There exists a form of a customized homemade pistol made by sawing off the popular Mosin rifle. Basically, the rifle barrel is sawn down to about 4 to 8 inches, and the buttstock is also chopped off to obtain a short concealable weapon when pistols are far from reach. The result of this ingenious craftsmanship is the focus of this article; the Obrez Pistol.
What exactly is the obrez?
Obrez is a Russian word which basically means to “cut down.” The word is more commonly associated with the process of genital circumcision or shrub/tree pruning. Keeping things easy, it means sawing a longer product to obtain a significantly shorter version. In this context, the object of interest is a 1917 old school Russian riffle; the Vintovka Mosina also known as the “Mosin-Nagant.”
This standard infantry rifle weighs 9 lbs. and features a 30.5-inch barrel. Millions of the firearms were produced for the enormous Russian army by three factories. In Tsar’s Holy Russia, in the United States by Remington and Westinghouse, and in France by Chatterault. The gun was simple and effective. There was hardly anything to complain about except that it was large.
The Mosin-Nagant was relatively huge which was kind of a norm for world war one era rifles. However, all that’s needed to fulfill the desire of lovers of portable and concealable firearms was a saw. The portable Obrez Mosin is forged by cutting off about 2 feet from the rifle’s barrel and reducing the length of the shoulder stock until it fits for a handy pistol grip.
Why cut the Mosin Rifle?
Russia was a country in chaos in 1917. The Tsar (Russian emperor) had been forcefully removed from office in a revolution. A second revolt followed which saw the Bolsheviks take control of the central Russian government. Several sects of the old empire began to rapidly join forces with the Bolsheviks; a development which was a huge concern for the Bolshies. They responded by forming an army of their own “the red army” with the pioneer mission of heading out into the countryside and inviting prospective members to join their movement of forming the so-called glorious new workers’ paradise.
In a matter of weeks, the largest empire on earth had a complex civil war on its hands which lasted for almost a decade. In that time, several villages and towns formed ever-changing allies with the red army, counter-revolutionary white army, as well as the Japanese, Czech, and British armies. This complicated series of movements ended with the red army coming out on top. Outlaws and opportunists were rampant at the time.
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Owing to their style of operation, they needed to lay low and be sure of the state of matters before acting. One of their greatest challenges was the difficulty of concealing their sizable infantry rifles for long periods. Since their rifle barrels were made of wood and saws weren’t far-fetched, the idea of the Obrez pistol was hatched, and it worked like magic.
A different user came up with different designs of the Obrez ranging from rifles with around 10 inches of the barrel sawn-off to pistols with the buttstock trimmed leaving a firearm with an entire length less than one foot. The smaller the Mosin Nagant Obrez, the easier it is to keep it out of the sight of soldiers passing by. You could have one under a blanket, inside a chimney hearth or even behind a religious statue.
The obrez sat somewhere in between long arm and edged weapons since military handguns weren’t easy to come by in the countryside. Trimmed guns were also commonly used by the Makhnovets; an infamous gang of anarchists proudly waving their black flags and giving no regards to the laws. These gangsters had no preference for weapons and mostly equipped themselves with whatever they could lay their hands on.
After the war, the original purpose of the sawn rifles died out, but the legacy of the Obrez lived on. The recoil was fierce, and the pistol could be just as dangerous to the shooter as it is to the target, yet they had a certain charm to their name. Obrez pistols also featured in the Spanish Civil War, WWII, and a host of other clashes.
The term Obrez is the US equivalent of “Tommy Guns”; a phrase which denotes many types of submachine guns. To this day, any sawn-off gun or shotgun is called an obrez in most parts of Russia and Ukraine. These firearms have been featured in numerous movies made in the above countries since the 1980s.
In 2012, a hunter found an old obrez pistol along the bank of Kuban River in Krasnodar (Ukraine) and turned it into the police. However, the sawn rifle in question wasn’t a Mosin but a Berdan rifle dating back to the 1870s. Around the same time, an old Obrez, this time made from a Mosin rifle was found and recovered from a sewer in Tomsk, a town in Siberia.
Can I still get one of these?
In the past century, around 40 million Mosin rifles were produced in more than 300 variants. Because the obrez is made from one of the most popular rifles ever made, you can still get one for about 100 US Dollars even with the crazy hike in the prices of guns today. You can easily obtain Mosin rifles by the crate and get as much as half the entire length of the barrel hacked off using just a hand saw.
If you reside in the US and harbor the desire to own an obrez, then here are some ways to go about it.
You can simply chop the desired length off your rifle and keep it legal by reducing the barrel length to or below 16.5-inch while also keeping the overall length at or below 26 inches. To pull this off, all you’ll need is a saw, a suitable sanding tool and the know-how of remounting the rifle’s barrel sights.
The registered SBR route is an alternative means of owning an obrez. You will need to fill out the ATF’s form which requires the CLEO signature, your fingerprint cards, photograph, and a processing fee of 200 US dollars. Once you’ve got the stamp, you can cut your riffle to any desired length.
The third and most technical way to go is to make yourself a new receiver. You can accomplish this by making one from scratch or touching up a couple of surplus Mosin rifle receivers and forming a new pistol-only Mosin obrez receiver by welding the scraps together. Just make sure you follow ATF’s regulations on the private manufacture of firearms, so you don’t go out of the legal limits.