they push harder to get the drawings updated.

        By the way, I was involved as a third party with a project for a major American manufacturer (who will remain nameless) who had converted their product drawings from the traditional bi-lateral tolerances to the newer GD&T system. After a while they found themselves assembling their products with sledgehammers! According to their drawings, everything should fit. According to their measurements, all the parts were correct. Their design engineers, QC people, and equipment experts couldn’t find the problem. There were many high level meetings over the issue. This went on for months or more. I heard about the problem and was curious, so I had a look at their drawings and found that they had used GD&T incorrectly and it was possible to have “in-spec” parts that wouldn’t go together.

        So, if you got some late 19th century drawings from a Russian factory and didn’t expect problems, you had yourself to blame for that.

        • MG

          Oh, I forgot to add another problem with paper drawings, and that is with very complex parts it was physically impossible to show all the relevant dimensions on the drawing itself. Instead, someone would make a wooden model of the part and *that* would be the “true” reference. You then either needed a copying machine to transfer those dimensions to steel tooling or you needed to make a *lot* of measurements with a height gauge and do it by hand.

          3D solid modelling CAD has made wooden models obsolete these days, but it used to be that without the actual models you couldn’t do much. There would normally be only one model, and since it was irreplaceable, getting critical dimensions could be difficult. In later times people would digitize the models with CMMs, but you only got whatever paths someone felt was practical to measure, not the full surface.

          I don’t know if models were relevant to Mosin rifles (probably not, except perhaps for the stock), but they were used for complex stampings and moulded parts well into the 1980s.

          • fgd135

            Typically, for firearms production, “pattern” rifles and component parts would be supplied to set up proper tooling and fixtures. This is one of the reasons for delays in the American MN production, in both plants, as Russian-supplied pattern rifles did not match dimensionally with drawings and gauges that were also supplied by the Russians, and had to go thru a laborious approval process to enable production to begin.

  • fgd135

    I don’t know where “Lescek” got his information, but there is no evidence that Francis Bannerman ever sold rifles to Finland, or that 400,000 were suddenly discovered “stored in the attic of the NEW Bridgeport plant”. I’d love to see his references for that.

    In the meantime, Bannerman converted some of his acquired Mosins to .30-06, both infantry and “carbine” versions, probably due to the availability of .30-06 in the US marketplace.

    There is a good article in American Rifleman “America’s Russian Fascist Rifles”, July 1992, page 42, in which the author discusses in detail the use of the .30-06 Bannerman, esp shooting the long infantry conversion.
    http://www.readabstracts.com/Travel-recreation-and-leisure/Americas-Russian-fascist-rifles-The-all-American-pump.html

  • Matt

    Great post, combined two of my favorite things, Bannermann’s and Mosin-Nagants.

  • Robert

    Thanks for the great video! I’ve always found the Bannerman Conversions to be an interesting bit of history.

  • fgd135

    The rear sight on your video’s conversion is not original to the conversion. Bannermans sold the converted rifle only with the original military rear sight. Yours was replaced at some point with a folding Lyman-type rear sight, and the original was removed. Reference any Bannerman’s catalog where the rifle is shown.

  • Keith

    A silly historical question?

    Who was the politician who decided that Remmington and Westinghouse were “Too big to fail”? and that the hard pressed tax payer (recently screwed over with the war bonds that even Woodrow Wilson had advised his own mother never to buy) should be generous?

    Even if I take the dollar value of gold when Tricky Dicky departed from Bretton Woods ($32 / oz) and use that as a rough guage of inflation, we’re looking at the United state .gov paying roughly what ARs have been going for in the recent frenzy – ouch!

    • fgd135

      You’re asking much too complex a question, and it’s couched in political ideology from 2013, not from 1918. Briefly, Remington was needed to continue manufacture of other small arms for the US in WW1, such as the M1917 (Enfield). New England Westinghouse did go into receivership, but it’s assets, i.e. factory space and equipment, were purchased and converted to manufacture Browning machine guns for the US.
      The purchase of the the undelivered M1891 rifles by the US not only allowed the companies to pay workers, and pay for materials, but also to expand production for US small arms.
      Do a little research into the New England Westinghouse company, on Google, for example, and you will find much contemporary information about the Russian contracts, receivership, etc. The New York Times, among others, has excellent archival information on line.

    • MG

      Most countries consider their arms manufacturers to be strategic resources and tools of diplomacy. Bailing them out might be expensive, but losing a war because you didn’t have arms was even more costly.

      If the F-35 fighter project continues on it’s current downward spiral, don’t be surprised to see Lockheed-Martin getting bailed out, either with a direct cash injection, or by being granted some other very lucrative contract as a consolation prize. It’s the reality of the arms industry today just as much as it was then.

      • Magus

        They should just can the F-35 before even more money gets wasted, and give Lockheed Martin the consolation prize of reopening production of the actually-functional F-22.

  • P161911

    I need to go look at the Remington made Mosin Nagant that I inherited again to see if the barrel has been cut down at the breech and to see if the magazine had been modified. It has a similar bolt and the stock has been cut down in a similar manner. However the really odd thing is the rim that is supposed to hold the cartridge in place on the bolt had been turned down. Also, mine has a different front sight. I think grandpa might have tried to sporterize this thing, but I’m not sure. I have never fired it due to the strange bolt. The sling holes in the stock have brass plates in place. I’ll have to look again, I seem to remember Finnish SA markings too. Luckily grandpa never got around to modifying the Remington M1917 rifle I got from him.

  • AMX

    I just had a possibly-insane idea:
    Could the issue with the possibly not well enough supported chamber be addressed by converting the gun to .308 Winchester, using a chamber insert like on the Navy Garand?
    So the thin-walled part would “only” support the front of the chamber insert, rather than taking all the pressure “on its own…”

    • fgd135

      Working pressures for the 7.62x54r and older .30-06 loads are significantly less than .308 Win or 7.62 Nato, I don’t think pushing an action designed for 45,000 psi loads for a 55,000psi cartridge is very smart.

  • Tim G.

    I’m assuming these conversion weren’t the most accurate rifles with .308 diameter 30-06 bullets going down a .310-.311 bore.

  • Magus

    Any chance of a video on the 7.62x54R Winchester 1895 lever-guns?

  • Andrew Marcell

    The M91 was converted to 8×57 by the newly formed Polish Army I think in the 1920s.. I do not know their service history but I have handled and fired one with military ball ammo. It kicked harder than an M91 but was accurate and the conversion well done. This seems to be the rule with Polish weapons. I agree that the Bannerman conversions are safe with mild commercial ammo. I think the risk as the same as the low numbered Springfield 03s or late War Japanese Type 99s.

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