Book Review: Rifles of the Snow

Today’s book is really more of a pamphlet than a proper book, but it still serves well given its purpose. It is Rifles of the Snow by Doug Bowser and Powers Dunaway, and it is an introduction and basic handbook of Finnish military rifles – specifically Mosin Nagants. While Finland used a wide variety of rifles from many different countries during its wars with the Soviet Union, the bulk of its rifles were different flavors of Mosin Nagant. Finland never actually manufactured a Mosin receiver, instead using guns either purchased or captured. However, rather than using captured guns as-is, they typically overhauled and retrofitted captured Mosins to their own specifications. Between these and the pre-war purchased guns, the Finns have a handful of different models, which are easily confused by newcomers to the subject. Rifles of the Snow is a good quick reference to discern between the different models and interpret the markings which one will find on both pre-war and captured Finnish Mosins.

Unfortunately, the Rifles of the Snow is out of print, and I have not been able to find a commercial source that has it in stock – so this will have to remain one of those books to keep an eye out for at gun shows. If you can find a copy for a few bucks, grab it – it will be a very handy quick reference.


  1. I think this information is available on-line; maybe not all in the same place and free of the need for further verification, but all there none the less. I suppose that’s the point of a book like this but it’s out of print so not really sure where it fits given that there are multiple books containing the same or more information on Finnish rifles such as this digitized example I don’t really see the utility of this individual book for anyone who hasn’t already found themselves a copy.

  2. If you can find a copy of the Petersen Publishing book GUNS OF THE WORLD (1972) (magazine-format squarebound PB; it was reprinted in HB in 1996), on pp.280-285 you’ll find the article “The Moisin-Nagant Rifle In Finnish Service” by Harris R. Bierman. It has virtually everything you might want to know about Finnish service rifles from 1917 to the 1960s, with emphasis on the various Finish modifications of the Russian M1891 in all variants used by the Finnish Armed Forces. It’s illustrated with photos and diagrams of everything from front sight mount mods to searage alterations to even bayonets.

    The articles in the rest of the 394 page book are good, too.



  3. A really good web site for Mosin-Nagant aficionados that covers all aspects of the different types of M-N’s, including the Finnish models and sundry other details, is It is also a good source for Finnish-only rifles ( courtesy of “The Finnish Area” link ) as well Tokarev rifles. There is also a page on the home site that lists concisely — with the aid of very useful illustrations — the various manufacturers’ and arsenal stamps that are to be found. This makes for an excellent guide for hard-core collectors and neophytes alike. One could spend hours just going through all the available information and materials, so be warned and enjoy!

  4. Unka Doug is a regular contributor on the Yahoo C & R list…I have his book – apparently the 2nd edition – which is renamed “Rifles of the White Death” – I bought it before my stroke in 2002 – unfortunately this book is long since out of print – as is his other book, “Neutrality Through Marksmanship”, the story of the Swedish M94 & M96 Mausers…I’ve come to rely heavily on these books for my talks to the members of our collecting group in WPB, FL, on the subjects of both the M/N and the aforementioned Swedes. If you’re into the M/N this book is indispensable – loaded with illustrations of markings and other information and minutiae important to firearms historians and collectors such as ourselves If you can find one grab it, by all means…mine is not for sale!!!

    CB in FL

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