RIFLES PART 3:

The Last of Mosin-Nagants

 

7,62 mm Military Rifle M/39 "Ukko-Pekka":

PICTURE: Rifle M/39 with straight rifle stock. Only about 6,000 straight stocked M/39 rifles were made (by Sako in 1940 - 1941) and they are nowadays considered highly collectable. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (48 KB).

PICTURE: Rifle M/39 with typical wartime rifle stock. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (54 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length:

1187 mm

Barrel length:

685 mm

Weight:

4,5 kg

Magazine:

5, non-removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,62 kiv/39" and "762 KIV 39"

Country of origin:

Finland

Prototype:

1939

Production:

Mass production 1941 - 1945, minor scale till 1970's, total amount over 100,000.

Finnish use: Issued mainly to Finnish frontline troops during Continuation War (1941 - 1944). As produced mainly during that war the percentage M/39 among all rifles used by Finnish troops increased steadily during the war. Most typical Finnish post-WW2 rifle type until bolt lock rifles were replaced by assault-rifles starting from 1960's.

Military rifle M/39 was the second try of Finnish Armed Forces in improvement of Mosin-Nagant. Often used nickname "Ukko-Pekka" came from Finnish Ex-President Per Evind Svinhufvud, who as a well-known competition shooter and NCO of Finnish Civil Guard. Opinion differences concerning requirements needed from military rifle between Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) and Armed Forces had lead into introduction of both M/27 and M/28 & M/28-30 rifles, which had some design feature differences that made using the same spare-parts in both rifles impossible. However, neither of these two rifles was as good as they might have been, if work of both design teams would have been combined. Civil Guard, having less red tape, had been able to identify problems and solve problems in more effective manner for their M/28-30 rifle. The same process in Finnish Armed Forces had lead into introduction of problematic M/27 rifle. Spring of 1934 Army finally woke and realised that large amount from M/27 rifles needed for frontline troops were unusable because of structural defects. Ordnance Department of Defence Ministry started seeking solution for this crisis in 1935. First developing of domestic semiautomatic rifle was considered, but lacking readily available semiautomatic rifle design, which could have been placed into production quickly resulted burying this idea. Civil Guard was offering its M/28-30 rifles as a rifle model which could have been officially approved also for Armed Forces, but personnel of Armed Forces weapons administration were very much against this and favoured shorter test rifle M/91-35, which had 111-cm long barrel.

Lack of funds and good semiautomatic rifle design had already delayed the process (Leading Finnish firearms designer Aimo Lahti had designed some semiautomatic rifles, but none of them were good enough). Colonel Leonard Grandell (War economy chief of Armed Forces) further fuelled the argument by ordering production of M/28-30 rifle to be halted (He wanted both Finnish Armed Forces and Civil Guard to adopt the new rifle and did not see any need to continue production of "old" M/28-30). This caused more irritation in Civil Guard. This was not first or last argument between Armed Forces and Civil Guard but considering the delay caused by this argument the behaviour of both Civil Guard and Armed Forces representatives can only be considered wretched.

Armed Forces tried get its own M/91-35 test rifle accepted without even bothering to test it against reputed M/28-30 rifle of Civil Guard, which had been in production since year 1934. At the same time representatives of Civil Guard were unwilling to see any need to improve in their M/28-30 and wanted it to be accepted as service rifle of Armed Forces just as it was. Neither side was willing to admit that their favourite rifle designs had room for improvement.

Especially the sights designed for M/91-35 were terrible, however it was the live-fire tests made with this rifle that finally buried plans about M/91-35 rifle. Short 111-cm barrel used in M/91-35 created excessive muzzle-flash especially with old cartridges loaded with 9.6-gram/148-grain (m 1908) S-bullets. while new 13-gram D-166 boat-tail bullet had been adopted in as standard bullet type in year 1936, at that time Finnish ammunition stockpiles still contained mostly old ammunition with 9.6-gram/148-grain bullets. In addition to this the difference between point of impact with these two ammunition types proved too large from such a short barrel. October of 1938 the process finally started getting somewhere - decision was made to design a new rifle using proven M/28-30 as a starting point. New committee was established to design the new rifle. Members of the new commission contained example A.E. Saloranta (co-designer of Lahti-Saloranta M/26 LMG) and Harry Mansner (designer of sights for M/28-30 rifle). Because of all earlier delays only one was week was given to this new committee for its design work - after which it spent six months in doing the work. 17th of February 1939 the final test rifle (N:o 14) was finally received. New M/39 rifle came to have following differences when compared to earlier M/28-30:

Deliveries of M/39 rifles to Finnish Army by September of 1945:

Manufacturers

Year

Sako

AV3

Total

1941

16000

0

16000

1942

4000

8000

12000

1943

20000

17646

37646

1944

13500

4683

18183

1945

6500

0

6500

Total

60000

30329

90329

Source: Report of Finnish Defence Forces GHQ Ordnance Department concerning weaponry belonging to its area of expertise manufactured in Finland 1935 - 1945. T20207/F16 sal, Finnish Military Archives. Notice: The table does not include rifles delivered to home front troops. Also, instead of being called manufacturer, it might be more accurate to call AV3 a "assembly plant", since it had minimal role in manufacturing the parts that it used in making rifles.

Especially sling and rifle stock used in M/39 proved more practical than the ones used in rifle M/28-30. 14th of April 1939 the new M/39 rifle got approved into military use, this was highly unusual in such a early phase, there was not yet final prototype and even final blueprints did not exist yet. Then came Winter War and messed the production plans, all depots and gun factories had their hands full without new rifle to be introduced to production. First order of 20,000 rifles was not made (to Sako) until April of 1940. Supply department of Finnish Army HQ sent some questions to all Army Corps asking experiences gained about existing rifles used during Winter War and resulting feedback was used for suggesting changes to M/39 rifle.

PICTURE: Rifle M/39 with post-war rifle stock. Due to finish used in these stocks they have notably lighter colour than wartime rifle stocks. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (59 KB).

The mass production of rifle M/39 did not start until late summer of 1940 and even then starting manufacturing in Sako factory was delayed. Because of this Finnish troops did not get any M/39 rifles until year 1941. Finnish Army HQ ordered 60,000 rifles of this type from Sako during World War 2 and received about 53,500 of them before Continuation War ended. The remaining 6,500 were completed soon after the war in year 1945. HQ of Home Front Troops (previous GHQ of Civil Guard) ordered some 20,500 rifles from Sako with finances of Civil Guard and received some 10,500 of those rifles before the war ended. Also Weapons Depot 3 (AV3) manufactured about 30,300 M/39 rifles, which went to Armed Forces. The rifles M/39 manufactured in Weapons Depot 3 had rifle barrels made by VKT (Valtion Kivääritehdas = State Rifle Factory), while Sako manufactured also the barrels for M/39 rifles that it produced. The most important component that AV3 manufactured for rifles that it assembled were rifle stocks, while Sako manufactured also the rifle stocks that it needed for its own rifle production. In typical Finnish manner much of the parts (receivers, grand majority of bolt parts, magazine components...) used for manufacturing rifle M/39 were recycled parts from earlier Mosin-Nagant rifles. Large scale production of rifle M/39 ended year 1945, but smaller scale production from existing (and often unfinished) parts continued until 1970's (Last known years of this small-scale production were 1970 and 1973). Large number of rifle M/39 remained warehoused for possible wartime use until early 1990's, when Finland bought about 200,000 AKM-type assault rifles from Germany and China. Finnish military has been selling M/39 rifles to civilian market both in Finland and to export since. At the moment (year 2013) all remaining M/39 rifles have been sold.

 

7,62 mm Military Rifle M/91-30:

(7.62 mm vintovka obr. 1891/1930 g.)

PICTURE: Soviet M/91-30 rifle. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (75 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length:

1230 mm

Barrel length:

730 mm

Weight:

4,0 - 4,1 kg

Magazine:

5, non-removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,62 kiv/30" and "762 KIV 30"

Country of origin:

Soviet Union

Prototype:

?

Production:

1927 - 1944

Finnish use: Over 100,000 of these rifles were captured and used by Finnish troops during World War. Few thousand M/91-30 rifles were built with Finnish barrels in 1943 - 1944.

While the Finns designed new shorter Mosin-Nagant rifle models through 1920's, the Soviets concentrated improving already existing dragoon rifle M/91 during mid- and late-1920's. The Soviets had stopped manufacturing of other Mosin-Nagant rifle models than dragoon rifle in year 1922 and had noted the need for new improved univeral rifle model suitable for all troops already at that time. Most of the design work was done by Kabakov, Komaritsky, Osintsev and Fedortsev. The improvements they designed led into introduction of rifle M/91-30, which was approved to use of Soviet military in April of 1930. Most notable changes compared to earlier dragoon rifle M/91 included:

While M/19-30 was approved in April of 1930, its features were apparently only gradually introduced to actual rifle production. Due to replacing old imperial era measurements such as arsina/arshin (steps) with metric system, the rear sight of M/91-30 also had range settings in meters. The new rear sight was introduced to rifle production by Izhevsk in year 1931 and by Tula in year 1932. Earlier front sight design remained to be used in rifle production until temporarily being replaced with front sight design which had higher sight post and intended to be used with Panshin-bayonet manufactured around 1931 - 1933, before being replaced with ring-procted new front sight design starting circa 1933. Early production M/91-30 rifles also still had hexagonal receivers and replacing them with round receivers was even slower. Neither manufacturer shifted their manufacturing from earlier hexagonal receiver to new round receiver until mid 1930's with Izhevsk implemented this shift in year 1935 and Tula in year 1936. During World War 2 the Soviets simplified the receiver design to speed up its manufacturing.

As noted Izhevsk and Tula gun arsenals were main manufacturers of these rifles, their production grow until in late 1930's yearly production reached about 1.3 million/year. The Soviets manufactured over 4.2 million rifles M/91-30 by early 1940. In addition of manufacturing of new rifles the Soviets also modified most of their existing dragoon rifles M/91 into M/91-30 rifles. During World War 2 production of M/91-30 kept growing and in year 1942 alone over 3 million rifles were manufactured, after this production started to decline - probably at least partly due to resources being transferred to submachinegun production. Introduction of carbine M/44 as general issue weapon of Soviet Red Army in January of 1944 was beginning of an end to rifle M/91-30 production - carbine M/44 replaced it in production. Total production of Soviet M/91-30 rifles is been estimated around 13 million. Generally speaking M/91-30 rifles made during World War 2 were not as well made as the ones made before the war. During Spanish Civil War Soviet Union delivered large number of these rifles to Republican Spain. The Germans captured large amount of M/91-30 rifle during World War 2 and called it "Gewehr 254 (r)."

Finnish military captured several divisions worth of Soviet weapons during Winter War. Due to both Finnish and Soviet military using 7.62 mm x 54R as their standard ammunition type, captured Soviet rifles, light machineguns and medium machineguns could be immediately taken to Finnish use. According Finnish inventory listing from June of 1940 by that time 28,303 rifles M/91-30 had been taken to use of Finnish military. In addition thousands of damaged M/91-30 rifles had been captured, these were not included into inventory until they were repaired. The most heavily damaged rifles were cannibalised for parts that were typically used assembling M/91 and M/39 rifles. During early phase of Continuation War the amount of captured weapons was even larger and Soviet M/91-30 rifle become one of the main rifle types used by Finnish troops. The basic structure of M/91-30 was very similar to old M/91, so same parts could mostly be used. Around July-August 1944 Finland also bought 56,722 Soviet rifles (grand majority of them M/91-30) from Germany, but most of them were in such a poor shape, that they were used as parts for manufacturing new rifles instead of being issued.

Finnish repairs made for damaged captured M/91-30 resulted introduction of some new Finnish design features, which apparently were not introduced in any notable uniform manner, but vary from one rifle to another. New sights of M/91-30 rifle were designed for new kind of sight adjustment tools, which the Finns did not have. So Finnish solution was to equip the rifles with M/91 type front sight with filling part, added in between front sight post and front sight base, this stacked sight front sight design allowed using the same adjustment tool as with old M/91 rifles. Also new rifle stocks were needed, so domestic production of rifle stocks for M/91-30 was started, Finnish made stocks have several differences to original Soviet ones. And finally in year 1943 also manufacturing of rifle barrels for M/91-30 was started in Tikkakoski factory. When captured Soviet M/91-30 had been rebuilt in Finland with these changes one could argue if it really can be anymore called Soviet M/91-30, or a Finnish one, since many of the most important parts were now Finnish. With typical Finnish habbit of recycling parts from previous rifles the line in between doing extensive repairs to damaged rifles and manufacturing new rifles was unclear to begin with. Personally I would the line in between the two in rifle barrel - with any M/91-30 rifle with Finnish-manufactured rifle barrel being considered as Finnish-built. This sort of Finnish version can well called Finnish M/91-30, or more simply rifle M/30 as the particular Finnish-modified version sometimes called. While Finnish military ordered during Continuation War enough most important parts to repair or built 20,000 rifles, it seems that only few thousand M/91-30 built with Tikkakoski-manufactured rifle barrels were delivered by end of Continuation War in September of 1944. Year 1951 Finnish inventory included 91,334 rifles M/91-30, but only 4,279 of these were listed as rifle M/30. Rifles M/91-30 were kept warehoused until late 1980's. Soviet M/91-30 rifles were not typically as accurate as Finnish made rifles, but their reliability and functionality in the field were often even better.

 

7,62 mm Carbines M/38 and M/44:

(7,62 mm karabin obr. 1938 g.)

(7,62 mm karabin obr. 1944 g.)

PICTURE: Soviet carbine M/38. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (47 KB).

PICTURE: Soviet carbine M/44. Note folded bayonet located side of rifle and rifle stock made from laminate. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (58 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length:

1060 mm

Barrel length:

512 mm (M/38) / 517 mm (M/44)

Weight:

3,5 kg (M/38) / 3,9 kg (M/44)

Magazine:

5, non-removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,62 kiv/30 rv" and "762 KIV 30 RV"

Country of origin:

Soviet Union

Prototype:

M/38: 1938. M/44: 1943

Production:

M/38: 1939 - 1945. M/44: 1943 - early 1950's

Finnish use: Captured and used by Finnish troops in small numbers during World War 2. Finnish Army captured some 2,300 carbines M/38 and M/44.

Soviet M/91-30 rifle was not really suitable for all troops, so a carbine was designed for cavalry, signal troops, artillery and vehicle drivers. That carbine was carbine M/38 introduced to use of Soviet military in February of 1939. Mass production started already in 1939, and kept going until end of World War 2. What is known suggests that Izhevsk arsenal manufactured M/38 and M/44 carbines in 1939 - 1945, while Tula manufactured them only in year 1944. Carbine M/38 was very similar to M/91-30 infantry rifle, but barrel and forward parts of stock were naturally shorter and rear sight plus holding rings different. Carbine M/38 also had no attachment for bayonet of any type and it was issued without bayonet.

The Finns captured 489 carbines M/38 during Winter War and even larger number was captured during early phase of Continuation War. However the total number of Finnish-captured M/38 carbines was never very large. This carbine had limited popularity among Finnish troops - while it had handy size it also produced large muzzle-flash. Large muzzle flash did not only give away the shooter even in daytime, but in the dark ruined night-vision of the shooter temporarily, in effect momentarily blinding him. Finnish troops captured also carbine M/44 in small numbers during the last few months of Continuation War.

During 2nd World War the Soviets started considering the lack of bayonet as a problem with carbine M/38, so tests were organised in May of 1943. Design of N. S. Semin with folding bayonet got selected and its mass-production started in January of 1944 replacing carbine M/38 and rifle M/91-30 in production (*). While manufacturing of M/44 carbines ended in Soviet Union in year 1945, Soviet industry later shortened number of M/91-30 rifles to carbine length, with the resulting carbine being known as M/91-30-59. After World War 2 copies of carbine M/44 were manufactured in least in Poland, Hungary, Romania, China and North Korea. In Finland the number of captured carbines M/44 was never large, so they were marked under same inventory name "7,62-mm carbine model 1930" as M/38 carbines. Year 1951 Finnish inventory had 2,291 "carbines model 1930". Remaining carbines of both types were sold to Interarmco in the same time and exported year 1960.

(*) Also M/44 carbines with barrel markings of year 1943 exist. These could be from field test series manufactured in November of 1943. Second possibility is that the barrels used in them were originally manufactured for M/38 carbines, but when M/44 replaced it in production they were used in these new rifles instead.

 


SUGGESTED LINKS FOR MORE INFO:

Mosin Nagant dot Net More info about Mosin-Nagant rifles

Russian Mosin-Nagant Forum More info about Mosin-Nagant rifles


SOURCES:

Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988 osat 1 - 3 (= Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988 parts 1- 3)

Timo Hyytinen: Arma Fennica 2, sotilasaseet (Arma Fennica 2, military weapons)

D.N. Bolotin: Soviet Small-Arms and Ammunition.

Risto Erjola: Aseiden valmistus Suomessa vuosina 1939 - 1945

Bruno Bogdnovic and Ivan Valencak: Das Groze Buch der klassischen feuerwaffen

Jan Kronlund: Suomen Puolustuslaitos 1918 - 1939 (= Finnish Defence Department 1918 - 1939)

Article: Neuvostokarabiinit 7.62 mm Karabina obr. 1938g ja obr. 1944g by Mika Pitkänen in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 1/99.

Article: Kolmatta linjaa huipulle, Ukko-Pekka m/39 by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol. 3/2004.

Article: Mosin-Nagant M1944 karbiini by Janne Pohjoispää in Kaliberi magazine vol. 5/2009.

Finnish military archives, archive references T20206/F9, /F10 and /F11

Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki.


Last updated 21st of December 2013
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