Even though this page is located within the section dedicated to M91/30 rifles and M38/M44 carbines, it covers a much wider area, giving a basic understanding of how the Soviet firearm refurbishment industry worked and what approaches were used. The provided information can be extrapolated to other firearms from that period. It also brings to light many markings that have had a lot of interest and discussion about them.
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*This page covers only physical modifications of firearms made by repair depots. Markings are covered here.
General description of repair facilities
As mentioned in the repair depots markings section, firearm repair and refurbishment depots were divided into stationary repair depots and mobile repair workshops/depots which were located between Army units in field. Stationary repair depots were divided into three main groups – Arsenals, Central Artillery Armament bases (CABV) and Artillery Armament bases (ABV).* During the prewar/wartime period there was a type of a depot called "military storehouse", postwar this was changed to ABV. CABV and Arsenals were accountable to the Main Artillery directorate, ABV to military districts. CABV and ABV bases also had different subtypes. There were bases that only stored firearms or artillery shells while others has departments for firearm repair. Arsenals were the best equipped of the repair depots and were able to make any type of repairs.
* CABV (ЦАБВ, Центральная Артиллерийская база вооружения) and ABV (АБВ, Артилерийская база вооружения) are transliteration of Russian abbreviations for these repair depots.
Army unit mobile depots/workshops had several levels. According to the 1943 M91/30 and M38 repair manual, a unit gunsmith could replace damaged parts (if he had the necessary replacements) and make minor repairs of mechanical damage to the firearms. All repairs must be made in the presence of the gun owner. Rifles with more serious problems were sent to regimental repair depots. Regimental repair depots repaired the same issues addressed by unit gunsmiths, and also installed parts with non-standard sizes such as bolt heads with longer locking lugs and taller front sights. They also produced simple parts like screws, shims, and pins, and made other repairs which were allowed by the locally available equipment. In case of a shortage of necessary spare parts, the use of parts salvaged from damaged rifles was permitted.
The next higher level of a repair depot was the Army Artillery repair workshops (ААRМ). The AARM were capable of some machining and adjustment operations – straightening bent barrels and adjusting different parts and mechanisms which require machining, turning, gunsmithing and welding. Some of these types of repairs could also be made by regimental and division depots if they had the necessary equipment. It was permitted to send firearm parts from regimental/division depots to AARM instead of complete rifles for repairs. The highest level of mobile depots was the Mobile Artillery Workshop (PАМ). They serviced Army groups, and were able to make any types of repair as the stationary Arsenals. There was also a unit called the Movable artillery repair and restoration battalion, which was in the reserve of the Main Artillery Directorate, and headed to locations of the urgent need of repair capacities.
General description of the refurbishment process
The vast majority of the typical refurbished rifles in the current market were repaired and refurbished numerous times by different levels and types of repair depots during their service life. The last depot that put them into long term storage (before they were sold into the civilian market) was a stationary type depot.
The Soviets had many types of repairs and refurbishment, depending on the weapon condition, actual status (used or in storage) and so on.
All weapons were divided into five grades. The approach to grading weapons was different during the prewar/wartime and postwar periods. For example, the pre 1945 approach (roughly, it was also used during some early postwar years before the start of the mass refurbishment program) did not use grade 4 for weapons.
Grade 1 prior to 1945 - New, never used firearms;
Grade 1 post 1945 - New, never used firearms (until the end of the warranty storage term, this was different for different firearms);
Grade 2 prior to 1945 - Firearms in current use or used firearms in storage, firearms that require field repair (small repair);
Grade 2 post 1945 - Grade 1 firearms after the warranty storage term, or used firearms after overhaul, fully serviceable firearms in use;
Grade 3 prior to 1945 - Firearms requiring a stationary depot repair (impossible to fix in the field);
Grade 3 post 1945 - Firearms requiring a small repair;
Grade 4 prior to 1945 - Grade 4 was not used;
Grade 4 post 1945 - Firearms requiring an overhaul (at least prior to 1945 it was not used for small arms);
Grade 5 - Similar approach in both periods - Firearms that are not suitable for further restoration (in case of Mosins - with damaged barrels and receivers), these were disposed off (usable parts were taken off for use on other rifles during refurbishment, some of these unrepairable firearms were converted to cutaway/training guns)
*After repairs, Grade 3 and Grade 4 firearms became Grade 2
When a firearm was put into storage as grade 2, after a period of time (which different for different firearms) it passed through technical inspections No.1 (TO-1) and No.2 (TO-2). TO-1 was a visual inspection, while during the TO-2 inspection firearms were taken from the crates, old cosmoline was removed, the firearm was disassembled, the interaction of parts was checked. In cases where it was required, parts were reblued (if they had rust or pitting), and the rifle was packed in cosmoline and put into the crate again. Often the TO-2 inspection was not made by depots that actually refurbished the rifles years ago. Normally after refurbishment firearms were sent to special storage bases. A storage crate can have firearms inside with different repair depot markings, while the crate itself has marking of the storage bases that made TO-1 or TO-2 inspections.
PPS-43 SMG crate markings. "Triangle 1" -TO-2-II-80.
TO-2 inspection was made in February 1980 by CABV #41 in Irkutsk.
PPS-43 SMG crate markings.
56-A-135 - Main Artillery Directorate code for PPS-43;
10 шт - 10 SMG's inside;
K2 - Grade 2;
№1296 - crate number;
УНИ-2 - special paper soaked with hexamine-nitrite inhibitor (protection from corrosion) was used to line the inside of the crate.
M91/30 crate markings.
56-B-222 - Main Artillery Directorate code for M91/30;
T0-2 IX-77 - Technical inspection No. 2 in September, 1977;
K2 - Grade 2;
№1099 - crate number;
20 шт - 20 rifles inside;
УНИ-2 - special paper soaked with hexamine-nitrite inhibitor (protection from corrosion) was used to line the inside of the crate.
"Circle with a crossline inside of a box" - Arsenal No.40 in Gorodishi.
The majority of refurbished WW2 period firearms in the current market are Grade 2 "multiple-refurbs" that went through the TO-2 process. Because of numerous repair cycles these rifles can carry traces of different approaches used in different time periods. Rifles and carbines were refurbished/refinished/repaired numerous times during the postwar period for several reasons. M91/30 rifles and M44/M38 carbines were still used by army until the end of the 1950's, firearms which were in service were repaired by district repair depots. For example, the famous "MO" depot was a district repair depot. The "double" and "triple" dated "MO" rifles are just rifles which were in service and were refinished several times because it was necessary to do so, the date indicates the year of their repair/refinish.
In cases where a rifle was actively used, for example in the guard, it required a frequent refinish, this explains "double" and "triple" dates. The majority of other district repair depots did not stamp dates in addition to their main marking. If a rifle was refinished several times by the same district repair depot, it was not additional stamped with any other markings. The rifle only had a main repair depot marking (for example, "double" or "triple" dated MO rifle were stamped with the "MO" marking only once). After rifles were removed from service and were sent to storage, they were inspected, repaired and refinished by Central Armament bases or Arsenals, which had their own unique markings. All of these factors can cause numerous refurbishment cycles and multiple repair depot markings on a firearm.
The allowed critical levels of damage, after which a rifle or a part were disposed off, were different in different periods. Of course, the wartime period requirements were much more lenient than postwar. But if a rifle was repaired during the war, its full working condition restored, and after the war it required a general inspection or repair (like rebluing), the wartime repairs that were not allowed postwar often were not taken into account because they were already a part of a functional rifle.
For example, the size of some repair inserts in the stock, according to wartime repair manual was not limited, but the postwar repair manual limited them. If the stock had a wartime period repair insert during postwar refurbishment, which was still solid, it was left in service. Another example - during the war it was allowed to shorten M91 rifles (in case of a damaged or worn muzzle area) to M91/30 length, or the M91/30 to M38 length, with installation of a special sleeve with a front sight base, postwar such shortening was prohibited. Rifles with wartime period shortened barrels can still be found among postwar refurbs.
Postwar all Soviet firearms were repaired according to three main instructions. The first were the repair manuals which specified methods, tools and gauges that were used for repair. The other two were "technical conditions for repair", one was specific for each firearm type, the other was a general instruction for small arms.
Technical conditions for a specific firearm type contained requirements for the repaired and assembled firearm, details about allowed tolerances and interaction requirements for repaired parts, information about repair depot markings (location) and finish methods (wood and metal parts). Currently none of the technical conditions for specific Soviet small arms are known to public, so their detailed content is unknown. General technical conditions for the small arms repairs contained information about general aspects of the refurbishment common for all weapons, general repair depot markings and proofmarks and so on.
During postwar refurbishment, the Soviets used a non-personalized method of repair. This means that a batch of weapons that were prepared for refurbishment were completely disassembled. Barreled receivers and parts were checked with control gauges, if they were still serviceable, they were sent for further refurbishment. This meant the old finish was to be removed, on metal parts existing possible rust was cleaned and a new finish was applied. Stocks were mainly sanded, repair inserts were installed in cases where they were required, new lacquer was applied.*
* Shellac was not used during refurbishment. Details are provided here.
Serial numbers on all numbered parts, except the barrel, were ground off. Sometimes serial numbers on the magazine floorplate and buttplate were struck out, this was allowed by instructions.
* It should be mentioned that smaller repair depots did not always grind off original numbers from parts. If a very small batch of rifles was refurbished, it was much easier to kept original numbers intact. Rarely, some refurbished rifles can still have original factory parts.
After parts were reblued, they were used to assemble rifles using other refurbished parts. After the rifle assembly was completed, the rifle was checked again with control gauges and for part interaction. During this process, one rifle can end up with parts from different manufacturers, repair depots didn't care about this, the only thing they paid attention to was the serviceability of the parts. In cases of refurbished rifles which have parts from the same manufacturer that produced the barrel and receiver, it does not mean that they are original to the rifle, it's just a coincidence.
If the assembled rifle was considered serviceable after inspection, it was newly numbered on the magazine floorplate, stock buttplate, bolt body and bayonet, according to the serial number on the barrel. It is very common to see statements from many collectors who say that a refurbished rifle is "all matching". It is matching, but they are not original factory matched parts. If a rifle passed through Soviet refurbishment system, it should be matching in any case, because this was a requirement from the instructions. The serial numbers that were placed on rifle parts had a different style of font compared to the original factory font on the barrel. Some details can be seen here. Quite often people say that there are no traces of the old serial number being ground off, but this is either good quality of polishing after grinding, or the use of a non-numbered spare part.
Depending on the available equipment, depots were allowed to use different types of renumbering during refurbishment. Methods they used were:
- grinding off the old serial number and stamping of the new serial without a letter prefix, if the rifle had it (most common method);
- grinding off the old serial number and stamping of the new serial with a letter prefix, if the rifle had it ;
- grinding off the old serial number and electropenceling the new serial number;
- striking out the old serial number and stamping of the new serial number, with or without a letter prefix;
- a combination of the above mentioned methods.
In some cases rifles that were supposed to be refurbished were in very bad condition, with deep rust and pitting, which impacted the barrel markings. After rust was removed and the pitting was sanded, original factory markings can remain unreadable. Generally this wasn't a concern for the repair depot. The purpose of barrel markings was to make the identification of the manufacturer possible in case if something happened to the rifle during its service life. The serial number was required for some purposes during field use - to record the rifle's owner, keep matching parts on the rifle and so on.
However, after the rifle was overhauled by a military repair facility, this facility became fully responsible for the rifle's further serviceability, at this point original factory markings had no special value. That's why repair depots used special markings, which made it possible to identify the actual depot which refurbished the rifle. In cases where the original markings were unreadable after sanding, repair depots stamped new random numbers, or re-stamped poorly visible numbers.
Few combinations are possible :
- original markings are not readable - only a new serial number was stamped, no year;
- original markings are not readable - a new serial number and a new year marking were stamped;
- original markings are poorly visible - serial number or year (or both) were "refreshed" with a new stamping.
In case where the production year was not readable, it was re-stamped mainly with 1933 or 1944 (other dates are possible, but are much rarer). So far no clear instruction about this is available, but some logic is present in these dates. 1933 is the year of the adoption of the "second modernization". The "second modernization" is a group of M91/30 rifle updates, which included a hooded front sight, bayonet without a hood, and changes in construction of some parts. Generally, "second modernization" brought about a typical look to M91/30 rifles as we know them today. 1944 is the date when M91/30 regular production stopped (not taking into account special versions of the M91/30, like sniper rifles, bullet speed test rifles and so on).
Standard refurbishment matched rifle. Font of the serial number on parts is different from the factory font on the barrel. No traces of old serial numbers remain on parts.
Refurbishment matched rifle (with a serial number prefix). Rifle was deactivated, (it has pin in the chamber). Font of the serial number on parts is different from the factory font on the barrel.
Rifle is a "multiple refurb", serial numbers on the floorplate and buttlplate are covered with bluing. This means that during the TO or TO-2 inspection the rifle was reblued.
Refurbishment matched rifle (without a serial number prefix). The font of the serial number on parts is different from the factory font on the barrel, the letter prefix is missing. Traces of the old serial number are visible on the floorplate.
Serial numbers on the florplate and buttlplate are stamped over the bluing. This means that after the last refurbishment the rifle sat intact in a crate.
Refurbishment matched rifle. Font of the serial number on parts is different from the factory font on the barrel, old serial number on the floorplate was struck out.
Refurbishment matched rifle. Serial numbers on parts are electropenciled
Lightly refurbished rifle. All numbered parts are still factory original to the rifle. Stock is re-lacquered, metal parts are covered with black paint.
Lightly refurbished rifle. Floorplate is still factory original to the rifle, bolt and buttplate are refurbishment matched. Stock is re-lacquered, metal parts are covered with black paint
Lightly refurbished rifle. All numbered parts are still factory original to the rifle. Stock is slightly relacquered (cartouches are covered with thin layer of lacquer), metal parts still have original bluing (serial numbers are stamped over bluing). Such rifles from 1943-1944 can sometimes be found among imports into the USA.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Elliott.
Rifle with partially removed original factory markings. Original year (from the 1920's) is re-stamped with a 1933 date. Likely a new serial number, different form the original was added (use of 1-2-3-4 combination)
Picture from open sources .
Rifle with removed original factory markings, traces of the old markings are still visible. Only the new serial number is stamped
Picture from open sources .
Rifle with removed original factory markings. A new serial number and year are stamped.
Picture from open sources .
Rifle with deep pitting. For some reason it was not removed during refurbishment, repair depot marking stamped over the pitting.
The stock is a part of the rifle that's the easiest to sustain damage. During a rifle's service life it can be damaged in several areas, which can be fixed during the repair and refurbishment process. During different time periods different approaches were used in stock repair. During the prewar period, repair inserts in the stock were glued with carpenter's glue. This method was not very strong during field use, stocks were permitted to have up to six repair inserts
After the start of the war the usual processes of rifle repair were revised. The 1943 repair manual allowed an unlimited quantity of inserts made with a new type (CNIPS-2) of glue and up to seven repair inserts made with carpenter's glue. However, inserts secured with carpenter's glue were limited in both size and location. The CNIPS-2 glue was more resistant to oil and water and the bond made by it was stronger than birch wood. Because of this it didn't have the limits imposed on repairs made with carpenter's glue. This glue was made in repair depots from CNIPS-2 resin, which was supplied by the Main Artillery Directorate, and a hardener, which was made by depots from 1 part of sulfuric acid, 5 parts of tricresylphosphate, 10 parts of glycerin, and 20 parts of a kerosene substance called “Petrov contact”. The use of casein glue was also permitted, but only in areas that were not soaked with oil.
However, the postwar manual mentions only casein glue (likely with an updated composition) without any limits about locations where it can be used. The number of repair inserts was not limited postwar, but the allowed size of some inserts was smaller compared to the wartime period. Heavy repairs, like the joining of two stocks in the middle (the forestock of one stock, the rest from another), or a full length repair in the forestock, were not allowed postwar.
Repaired stocks were refinished, partially or completely, depending on the type of repair. What remained of the old finish was washed away, with a special solvent if necessary. Sanding of the stocks during field repair was prohibited because originally the stocks were soaked with boiled oil or tar, which penetrated the wood at a depth of 1-1.5 mm and protected the stock. However, stationary repair depots often sanded stocks. Areas of repair were covered with boiled oil, stained, and covered with three coats of VK-1 lacquer, a nitrocellulose lacquer with the addition of shellac.
If a stock had a crack in the wrist (which was relatively common), the repair depot installed a reinforcement bolt in the wrist (sometimes two). However, postwar laminated stocks all had wrist reinforcement bolts, so in this case this does not mean a repair was performed. A toe splice of the stock does not always mean that it is a repair insert, some stock were issued with toe splice originally, details are provided here.
Metal shims (0.5 mm thickness) were often used to improve alignment of the stock with the action after repairs under the receiver tang and in the area of the magazine. Shims are not a postwar invention, as believed by some collectors, they were used since the prewar period.
Refinished stock with a repair insert in the buttstock. Original markings were sanded.
Refinished stock. Original markings were sanded.
Refinished stock. Original markings were sanded.
Has a repair depot marking on it. Repair depots rarely marked repaired stocks, but this particular depot, Arsenal No. 1, did this often.
Refinished stock. Original markings were sanded, light traces of them are still visible.
Stock has a reinforcement bolt installed in the wrist
Refinished stock. Has Arsenal No. 1 marking, but in this particular case it's a manufacturer's marking - the stock was made by this arsenal. The origin of the stock can be verified because of the differences in shape compared to factory made stocks.
Postwar repair depot manufactured stock. Has Arsenal No. 1 marking, but in this particular case it's a manufacturer's marking - stock was made by this arsenal. Stock also has a toe splice made during production.
Postwar repair depot manufactured stock, refinished. Stock has a toe splice made during production, but the reinforcement bolt was installed during repair
Postwar produced laminated stocks (on the top - early beech laminate, on the bottom - later birch laminate).
Both stocks had reinforcement bolts in the wrist since production. Both are refinished during later repair.
Samples of allowed stock repairs from the 1943 repair manual.
Soviet made stock shims.
Relic PE sniper rifle with a shim under the tang.
Refurbished rifle with numerous stock repairs.
It was refurbished at least 5 times. In 1949 and 1950 - by Moscow military district armament base No. 38 ("1941" year under the star was stamped randomly because original year was poorly visible), once by Arsenal No. 2 in Kiev (box with two crosslines), and once by a yet unknown depot (box with vertical line), which "cancelled" (struck out) the earlier Arsenal No.2 marking.
Stock has a zig-zag joint in the middle, which is a wartime period repair, these joints were prohibited postwar.
Photos courtesy of Phillip Gorny.
M91 rifle based models had different variations of rear and front sights. After 1945 only the shorter versions, like the M91 dragoon and cossack rifles were left in service. However, their sights were updated to M91/30 sight configuration, now these rifles are called "ex-dragoons". Any rifle with a pre-1931 production date was originally issued without the M91/30 pattern sight and was updated during refurbishment. Early M91/30 rifles, so called "transitional" rifles with an open front sight, were updated with a globe shaped front sight. Because of this, any 1931-1932 Izhevsk and 1931-1934 Tula M91/30 rifles with globe shaped front sights were updated during refurbishment. Details about sights configurations are provided here.
Updated "Ex-dragoons" can have a rear sight base that was taken from a non serviceable M91/30 rifle, or can have postwar produced bases. So far all known newly produced bases have the markings of the Arsenal No. 7, which also updated many rifles itself.
1901 M91 dragoon rifle, updated to M91/30 configuration postwar.
Conversion was made by Arsenal No.7,
Photo courtesy of Dave Phillips.
Newly produced rear sight base, used for a M91 dragoon update.
Base has Arsenal No. 7 marking ("Box") and quality control acceptance marking ("circle with hammers").
During postwar refurbishment rifles were standardized in the aspect of the rear sight base mounting. Pre 1941 Izhevsk M91/30 rifles and all Tula rifles had the rear sight base locked with solder and one small screw. Because of the high temperatures of the "hot bluing" (alkali salt solution) used post war, the solder was not able to lock the base securely. So the early configuration of the rear sight base was additionally pinned. Details about sight configurations are provided here.
Repair depots also produced rear sight sliders with bevels on both sides (factory issued sliders only have one bevel in the front), and updated factory issued sliders to this pattern. Rear sight sliders often required adjustment - they were ground from the front bottom corner after measurement with a special gauge. After such an adjustment the slider was matched to a particular rifle (with a matched front sight). In cases if it was installed on another rifle, it most likely was not functional and required adjustment. One sided bevels on the top limited the possibility of the slider to be used in a reversed position. Sliders with two bevels can easily be rotated to the other side.
Rear sight height gauge and its use.
Rear sight slider with two side bevel at the top.
Since the creation of a special instruction by the Main Artillery Directorate in 1942, some M91/30 rifles with damaged barrels were modified to carbines without the replacement of the rifle sight base. It is similar to the postwar (likely Bulgarian) modification called the M91/59, but the 1943 and 1945 repair manuals included the procedure. The modification to carbine length was done in two ways. The first method involved the use of a special sleeve and the use of a rifle front sight (this method was also used for the conversion of M91 rifle barrels to M91/30 length, but in this case the sleeve size was a little different). The barrel was cut to a length of 491.7 mm. Then the front part of the barrel was machined to the thickness of 11.7 mm (the internal size of the sleeve) at the length of 28 mm. After this, the sleeve was pressed onto the barrel, and a new crown was cut. In the area where the sleeve connected with the thicker part of the barrel, two holes were drilled to a depth of 2mm, then it was welded and polished. This type of modification required installation of front sight taller by 0.04 inches.
The second method of modification involved the use of the M38 front sight base. In this case, the barrel was also cut to a length of 491.7 mm. The front part of the barrel then was machined to a thickness of 14.5 mm (internal size of the M38 front sight base) at the length of 31 mm, and a new crown was cut. The front sight base was pressed in, and locked in place with a pin. This type of modification required installation of a front sight taller by 0.06 inches. Both methods required the modification of the regular rifle stock and handguard. The length of the modified handguard was 260 mm.
Postwar these rifle to carbine conversions that still had a M91/30 rear sight base were removed from service as a non standard design. Some of these carbines survived in museum collections, a few are shown in the "Model 1891/1930 Rifle and its variations" book. However, it seems that M91 to M91/30 conversions were left in service and still can be found among refurbs. A batch of the shortened M91 rifles was in service in Romania. They also had a unique style of rear sight base attachment - it is locked by welding two spots from each side. It's unclear who did this conversion, but highly likely it was done by Soviets before export.
Postwar these modifications were prohibited, the 1950 repair manual does not mention them.
Drawings fom the 1943 repair manual, showning process of front sight base sleeve attachment.
M91 converted to M91/30 length.
Sleeve with front sight base is welded to the barrel.
Photo courtesy of Dave Phillips.
After rifles were issued to troops, their barrels were not always maintained and cleaned properly, this was the main problem causing the loss of accuracy. There were only two ways to measure the condition of the bore during use - an actual accuracy test and field gauges. If the accuracy of the used rifle didn't meet the minimal requirements, it was checked with two gauges, which were available in the field armorers set. One of them was the K1 "Go" 7.607 mm gauge, the other was a K2 "NoGo" 7.772 mm (0.306") gauge. Same gauges were used by stationary repair depots.
Both gauges were inserted from the muzzle end. The K1 "Go" gauge had a longer measuring area and was mainly used to test barrel straightness and the presence of burrs inside. It should pass through the barrel without any tension only with its own weight (when the rifle was in a vertical position). The K2 "NoGo" gauge was used to measure crown wear. According to the Soviet M91/30 repair manual, if it was possible to insert it up to 1cm deep, and the rifle's accuracy was within the requested parameters, nothing was done. If it was possible to insert a "NoGo" gauge over 1 cm (.0300 in 1930's and earlier) and up to 4.5 cm deep (3 cm for M38 and M44 carbines), the rifle or carbine was counterbored. If it was possible to insert it deeper than 4.5 cm (3 cm for M38 and M44 carbines), the rifle or carbine was disposed off. During wartime years they were sometimes converted to a shorter version (infantry M91 to M91/30 length, M91/30 to carbine length).
Counterbore was prohibited for PU sniper rifles, it was not permitted to keep the rifle in service if it was possible to insert the K2 gauge deeper than 2 mm.
Drawing from the 1945 repair manual, showing the max depth of the counterbore - 4.5 cm
For several reasons, wear from field use, wide production tolerances which impacted the interchangeability of parts, etc, some rifles required parts with sizes bigger than standard. The Soviets used four types of these parts:
- front sights with a higher pin at 0.02″, 0.04″, 0.06″, 0.08″. They were marked with numbers 2, 4, 6, 8 ;
- bolt heads with longer locking lugs at 0.002″, 0.004″. They were marked with numbers 2, 4;
- higher rear sight slider, which allowed to lower the impact point compared to a regular slide;
- thicker pins.
Front sights with higher pins, compared to standard
Bolt heads with longer locking lugs.
These were used in cases of headspace issues.
During refurbishment rifles were reblued using hot bluing. In the 1930's and earlier, factories used rust bluing in production, but in late 1939 the Izhevsk factory implemented into production a hot bluing process, which was much simpler and cheaper. In the beginning it was used only for smaller parts, but since 1941 it was also used for the barrel and receiver.
It is widely believed that the Soviets used shellac lacquer on the stock during refurbishment. But this is not correct - shellac was not used since the early 1940's. Postwar repair documentation shows only two lacquers - nitrocellulose VK-1 (postwar abbreviation is НЦ-5119), and MCH-52 lacquer, which was sprayed when the stock was placed into a electrostatic field. The flaky finish on postwar refurbished rifles is the result of application issues during the refurbishment process, or use of old (expired) VK-1 lacquer. The majority of refurbs on the market passed through several TO-1 and TO-2 inspections after mass refurbishment in the 1950's.
During these inspections rifles were pulled from crates, in cases where they had some internal issues, they were quickly "repaired". That's why some refurbs can have areas painted with black paint, or stocks with flaky finish - VK-1 lacquer was applied in a rush, sometimes not properly. The level of the storage depot employees responsibility, and sometimes skills, during TO inspections was on a much lower level than during the mass refurbishment process years ago, when huge batches of riles were disassembled, checked, and refinished in proper conditions.
Sample of the "flaky" VK-1 finish on the stock.
Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny.
Sample of a quick refinish, made during TO inspection.
Forestock is noticeably darker than the rest of the stock and has a flaky finish.
Sample of a roughly relacquered stock.
Sample of metal parts refinished with black paint
After refurbishment rifles were sighted in with shooting. Adjustment was made the same way as stated by field manuals - the main idea was that a soldier can pick a rifle from the crate and immediately use it, without spending time sighting it in.
Rifles were sighted in with the bayonet attached (M44 - with an unfolded bayonet)*, the rear sight slider was set at a "3" (300m) position. The target, a white shield with the size of 1*0.5 meters, with a 0.3*0.2 meter black rectangle in the middle was used. As a sighting point, the middle of the rectangles lower edge was used, the distance to the target was 100 m.
* Since late 1944 an M44 carbine with updated bayonet, was produced, which ensured the same impact point with the bayonet in both positions (folded and unfolded), however, the instruction still contained the old rule.
Center of the four shot group (or three best shots, if one impact was very far from others) was to be 17 cm/ 6.7" (19 cm/7.5" for M38 and M44 carbines) higher than the sighting point, in this case the sighting was correct.
The allowed deviation of the group center was 5 cm in any side for regular rifles and carbines, and 3 cm for PU sniper rifles. The grouping was supposed to be within 15 cm for regular rifles and carbines, and 8 cm for PU sniper rifles.
If it was required, the front sight was moved with a special tool, 0.02" movement of the front sight moved the impact point approximately 3" at 100 meters for a rifle, and 5" for a carbine.
Accuracy requirements for regular and sniper rifles were different in different years, the above mentioned numbers were taken from 1950's dated manuals, they were used as a standard during refurbishment.
Rifles that were properly sighted in after refurbishment were marked with a special marking "П in box". This marking was used only postwar and can indicate that a rifle was refurbished even if it is missing repair depot markings.
Sighting in marking on the barrel shank
Page from the repair instructions, where details about the marking and its placement are provided
After sighting in rifles were covered with cosmoline and packed into crates (the famous "cosmoline" is correctly called "Cannon grease PVK"). A standard rifle crate contained 20 rifles, a carbine crate - 15 carbines. Each rifle or carbine had a set of accessories - one cleaning set (consisting of a muzzle cap for muzzle protection during cleaning, cleaning jag, oiler, cleaning rod collar and pin, screwdriver, and cleaning kit pouch), one sling and two pouches. They were stored in a special compartment. Bayonets were stored separately from rifles in the same crate. After rifles were put into a crate, they were covered with a УНИ-2 rust protection paper, a packing list with serial numbers of the rifles and list of the accessories was put inside. After this the crated was sealed (with a lead seal) and put into long term storage.
According to the soviet approach, everything in the crate should be matching - M91/30 rifles should have matching bayonets, SVT-40's - matching magazines. But the 2000's import of Soviet surplus firearms showed that crates didn't always contain matching items. This could be explained by the fact that after the Soviet Union collapsed, firearms were inspected (due to the expiration of the storage term) by depots in former USSR countries. They were not motivated to spend much time on accurate packing, especially knowing that they are preparing firearms for further export.
2013 packing list from the Ukrainian repair depot in Balakleya (box with crossline marking).
It came from an SVT-40 crate, exported to Canada.
It shows that some rifles already had mismatched magazines.
Photo courtesy of Oleg K.