Soviet models guide

Classification of the models on this page is based on the approach used by the Soviets. Since 1936, each military firearm, device and accessory, had their own identification code, which was called Main Artillery Directorate code. This code was widely used -  in drawings, documents, during storage, etc. After a rifle was officially accepted into service, it received its name and code. For example, when the M44 carbine was accepted to service in 1944, it got its official name "Model 1944 carbine" and code 56-B-224.

 

56 - is the group of codes for small arms,

B - type of the firearms, "Винтовка" (rifle) in Russian

224 - unique id code.

Additionally, there were four groups of trial rifles which were not accepted into service and did not receive their official code. However, they were produced in relatively big numbers (thousands), they will be also mentioned below.

Mass-produced models

56-B-222

Regular M91/30 rifle.

Production period : 1931-1950

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

Length with bayonet: 166.6 cm, 65.6"

Weight with bayonet:4.36 kg, 9lb 10 oz*

Weight without bayonet:4 kg, 8lb 13oz*

*Weight numbers are approximate. Because of the wide tolerances in production, weight can vary a lot. For example, according to measurements of batch of newly produced rifles in August,1943 lowest recorded weight of the rifle without bayonet was 3825 gr (4085 gr with bayonet), highest weight was 4180 gr (4480 gr  with bayonet), which indicates almost 9% deviation

The main and the most mass produced firearm of Red Army. Information about construction changes can be found in the "Parts & features" section, production numbers in the "Manufacturers & production numbers" section, and meanings of the markings in the "Markings & proofmarks" section.

56-B-222c

Sniper M91/30 rifle with Smirnsky top mount and PE/PEM scope

Production period : 1932-1937 hex receiver, 1936-1938 round receiver

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

PE scope weight: 625 gr, 1lb 6oz

The first officially accepted sniper rile in the Red Army. Information about construction changes can be found in the "Sniper" section , production numbers in the "Manufacturers & production numbers" section, and meanings of the markings in the "Markings & proofmarks" section.

56-B-222г

Sniper M91/30 rifle with model 1936 side mount and PE/PEM scope

Production period : 1938-1940, 1942

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

Information about construction changes can be found in the "Sniper" section (currently not available), production numbers in the "Manufacturers & production numbers" section, and meanings of the markings in the "Markings & proofmarks" section.

56-B-222a

Sniper M91/30 rifle with model 1942 Kochetov side mount and PU scope

Production period : 1942-1947

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

PU scope weight: 9,5 oz

The most mass produced  sniper rile in the Red Army and in the world. Information about construction changes can be found in "Sniper" section (currently not available), production numbers in the "Manufacturers & production numbers" section, and meanings of the markings in the "Markings & proofmarks" section.

56-B-224к

Model 1938 carbine

Production period : 1939-1945

Length : 102 cm, 40"

Weight: 3.5 kg, 7lb 11 oz

The M38 carbine was mainly used by cavalry and artillery troops because it was shorter and lighter than M91/30 rifle, which had excessive length for fast moving units. Because carbines were used without bayonets, its use by front line infantry troops was very limited. According to Soviet military doctrine, front line troops should actively use bayonets in combat. Information about construction changes can be found in the "Parts & features" section, specific carbine features in the "M38&M44 carbines" section, production numbers in the "Manufacturers & production numbers" section, and meaning of the markings in the "Markings & proofmarks" section.

56-B-224

Model 1944 carbine

Production period : 1943-1949

Length without bayonet: 102 cm, 40"

Length with bayonet: 133 cm, 52.4"

Weight with bayonet: 3.9 kg, 8lb 9oz

The shorter length of the M38 carbine, compared to the M91/30 rifle, was more suitable for trench fighting, but the absence of a bayonet was a serious issue. A decision was made in 1943 to design a non-detachable, folding bayonet for the M91/30 rifle, and soon thereafter for the M38 carbine. The non-detachable solution was chosen because the loss of regular M91/30 bayonets was very common. In some military units there were more rifles missing their bayonets than those with them. Production started in 1943.

Information about construction changes can be found in the "Parts & features" section, specific carbine features in the "M38&M44 carbines" section, production numbers in the "Manufacturers & production numbers" section, and meaning of the markings in the  "Markings & proofmarks" section.

Initial bullet speed and barrel pressure test rifles

During all of the M91 and M91/30 production period (and even after mass production was stopped) there was a group of specific so called "ballistics" rifles. These were used for various tests at the manufacturing and ammunition factories. Only a few of them are known in private collections. They were produced on a constant basis, just in small quantity 

There were two main models - barrel pressure testing rifles and initial bullet speed rifles. Both of them were produced based on the main M91 or M91/30 drawings, but with the smallest allowed deviations.

A barrel pressure test rifle from the prewar and early wartime period was just a regular rifle with a pressure test device installed on the barrel shank. Excellent video about such model was made by Forgotten Weapons.

Initial bullet speed test rifles from the same period external had no differences from the regular rifles, but, as mentioned above they were produced with higher accuracy. Both types were also made in carbine versions.

During the WW2 period "ballistics" rifles and carbines were simplified. The magazine was eliminated, they became single-shot rifles, sights were modified with no possibility of adjustment. Sling slots in the stock were eliminated. Rifles and carbines of this type were called "Model 1943" rifles and carbines. Some of these single shot rifles were found between regular refurbs. In the past it was believed that they are training rifles, however, this is not correct.

56-B-222k

Regular M91/30 rifle with pressure testing device

Production period : 1931-1945(?)

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

Pressure testing device attached to the barrel shank. Excerpt from the production drawings

56-E-008

Single shot rifle with pressure testing device

56-E-*** (exact code is unknown)

Single shot initial bullet speed test rifle

Production period : 1946(?)- late 1950's (?)

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

56-*-*** (exact code is unknown)

Single shot carbine with pressure testing device

56-*-*** (exact code is unknown)

Single shot initial bullet speed test carbine

Production period : 1946(?)- late 1950's (?)

Length without bayonet: 102 cm, 40"

Fencing carbine

This particular modification was not a gun, it's just a model of the carbine which was used for bayonet fencing competitions which were widely spread in the USSR in the 1930's-1950's.  It was made on the base of the M44 barrel blank and stock. The receiver was just a round blank with threads for the barrel and the front screw. The magazine was made from wood, trigger guard from steel leaf. The forestock was protected with a metal guard, the handguard was made completely from steel. These were produced by the Izhevsk factory and were marked with its civil logo - "74 in two perpendicular ovals". The carbines were used with a flexible fencing bayonet.

Production period : late 1940's

Length without bayonet: 102 cm, 40"

Trial rifles

During the 1930's-1940's the Soviets created a huge number of trial models of rifles and carbines with some non-standard features. Vast majority of these were produce in very small numbers, sometimes only few rifles or carbines were made for factory of proving ground trials. There were some groups of such rifles that were produced for wider field trials in troops in much bigger quantity. 

Stable rifles

Production period : 1936-1937

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

Production number: approximately 5000 for all types

In 1936-1937 the Tula factory produced 5 models of trial rifles with several differences compared to the regular M91/30's. All of them were modified to accept a  knife-blade bayonet of single type. They also have modified sights, stocks (including the stock finish) and receivers. All of these changes were supposed to improve the rifles shooting stability in different weather and use conditions. This trial group is called "stable rifles". Collectors know them as "Simonov trial rifles", but this attribution is not correct as Simonov had no relation to their development. Later more details about them will be provided in their specific section.

56-B-222 with folding bayonet

Regular M91/30 rifle with folding bayonet designed by N.S. Semin.

Production period : 1943-1944

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

Production number: approximately 19500

In 1942-1943 one of the main issues connected with M91/30 use in the field was the detachable bayonet. The bayonets didn't have scabbards which caused huge numbers of them to be lost. In the spring of 1943 a number of experimental models with non-detachable folding bayonets were created and submitted for trials. Best performance was shown by a bayonet, designed by N.S.Semin, who was a military acceptance representative at the Izhevsk factory. The first run for army trials was produced in June 1943, the next orders were placed in November and December 1943, and January 1944. Further production was stopped because the mass production of M91/30 rifle was stopped, factories were switched to M44 production.

56-B-222 with a short barrel shank

Production period : 1932-1937, 1943-1945

Length without bayonet: 123.2 cm, 48.5"

Production number: approximately 1000 for all modifications and periods

In 1932, the first model in big group of trial rifles with a short barrel shank was created. Common features of this group and rifles was a sleeve shaped rear sight base and short barrel shank. The front sight base was lower compared to regular rifles. The main purpose of their creation was to create a barrel profile which was more suitable for button rifling (regular rifles in 1930's had cut rifling). A number of models were made in 1932-1937 at Izhevsk and Tula factories, and some rifles and carbines were produced in 1943-1945 by the Izhevsk factory. So far all surviving rifles are located in museums and their pictures are not allowed for publication on the Internet. However, their detailed pictures are published in the 2018 "Model 1891/1930 Rifle and its variations" book by A.S. Yuschenko. At least one rifle from this group was found in relic condition in Russia.

Barrel with short shank and trial rear sight base assembly. Excerpt from the drawings.

Short M91/30 or long M44. Model 1945 rifle

Production period : 1934-1945

Length without bayonet: 110 cm, 43.3"

Length with bayonet: 144.5 cm, 56,9"

Weight with bayonet: 4 kg, 8lb 13 oz

Production number: approximately 5500 for all modifications and periods

After the M44 carbine was accepted into service, it was discovered that it had a number of disadvantages compared to the M91/30 rifle. Carbines had stronger recoil, the fire ball from the muzzle after shooting and accuracy at distances over 300 meters was much worse comparing to rifles. In 1944 a new model was created, so called "short rifle", which was supposed to connect all advantages of M44 carbines (non-detachanble bayonet, shorter length) and M91/30 rifles (lower recoil and better accuracy). It had an intermediate length between the M91/30 rifle and M44 carbine (almost identical to German 98k length) and a folding, non-detachable bayonet (M44 pattern but longer). Few of these rifles were produced for trials in 1944, a bigger batch was produced in 1945, at least 5000 were made.

A short sniper rifle with the same length, but without bayonet was also created. The front sight was identical to the M38 front sight. At least 400 short sniper rifles were produced in 1945. A number of short M1945 regular rifles survived in museums, some are believed to still sit in storage in Bulgaria (at least a few crates of them were reported to have been seen there), and at least one rifle is known to be in private ownership in the USA.

On the top - M91/30 rifle, in the middle - short M1945 rifle, on the bottom - M44 carbine.

Despite the fact that this website is dedicated only to Soviet firearms, it's worth mentioning some foreign made rifles and carbines, which are based in design on Soviet M91/30 rifles and M44 carbines. Only a brief description will be provided.

Foreign models, based on M91/30 design

Regular Hungarian rifle Hadipuska 48.M (48 Minta)

Mass production period : 1950-1953 (rifles from earlier and later years are possible)

Manufacturer: "Femaru" factory in Budapest, "02" production code

PU sniper Hungarian rifle Távcsöves Mesterlövö Gyalogsági Puska 48.M (48 Minta)

Production period : 1952-1954

Manufacturer: "Femaru" factory in Budapest, "02" production code

The rifle has no changes in construction compared to the Soviet M91/30 rifle. Metals parts have high quality polishing, beech wood was used instead of birch (compared to Soviet M91/30). All parts of the rifle were marked with manufacturer's code "02". Hungarian produced PU scopes were used on these sniper rifles

Markings on the Hungarian rifle.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Romanian M91/30 pattern rifle

Production period : 1955 only

Manufacturer: Cugir arsenal

Romania widely used Russian made M91's, Soviet M91/30's and M44's during the early postwar period, many of them are known with Romanian markings. In 1955 Romania manufactured a small quantity of their own M91/30 pattern rifles (according to serial numbers of known rifles - less than 100). One group of them had serial numbers consisting only of numbers, another group - with an "AC "prefix, numbering begins at 5000.

Manufacturers marking - triangle with an arrow inside. Some parts were marked with a "triangle with a "C" letter inside". Romanian M91/30 rifles have a unique design of the trigger assembly, front sight and rear sight leaf are also different from the Soviet designs. Stocks are reworked from M44 stocks (bayonet groove is present), a splice of the forestock was used. Romanian M44 production will be covered below.

Pictures of the mentioned above differences can be seen here.

Survey on serial numbers is available here.

Markings on a Romanian rifle.

Photo courtesy of Dave Phillips.

Albanian M91/30 pattern rifle

Production period : 1961 only

According to serial numbers less than 200 of these rifles were made. Construction features point that the source of the production drawings was China, not the USSR - some stock and receiver features are similar to Chinese T53's carbines features.

A unique feature of the Albanian M91/30 is the rear sight base is made as a sleeve. The design is similar to a carbine rear sight base and rear sight base from Soviet trial rifles with short barrel shank that are described above

Reserved for pictures

Finnish M91/30 pattern rifle (M30)

Production period : 1943-1944

Finland always used many recycled Russian and Soviet parts during production of their own M91 action based models. Because of the large amount of M91/30 rifles captured during the Winter and Continuation wars, in 1943 and 1944, Tikkakoski produced a batch of rifles with M91/30 pattern rear sights. These rifles can have a Finnish pattern or Soviet globe shaped front sights, round or hex receivers, Soviet or Finnish made stocks. Generally, these rifles can be described as Soviet M91/30's rebarreled by Finns.

Details about Finnish Tikka M91/30 rifles can be found here.

Markings on a Finnish M91/30 pattern rifle.

Photo courtesy of Dave Phillips.

Foreign models, based on M44 design

Hungarian M44 pattern carbine Gyalogsagi Karabely 48.M (48 Minta)

Production period : 1952-1953

Manufacturer: "Femaru" factory in Budapest, "02" production code

These carbines had no major changes in construction compared to the late pattern Soviet M44 carbines. Metal parts have a high quality of polishing, beech wood was used instead of birch (compared to the Soviet M44 carbines). All parts of the carbine were marked with manufacturer's code "02". Barrel markings are similar to the Hungarian 48. M rifle that is shown above.

Polish M44 pattern carbine

Production period : 1951-1955

Manufacturer: "Zaklady Metalowe im. generala Waltera (Radom)" factory in Radom, "11 in oval" production marking

Carbines had no major changes in construction compared to the late pattern Soviet M44 carbines. Metal parts had a high quality polishing, beech wood was used instead of birch (compared to the Soviet M44 carbines).

Early pattern stocks had no sling slot inserts in the rear, similar to Izhevsk wartime stocks, late pattern stocks (1954-1955) had full metal liners in sling slots. Both stocks types were marked with a "MO in diamond" acceptance marking

Markings on a Polish M44 carbine.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Early pattern Polish M44 carbine stock.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Late pattern Polish M44 carbine stock.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Romanian M44 pattern carbine

Production period : 1953-1955

Manufacturer: Cugir arsenal

Compared to the Romanian M91/30 pattern rifles, Romanian M44 pattern carbines were produced in much larger numbers. Carbines had no major changes in construction compared to the late pattern Soviet M44 carbines.

Manufacturers marking - triangle with an arrow inside. Some parts were marked with a "triangle with a "C" letter inside" marking.

Chinese M44 pattern T53 carbine

Production period : 1953-1956, 1960

Manufacturer: State Factory at Chongqing, "296" (1953-1954) and "26" (after 1954) markings

Carbines had no major changes in construction compared to the late pattern Soviet M44 carbines, however, small differences were present. Early T53's had some differences in barrel markings, compared to later carbines - in 1953 and 1954 the production month was marked after the production year (1-12). Earliest 1953 carbines also had an "A" letter prefix at the beginning of the serial number, and a Chinese character which means "test" or "trial" in the end. The "A" letter prefix was also used in 1960.

Markings on a Chinese T53 carbine.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Other foreign models

Chinese 56-B-241c pattern initial bullet speed test carbine

Production period : 1960 (?)

Manufacturer: (?)

 

In addition to T53's, China also produced initial bullet speed test carbines, which are similar to the Soviet model 1943 56-B-241c carbines. At the moment only a few of them are known, all are 1960 dated.

Chinese initial bullet speed carbine.

Pictures from open souces.

Post WW2 Comblock conversions

M91/38 carbine

Production period : Post 1945 (?)

Manufacturer: Bulgaria (?)

 

The M91/38 carbine is a postwar conversion of the infantry length M91 rifles and dragoon length M91 rifles (rarely M91/30 rifles) to M38/M44 carbine length with the use of the M38/M44 pattern rear sight base. Judging from the marks on the front sight area, originally all of these conversions had a M44 pattern front sleeve with a front sight base and bayonet lug (screwed in and pinned to the barrel), but in the current configuration the bayonet lug is machined off.

Collectors have always had a lot of controversial discussions about the origin of these carbines, but their markings point to a Bulgarian origin. The stock comb of these carbines is marked with a "20 in double rectangular" marking, which is a known Bulgarian military facility marking. Receivers often have a "KK 10 in circle" marking, which is a Bulgarian quality control marking.

M91/38 carbine.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

"KK 10 in circle" Bulgarian quality control marking.

Poorly stamped "20 in double rectangles" marking (left of the buttplate screw).

M91/59 carbine

Production period : 1959 and later (?)

Manufacturer: Bulgaria (?)

 

The M91/59 carbine is a postwar conversion of the dragoon length M91 rifles and M91/30 rifles to M38/M44 carbine length with use of the M91/30 pattern rear sight base (in case of the dragoon conversion, a M91/30 pattern base was installed). The markings on the rear sight leaf are milled over the 1000+ meters distances. The barrel shank has a "1891/59" marking above that original production year.

Collectors have always had a lot of controversial discussions about the origin of these carbines, but their markings point to a Bulgarian origin. The stock comb of these carbines is marked with a "20 in double rectangles" marking, which is a known Bulgarian military facility marking.

M91/59 carbine.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Poorly stamped "20 in double rectangles" marking (left of the buttplate screw).

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