PE and PEM scopes. General overview

This page will only cover mass produced Soviet PE and PEM scopes, it will not cover the early trials of foreign-made scopes (Soviet order) or the unsuccessful PT scope.

The scope, known to collectors as a "PE" scope, was accepted into service in November 1931. Its official name is "rifle scope model 1931" (винтовочный прицел обр.1931 г, ВП). Mass production started in 1932 by Factory No. 19 in Pavshino (shortly after production started it was renamed Krasnogorsk) near Moscow, however, it seems that some trial scopes were issued in 1931. Starting in 1933 this scope model was also called the "PE" scope. At the moment there is no confirmed documentation showing what the PE abbreviation means.

During 1932 the scope was redesigned several times, the 1932 issued scopes look slightly different from the later scopes. The earliest 1931-1932 scopes had a box shape middle part, later the box shape was rounded at the corners.  The reticle adjustment turrets had external locks. Both of these features are very similar to the E. Busch Visar No.5 scope (Russian order) , this design was used during the creation of the Soviet mod. 1931 scope. External locks were removed from scopes in early 1933. Any PE scope with these early features are very rare these days

1931-1932 early PE scopes, different patterns.

From the collection of Museum of Russian Military History (Padikovo)

1933 PE scope with an external lock on the elevation turret. It was used on the AVS-36 sniper.

Picture from open sources.

Starting with the 1933 production, PE scopes got their "standard" external look known to the majority of collectors. Until the end of production in 1937 the scope was modified several times, however, these changes are not visible externally (except for a change of the width of the brass rim of the objective lens assembly)

In 1937 the PE scope was replaced in production with a simplified model without the diopter adjustment. The Soviet abbreviation of this model was "ПЕ" (PE) scope without any reference to the model year, modern collectors call this scope a "PEM" scope ("PE" scope modernized). The PEM scope was produced until 1940, at this time it was replaced in production by the PU scope. A small batch of PEM scopes was produced in besieged Leningrad in 1942-1943.

Typical PE scope from 1933-1937 production. View from the side

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov.

Typical PEM scope from 1937-1940 production. View from the top

PE model 1931 scope manufacturers

Factory No. 19/ No. 69 (Factory of precise mechanics), Krasnogorsk

This factory originally designed the PE scope in 1931 and remained the its primary manufacturer. In 1937 it stopped scope production and focused on other military optics. PE scopes from this factory were marked on the external surface of the eyepiece lens block. Factory emblem (hammer and sickle a with star above, and two pentagons on the bottom), the production year and serial number were placed inside the rectangular central block with rounded corners.


In 1932-1936 these scopes were also marked with the model name "В.П. обр.1931 г." (Rifle scope model 1931) and a "У.В.П." (1932-1934) or a "А.У." (1935-1936) abbreviation above the rectangular central block with factory markings. "У.В.П" is an abbreviation for "Управление Военных приборов (АУ)", Directorate of Military devices of Main Artillery Directorate, "А.У." is an abbreviation for "Артиллерийское Управление", Main Artillery Directorate.


The Main Artillery Directorate or Directorate of Military devices of Main Artillery Directorate was a military agency that placed an order for the scopes at the manufacturing factory. These abbreviations indicates that a particular scope was made "according to order of ...". At the end of 1936 the model name and "А.У." abbreviation markings were eliminated, scopes were marked only with the main factory markings.


The earliest scopes had serial number consisting only of numbers, starting in 1934 and up to 1937 scopes had letter prefixes before the serial number, A, Б, B letter prefixes are known. The exact designation of letter prefixes is unknown at the moment, supposedly they represent version of the drawings that were used for production.

Production numbers:

1932 - 919

1933 - 6,410

1934 - 7,400

1935 - 12,991

1936 - 12,214

1937 - 302

Typical marking for a PE scope, manufactured by Factory of precise mechanics.

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov.

Later type of marking without the scope model name and "А.У." abbreviation

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov.

 

Factory No. 357 NKV ("Progress" factory), Leningrad

The factory in Leningrad started production of PE scopes during the second half of 1936, it produced them until early 1937 when it switched to modernized PEM scope production.

Factory markings were located in the same location as used by the factory in Krasnogorsk. The "Progress" factory  logo contained a hammer and sickle marking with a star above and a lens below. The serial number had an "A" letter prefix.

Production numbers were very low, these scopes are quite rare nowadays.

Production numbers:

1936 - 1,001

1937 - 6,000

Factory No. 357 ("Progress") marking.

Serial number of the scope is A1975 (numbering started at 1000)

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

PEM scope manufacturers

Factory No. 357 NKV ("Progress" factory), Leningrad

The factory in Leningrad had no experience in military optics manufacture, the PE scope was a very complicated and expensive device to produce. This forced the factory to search for a  ways to simplify production. The simplified model of the PE scope without diopter adjustment was designed by the Leningrad factory in the fall of 1936. After successful trials, the Main Artillery directorate recommended to replace the PE scope with a new model. Production of the modernized PE scope started in Leningrad in early 1937 and ended in mid 1940, at this time the factory switched to PU scope production.

 

The factory emblem (hammer and sickle marking with a star above and a lens below) was placed similarly to the PE scope. It was on the eyepiece assembly, while the serial number and production year were engraved in the middle part of scope, near the turrets. In 1937 and early 1938 the factory logo was a little different from the later version - the lens had a break in the middle.

 

1937 and early 1938 scopes had an "A" letter prefix before the serial number, 1938-1939 scopes - "Б" letter prefix, 1940 scopes - "B" letter prefix. The exact designation of the letter prefixes is unknown at the moment, supposedly they represent version of the drawings that were used for production.

Production numbers:

1937 - 11,571

1938 - 31,501

1939 - 36,534

1940 - 27,764

Typical factory #357 PEM scope. View from the top

On top - early factory marking (lens with a break in the middle), on the bottom - late type

Serial numbers with different letter prefixes

Factory No. 3 NKVD (FED factory, factory in the name of F.E. Dzerzhinskiy), Kharkov
 

Because the Progress factory in Leningrad was unable to satisfy the demand for PEM scopes wanted by the Army, a decision was made to start production of scopes at an additional factory. A new manufacturer was selected, the "a labor community in the name of F.E.Dzerzihsky" in Kharkov, which produced FED photo cameras. In 1939 it was reorganized and called the factory No.3 NKVD.


Production of PEM scopes there started in 1939 and ended in 1940, at this time the factory switched to PU scope production (the PU scope was designed by this factory). PEM scopes from this manufacturer had some external and internal differences to the Leningrad produced PEM scopes. The most noticeable outer difference is vertical knurling (instead of a diamond shape on Leningrad PEM's), on the turret caps and two locking screws on the eyepiece assembly (instead of one on Leningrad PEM's).


Scope were marked with a factory logo (hammer and sickle marking with a star below and a lens with breaks in the middle) on the eyepiece Assembly, production year and serial number were engraved near the turrets.


FED factory made scopes are much more rare than Leningrad scopes.

 

In 1939 the factory created an experimental PE-2 scope which was much simpler in production than a regular PEM scope, but it remained only a trial piece. One of the trial PE-2 scopes survived, images of it will be published soon

Production numbers:

1939 - 5,466

1940 - 9,340

Typical factory No.3 NKVD PEM scope.

Note the two screws on the eyepiece block (Leningrad scopes had one)

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov

Factory No.3 NKVD PEM scope markings

Note the vertical knurling on the turret caps (Leningrad scopes had diamond shape knurling). Serial numbers used by this factory do not corresponds with actual production numbers.

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov

Factory No. 349 NKV (State optical-mechanical factory, GOMZ), Leningrad
 

The production of the PEM scope stopped in 1940, however, in 1942-1943 a small number of them was assembled at the GOMZ factory in Leningrad. The GOMZ factory was a famous optical factory which was partially evacuated in the Autumn of 1941. The Soviets were not able to evacuate the factory completely, as a result, some production capacities were left in Leningrad. During the siege, the Leningrad defense industry produced a huge variety of weapons and military devices, to offset the low supply of equipment from the "Big Land".


From the summer of 1942 up to early 1943 this factory assembled less than 2,000 PEM scopes. During production leftover parts from the Progress factory were used, some missing parts were newly produced. The factory also produced their own simplified version of the Smirnsky top mount (for sniper M91/30 rifles) with a base for round receivers. Despite archive documents mentioning production of scopes in 1942, currently none of the 1942 scopes have been discovered, only 1943 produced scopes are known.


Some GOMZ scopes have a middle tube made from brass with a saturated red finish instead of a steel tube found on regular PEM scopes, this is likely because of the absence of steel blanks. Some scope had blued steel turret bases instead of brass with nickel plated bases like those on regular PEM scopes, the screws in the central are are not staked. Scopes were issued with a unique to this factory green canvas caps with shiny rivets and black or green scope covers.


This factory marked their scopes with a factory logo and serial number on the eyepiece assembly. The first two numbers indicate the production year - 1943.


The lowest observed number for a GOZM scope is 430,047, the highest observed number is 431,766. The vast majority of surviving scopes were never issued and still are in mint condition. Approximately 50 of them were found in Russia in 2013, which made them more common in the market.

Production numbers:

1942 - 304

1943 - 1,670

Typical factory No.349 NKV PEM scope with factory original mount and accessories

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov

On the top - scope with a standard steel tube and non-standard blued steel turret bases;

On the bottom - scope with non-standard brass tube. Turret bases are standard, nickel plated brass.

Factory markings on the scope

PO-1 hunting scope

In 1939-1941 factory No. 357 NKV in Leningrad also produced PO-1 hunting scopes for the TOZ-1 rifle. The PO-1 design was bases on the PEM scope design, many PEM scope parts were used in it's production. The PO-1 scope is missing the windage turret, windage adjustment was only possible with a screwdriver. The front part of the tube is missing the ring, which was necessary for its use in military mod. 1936 and Smirnsky mounts. PO-1 scopes were marked with a different factory No. 357 logo, compared to the logo used on military PEM scopes.

PO-1 scope (on the top and in the middle) in comparison with a PEM scope (on the bottom)

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov

PO-1 scope marking

Photo courtesy of Anton Patrakov

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