Cosmoline: Removing Your Rifle Slime

So there are something like sixteen kajillion Mosin-Nagants still floating around out there and it seems like they have become the go-to rifle for the “economically frugal”, shooter these days. For while many a new or old-time rifleman would state that it is just so much fun to shoot, I think that the $100.00 price tag is really the “fun” part here.

Frankly, the rifle is a pain in the ass.

Okay, now shaddap a second and let me explain. I have one of these and I completely “sporterized” it (see previous post) due to the following facts:

  • I found the comb of the stock completely off-kilter and too short for me.
  • It consistently shot high-right unless it had  the bayonet on it–in which case it only shot right and a little high. The iron sights have no windage adjustment.
  • Mounting a scope on it is a nightmare because there are such poor mounts out there for it. And the one good one I found sets the scope up WAAY too high.
  • The bolt handle swings a full 90 degrees straight up, necessitating a forward mounted optic with enormous eye relief (at least 12″) like a scout scope or pistol scope, so your hand does not hit the optic.
  • The recoil is such that individual pieces of the rifle stock will start to shift under the barrel band after a few shots.
  • And last but not least, the travel on the trigger is so long that you find yourself wondering if the shot is EVER going to break.

Now, do I like my Mosin Nagant? Well, hell  yeah, now that I’ve fixed all the above mentioned problems. But it’s not a $100.00 rifle anymore. The rifle has  gone from this:


To this:


…At an expense to where I could have bought a very decent used hunting rifle like a Remington 700 or something. But ces’t la vie, we live and learn.

AAAAND… the reason I’m telling you this is because from the onset, you will experience the ultimate in what makes the venerable Mosin Nagant a pain in the ass. Even before  you decide what you are going to “do” to yours, even before  you take the first shot, you have to rid it of the cosmoline.


Ahh, Cosmoline. The petroleum-based goop from hell.

First, you must understand that there is a very good reason that governments worldwide use cosmoline on firearms, both old and new. It does it’s job well. The yellow slime invades every orifice, every nook and cranny, and seals it against corrosion (especially salt corrosion and rust). And guess what, your brand new (80+ year old) Mosin Nagant is just dripping with it.

So how do you get it off? Of the sixteen kajillion of them out there, there are fifteen kajillion ways to remove it. We tried fourteen kajillion of them on various parts of three Mosin Nagants. Here’s what works the best:


Yep. Dunk the whole damn rifle in a vat of mineral spirits if you want to, but heat is what works the best. Follow this procedure:

  1. Completely disassemble the rifle. Yes, completely. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there showing you how. It’s not hard. It does not require lots of tools. Yes, it will be a mess.
  2. Set your kitchen oven temp at the lowest it will go. This is usually around 170-ish degrees to about 200 degrees. 
  3. Use a large sheet pan or better yet, line the rack and bottom of your oven in aluminum foil. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
  4. Carefully place all the parts that will fit, into the oven. Hopefully your oven is big enough to fit the stock.
  5. For all other family members who are not involved with this project, pay for them to go to the movies or any other activity to get them out of the house. Trust me.
  6. Open all your windows. All of them.
  7. After about ten minutes, the stench will be unbelievable. Deal with it for another ten minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, get lots of absorbent rags ready along with a five gallon bucket of HOT water. Boil the water on the stove if necessary.
  9. Use metal tongs to remove the hot parts from the oven a few at a time. Leave the stock for last. You will notice that the cosmoline will be dripping out of most of the parts. Drop them into the hot water.
  10. After soaking for a minute or two, wipe each part carefully and thoroughly with the rags in order to rid it of as much cosmo as possible. Parts with difficult or very dried, crusty cosmo should be boiled in water for about 20 minutes or soaked in Hoppe’s #9 for a few hours. Continue wiping.
  11. The wooden stock will definately be the worst part. Wiping, baking, Hoppe’s, again and again will still not get all of it as it  melts its way down into the wood grain. We had to hit them with hairdryers on high-hot, a section at a time, and watch the cosmo bubble out of the wood again and again.
  12. Be sure to scrub the barrell thoroughly with copious amounts of boiling hot water, a brass bore brush and then lots of Hoppes #9 (or similar product).

This will not be a fast or easy process. It will take more than one day. The whole house will stink. Your significant other will threaten you with bodily harm the moment she (or he) walks back into the house. Yes, it sucks just as much as it sounds. And yes, you MUST do this before shooting the rifle for the first time.

And that, dear readers, is how you will begin your ownership of your Mosin Nagant war rifle. Sounds great for a hundred bucks, huh? Best of luck to you. 

This Jew Shoots Guns… and is done with cosmoline.

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