PU scopes. General overview

The PU scope was created in early 1940 by Factory #3 NKVD located in Kharkov. It was created by a factory initiative, without an order, and was intended for use with the sniper version of the Tokarev semi-automatic rifle (SVT-40), which was tested at this time. The first scopes were supplied for testing in May 1940, they successfully passed. The PU scope was accepted into service on the 18 of July 1940, mass production of scopes began in the Autumn of 1940. During the autumn of 1940 production was also started by Factory #357 NKV in Leningrad.

Until the autumn of 1942 all scopes produced were manufactured for SVT-40 semi-auto sniper rifles. All "SVT" scopes from both factories had similar features - the distance turret was calibrated for SVT-40 ballistics, the zero of the windage turret was located in the center (it was offset on M91/30 scopes), the objective had internal threading (absent on M91/30 scopes). The style of markings on the elevation turrets was different for different factories.

Factory # NKVD (which got a new number #296NKAP in 1941) stopped PU scope production during the summer of 1942, Factory #357 NKV remained the only manufacturer of PU scopes (still producing SVT-40 scopes only).  After the decision was made to start production of the M91/30 sniper rifle, factory #357 NKV  switched to production of PU scopes for them instead of SVT scopes. The first scopes were different from SVT scopes only in the elevation turret calibration and the offset from the center placement of the “zero” of the windage turrets. They still had the SVT style tube. Turrets that were calibrated for M91/30 ballistics had the letters "CB"*. The serial number of these scopes has an “A” prefix in the serial number.

*Exact meaning of CB abbreviation is unknown. But highly likely it stands for "Снайперская винтовка" (sniper rifle). This may sound confusing, because SVT-40 is also a sniper rifle, but Soviets called SVT-40 snipers another way - "semi auto sniper rifle", or "sniper SVT rifle" (СнСВТ/SnSVT abbreviations). While "sniper rifle" term was normally used to indicate M91/30 based sniper rifles.

 

In February 1943, the shape of the tube was changed with the elimination of the narrow area in rear part . The first scopes of this type still have the "CB" marked turrets and experimental turret caps. The construction was quickly changed again, the scopes received newly designed turrets with an external stop (a pin), production returned to the the old style of the construction of the turret caps.

On the left - SVT type tube with narrow area, on the right - M91/30 type tube without narrow area

On the left - turret with internal stop (pin), on the right - turret with external stop (pin).

At the top - standard turret cap, at the bottom - experimental cap, which covers axis.

In summary, true "SVT" scopes were produced only in 1940-1942 by two factories - #3 NKVD (#296 NKAP since 1941) and #357 NKV.  For 1942, scopes from factory #357 NKV, only the models without the "A" letter prefix were made for use on SVT sniper rifles, scopes with the "A" prefix are for the M91/30 PU sniper, even though they still had the tube design suitable for use with an SVT mount. During the wartime period, as well as postwar, many SVT scopes were converted to M91/30 ballistics by replacing the elevation ring.

Factory #357 NKV SVT scope turrets.

M91/30 scope turret with an internal stop (SVT scope pattern). CB marking indicates that scope is calibrated for M91/30 ballistics.  All factories.

Threading inside of the objective. It was present on SVT scopes. The exact purpose is unknown, supposedly had anti-reflection designation.

Factory #3 NKVD / #296 NKAP SVT scope turrets.

M91/30 scope turret with an external stop (a pin). All factories.

Factory #3 NKVD / #296 NKAP (Kharkov/Berdsk) PU scopes.

 

As previously mentioned, this factory created the original PU scope design. The first 25 scopes made were produced for trials in May 1940. A likely example of one of these scopes, serial number 0023, is shown at the top in the image below. It has an atypical marking, which is covered by the mount rings, this indicates that it was designed before there was an established mount design. General drawing of the scope were created during the summer of 1940, serial production started in the autumn of 1940.

In February 1941, Factory #3 NKVD was transferred to another Commissariat – the Peoples Commissariat of Aircraft Industry – and received a new number – #296 NKAP. In September 1941, the factory was evacuated to Berdsk where it stopped production in the summer of 1942. The optical manufacturing equipment was later moved to Factory #297 NKV in Yoshkar-Ola. All scopes produced in 1940-1942 were designed for the SVT 40, they had the dot-style knurl pattern on the turret caps.

Production numbers are:

1940 - 5,675

1941 - 17,786

1942 - 2,500* (approximately, according to the serial numbers of known scopes)

1940-1942 PU SVT-40 scopes, produced by Factory #3 NKVD / #296 NKAP.

Factory #357 NKV (Leningrad/Omsk) scopes.

 

This factory (previously named “Progress”) was the primary manufacturer of PU scopes in 1940-1945. Production of scopes started in the Autumn of 1940. In July-August 1941 the factory was evacuated to Omsk. The first scopes produced at the new location were assembled in September. All scopes produced in 1940-1941 and those 1942 scopes that do not have an “A” letter prefix in serial number (as 1940-1941 specimens) were designed for use with the SVT-40. Starting in October 1942,  all scopes made by this factory were made for the M91/30

 

In 1943 the factory changed the design of the scope tube - the narrow area in rear part was eliminated, the factory logo and serial number were moved to the rear part of the tube

.

In addition to the changes in the placement and type of the factory logo and the serial number, in 1943, the style of numbering was changed – the “B” letter serial number prefix appeared instead of the “A” prefix. The majority of the“B” prefix scopes are 1944 production, however, serial numbers that are less than “B-30000” (approximately) are 1943 production. At the end of 1944, the factory began to engrave production years. These scopes are very rare. Production was stopped at the end of January 1945, a small number of scopes were assembled from leftover parts over the next few months.

Production numbers are:

1940 - 15,011

1941 - 42,879

1942 - 35,383

1943 - 115,683

1944 - 105,009

1945 - 1,508

1940-1942 PU SVT-40 scopes, produced by Factory #357 NKV

1942-1943 PU M91/30 scopes, produced by Factory #357 NKV.

1944-1945 PU M91/30 scopes, produced by Factory #357 NKV.

Factory #357 NKV created many experimental scopes. Shown below is an example of a scope with a tube made using a Silicon-Aluminum alloy. The objective lens assembly has a different construction – the lenses are not sealed and can be removed during disassembly. Only a few scopes of this type are known, judging from the serial numbers (it seems that they have separate numbering), only about a 1000+ of them were produced. Trial scopes were also created without windage and distance adjustments, the usual post reticle was replaced with a range finding reticle.

Factory #237 NKV (Kazan) scopes.

 

Production of scopes at this factory started in March 1943. The majority of the scopes produced by this factory in 1943-1944 were the SVT tube scopes. All of these were designed for M91/30 rifles. A few thousand scopes with the M91/30 tube were produced just before production ended in 1944. This factory was the only manufacturer of the SVT tube scopes in 1944. It was also the only manufacturer that used the updated turrets with the pin stop on SVT tube scopes (in 1944). Earlier scopes had CB marked turrets.

 

Production numbers are:

1943 - 21,783

1944 - 17,224

1943-1944 M91/30 scopes produced by Factory #237 NKV.

Factory #297 NKV (Yoshkar-Ola) scopes.

 

Production of scopes at this factory started in March 1943. Considering that the optical manufacture equipment from Factory  #296 NKAP in Berdsk was evacuated to the location of Factory #297 NKV, the early scopes produced by #297 NKV have some similar features to the Factory #296 NAP scopes, such as the dot knurling on the turret caps. All scopes produced by this factory were designed for the M91/30 rifle. Approximately the first 3,000 scopes had an engraved production year, later the year of production was coded into the first 2 digits of the serial number.

 

Approximately the first 5,000 specimens were SVT tube scopes. Early M91/30 tube scopes still have the CB marked distance turret (a unique feature – the factory filled the CB letters with red paint), these were soon replaced with the updated turrets with a pin stop. Approximately the last 5,000 scopes produced by this Factory in 1944 had the full production year engraved again.

Many 1943-1944 scopes have a red tint to the bluing.

 

Production numbers are:

 

1943 - 34,800

1944 - 56,817

1943-1944 M91/30 scopes produced by Factory #297 NKV

Factory #393 NKV (Krasnogorsk) scopes.

 

The first effort to start production of PU scopes at this factory was made in 1942. Because of the lack of machinery and limited production capacity, the factory tried to create a model based on the trial example of Factory #357 NKV with a tube made from a silicon-aluminum alloy using a simplified adjustment mechanism. This trial example was called the PU-42, but mass production never started. In March 1943, production of a modernized version, the PU-43, began. The last scopes were produced in April 1944.  Despite mass production, these scopes are now scarce.  During summer of 1944 the GAU prohibited production of PU scopes made with the silicon-aluminum alloy. After the war the majority of these scopes were disposed of because they were no longer serviceable. Early examples were not finished and had a matte silver tube with a black anodized eyepiece. Later, the tube was anodized in red and purple colors, eventually scopes were painted with black enamel.

 

Production numbers are:

 

1943 - 62,611

1944 - 17,930

1943-1944 PU-43 M91/30 scopes produced by Factory #393 NKV.

Ranges of PU scope serial numbers used by different factories.

According to author's observations

* The lowest known serial number of a 1942 scope is lower than the highest know 1941 serial. This indicates that some tubes engraved with the year 1941 were used in 1942 production.

** Lowest known serial number of the later marking type is lower than highest know serial of the earlier marking type.

1. Scopes in this range of serial numbers had the full production year engraved, later the year was coded in the first two digits of the serial number.

2. Scopes in this range of serial numbers had the full production year engraved in the area of the factory marking, the year is coded as the first two digits of the serial number as on the  earlier examples.

Like any other soviet weapons and devices, PU scopes were refurbished postwar. Normally, they were marked with repair depot markings, which refurbished them, near the original factory marking. A list of repair depot markings can be seen in this section.

In rare cases the original factory markings were removed, repair depots added a new serial number. Almost all known scopes with removed original factory markings were refurbished by Arsenal #2 in Kyiv (This arsenal use a box with two crossed lines as a marking)

1943 Factory #393 NKV scope with MO repair depot marking, 1950.

Wartime PU scope with removed original factory markings.  Reworked by Arsenal #2 in 1953.

Postwar PU scopes

PU scopes were widely used postwar. Some were used on trial sniper rifles until the PSO scope was designed, mostly they were used with different heavy machine-guns. The majority of these scopes were newly produced models, some were conversions done on wartime scopes. The construction of these scopes was identical to the PU, the only difference was the elevation rings, windage rings were left the same (windage settings on PU scopes is counten in russian, equivalent of miliradians).

Machine-gun scopes are painted with olive paint,  the front part of the tubes is black. Sometimes they have a silver-colour tube. Each model of the scope had their Main Artillery Directorate code engraved on the tube (Regular PU scope Main Artillery Directorate code is 51-ОМ-611А) . Silver-tube scopes sometimes don't have this, but they have the caliber of the gun they supposed to be used  on.  The purpose of these scopes was to sight in the main collimator sight.

The first group of the scopes consists of 6 models, they were produced for use at 14.5 mm KPV machine gun and a 23 mm cannon on various mounts. They have have different codes, but the elevation rings on the distance turret are the same, with distance up to 2000 m. They are:

51-OM-620 - for the 14.5 mm KPV heavy machine-gun on ZPU-1 and ZU-2 mounts;

51-OM-621- for the quadruple towed anti-aircraft gun based on the 14.5 KPV heavy machine gun

51-OM-620A, 51-OM-620Б - for the 14,5 mm KPV heavy machine-gun on ZGU-1 mount (light modification for use in the mountains);

51-OM-620Г - designation is unknown at the moment;

10П8 - for 23 mm ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannon.

*51-OM-xx code means that device was accepted to service before 1956, XYX code , where Y is a letter and X are numbers were used since 1956 (for newly accepted devices).

51-ОМ-620 scope.

Pictures from open sources.

51-ОМ-620Г scope.

Pictures from open sources.

10П8 scope.

Pictures from open sources.

14.5 mm KPV heavy machine-gun scopes without the Main Artillery directorate code.

First two numbers of the serial number are the production year (for particular 14.5 mm scopes shown below)

Pictures from open sources.

14.5 mm KPV heavy machinegun scopes without the Main Artillery directorate code.

The production year is coded with the letter M. Letter coding was used in the 1950's, M stands for 1958 or 1959 (exact designation is unknown at this time)

Pictures from open sources.

Wartime PU scope reworked for a 14.5 mm heavy machine-gun.

Another scope, with a code 10П81, it was supposed to be used on a 12.7 NSV machine-gun on a light infantry mount 6Y6. The only difference between the 14.5 mm and 23 mm machine-gun scopes was the elevation ring - it was marked up to 1800 m instead of 2000 m.

10П81 scope.

Pictures from open sources.

12.7 heavy machine-gun scope without the 10П81 code. Elevation ring has markings up to 1800 m.

Pictures from open sources.

The last model, 1П6 scope, had a quite interesting area of use. It was part of the equipment of the ground radiolocation station, it was used during calibration of radar optical and electric wave axis. Both turrets of this scope had the same rings, calibrated to the Russian equivalent of miliradians, they were identical to windage rings of a regular PU scope (0+/-10 settings)

1П6 scope.

Pictures from open sources.

1П6 scope with mount.

Pictures from open sources.

At lest since 1960 the Soviets produced a hunting version of the PU scope, it was called the TO-4 (later the TO-4M scope). The tube had a black finish and was made from aluminium, this scope was lighter than a regular PU scope.

Hunting TO-4 scopes with different markings

Pictures from open sources.

During the second half of the 1980's the Soviets created a special mount which allowed PU scopes to be used on 5.45 and 7.62 RPK machineguns and  5.45 and 7.62 AK's. The weapon used should have a standard dovetail base on the right side of the receiver. The scope itself was not modified, the only update was that it got an aluminium ring on the eyepiece which allowed for the installation of a PSO rubber eyecup.

Each weapon had list of scope adjustments for different distances, it was printed in the manual which came with setup. This setup using the PU scope and this mount was called the PU-1.

PU-1 setup pictures.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Comblock PU scopes

Copies of Soviet PU scopes (or slightly modified models) were produced postwar by some Comblock countries. Currently we know about Hungarian, Polish, and Yugoslavian PU scopes.

The most common are Hungarian PU scopes. They were designed for use on Hungarian PU M52 sniper rifles, production started in 1952. This scope had no difference in construction compared to a Russian PU scopes the only difference was the markings. These scopes are marked with a "41", which is a manufacturer's code that belongs to “Magyar Optikai Muvek”. They were also marked with the production year (1952-1954) and the scope serial number. Early 1952 scopes had serial number starting with 51, the next four numbers are the scope number in the batch. Later 1952 scopes and 1953-1954 scopes had serials starting with 52, next four numbers are also scope numbers in the batch. These scopes were also numbered with the rifle's serial number.

Markings on a Hungarian PU scope. 525,085 - scope serial number, 4,649 - rifle serial number.

Photo courtesy of Walther Miller.

PU sniper rifles were also used by the Polish army. But the rifles used were Soviet PU snipers with Soviet PU scopes, quite often these rifles were refurbished in Poland, during refurbishment they got new stocks made from from beech wood. PU scopes were also repaired, many of them had repair markings, "WZR-**", where ** is a year of the repair. WZR means "Wojskowe Zakady Remontowe", military repair units.

However, Poland produced some new PU scopes, at least for use on heavy machine guns.

Markings on the Polish 14.5 mm heavy machine-gun PU scope.

131 in oval - manufacturer marking (PZO, Polskie Zakłady Optyczne ) , U-4210 -scope number, 1960 - production year

Pictures from open sources.

Another version of the Soviet PU scope was produced in the early 1950's in Yugoslavia, by Tovarna Opticnih Sredstev ("TOS") factory in Ljubljana. This scope had a modified objective lens block compared with the Soviet PU (magnification was increased from 3,5x to 4x comparing with regular PU), it was named "ON52". Judging from the serial numbers on the known scopes, approximately 4000 were produced. Currently it is believed that they were produced for M48/52 sniper rifles, however,  yet none of the legit rifles in museums/open collections are known, which is quite strange considering number of the produced PU scopes. So this question requires further research.

ON-52 Yugoslavian PU scope.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

There were other modification of PU scopes, issued by Comblock countries. At the moment nothing detailed can be mentioned on this page about them. The country of origin of some known scopes has not yet been identified.

Markings on a 14.5 mm heavy machine-gun PU scope.

Country of origin is unknown.

Pictures from open sources.

Reproduction PU scopes

There are a large number of different reproduction PU scopes. However, if you are reading this text, you already read everything above and know how original soviet markings should look like and where they should be located. From all of the existing reproduction scopes only two should be mentioned in detail.

The best of the existing reproductions was produced by the Ukranian military optics factory "Photopribor" in Cherkasy, in 2000's-2010'. This scope has a construction that is identical to the original and is very durable. This factory also reproduced Factory #357 NKV markings, which produced these scopes during Soviet times. These markings can confuse an inexperienced collector. Originally, the manufacturer sold these scopes as reproductions, but, some re-sellers sometimes describe them as "original Soviet scopes". This factory also produced a PU mount setup which was issued with these scopes.

 

The serial number pattern on these scopes is not an exact copy of the soviet system - while the original Soviet factory #357 NKV used A and Б letter prefixes in serial number, the Ukrainian factory used the Ч  letter prefix. This likely stands for Черкаси (Cherkasy), a city in Ukraine where the factory is located. These reproductions also have "flat" screws, which are described by many sources as the main difference between reproduction and original scopes. However, the screws are not the  easiest thing to spot - it's easier to see the difference  by looking at the style of the serial number.

Reproduction scope and mount setups were issued under the factory code ПО-4МР, this was mentioned in documentation that was issued with them.

Markings on a ПО-4МР reproduction PU scope with matching factory papers, 2009 production date

Pictures from open sources.

Another reproduction was produced by a Ukrainian military optics factory in Izum. This scope is not an exact copy of the PU scope, this factory also reproduced original Soviet factory #357 NKV markings, which also can confuse an inexperienced collector. However, these scope are also easy to spot - there is a visible ring insert between the main tube and the eyepiece block, which is absent on original PU scopes.

 

These scopes were sold by the manufacturer as reproductions in two versions, one was for a SVT mount, that factory also produced (more details here), and one for PU mount, made by the factory. The SVT version was issued under the the code ПД-8А, the M91/30 version - ПД-8. The M91/30 version of the scope has several differences that set it apart from the original scope (scope tube has a different shape, turrets are different), but the SVT version is much closer to the original.

ПД-8А SVT PU scope reproduction.

Well visible ring in the rear make it easy to spot.

Pictures from open sources.

ПД-8 M91/30 PU scope reproduction.

Pictures from open sources.

Copyright © 2020  M9130.info

Scientia potentia est