Diamond Bullet Member
My 1928 "MO" ex-Dragoon
I put this up some time back, but in light of the continuing "MO" mystery, I thought I'd scan it for everyone. Not a clear answer, but ideas.
Don't flog me, gentlemen, as this is just conjecture with a US government source to back it up. The source is the 1957 Department of the Army.
When I visited Tula and many Russian military museums, no one knew what the "MO" and redate meant.
We have always guessed, with the mistaken "Ministry of Defense" claim topping the list, complete with stories of secret prisons, black ops Cold War special forces and all the rest to make the "MO" sale sexier. (This explanation doesn't hold water because that Ministry wasn't even created until 1953, long after the redates on many of the rifles and pistols.)
We will probably never know for sure what the "MO" means, but in 1957, the height of the Cold War, our Department of the Army published a book called "Glossary of Soviet Military and Related Abbreviations," no doubt the work of top spies in the Kremlin working on such things as "MO". (well, maybe not...)
The Army states three possible "MO" meanings (five, if you include "deliberate fire" and "small submarine chaser," my personal favorite). The ones that seem very possible are:
1) Local Defense
2) Mobilization Section
3) Motorized Detachment
To me, "Local Defense" seems likely as different oblasts like Moscow were charged with maintaining local non-Army "civil defense" units similar to our individual state's National Guard units. These rifles might have been for training, as was done in all the high schools (my wife was taught by ex-Army riflery instructors in both Ukraine and Moscow) or perhaps were simply stored for last-ditch defense or emergency use should we nuke them or other such disasters happen.
This is a reasonable possibility to my thinking as the rifles would have formally left the Red Army's arsenals and been removed from their control, a good time to remark them with the date when they left the inventories and went off Army books and onto local control, similar to the "SA" stamps showing Finn Army acceptance in 1942 or the line-outs of Finn Civil Guard numbers.
"Mobilization Section," another good possibility, was, I think, another National Guard-like civilian reserves capability, former Army veterans easily mobilized back into the regular Army, not local control, in the event of a national emergency like WWIII or the tanks rolling over the Berlin Wall toward Moscow.
"Motorized Detachment" seems less likely as these were a part of the regular Army and didn't need to have a special stamp on their weapons.
So, here's the source cover and here's the Russian right out of the manual with the Army's take on it: