Mossberg US44 Commercial
MOSSBERG 44US- SEEN ONE, SEEN ‘EM ALL…
By: Rich Gardner
To read the history of the 44US you’d think Mossberg changed an extractor here and a peep-sight there but basically the (a) through (d) models were all the same. You may be surprised how different they are.
I’m assuming the examples shown here are typical of each model. Please ignore late-model scopes and the lack of some peripheral pieces. Let’s focus on the rifles.
From top to bottom: 44US(a); (b); (c); (d).
It is not an optical illusion these rifles look longer as they get newer. My (a) model has a barrel that is almost an inch shorter than all the others. (No sign of being modified.) Minor variations in the stocks make the (c) a little longer than the (b). The (d) actually locates the receiver farther forward relative to the stock; making it longest overall. Your results may vary and if so, we want to hear from you.
From what I can see, the 44US(a) shares very few parts with any other version. The common parts are the trigger assembly, bolt handle/plunger/spring, firing pin and trigger guard. In theory the (a) version came with S-100 and S-101 sights. The (b) could have been equipped with the S-100 and S-106 combination. Versions (c) and (d) should have come with S-130 and S-106.
The 44US(a) stock; receiver; bolt head; extractors and barrel are not common to any other 44US model. The trigger guard was carried-over to the (b) model but then it too changed. Some sources suggest only the bolt and extractors as being unique to the (a).
(a) with machined solid extractors. All others had bent-spring extractors.
The next dramatic observation: Every model had a unique stock.
(a) Square-end trigger guard. Not relieved for shell casing guard.
(b) Relieved for shell casing guard and having square-end trigger guard.
(c) Like (b) but equipped with round-end trigger guard.
(d) Three-position sling swivel mount and hand stop.
(a) and (b) had square-end trigger guard
(c) and (d) had round-end trigger guard
Mossberg had three part numbers for the stocks. (a)= R-195. (d)= R-620, leaving us to ask, “If I order an R-518 stock for my (b) or (c), would it be notched for the square, or round-end trigger guard?” Good luck and report back.
Here’s the 44US(a) receiver. No slot for mounting the dust cover, nor is the stock relieved to clear it.
Here we see the later design with the dust cover.
Summary of stocks:
44US(a)- Not relieved for dust cover; no provision for adjustable front swivel or hand-stop; slot for trigger guard extends to the bottom of the hand grip.
44US(b)- Relieved for dust cover; otherwise as above, using the same trigger guard.
44US(c)- Like (b) except milled for round-end trigger guard.
44US(d)- Milled for multi-position front swivel and hand-stop; round-end trigger guard. Even though it hints at the changes coming in the 144 series, it still looks like a 44US.
44US(d) shown with 144LSA. (Ignore missing swivels and hand-stop.)
44US(a)- R-103 bolt assembly, (using the R-104 bolt; R-113 right extractor and R-114 left extractor,) R-174 receiver, R-195 stock, S-100 receiver sight and S-101 front sight. 25-1/4” barrel with overall length of 42-1/2” Offered 1945-46.
44US(b)- R-427 bolt assembly, (R-423 bolt body,) R-197 receiver, R-518 stock, (maybe,) S-100 sight and S-106. 26” barrel and 43” overall. 1946-47.
44US(c)- Like (b) except for trigger guard and change to S-130 sight. 1947-48
44US(d)- Similar to (c) except R-620 stock with three-position swivel plate, with hand-stop. 1948-49.
By the end of 1949 Mossberg had made so many changes to the 44US there were few parts still interchangeable with the military trainer held in high esteem by veterans. It’s likely Mossberg thought they had taken the 44US as far as it could go and it was time to get serious about target rifles. In 1950 they unveiled the 144LS.
My first two 44US models were a (d) and an (a). As I studied the two rifles and leafed through the parts catalogs I was surprised how different the two rifles were and how few of those differences were outlined in the literature. More astonishing is that all of these changes occurred between 1945 and 1949.
For the collector, restoring one of these rifles means choosing from among 4 stocks; 2 receivers; 2 barrels; 2 bolt heads; 2 sets of extractors; 2 trigger guards and a variety of sights. Be careful about buying replacement parts, especially if the description reads, “Fits all 44US models.”
I hope this article inspires the experts to weigh in on the topic.
Special thanks to Rich Gardner for this excellent treatise!!