Resurrecting a Type 53 rifle, Part II:
Made in China Ain't
Always a Bad Thing
Under all that Cosmoline and barrel sludge, there's a decent carbine trying to get out.
I recently bought a $79 Chinese Type 53 Mosin Nagant carbine from Southern Ohio Gun. In Part One, I sanded and refinished the stock. I screwed it up the first time around using tinted polyurethane, which I stripped off in disgust. It was so dark the grain was barely visible. The second time around I kept it simple -- just a few coats of boiled linseed oil. It still doesn’t look great, but it looks a hell of a lot better than when I got it.
Next, I had to remove the Cosmoline. For the uninitiated, Cosmoline preserves firearms during long-term storage. Imagine a rifle covered in a thick layer of chemical-smelling ear wax, all of which you must remove. That’s the Cosmoline experience.
Everyone has their sure-fire method for removing Cosmo. All use heat, solvents, or a combination of the two. Get it all out. All of it. If you don’t, your bolt will stick closed, and your rifle will show its displeasure by pissing warm liquid Cosmo on your hands, pants, shirt and shoes.
I remove as much as possible with a plain paper towel. Then I pour some mineral spirits (NOT mineral oil) into a tall pint container and add the bolt pieces and the magazine body/trigger guard to soak.
While they soak, I work on the barrel. A heat gun is great for melting cosmo out of a barrel as well as all the nooks and crannies around the sight. Don't worry about overheating it, just take it of the stock before you start.
I took it to the range to establish a baseline. At fifty yards I didn't get on paper a hell of a lot (see the first target pic), and consistency sucked. I figured some of it was my fault, but I decided to blame the rifle anyway.
I hoped that shooting it would help, but it didn't. When I got it back home, the bore looked just as grim as before. With the next cleaning, loads of copper came out with Butch’s Bore Shine, but the bore did not shine. At all. After a good thirty patches and with the end nowhere in sight, I decided that was enough for the day.
A few days later I went back to the range.
It definitely improved. I got a lot more rounds on paper, and even had a decent group going. I figured that if it did this good after a fair cleaning, it would probably do great when I really gave it hell.
I put the Type 53 back in the safe, was overtaken by everyday life and forgot about it.
Then a couple of Saturdays ago it rained all day. I gathered a few rifles, including the Type 53, and took them out to my shop for a cleaning. I didn't expect much progress, but I tried something new: Sweet’s 7.62 Solvent. I followed the directions – swabbed the barrel, left it in there for about 10 minutes. Then I put a dry patch on my Tipton cleaning rod and pushed out the most noxious-looking jellified gunk I’d ever seen come out of a rifle. I did this twice, and it was only slightly less disgusting the second time around. I added numerous runs with wire brushes, and patches with Butch's, Hoppe's #9 and Ballistol. Each took something out that the others left behind. The bore actually looked shiny and metallic when I finished.
On the last range trip I got 15 out of twenty in the nine ring or better, and 4.5 inches out at the most. For 79 dollars, open sights and 52-year-old eyes, shooting surplus ammo, that's close enough for government work. Which, come to think of it, is what the Type 53 was designed to do.
Oh, yeah. And it's a hell of a lot of fun, too. Get one.
Top: Covered in Cosmoline and looking pretty awful. Above: I sanded it but left it looking a little bunged up, for character. Very smooth to the touch though. Shoots about like it was designed to. See results below.
Left: First time out, 50 yards. It was all over the place. These were the ones that made paper.
Below: Many, many patches came out like this. The blue/turquoise indicates copper fouling being removed.
Left: Back to the range. Fifty yards. Definitely better than before, but 7.5 inches overall not great. More cleaning needed.
Below: I switched to Sweet's Solvent and this truly horrid sludge issued from the bore, along with more copper fouling. Toward the end the bore was actually shining a little.
Last range day. Fifty yards. Out of 20 shots, all but 5 in (or on) the nine ring or better, and the farthest out is 4.5 inches. Not bad for a $79, 60-year-old rifle, open sights and my 52-year-old eyes.