M44L: The Experimental Midlength Folding-Bayonet Mosin Nagant

Courtesy of The Mosin Crate, we have a Soviet “M44L” today. This was an intermediate length (24 inch barrel) pattern of the Mosin Nagant rifle with an M44-style permanently attached folding spike bayonet. Developed in 1944, it was intended to serve as a universal replacement for the Mosin Nagant rifles and carbines in service, but trials did not begin until after the German surrender in 1945 and the program was dropped.

Total production is not known, although the initial order was for 1,000 rifles in this infantry configuration plus 200 more without bayonets for use as snipers’ rifles. When development ceased, the existing guns were refurbished, put into storage, and eventually distributed with other Rosins as military aid to allied nations. This example was imported from Bulgaria by Century, and is imported marked by them as an “M44”. The term “M44L” has been adopted by the American collector community in lieu of knowing a proper Soviet designation for the pattern.

11 Comments

  1. It is fascinating that the Soviets finally got the memo that a 24 inch universal rifle was the way to go, only about 20 years too late to be of any use. They were late to the party on this, which is a shame, as a universal rifle would have been useful to them in 1941.

    I suppose that we are looking at this with the benefit of hindsight to some extent. No-one knew for sure the war with Germany would end in 1945. The USSR had also secretly agreed to go to war with Japan three months after the end of the war with Germany. This they did in August 1945. Again, no-one knew how long that war would last, so I can see why development of this rifle was thought to be worthwhile, but the end of both wars meant that further development was considered moot.

    It’s just a shame they did not come up with this one in 1930.

    • Indeed. I also wonder why they didn’t redesigned the stock along moderately modern lines (together with 24inch lenght) incorporating a semi-pistol grip, as the Finns did with their M39…

      • Perhaps someone decided not to change the basic tooling patterns. I mean, just think about it. “Why change it if it already works well enough?”

        • Yeah, probably… But the handling of the M39 is head and shoulders above any straight stock Mosin variant.

          • Ha-ha! Another candidate for the “last bolt rifle!” While the French had an all entirely “new” design in the MAS Mle. 1936, therefore the “last bolt-action rifle ever adopted by a great power,” we have the Finnish M/39 of which only five were available at the start of the Soviet-Finnish War/ Talvisota/ Winter War–and only ever assumed significant numbers in the 1941-1944 Continuation War alongside ordinary m/91s, captured 91-30s, and so on. The first m/39s had straight stocks, the semi-pistol grip was added a bit later, but became typical for them.

            The m/27 Pystykorva army rifle was a “short rifle.”
            In 1928 the Civil Guard adopted a short rifle.
            By 1935, the Finnish army wanted an even shorter rifle, which would have been a blaster quite like the Soviet M38 carbines or, for that matter, the 8×56-mmR Hungarian/Austrian/Bulgarian Repetier-Stutzen.

            So the army and Civil Guard compromise resulted in the M/39–heavy! Superbly accurate, but still a Mosin-Nagant action…Perhaps the epitome of “make lemonade” when life gives one lemons, no? If Mosin-Nagant, let it be M/39!

            Alexander Yuschenko’s 1891-30 portions of his Soviet small arms site indicates that the Soviets were amenable to various production short-cuts, like contemplation of button-rifling for example. In the 1920s the Russians went from an 819-mm barrel to a 730-mm barrel, or 3 1/2 inches. But why not 7 or 8 inches? By the 1940s of course, they went to 514-mm.

            The Italians had 780-mm (30.7-in.) for the ’91, 450-mm/18-in. for the moschetto, 530-mm/21-in. for the M38 under discussion by Mr. M’Collum, and then back to 692-mm/ 27-in. for the M91/41 we see here… So clearly, not everyone bought into the short rifle concept, or did so intermittently… Just curious about the whys.

          • “(…)not everyone bought into the short rifle concept, or did so intermittently…(…)”
            To enhance confusion after war certain amount of Mosin rifles remained in Poland. There it was decided that Mauser system weapon would become default infantry weapon, nonetheless acknowledging that this can be accomplished immediately, they also starting crafting carbines from Mosin rifles, which resulted in Karabinek wz. 91/98/23:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karabinek_wz._91/98/23
            main change was cutting barrel to 600 mm length, changing caliber to 7,9 x 57 mm cartridge and changing bayonet interface to accept German knife.

  2. Spacibo!

    Excellent overview.
    Alexander Yuschenko’s reference site on Soviet small arms indicates that possibly 5.5k of this prototype were manufactured and 19.5k of the full-length 91/30 with permanently attached folding-type Semin bayonet:
    https://www.m9130.info/models-guide

    The “Goldie Locks and the Russian bears” Mosin-Nagant vintovka: “The 91/30 is tooo long…The M44 is tooo short… This vintovka, 1100-mm or 43.3″ long, just shy of 57 inches with the bayonet fixed for closing with the fascist beast in his lair, 8-lbs.13oz. just shy of 9 pounds, is just right!”

    If the USSR had had this rifle, they would have won WWII! Oh. Um, I guess they did anyway. Never mind….

    Awesome and informative Forgotten Weapons episode!

  3. Alexander Yuschenko of m9130.info might be able to provide the original Soviet or Russian designation for the M44L.If anyone has access to that sort of in-depth information, he would.

    • Earl, considering this modification was not officially accepted to service, there is no official designation for this model. When any firearm was officially accepted, resolution about it contained its designation and Main Artillery directorate code, so that’s the source where it can be found. But that’s not about this model.
      However, 1944-1945 documents of Main Artillery directorate mention this model as “shortened rifle” (exactly as “shortened”, not “short”) with non-detachable bayonet”, Izhevsk factory military representative reports (Main Artillery directorate representative at factory) call it “M44 carbine, modernized, elongated”.
      The Izhevsk factory 1945 yearly report called it “mod.1945 carbine”, June 1945 order of the People’s Commissariat of defence about army trials of new firearms models – “shortened rifle with non-detachable bayonet”.

  4. “(…) intended to serve as a universal replacement for the Mosin Nagant rifles and carbines in service, but trials did not begin until after the German surrender in 1945 and the program was dropped.(…)”
    Interestingly alongside Mosin-based sniper rifle E.F.Dragunov there was also developed Mosin-based carbine (named МК-74), see 3rd image from top:
    https://kalashnikov.media/article/weapons/otchet-strelkovogo-poligona-pervaya-snayperskaya-vintovka-dragunova-ms-74

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*