PU model 1942 sniper rifles

Overview

The Soviet Union faced the 1941 German invasion with only one model of sniper rifle in production - the semi-auto SVT-40 sniper rifle. Production of the PEM sniper rifle (mod. 1936 mount with PEM scope)  stopped in the summer of 1940.

During the initial period of the war, the Red army lost a huge amount of various firearms, including many sniper rifles, which were impossible to recover with the existing production.

Since the middle of October 1941, when Factory #314 NKV (which produced the  SVT-40 sniper rifles) had been evacuated from Tula, there was no mass production of any sniper rifles in the USSR. For more than five months the Red Army didn't have a normal supply of sniper rifles to cover the heavy losses sustained in the initial period of the war.

A nice illustration of this is a report from October 1941, which shows that three armies (15 Divisions) of the North-Eastern front had only 89 sniper rifles instead of the 3,330 that they should have according to doctrine. From 22 June 1941 until 22 September 1941, 3,135 sniper rifles had been lost.  Wartime pictures show that even trial prewar sniper rifles were issued to troops as a stopgap measure


As a temporary measure, the production of PEM sniper rifles was restored by the Izhevsk and Tula factories (newly created factory No. 536 in Tula). However, the model 1936 mount was not suitable for mass production during the rough wartime conditions, it required very precise machining. Additionally, production of PEM scopes was stopped in 1940, the existing stock could not cover the additional production of sniper rifles. Since the spring of 1942 there were efforts to create a mount for the PU sniper scope for use with M91/30 rifles. The best design was created by D.M. Kochetov. In the prewar years, he was a famous designer of small caliber and hunting rifles working in Tula. After the war began, he moved to Izhevsk. During the war, he also created an optical device “Tochka” for analyzing rifle and carbine barrel straightness which in 1942-1943 alone resulted in a savings of 881,200 rubles. For comparison, in 1941 the price of one M91/30 rifle was 163 rubles. 


On 6 August 1942, the Artillery Committee of the Main Artillery Directorate noted in a resolution that the performance of sniper SVT-40 rifles being produced was not satisfactory. They adopted that M91/30 rifles with the model 1942 Kochetov mount and PU scope must be tested no later than August 20th. If the results of the tests were positive, the production of SVT-40 sniper rifles would be ended by September 1st. The PU sniper rifle showed good performance during trials and was accepted into service. The last 160 SVT-40 sniper rifles were produced in October 1942. 

Despite the successful test of M91/30 sniper rifles with the Kochetov mount and PU scope, mass production of the new model of sniper rifle was not started in September as it was supposed to, both factories got production plans for a new sniper rifle only in October 1942. However, the Tula factory was unable to begin serial production of sniper rifles with model 1942 mount during this month (Tula managed to start serial production only in December 1942), and the Izhevsk factory produced only a few examples. In October and November 1942 were the only two months when two types of sniper rifles were produced – the side mount model 1936 and the model 1942 Kochetov mount.

The Tula factory continued production of PU sniper rifles until May 1944, Izhevsk factory - until December 1944, last 1,250 rifles from the 1944 production were accepted in January 1945. Additionally, a small batch of PU sniper rifles (2,483 rifles) was produced in Izhevsk in 1947.

 

PU sniper rifles showed very good performance during WW2, they had very good feedback from snipers. Because of this it, was left in service until the SVD sniper rifle was accepted in the 1960's, and in a limited scale it was used even after this. Nowadays it's the most famous version of a M91/30 sniper rifle, which is relatively easy to acquire for a collection. However, this popularity resulted in many fakes. Some tips which allow for the verification of an original PU sniper rifle are provided below

Features of the original PU sniper rifles

Main PU sniper rifles markings

 

PU sniper rifles have a combination of markings that were used on regular rifles (like serial numbers, quality control and acceptance markings), and some specific to sniper rifles markings. If you want to verify if your rifle is original matching or refurb matching, check the sections about factory markings, or repair depot modifications.

Starting wtih special sniper rifle markings, at first it is necessary to clarify what was the approach to sniper rifle production in 1942. According to prewar standards, a sniper rifle had a bore, made with tighter tolerances (50% less allowed deviations compared to a regular rifle), and lower trigger pull weight compared to a regular rifle because of a thinner sear spring. When production of M91/30 sniper rifles was restored in early 1942, factories were not able to produce sniper rifles according to prewar standards, the only criteria they used was the accuracy of the assembled rifle - it was 8 or 9 cm (depending on the period) for a four shot group at a 100 meter distance. To reach this, they took the most accurate barrels from regular production (barrel inspection was done with special control gauges) and used them for assembly of sniper rifles. A rifle was assembled into sniper configuration before the first shot was made.

Closer to the end of 1942, when PU sniper production started, the situation with supply and machinery became a little better than at the beginning of 1942, and factories were able to pay more attention to barrel production accuracy, which allowed to start separate production of more accurate barrels. These barrel were considered sniper grade barrels and were marked with a special marking, which indicated that it was produced with tighter tolerances, and its use on sniper rifles was allowed. However, not all of these barrels were used during sniper rifle assembly, it seems that sometimes production was excessive and they were used to cover the demand for barrels for regular rifles. These rifles had barrels with "sniper grade" markings but were never drilled for the scope mount. Collectors call them "accuracy rifles", however, using the Soviet approach, they were just regular rifles.

The Izhevsk factory used a "C" in circle proofmark as sniper grade marking. During late 1942 - early 1943 it was stamped on the left front part of the barrel shank, since mid-1943 and further - on the right front part of the barrel shank. In some cases, it was offset to the middle. Quite often this marking was stamped poorly. The Tula factory used a "CH" marking as sniper grade marking. Normally it was located above the star, in the middle top part of the barrel shank. Sometimes it was offset to the right or left. Quite often the marking was stamped poorly.

Not many people know this, but during all periods of production in 1942-1944, Tula Factory No. 536 NKV was supplied with barrel and receiver blanks produced by Factories No. 71 and No. 74 NKV in Izhevsk. These supplied barrel and receiver blanks were only finally machined in Tula, and some of the supplied blanks were already partially machined, because the Tula factory lacked adequate machinery for this.  Such cooperation was present even in the prewar years - Izhevsk barrel and receiver blanks were supplied and used in production by Factory #314 NKV.  This fact caused multiply cases of double marked barrels and especially receivers (with both Tula and Izhevsk markings). It relates to sniper rifles also - there are some Tula rifles with double sniper grade markings on the barrel. In this case Izhevsk sniper grade marking was always stamped on the right, even if during the same period in Izhevsk marking were stamped on the left (1942-early 1943).

1942 Izhevsk PU sniper rifle with a "C in circle" sniper grade proofmark on the left side of the barrel shank.

Photo courtesy of  Greg Thacker

1943 Izhevsk PU sniper rifle with a "C in circle" sniper grade proofmark on the right side of the barrel shank.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny

1943 Izhevsk PU sniper rifle with a poorly stamped "C in circle" sniper grade proofmark on the right side of the barrel shank.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny

1943 Tula PU sniper rifle with a "CH" sniper grade proofmark  (big letters) .

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny

1944 Tula PU sniper rifle with a "CH" sniper grade proofmark  (small letters) .

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny

1942 Tula PU sniper rifle with double "CH" and "C in circle" sniper grade proofmarks.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny

1944 Tula PU sniper rifle with double "CH" and "C in circle" sniper grade proofmarks. Tula "CH" proomark stamped twice

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny

Regular Izhevsk and Tula M91/30 rifles with "sniper grade" marking on the barrels. These rifles were never drilled for the scope mount

Other markings, specific to the PU sniper rifles

 

As all previous sniper scope mount designs used by the Soviets, the PU scope mount required individual adjustment. Tula and Izhevsk factories matched mounts to rifles in different ways.

The Izhevsk factory stamped the scope serial number on the left side of the barrel shank, scope mount remained unnumbered. Izhevsk sniper rifles did not have a point of aim proofmark ("K in circle). Regular rifles, issued by Izhevsk factory after 1941, had this marking on the left side of the barrel shank. Sniper rifles had 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 PU's.

The Tula factory stamped the rifle's serial number on the mount, with very specific small font. Tula PU snipers originally did not have scope numbers on the barrel shank.

During postwar refurbishment, rifles, mounts, and scopes were matched differently from the methods used during WW2 production. In case of a Izhevsk PU sniper rifle, the original scope number on the barrel was ground off or struck out, a new scope number was stamped. In case of a Tula PU, which did not have a scope number on the barrel originally, it was added often. Scope mounts were stamped or electropenciled with the rifle's serial number alone, or in combination with the scope serial number. In some cases, the barrel shank of the rifle was left without the scope number, only the mount was matched to the rifle. Everything depended on the approach used by a specific repair depot. Some rifles that are multiple refurbs can have numerous struck out scope numbers.

Original method of scope matching, used by the Izhevsk factory. The scope serial number was stamped on the barrel shank, mount remained unmarked.

Photos courtesy of  Greg Thacker

Location of the point of aim proof, used on regular Izhevsk rifles after 1941.

Left side of the barrel shank.

Original method of scope matching, used by the Tula factory. Rifle serial number was stamped on the mount, barrel shank remained unmarked, without the scope serial number.

Photos courtesy of  Caleb Thrasher

Original method of scope matching, used by the Tula factory. Rifle serial number was stamped on the mount, barrel shank remained unmarked, without the scope serial number.

Izhevsk PU sniper rifle with postwar struck out numbers (double refurb) and new scope serial number

Photo courtesy of  Phillip Gorny

PU sniper rifle with the rifle's serial, electropenciled on the mount (postwar refurbishment)

Photo courtesy of  Phillip Gorny

Tula PU sniper rifle with a postwar added scope serial number on the barrel shank.

Photo courtesy of  Phillip Gorny

Izhevsk PU sniper rifle with the original scope number ground off and a newly stamped scope number (postwar refurbishment).

Photo courtesy of  Greg Thacker

Izhevsk PU ex-sniper rifle with the original scope number ground off.

No details are know yet, but it seems that since late 1943 Tula snipers had an additional "C" proofmark on some parts of their sniper rifles. "C" proofmarks are recorded on front sights, rear sight bases, ejectors, sear springs, follower springs. Quite often the proofmark was stamped very poorly

"C" proofmark on a Tula PU sniper front sight

Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.

Other features specific to the PU sniper rifles

Compared to regular rifles, PU snipers had some differences other then the sniper scope mount and bent bolt. When production of M91/30 sniper rifles was restored in 1942, the Main Artillery Directorate demanded from factories the production of sniper rifles according to the prewar standards. However, at that moment Izhevsk factory already implemented many changes and simplifications to production.  Because of this, a conflict occurred between the Izhevsk factory and the Main Artillery Directorate - Main Artillery directorate was not happy that early 1942 Izhevsk snipers (with the PEM sidemount) were very rough, almost like regular rifles. Two main things which caused discontentment were a rough polish of the receiver and barrel surfaces, and a stock with simplified liners in the sling slots (Main Artillery directorate requested full metal liners). Polishing of surfaces was improved closer to the Autumn of 1942 and Izhevsk sniper rifles from that period look much nicer than early and mid 1942 snipers. As a compromise, Izhevsk sniper rifles got a half liner in the rear sling slot, regular rifles were still issued with no liner in the rear. This feature is also a good point in the verification of PU sniper originality.

Wartime Tula snipers had no problems with the polishing of metal parts, production numbers in Tula were much lower than Izhevsk and the factory was able to keep polishing standards on a higher level. The Tula factory was able to produce stocks with full metal liners even for regular rifles, so the pattern of stocks used was identical for regular and sniper rifles. In very early 1943 Tula introduced into production a new design of sling slot escutcheons (without screws), Izhevsk factory started to use this pattern on sniper rifles in 1944  (on regular production carbines – only in 1945).

During postwar refurbishment stocks from different manufacturers and patterns were mixed, damaged stocks were replaced with postwar produced stocks (including laminated versions),  it is uncommon to find a refurbished PU sniper rifle with the correct stock type. Detailed overview of different stocks patterns is available here.

Stock pattern, used on 1942 to early 1944 Izhevsk PU's

Stock pattern, used on 1944 and 1947 Izhevsk PU's

Stocks do not have a rear barrel band release notch.

Stock pattern, used on 1942 and very early Tula PU's

Stocks had a small round rear barrel band release notch.

Stock pattern, used on 1943-1944 Tula PU's

Stocks had a small round rear barrel band release notch.

Differences in mounts and bases between the Tula and Izhevsk factories

The Kochetov mount base on 1942 Izhevsk PU snipers (also possibly on very early 1943 rifles) and on all 1942-1944 Tula PU snipers had no notch at the top rear corner. The Izhevsk factory marking was stamped on the front side, Tula factory marking -on the rear, but they are quite often absent or stamped very poorly.

As mentioned above, originally Izhevsk scope mounts were not stamped with scope or rifle serial numbers. All numbers (electro penciled, stamped) which can be observed on refurbished rifles are a postwar addition. The factory marking was stamped on the front side (bottom left). Tula mount had factory marking stamped on the back side, and the rifle's serial number stamping was on the front side. The style and location of the quality acceptance stamps depends on the production period.


Mounts produced by Tula and Izhevsk have different machining marks on the backside. Izhevsk mounts have large circular machining marks while the Tula factory marks are smaller. This could be useful for identification of a mount when there is no factory marking present. The back side of the bases also show differences in machining for different factories. 

Izhevsk factory PU scope mount

Tula factory PU scope mount

On the top - 1942-1944 Tula factory base;

In the middle -1942 Izhevsk factory base;

On the bottom - 1943-1947 Izhevsk factory base.

PU scopes

When PU sniper rifles production started, only one factory produced PU scopes - it was factory No. 357 in Omsk (details about PU scopes manufacturers are located here). Both Tula and Izhevsk factories used PU scopes from current production of this manufacturer, or PU scopes produced earlier, calibrated for SVT-40 ballistics (in this case scopes from Kharkov/Berdsk factories were used). On SVT-40 calibrated scopes, the factories installed new elevation rings, calibrated for the M91/30.

While the Izhevsk factory added the scope number on the barrel shank, it is possible to verify the scope manufacturer according to it. The Tula factory did not place the scopes serial number anywhere on the rifle. Because of this it is worth mentioning which manufacturers scopes were used by the Tula factory.

In spring 1943, PU scope production was started by three new factories. One of them, factory No. 393 in Krasnorgsk was located only 200 km from Tula. Production numbers of this factory covered Tula factory demand, so according available documentation all scopes from Krasnogorsk were shipped to Tula. In April 1944, the Tula factory ended mass production of PU snipers (last Tula PU sniper rifles were accepted in May), in the same month Krasnogorsk factory stopped PU scopes production. Some factory No. 393 scopes remained unclaimed and were sent to the Izhevsk factory where they were also used for PU snipers production. In addition, there is at least one recorded shipment of 2,900 PU scopes to Tula, made by the Kazan factory No. 297, they were used on late production 1944 Tula PU's. 

Izhevsk factory used scopes from all manufacturers, depending on the available stock.

PU scopes, used by Tula factory in PU sniper rifles production:

1942 to early 1943 - 1942 and earlier factory No. 357 and No. 3/No. 296 PU scopes;

Early 1943 to May 1944 (end of production) - factory No. 393 scopes;

April-May 1944 - factory No. 237 scopes.

Early 1942 Tula PU sniper, S/N КП569 (likely 1942 production), scope S/N 24827 (Kharkov factory, 1941).

Early pattern stock with screwed escutcheon.

Pictures from a March 1943 report.

Rare configuration - Izhevsk PU sniper with a factory No. 393 scope. Rifle's serial number - BE3892 (June 1944 production).

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

Serial numbers

PU sniper rifles were grouped within specific letter prefixes. In case of Izhevsk production, regular rifles and carbines can have the same letter prefixes as sniper rifles. In case of 1942-1944 Tula production, snipers had letter prefixes that were not used on regular rifles, also, the "sniper" serial number was lower than 1,000 (but there are very few known exclusions to both).

The list of letter prefixes below contains letter prefixes, used on sniper rifles, that are verified by factory reports and other sources. It is highly likely that there are others, however, the list contains over 80-90% of used letter prefixes. If you are sure that you own a legit PU sniper with a letter prefix that is not in the list, please contact me.

Considering that the Izhevsk factory used a 9,999 serial numbers range for their snipers, and Tula used a 999 range, there more known Tula letter prefixes than Izhevsk ones, despite the fact that Tula produced a much smaller quantity of PU sniper rifles

Izhevsk factory No.74

  1942

ТБ
ТН
ТК
ДА
ДЛ
ДШ

  1943

ВГ

ВС
ВТ
ГИ
ГК
ДБ
ДВ
ДГ
ЖУ
ЖЧ
ИИ
ИК
КЕ
КК
КТ
КУ
ММ
МН
НБ

НВ
НГ

НИ
ТА
ТБ
ТВ

  1944
АБ

АГ
АЕ
ВГ
ВЕ
ГА
ГЕ
ГИ
ГК
КХ

КУ
КЧ
ЛА
ЛБ
ЛД
МЛ
МН
НМ
ПА
ПВ
РС

РУ
СТ
ТА
ТИ
ТК
ФЛ

  1947
УГ

​Tula factory No.536


  1942
КО
КВ
КП
ПО
ПН

  1943
АМ
АО
АП

ВО
ДТ
ЕМ
ЕК

ЕМ

ЕО
ЕП
ЕС
КО
КП
МВ
МК
МН

МО
МП
МТ
НГ
НЕ
НР
ОК
ОМ

ОП
ОР
ОС
ОУ
ПА
ПО
ПР
РВ
РК
РО

РС
РП
РТ
РЧ
ТМ

ТР

ТС
ТО
ФК
ФН
ФО
ФП
ФТ

  1944
АР

ДГ
ДЕ
ДИ
ДМ

ДО
ДС

ПИ
ПЛ
ПМ
ПР
ПТ
РГ
РЕ

РИ
РМ
РС
ТГ

ТЕ
ТИ
ТМ

ТО
ТС

PU sniper rifles production numbers (acceptance)

​​

Examples of original matching PU snipers

Factory matching Izhevsk PU sniper rifle (stock is re-lacquered over original finish). Early 1943 production.

Photo courtesy of Dmitry Epshteyn, https://www.milsurpselect.com

Stock is refinished, but it's correct to the rifle - it has early 1943 accptance marking - "АП" in circle

Factory matching Izhevsk PU sniper rifle (except scope). January 1944 production.

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

Poorly stamped "C in circle" proofmark

Difference between bent bolts from Tula and Izhevsk factories

Bent bolts from Tula and Izhevsk factories have a few differences, which allow for the identification of the manufacturer even without looking at the markings (it's also a good tip for verification of originality).

Izhevsk bolts have more of a straight angle of the bend of the handle, the Tula bend is more curved. 1942-1943 Izhevsk bolts are quite rough, handles can had traces of welding and forging.

The balls of Tula bolt handles have a small notch (hole) on the bottom.

On the left - Tula bolt, on the right - Izhevsk bolt.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny

Tula bent bolt

Izhevsk bent bolt

PU sniper rifles from other countries

The only country that manufactured completely new PU sniper rifles, without the use of Soviet parts was Hungary. Hungarian PU sniper rifles were manufactured in 1952-1954. The rifle had no changes in construction compared to the Soviet PU rifle. Metal parts have a high quality polishing, beech wood was used instead of birch (compared to Soviet M91/30's). All parts of the rifle were marked with the manufacturer's code "02". Hungarian produced PU scopes were used on these sniper rifles.

Two countries, Poland and Yugoslavia, used Soviet-produced PU sniper rifles. They also repaired and refurbished them, the PU sniper rifles from these countries have a number of distinguished features, that allow for their verification. Poland refurbished Soviet PU's with rebluing and the installation of newly produced beech stocks. 

PU sniper rifles were supplied to the Army of North Vietnam, a number of them are available in the North American market as Vietnam war bringbacks.

Two more countries used PU sniper rifles after modifying them. DDR PU's had removed Soviet markings, parts were renumbered using a different pattern (compared to the Soviets). DDR reworked PU's were also used in Vietnam.

Another country was Czechoslovakia. Before the adoption of the VZ-54 sniper rfile, they made some experiments with the modification of a Soviet PU sniper. The result was designed as the ZG51Sn rifle, which was built using PU sniper rifle parts with some modifications.

Hungarian manufactured PU sniper rifle.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny

Soviet PU sniper rifle, refurbished in Poland.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny

Czech ZG51Sn rifle, built with the use of Soviet PU parts.

Receiver and barrel were matched by the Czech's. Markings on the mount belong to Saudi Arabia.

Photos courtesy of Georg Oberaigner

Soviet PU sniper rifle, captured in Vietnam.

Вolt is mismatched, scope mount and scope are missing (base is still present). Soviet marking on the stock are sanded, Soviet crest on the barrel is struck out with a Vietnamese "*" marking, the "*" is also present on the stock.

The "88" and "O in rectangle" markings are not Soviet, their meaning is unknown at this time.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny

Soviet PU sniper rifle, reworked in East Germany (DDR) and captured in Vietnam.  Battle damaged

Photos courtesy of Rajko Dimitrijevic

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