Perfume on a Pig? Put a Howling Raven Muzzle Brake on your Mosin!

    I jest. The Mosin Nagant is not a pig. I think every gun owner should have at least one in their safe. If you have never had the pleasure of firing one, I highly recommend doing so. They are fun (with the exception of the much lamented recoil) and cheap to shoot.

    I’ve had a Mosin Nagant ever since a fateful day seeing them advertised in a Big 5 Sporting Goods flyer for something absurd like $89. Seriously? A heavy surplus rifle for under $100? Yes, please! My first thought was “What is wrong with it?” Turns out nothing (though I’ve heard that not all of them were flawless). I ended up with my first Mosin as a M44 variant produced in Izhevsk (you can find the lineage of your rifle at

    And finding ammo for it? Scads of surplus everywhere. Pretty much everywhere you looked, you were able to find sardine cans with 640 rounds for under a $100 (though not so much anymore).

    Do We Really Need a Compensator on a Mosin?

    There was a pretty humorous thread that has been making it’s way around the interwebs for years.  It compares an AR-15, an AK-47, and a Mosin (even though they are not in the same class of weapon). Regardless, the points about the Mosin are uncomfortably close to truth… 🙂  A pretty universal opinion is that they possess a wee little bit of recoil.  Something that has the potential to mitigate some of that would be a benefit.



    How I Screwed Up My Mosin

    Someone talked me into installing a cheap composite stock on my rifle. Worst. Decision. Ever. If you think an unmodified Mosin has some kick, I can tell you that removing the nearly 40 lbs (pretty sure it weighs this much–I could be off by a gram or two) of hardwood stock and metal retainers actually provided a significant benefit… 🙂 The only real use of the new stock is that I was able to play around with painting it in a variety of cheap camouflage spray paints (from Home Depot) without worrying about ruining it. The other benefit is that my wife got some more practice rubbing my shoulder and applying ice packs…

    Another bit of “dumbassery” on my part was when I had a scope mount installed (the one that requires tapping into the top of the barrel; opposed to the “non-permanent” version that uses straps). This modification then required modifying the bolt handle to accommodate it. And the mount ended up just slightly off level.  Hilarity ensues when trying to zero it.

    All this despite another buddy of mine (who may actually have an unhealthy love for the Mosin) telling me to “leave it alone” (which reminds me of Gavin Miller’s most excellent poster “Nyet, Rifle is Fine.”; currently sold out).

    My eventual goal is to at least get a wood stock back on it (and my plan is to go with Boyd’s as I’ve heard from numerous people that they are the best; I also chatted with them at SHOT this year and I really like the attitude of the company).

    So, Another Mod, Eh?

    Needless to say, I was a bit leery of aftermarket mods when I heard I was going to get to review the Howling Raven HRMB-9130 muzzle brake. There was a bit of a miscommunication on my part regarding the need for a 91/30 model Mosin (the Howling Raven currently is only for the 91/30). I ended up having to put out a request to my local team of Historical Rifle Tier-1 Operators (HRT’s for brevity) to see if anyone could help me out.

    A good friend of mine (Lance) had one in unmodified condition (and very well maintained, I might add). And he was actually okay with letting me install a non-permanent mod on it, so long as he got to play too (and, clearly, shooting is always better with friends).

    Apparently I have surrounded myself with a good team of people if there is ever a need to have a re-enactment of the War of the Rats; I got a few responses (from the HRTs) on my request. Lance was the first one to get back to me; another reason to never be “late, last, or light”… 🙂

    The Device

    The Howling Raven HRMB-9130 is a solid, beefy thing that slides on the end of the muzzle and rotates counter-clockwise (facing towards the muzzle), locking around the front sight post. It has three set screws that you use to anchor it in place.



    Doesn’t look half bad.

    It went on pretty easily. I was able to hand tighten it most of the way, but did end up having to use a crescent wrench to finely align it. It is flat on top, so you can use a bubble level to make sure you have rotated it to the correct orientation (I used the compass app on my iPhone; you did know it has a level, right?). I don’t think it would come off on it’s own as snug as it was, but there is no reason not to use the set screws (and it comes with the necessary hex wrench).

    Definitely keeps with the theme of the Mosin.  Solid and heavy.

    Definitely keeps with the theme of the Mosin. Solid and heavy.

    And How Did It Do?

    Lance and I met up and did a baseline shoot with the Mosin in it’s unmodified state, followed by installation of the HRMB-9130 and another shoot. Following are the videos of that with an overlay to show barrel movement. It is pretty plain to see that without the brake installed there was significant upward movement (and to the right, though that was much easier to see in person, but you get the idea). With the Howling Raven installed we saw a drop in the muzzle. The question then becomes whether or not that was due to Lance’s muscle memory providing force to counteract the normal rise, or due to overcompensation from the HRMB-9130. We would need to shoot from a fixed bench to really tell that I think. Regardless, the Howling Raven does mitigate the muzzle rise—Lance’s commentary says it all.

    After we were done shooting, I asked Lance for his observations, and the first was that what he noticed was contact of his rifle with his cheek as he was shooting. Why is that significant? Because normally, he told me, his attention was drawn to the horrific bludgeoning imparted by the rifle to his shoulder. There is a reason there aren’t 500 Round Count Tactical Mosin Courses.

    The other thing he immediately noticed was how much more rapidly he was able to get back on target. I had the same experience when I shot it (though I didn’t notice the cheek thing).

    We only shot out to fifty meters or so (with a number of shots at twenty-five), so I can’t report as to whether or not there was a significant change in the point of impact. I would imagine that there would be based on the amount of venting that the compensator provides. Lance shot a shockingly tight group with the iron sights (with both the naked and compensated muzzle). He was about an inch down from the center ring (down and actually a little right when shooting from around twenty-five meters) with the naked muzzle (which would correspond to decent placements near 200 meters if my math is correct; the Ballistic App seems to confirm it as well). With the brake on, the rounds were grouped about the same except a little left. I had actually taken a picture of the target, but accidentally deleted it (lessons learned: don’t manage assets for reviews at 2am). I was not nearly so tight on my grouping. Which I chalk up to being not familiar with his rifle. Um, yeah, that’s it.

    Huge ports on the top.

    Huge ports on the top.


    I think I can heartily recommend this brake (and Lance concurred when I asked him). Being able to get rapidly back on target (which, as you know is super critical for a vintage bolt gun) was great, and the definite perceived reduction in recoil was even better.

    The fact that you can remove it is also a huge plus in my book, given my sordid history with Mosin modifications.

    Howling Raven did mention that this compensator should work for most model 91/33 Mosins. As anyone that has owned a Mosin can tell you, there is a little bit of variance in the manufacture. The biggest issue would be with the position of the front sight post. They offer a 30 day money back guarantee for fitment issues if it just won’t work on your rifle.

    From Howling Raven

    • Reduces recoil by 50% and eliminates muzzle rise
    • Made out of 12L14 Solid Steel with black oxide finish
    • Weighs 10.6 ounces

    It retails for $69.95 and you can purchase one at:

    Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he teaches wilderness medicine and writes for a number of publications, including The Prepared, a site devoted to self-preparedness. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.

    You can reach him at tom.r AT