During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, Russian troops armed with mostly Berdan single-shot rifles engaged Turks with Winchester repeating rifles resulting in heavy casualties. This emphasized to commanders a need to modernize the Imperial army. The Russian Main Artillery Administration undertook the task of producing a magazine-fed, multi-round weapon in 1882. After failing to adequately modify the Berdan system to meet the requirements, a "Special Commission for the testing of Magazine fed Rifles" was formed to test new designs.
Sergei Ivanovich Mosin, a captain in the Imperial army, submitted his "3-line" caliber (.30 Cal, 7.62 mm) rifle in 1889 alongside a 3.5-line design by Léon Nagant (a Belgian) and a 3-line design by captain Zinoviev. When trials concluded in 1891, the units which tested the rifles were split in their decision. The main disadvantages of Nagant's rifle were the following: more complicated mechanism, long and tiresome procedure of disassembling (which required special instruments - it was necessary to unscrew two screws). Mosin's rifle was mainly criticized for lower quality of manufacture and of materials used which resulted in a bit larger number of stoppages. The Commission voted 14 to 10 to approve Nagant's rifle. However, the head of the commission general Chagin insisted on subsequent trials held under the Commission's supervision during which Mosin's rifle showed its advantages, leading to its selection over the Nagant.