PEM side mount model 1936 sniper rifles

Overview

The sniper rifle with the model 1937 scope and model 1936 mount was the second sniper rifle that was officially accepted into service in the Red Army. Negative experience, received after field use of the model 1931 top mount sniper, forced the Soviets to start research into the creation of a new sniper mount in 1935, only 4 years after serial production of model 1931 sniper rifles stared. The main issue with the earlier model was the fact that the impact point moved after attachment/detachment of the mount and scope, during shooting mount screws came loose. This meant that the setup was considered to be unstable during intensive use.

Numerous designs were tested, the best performance was showed by a "Geco" D-3 mount, which was used by OGPU/NKVD troops and the Dynamo shooting club since 1932. But the "Geco" mount was not accepted into  military service, existing examples were produced in Germany according to the Soviet orders. After successful military trials, the Soviets decided to create their own copy, a slightly modified original German design. The mount and base became shorter, rings were redesigned as two-piece (The "Geco" mount had solid rings, which required scope disassembly for installation), base was modified for the round receiver (it was rounded in the area where it was attached to the receiver). Only a few trial mounts were made in 1936, it was very complicated in production design and mass production, requiring time for setup. Despite this, the mount was officially accepted into military service same year.

Serial production of sniper rifles with the new "Geco" pattern model 1936 mount started in the summer of 1938. Until this time, the sniper rifle with model 1931 mount remained in production. During the prewar period the only manufacturer of this new sniper rifle was the Tula arms factory.* The Tula factory stopped production in summer 1940, because all M91/30 production was stopped at this time and the factory switched to SVT-40 semi-auto rifle production. A sniper version of the SVT-40 was supposed to be the new main sniper rifle of the Red Army.

* In 1939 The Tula arms factory received a new number within the system of the Peoples Commissariat of Armament - No. 314, instead of No. 173.

The beginning of war changed the plans. The SVT-40 was very difficult to produce, especially during rough wartime conditions. In October 1941, Tula factory (No. 314) was evacuated and temporary stopped sniper rifle production. The Red Army was left without a supply of new sniper rifles, this was a huge problem considering the heavy loses during the early period of the war.

In early 1942 it was decided to restore production of sniper rifles with the model 1936 mount. A new factory, No. 536, which was created at the location of the evacuated Tula factory No.314, produced the first rifles in February 1942. In April 1942, production of PEM sniper rifles was also started by the Izhevsk factory No.74, which never previously produced any sniper rifles. The Izhevsk factory produced mounts had one difference compared to Tula mounts - they had a screw that locks the main front ring screw. This feature was present on the original Geco mount, but was not used in Soviet copies in the 1930's.

 

Both factories stopped production of sniper rifles with model 1936 mount in November 1942, when they completely switched to the PU model 1942 sniper mount. During all production periods, model 1936 sniper mounts and bases were marked with an assembly number, which was different from the rifle's serial number, it indicated that the base and mount were matched to each other.

Tula factory No. 314 model 36 PEM sniper rifles (1938-1940)

Production started in July 1938. During the initial manufacturing period, the factory had some problems with the production of mounts and bases, because it was not able to precisely produce the dovetail connection. According to the instruction, attachment of the mount to the base should be smooth, once the movement of the mount was no longer possible without tension, the main locking screw should provide some tension once it was screwed into the end. When the mount was installed, there should be at least 0.5 mm spacing between it and the pin at the base. These requirements needed very high machining quality, Tula spent a few months to set up this production.

Spacing between the mount and base pin

During the initial production period the mount design was updated several times, mainly the bases were changed.

In 1938 at least three types of bases were produced

- thin straight base;

- thin angled base;

- thick angled base.

 

*Straight base ensured parallelism of the scope and rifle central lines, angled bases ensured their crossing at a 300 meter distance (connected with different ways of sighting, used by Soviets)

 

Thin bases required a cutout in the stock for mount detachment. The factory used at least three different types of assembly numbers. The earliest pattern was only numeral, another one was also numeral, but started with a "0", the latest type had a two letter prefix and three numbers. Barrels for the model 1936 mount sniper rifles were produced with higher accuracy requirements compared to regular rifles, because of this they were marked with a "СП" sniper grade marking.

Early thin straight and late thick angled bases

Early model 1936 mount sniper rifle with a thin base - stock has a cutout for mount detachment

Tula factory No.173/No.314 manufactured PEM model 1936 mount

Factory No. 314 model 1936 mount sniper. The rifle is matching except for the scope and mount, which are original, but from a different rifle. Late pattern, thick angled base.

Photo courtesy of Matt Darnell, https://www.wwiigermansniper.com/

Tula factory No. 536 model 36 PEM sniper rifles (1942)

When production of sniper rifles was started by the newly created factory No. 536, it used the latest prewar pattern sniper rifles drawings. Generally, the 1942 sniper rifles were similar to 1940 PEM sniper rifles (they used a thick angled base). The only difference was a different pattern of assembly numbers on the mount and base (they had an OO prefix before the main number). The earliest 1942 snipers do not have special sniper grade marking on the barrel.

 

The absence of this marking is explained by the fact that the Tula factory had very limited equipment at this time, it was unable to produce sniper barrels according to the prewar standards. The best barrels were selected according to measurements and were used in sniper rifle production. Once the situation with supply and equipment improved, sniper grade barrels were put into production again. However, compared to prewar barrels, they were marked with a "CH" marking instead of the "СП" marking.

Some 1942-1944 factory No. 536 rifles can have a "CH" marking, but were never drilled for the scope mount. An explanation was found in period factory reports - sometimes the factory had an insufficient supply of mount blanks (they were supplied by the Tula "machinegun" factory No. 535.), they simply didn't have the mounts to install them. These rifles were issued without a scope and mount, in regular configuration, with the purpose of general production plan implementation.

On the left - 1942 factory No. 536 PEM sniper rifle, on the right - 1942 PU sniper rifle.

Both have "CH" sniper grade barrel marking.

Picture from open sources

On the top - pattern of the mount assembly number, used by factory No. 536 in 1942,

On the bottom - by factory No. 314 in 1939-1940

Picture from open sources

Early 1942 factory No. 536 PEM sniper rifles without a "CH" sniper grade barrel markings.

Pictures courtesy of Dmitry Epshteyn

Izhevsk factory No. 74 model 36 PEM sniper rifles (1942)

In late 1941, when the Tula factory No. 314 (which produced SVT-40 rifles at that moment) was evacuated to Mednogorsk and was unable to produce large numbers of SVT-40's, the Izhevsk factory remained the only manufacturer of rifles in the country, that was able to made them in very high quantity. It's not surprising that in early 1942, when it was decided to restore production of sniper M91/30 rifles with mod. 1936 mount, factory No. 74 was selected as a manufacturer.

Previously the Izhevsk factory never produced sniper rifles, prewar sniper rifles were all produced by the Tula factory. But in 1942 the Izhevsk factory was in relatively good condition compared to other factories - it was not disorganized by an evacuation, the front line was far from the Izhevsk, it was a proper place for production. The Izhevsk factory redesigned the model 1936 mount. Tula mounts were milled from one piece of metal, while Izhevsk mounts were welded and had welded ring bases. The front ring base was updated with a locking screw, which was not used on Tula mounts, but was present on the original 1930's "Geco" mount.

The Izhevsk factory used a "C" in circle proofmark as sniper grade marking. Also factory also stamped a scope number on the left side of the barrel shank, Tula PEM snipers did not have this feature. Because of this, Izhevsk sniper rifles did not have a point of aim proofmark ("K in circle). Regular rifles, issued by the Izhevsk factory after 1941, had this marking on the left side of the barrel shank. Sniper rifles had a scope serial number in that location, because of this, the "K in circle" is missing on sniper rifles. This is a useful feature in verification of the originality of Izhevsk PEM's.

Earliest 1942 PEM snipers had stocks without half liners in the rear sling slot (like regular Izhevsk rifles), later, stocks had half liners in the rear. Compared to prewar PEM snipers, 1942 Izhevsk and Tula PEM's are much rarer. Majority of the surviving rifles are in refurbished ex-sniper configuration. Only a few non refurbished examples are known in private possession, factory matching examples are known only in museum collections.

Izhevsk factory No.74 manufactured PEM model 1936 mount

Welding traces

Assembly number on the mount. It was stamped the same way on the base

Finn captured scopeless Izhevsk factory No.74 PEM sniper. The rifle is mismatched, but still has an original 1942 Izhevsk PEM sniper stock. Bent bolt is from the later PU sniper.

Photo courtesy of Matt Darnell, https://www.wwiigermansniper.com/

Scope number at the barrel shank. Judging from the serial number, the original scope was a 1939 PEM scope from the FED factory

"C in circle" sniper grade proofmark on the barrel shank (poorly stamped)

Mount release cutout at the rear of the stock was made in the field, originally it was not supposed to be there because Izhevsk used a thick, angled mount base

Stock has a half liner in the rear sling slot. It was missing on regular stocks

Early 1942 Izhevsk PEM sniper rifle without a half liner in the rear sling slot

1942 Izhevsk PEM sniper rifle with a half liner in the rear sling slot

Other Tula and Izhevsk model 1936 sniper rifle differences

In addition to the features mentioned above, there were other differences in mounts. Bases on Tula prewar rifles were attached to the receiver with M5*0.5 mm screws, while Izhevsk bases were attached with M5*0.75 mm screws. Spacing between the holes was different. Izhevsk PEM sniper rifles had through holes for the base pins, while Tula holes for pins were blind.

Tula PEM mount holes pattern.

Rifle is a restored ex-sniper

Izhevsk PEM mount holes pattern.

Rifle is a restored ex-sniper

Ex-snipers

During the post 1945 period, all PEM snipers that survived WW2, which were still in Soviet hands (many of these rifles were captured or lost), were converted to ex-sniper configuration. The reasons for this conversion are mentioned in an article on the Patreon blog.

These ex-snipers can be found among regular M91/30 refurbs. Quite often the plugs in the former mount base screw holes are welded and polished very well, it can be difficult to spot them from the external surface of the receiver. But the plugged screw hole that can be seen on the inside of the receiver allow an ex-sniper rifle to be easily spotted. It is also worth to closely look at the barrel markings - the sniper grade barrel proofmark can also help to verify an ex sniper.

1940 Tula mod.1936 mount ex-sniper rifle.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

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