Tokarev SVT-40. Identifying, collecting and FAQ.
This section is completely based on the research made by Oleg K. (Horilka GunBoards), who kindly allowed to use his outstanding article in this project. All information below belongs to his authorship.
1. Acknowledgement and disclaimer.
This article would not be possible without help of A. Yuschenko, who has been valuable source of most of the information below and criticism, without collectors and members of my two favourite communities - CanadianGunNutz and Gunboards. Special thanks to another Canadian collector – Bill (aka Milsurpro@CGN aka Ruprecht@GB ) for proofreading this text.
Disclaimer. All information below is the compilation of publicly available sources, such as books and forums, results of research of my friends, other fellow collectors and my personal observations. No information (including one that is published in official documents) can be 100% reliable and thus all that is below should be considered as current, up-to-date understanding and interpretation of available data. I am sure future will bring even more clarifications and new information that could change current interpretation. Should you believe any picture or text below is in violation of copyrights please contact me.
Group of young Ukrainian Insurgent Army fighters with SVT-38s and SVT-40s captured either from retreating Red Army or from auxiliary Nazi units. This weapon was used against Nazi and later against Soviets
The purpose of this article is to provide beginner and intermediate collectors or curious parties with reference knowledge about SVT-40, debunk most common myths (like "Kovrov rifle" and "Navy stock") explain differences and variations of rifle's features and present various types of rifles available for collectors in North America. Unlike other sources of SVT-40 information this article is focused on how to understand the rifles that North American shooters and collectors have access to, and describes all possible variants and their features. This is my attempt to put together all up-do-date information available from sources such as recently published books and research presented on web forums. I hope I will have enough time in the future to develop this reference guide and elaborate on various subjects and add some topics for advanced collectors.
The "Tokarev self-loading rifle" (SVT) or "Самозарядная винтовка Токарева" has a very special place in the history of WW2 semiautomatic weapons with significant usage on the Eastern front. Intended to replace the Red Army's Mosin Nagant M91/30 it went through several stages of development - Model 1938 (known as SVT-38), Model 1940 (known as SVT-40), and was phased out in favour of the Mosin Nagant M91/30 as it was cheaper to produce and easier to learn for regular Soviet conscript. Possible factors that might have contributed to such an ill fate are:
Low level of training and often absence of training at all for conscripts of Soviet Army. Unfortunate men were often thrown into battle right after they had been conscripted. While this was not always the case, it was quite common. At the same time from some memoirs we know that there were Soviet soldiers who really liked and valued the rifle. We also know that German Wehrmacht and SS troops also liked and used SVT-40s. The Finnish Army successfully used captured SVTs. Ukrainian and Baltic insurgents also were able to provide better training for the troops and numerous pictures and memoirs praise the Soviet "ten-rounder" rifle. This proves that any person with sufficient training and discipline of regular cleaning was able to use this rifle successfully.
Second factor - very low level of development of Soviet metallurgy, manufacturing facilities and lack of qualified personnel. You probably would be surprised to know that to facilitate manufacturing of SVTs in 1940 USSR had to purchase some machinery and tools from USA (Source: 1. p.225). At certain stages of production the proportion of defective parts was close to 90% (Source: 1. p.224). Only in July of 1944 was factory N.314 at Mednogorsk (ex Tula) able to produce the first batch of SVT-40 rifles that fully met original Tokarev specifications and requirement, both in quality and in materials used (Source: 1. p.225). Just think about it - from acceptance to service in 1938 and initiation of production in 1939 it took 5 years to start producing the rifle the way she was designed. Of course hardships of the war also contributed here.
Third factor – USSR faced enormous losses of firearm during the first months of German invasion. The cost of SVT-40 production was 713 rubles in 1940, while cost of of M91/30 was 170 rubles (Source 3. p 6). To recover from losses and provide require level of supply of firearms decision was made in favour of cheaper, less technological product that also required less man-hours to be manufactured.
Fourth factor - it was the beginning of the era of self-loading rifles. WW2 was the first war where such rifles were tried on a large scale. It is worth mentioning that at the outbreak of the war there were no theoretical calculations for the process of re-using the energy of gases. M1 Garand initially had a gas trap mechanism which was later modified to a drilled hole. German Wehrmacht engineers did not believe that it was viable idea to design a self-loading rifle with a hole in the barrel to tap the gases, so technical requirements for designers clearly stated “no hole in the barrel for gases tapping”. To meet this requirement the G41 was designed with cone shaped gas trap invented by Søren H. Bang. Only after Germans were able to lay their hands on captured SVT-40s, was the G43 created with gas system similar to the Soviet rifle. SVT-40 production was stopped in Jan of 1945 when outcome of the war was evident and USSR had more than enough weapons. Gas systems similar to SVT-40 can be found in English SA-80 and AR-18, safety switch was copied in French FR-F1. Bolt locking similar to SVT was used in Swedish Lungman AG M/42 . SAFN 49 uses same locking mechanism and operating principle as the SVT however it could be coincidence. This proves that SVT-40 played important role in development of modern semi-automatic firearm.
3. Short history references and facts.
Tokarev stared his weaponry career in Imperial Russia. His first works were attempts to modernize the Mosin Nagant rifle into a semi-automatic weapon. During the Soviet period Tokarev designed the well-known TT-33 which is kind of simplified version of Browning system, SVT-38 and SVT-40, Tokarev machine gun and created numerous trial rifles.
SVT-40 strictly speaking is an improved version of SVT-38 (in official Soviet designation both called "Tokarev self-loading rifle" with addition of "Model 1938" or "Model 1940" respectively) so we'll start with SVT-38.
- 29 Dec 1938 SVT-38 accepted as new service rifle - Model 1938 (Source: 1. P.36)
- 16 July 1939 manufacture of parts for mass production started (Source: 1. P.222). First known rifles are dated September 1939 (Source: Olexandr (Ratnik) serial numbers study)
- 13 Apr 1940 improved version accepted as Model 1940 (SVT-40) (Source: 1. P.223). Changes were the result of many factors: planned development and trials, and battle testing during aggression against Finland. Overall goal was to make rifle much lighter – factor that caused issues with stock later.
- Production was undertaken at three four different factories: No.314 NKV (“People Commissariat of Weaponry”) initially located in Tula and later evacuated to Mednogorsk, No.74 NKV in Izhevsk, No.460 NKV in Podolsk, later partially evacuated to Zlatoust Factory No.385 NKV that also manufactured small amount of rifles.
- 3rd Jan 1945 GKO (“Top Commissariat of Defense”) issued order to NKO to stop or reduce production of small arms. On 5th of Jan 1945 NKO relayed this order to factory No.314 NKO and production of SVT-40s was stopped. As of the end of 1944 USSR had 145,000 SVTs in reserve.
4. Types of SVT-40 available for collectors in Canada and US and how to identify them.
There are 5 distinctive groups for the purpose of SVT-40 identification.
1. So called “veteran bring backs”.
Such rifles were probably acquired either from German troops as captured firearm or from Soviet troops as exchange or gifts. This category could also include some of Finnish capture rifles as not all of them were reworked and have SA markings. Typical features of “bring back”
Do not have SA stamp
Mostly matching. Following serial numbers were stamped:
Receiver: XXX or AAXXX or AAXXXX, where AA- letters and XXXX - digits.
Bolt carrier handle on top or bottom
Bolt on bottom including letter prefix
Stock - horizontal including letter prefix (early Podolsk stocks has verticaly stamped serial number)
Trigger Guard - stamped (some refurbished rifles also have stamped numbers on trigger guard, but font is different from receiver).
Magazine. Early versions had serials and numbers 1,2,3, Later magazines had just serials.
Example of rifle in original condition, note thin bluing and reddish colour of stock.
Pictures of the rifle from applegoomp (Gunboards) collection.
2. Nazi capture.
Because of many fakes there is a need to elaborate on this subcategory of bringbacks. Strictly speaking "captured" weapon did not receive any special marking. However if repaired at one of the depot firearm it received Army Equipment Depot (Heereszeugämter or HZa) markings. That mark would be on the bottom of the wrist area of the stock. For example one of the known captured rifles has an HZa Spandau marking – E/Su 27. According to Vic Thomas there is another type of Nazi markings - direct German orders early in war indicated that captured weapons should be marked on the bolt, receiver and barrel for testing and approval and designates rifles by a German code. So it might be possible to find captured and evaluated rifle that has three mentioned markings. Except the rifle from Vic's collection all other rifles I saw had fake WaA (waffenamt) or fireproof markings. So if you see waffenamts or fireproof markings on SVT – it’s most likely a fake. Other than HZa marking this category is similar to “bring back” with rifles external features. (Thanks to Vic Thomas and CanadianAR for clarifications on this topic).
Legitimate Nazi capture stock. Picture from the open sources.
Fake notch with fake fire proof (from author collection), fake fire proof on receiver (from open sources).
3. Finn capture.
SA propery marking (some do not have this stamp). While SA was introduced in 1942, only rifles that went through repair depots were marked such during the war. Most of Finnish capture weapon received SA marking post war, when it was overhauled and stored.
Some parts swapped so mostly mismatched (again, there could be exceptions). There are examples with force-matched new serial numbers above scrubbed original serials. However most Finn capture rifles do not have the original serial numbers on metal parts scrubbed.
Sometimes additional number is stamped above serial number on receiver. The purpose of this number is not clear.
Metal could retain remnants of original bluing or could be re-blued with appearance similar to Soviet refurbishment dip-bluing
Stock can be original with serial number and cartouches intact or sanded with no serial and no other markings, some stocks were re-finished with oil or shellac after sanding.
Latest know year of Finn capture rifle is 1944
Finnish captured SVT-40. Note SA property marking, heavily sanded and refinished stock with no remains of cartouche, bolt and carrier “in white”, re-blued metal. From the author’s collection.
Example of force-matched Finnish capture rifle. Note new stamped serial on receiver, faint serial on the left side of the bolt carrier, also on bolt and trigger guard. Courtesy of polkey@CGN.
4. Bulgarian refurb.
This is the "light" refurb that includes dip bluing and covering stock with lacquer. It used be referred to as "Old import SVTs". Bulgarian refurbs are very desirable as most of them retain original matching parts.
All known Bulgarian refurb rifles are made in 1943 and 1944
All originally stamped parts are matching (except magazines). It is possible that magazines were matching too, as their serial numbers sometimes are very close to rifles serial numbers. Were these mismatched in Bulgaria or in Canada? We do not know.
Metal is always reblued and looks similar to bluing on Soviet refurbs. Bolt is blued on top of existing bluing and has dark brown to black colour.
Original serial number on the stock is slightly sanded but still visible; same number with no prefix is re-stamped vertically on the left side of the stock. Then the stock was lacquered in a quite sloppy way. Some stocks escaped serial re-stamping and were just lacquered in a very distinctive way (see picture). Rarely, stocks were left bare after sanding or were finished with very different lacquer (see picture). On some rifles, stocks are not original (faint original serial number is not the same as new vertical number).
Upper wooden handguard was serialized on the underside (probably by Bulgarians as originally this part does not have serial), probably for the purpose of proper assembly after refurbishing. However most of the Bulgarian SVT-40s have this newly numbered part mismatched. How it happened we don't know. Some upper handguards escaped serialization.
In some cases some parts (bolt, bolt carrier) could have original serial removed and new one marked with chemical pencil or scratched.
Magazines are either of late type with rough finish and single serial number, or of early type with 3/4 of upper part of the body scrubbed out, no serial applied, Bulgarian KK22 or similar marking stamped.
Bulgarian refurbs bear no arsenal refurb marks, unlike Soviet refurbs.
5. Soviet refurb.
Most common type in NA. Arsenal refurbishing process involved full disassembly (except in most cases receiver and barrel and sometimes muzzle brake were not separated), inspection, and dip-bluing of metal parts and stock re-sanding and shellacking.
Refurb mark on the top of the receiver ring (where date and factory stamps are) (there are few refurb rifles that escaped refurb mark). Often have a refurb mark on the right side of the stock. for the list of refurb arsenal markings go there )
Mostly mixed parts from different periods and factories. However there could be some very nice examples where most parts are from the same factory. For example, whole trigger unit could be all-Podolsk
Most refurbs only retain the original serial number on the receiver. We can’t exclude the possibility of finding refurbs with other parts having original matching serial numbers. (For example author has 1944 rifle with non-refurbished stock with matching serial number, however other parts of rifle are mixed).
Stock may have serial number removed with careful sanding, crude scrubbing, or striking out or XXX-ing out. New numbers are mostly without letter prefix, but sometimes with.
Trigger guard number scrubbed and electro-penciled (EPed ), but sometimes new number is stamped, however font differs from the one on receiver. Bolt carrier serial is removed and new number EPed. Original bolt serial was applied either on top of the handle or on the bottom. New EPed number is always on top. Bolt serial removed, new number EPed. Magazines have a new number either EPed or stamped and there are struck out old serials.
Stocks are shellacked and may have wood repairs and cross bolt (sometimes two). Cross bolts were also probably used during war time, however metal ones on refurbs were definitely made after war.
5. Factories information.
We can conclusively say that there were only 4 factories that manufactured or attempted to manufacture the SVT-40.
a. Factory No.314 NKV. In 1940 - 1941 was located in Tula. Part of the factory responsible for SVT-40 production was,, evacuated near the end of 1941 to Mednogorsk to Factory No. 621 NKV. In February 1942 Factory No. 621 NKV was renamed to Factory No.314 (as a successor of SVT-40 production) (Source 3. p 13) and manufacture of rifles continued until the order to stop was issued on 5th of Jan of 1945. This factory used "star" logo.
Tula star on Bulgarian “light” refurb rifle. From author’s collection.
b. Factory No.74 NKV. Had been manufacturing SVT-40s in 1940 - 1941 period in Izhevsk. SVT production was stopped in autumn of 1941 in favour of increasing Mosin Nagant 91/30 production. Order to stop manufacturing came in on 20 Aug 1941, however factory finished 41,520 rifles in September and 82 in October (Source: 3. Page 131-132). Some tools were transferred to Zlatoust factory No.54 NKV (Source: 1. Page 229). Factory No.74 NKV logo is arrow in triangle.
Izhevsk triangle with arrow on Soviet refurb rifle. From author’s collection.
c. Factory No.460 NKV. This factory was originally built by American company Singer in 1901 in Podolsk. By 1939 name was "Podolsk mechanical factory" and was part of NKOM (НКОМ - Народньій коммисариат общего машиностроения - People Commission of General Machinery) factories and was officially transferred to military NKV ministry only in Oct of 1941 (Source 3. Page 136). Had been manufacturing SVT rifles in 1940 - 1941. Part of the factory was evacuated to Zlatoust Factory No.54 NKV. Produced both SVT-38 and SVT-40. Factory logo has three distinctive variations pictured below. No correlation found yet between variations and date of manufacture except that all observed 1940 rifles have variation 1. Variation 1 is the most common, variation 3 is the scarcest.
Three variants of Podolsk logo. From author’s collection and open sources.
d. Factory No.385 NKV. Factory No. 54 NKV in Zlatoust was supposed to have started SVT-40 production in 1941, but failed. It is known though that in 1941 this factory was manufacturing parts for SVT-40 rifle. At the end of 1941 this factory received tooling and equipment from No.460 NKV and No.74 NKV factories. In 1942 factory No.54 NKV was reorganized and the part that became Factory No.385 NKV was officially assigned as successor of No.460 NKV factory and was able to manufacture 140 SVT-40 rifles only in February and March (Source: 1. Page 229) (or 572 according to Zlatmash factory “70 year of Great Victory” communique). After that SVT production at this location was ceased. No know rifle made at No.385 NKV exists, just one single stock marked with Podolsk oval with arrow and 1942 date is known.
6. Production numbers and serial number prefixes.
Table below illustrates total production of SVT-38 and SVT-40 rifles (Source: 1. Page 320)
* - maximum estimated amount based on the 1945 serial numbers observations (all four known 1945 rifles have ДГххх serials).
** - estimation based on total production figures.
Next table illustrates correlation of serial number prefix to the time of manufacturing. This table is Alexander Yuschenko research with my minor additions like earlier SVT-38 production discovered, late Izhevsk added, illustrated overlapping of SVT-38 and SVT-40 manufacturing, etc.)
7. Features explained.
Over the course of production there were lot of small changes. Some were improvements, some were simplifications, and some combined both attributes. However no major design changes were implemented as it would have required re-tooling, process changes and would have endangered planned production numbers. I'll try to focus on the most visible and most important features and their changes.
a. Receiver types. There are four plus one distinctive types of receivers one can find on SVT-40 rifles. “Plus one” is because SVT-38 receivers were recycled and used to build SVT-40 rifles after the war (at least all known SVT-40 rifles with SVT-38 receivers fall into the prefix range that date their manufacture to the SVT-38 production period). First type of receiver was used since the beginning of SVT-40 production and resembles SVT-38 receiver except its front part). The type 2 receiver was introduced probably in the middle of 1941 and Type 3 in the beginning of 1942. The Type 4 receiver was probably part of middle of 1944 improvements (Source 1: p. 176, 137) to prevent case head separation and has side walls reinforced in magazine well area. There are also other smaller changes in receivers that we could call transitional.
Recycled SVT-38 on top and Type 1 SVT-40 receiver on bottom. From author’s collection.
From top to bottom: Type 1, 2, 3 and 4 receivers. From author’s collection.
b. Muzzle brake. First version of SVT-40 muzzle brake had six ports. During January of 1941 two-port muzzle brake (and lower cut bayonet) were submitted for trials (Source: 1. Page 43). The reason for the proposed change of muzzle brake was to lower the volume of sound which was deafening to nearby shooters. With the new muzzle brake this goal was achieved, but side effect was that effectiveness of brake performance decreased by 40% (Source: 1. Page 43). This decrease in performance was acknowledged as acceptable and two port muzzle brake was recommended into production 18 Apr 1941 (Source: 3. Page 127), however was not implemented immediately. Factory No.460 NKV (Podolsk) first started mass production of new muzzle brakes and they are spotted on the rifles dated to September of 1941. Factory No.314 started production of two-port muzzle brakes only after evacuation to Mednogorsk at the end of 1941. However some experimental carbines manufactured prior to June of 1941 at No.314 also had the two-port muzzle brake. There are no known two-port muzzle brakes manufactured at Factory No.74 (Izhevsk) and it is not clear why this change was implemented originally in time only by Factory No.460 (Podolsk). Apart from the manufacturer markings one can see difference between Factory No.460 (Podolsk) and Factory No.314 (Mednogorsk) made two port muzzle brakes in the machining quality with No.460 being finely machined and No.314 very rough.
Row 1 - early and late Tula/Mednogorsk muzzle brake. Row 2 - early and late Podolsk. Row 3 - Izhevsk. From author’s collection.
Rifle with second version of muzzle brake on picture dated 12 Sep 1941 – probably one of the first Podolsk rifles with such muzzle brakes. Picture from the open sources.
c. Cleaning rod was shortened from 645mm to 640mm in Jan 1941. (Source: 1. Page 136)
d. Receiver rails (technically they are grooves) were machined on all rifles (including SVT-38s) since the very beginning of production. There is no clear understanding on why those rails were cut – mount and scope were not finalized by that time. Probably rails were cut to accommodate some kind of universal mount that would sit in rails. The course of war required simplifications and rails were eliminated on regular rifles in the summer of 1941. Factory No.314 (Tula) eliminated rails in July 1941 however some October rifles still had rails (old stock of receivers used). Factories No.460 (Podolsk) and No.74 (Izhevsk) received new orders on August 18th and stopped cutting rails immediately (Source: 3. Page 131). Because latter two factories had some stock of receivers with rails it is quite uncommon to find No.460 (Podolsk) or No.74 (Izhevsk) receiver with no rails. For newly produced receivers starting October of 1941 rails were machined only for sniper rifles. There are anomalous 1942 manufactured non-sniper rifles with rails. All of these rifles belong either to known sniper serial prefixes or supposed sniper prefixes and probably were selected to become sniper rifles but either failed some of the tests or were excess to sniper rifle requirements and thus were utilized for regular rifles. Such railed 1942 rifles are actually extremely scarce, even scarcer than 1942 sniper rifles. However there are several faked snipers made from such rifles. This is really sad when a rifle scarcer than sniper is turned into fake and its value destroyed. There were also 300 sniper rifles made in 1943 but none is known to exist. (Source: 1. Page 320)
Receiver with rails and with no rails. From author’s collection.
e. Receiver back wall. actory No.460 (Podolsk) went even further with simplifications and along with rails eliminated rounding of upper back wall of receiver in September 1941 with ЛД-series. There are single specimens of Factory No.314 (Mednogorsk) rifles with flat receiver wall, one is dated January 1942 and another one is August 1942 (Source: 2), however there is no evidence of mass production of such receivers at Factory No.314 . This contradicts R. Chumak’s conclusion about early 1942 and end of 1941 production of such receivers at No.314 (Source: 1. Page 137).
Scarce simplified Podolsk receiver with no rails and flat back wall. From author’s collection.
f. The trigger guard was widened sometime around September of 1941 (Source: 2). This was part of war-time simplifications (Source: 1. Page 137). An interesting fact is that the SVT-38 had a wide trigger guard, but it was narrowed to make the SVT-40 rifle lighter. So far only No.314 NKV (Tula and later Mednogorsk) made wide trigger guards have been observed. Because of the date this change was implemented there is possibility that No.74 (Izhevsk) and No.460 (Podolsk) also manufactured wide trigger guards. When you see a wide trigger guard marked with No.74 or No.460 logo don’t forget to check if it’s an SVT-40 and not SVT-38 trigger group, as some refurbished SVT-40 have SVT-38 trigger groups.
Narrow and wide trigger guards. From author’s collection.
From bottom to top, trigger guards: recycled SVT-38, early SVT-40, late SVT-40. Notice width difference of sear base in the middle of each trigger unit, disregard hammer shape difference – there were several variations too. From author’s collection.
g. The hole in safety / selector switch was abandoned in the autumn of 1941 almost immediately upon implementation of the wide trigger guard at No.314 NKV, before this factory was evacuated from Tula to Mednogorsk. Don't confuse late safety switch with SVT-38 switch that never had a hole in it. (pic svt-38. svt-40 early, late).
From bottom to top, trigger guards: recycled SVT-38, early SVT-40, late SVT-40. Notice that SVT-38 and late SVT-40 have same width. From author’s collection.
Early and late upper shrouds. Notice 8 holes and straight profile on the early shroud and 7 holes and slight recess on the late one. From author’s collection.
h. The top barrel shroud (vented metal handguard) design was changed from early 8 holes version to 7 holes in Jan 1941. The new version was 4mm shorter and 0.9mm higher (Source: 1. Page 136). It was not immediately implemented in production so some rifles were fitted with early upper shrouds until March of 1941 (and even until April of 1941 for Podolsk rifles).
i. The lower barrel shroud (metal vented handguard) was simplified in third quarter of 1943 according to Chumak, however according to Koldunov (Source 3. Page 134) it was done at the end of 1941 - beginning of 1942.
Early lower shroud on left, later on right. From author’s collection.
j. Rear sight leaf central groove was abandoned in the Autumn of 1941 at No.460 Podolsk and No. 314 Tula factory (source: observed rifles in original condition). Rifles produced in Dec of 1941 (MK series) at No.314 NKV (at that time based in Mednogorsk) factory also had the simplified leaf with no central groove.
Early grooved and late flat rear sight leaves. From author’s collection.
k. The front barrel band changed from 2 pieces assembly to single piece unit probably in the first half of 1942. However in his book (Source: 3. Page 130) Koldunov points that factory No.74 implemented this change 20 Aug 1941. He also claims that existing 20,000 pcs of old type were modified into "transitional" type. So far I haven't observed such specimens.
Also, at Summer 1942 factory No.314 designed new construction of the barrel bandmm which was made from steel strips, connected with welded. Drawing have a note that not more than 10% of produced rifles were issued with this ersatz design. It's unclear how long production was continued, but so far only one survided specimen is known - relic barrel band found in Ukraine.
Early two pieces front barrel band and late single piece front barrel band. From author’s collection.
Trial barrel band. Drawing and relic example.
l. Oxidizing of the bolt carriers and bolts (bluing) was started in the end of 1941 at No.314 (Mendogorsk) Factory, right after the evacuation. This information is based on several observed authentic original examples and is the current best guess. Mass production of blued carriers and bolts is observed starting from the beginning of 1942. It also should be noted that single specimens with blued bolt / carrier pairs were observed in 1940 and 1941 on rifles from all three factories (Source: 1). Original bluing was light and of cherry red colour. Later specimens (1944) have more saturated red colour. After the war during refurbishing arsenals scrubbed and reblued most bolts and carriers resulting in different shades of plum and bronze colours, however some bolts and carriers escaped this and can be found in the white on Soviet refurbs. It is also worth mentioning that strictly speaking bolt carriers and bolts “in the white” were also oxidized in a chemical way, a process called “passivation” where after mechanical metal processing and polishing parts are dipped into acid.
Early bolt carrier "in white"
Later "cherry red" carrier and bolt,
courtesy of Ryan Elliott.
Refurbished blued bolt carrier
Bulgarian refurb rebluing on top of original bluing.
m. Stocks. The two-piece stocks for SVT-38 were wide and heavy and the Army requested modifications to make the rifle lighter. The first SVT-40 stocks were slimmer and were prone to cracking in the wrist area. So the first change to the SVT-40 stock was to address this issue and the stock was widened from 46mm to 49mm. This change was tested by commission in August - September of 1941 (Source: 1. Page 181). Ruslan Chumak in his book claims that this change was implemented only in 1944. However my observations tell me that it was probably implemented sometime in the middle of 1942. To understand the next feature change we need to remember that in the middle of 1942 select-fire version of rifle was introduced under the designation of AVT-40. To allow safely lever / fire selector to move to the right side stock should have had second cutout on the right side added. Such stocks were also marked with letter “A” on the right side. This was second major change to stock. By the time of its implementation Factory No.314 in Mednogorsk apparently had supply of both wide and narrow types of stocks. This caused situation when some AVT-40 rifles were assembled with narrow stocks with two cutouts and at the same time some SVT-40 rifles were assembled with wide stocks with only one cutout on the left side. SVT-40 and AVT-40 production overlapped only for one month – June 1942 (Source: 1. Page 231). Altogether these observations and facts make me think mid 1942 was the switch over date for wide stock. Later in 1942 even semi-auto only sniper rifles had wide stocks with two cutouts as result of process of unification of stock supply. The next significant change in stock occurred during the first part of 1944: a new type of stock with rear sling slot instead of rear swivel was introduced. It is not clear if the sling slot instead of swivel was part of the original Aug-Sep 1941 commission recommendation. There’s one known 1941 Podolsk stock with the sling slot, however we don't know if it was mass production or experimental run.
To sum up, stocks can be of following types: early narrow or late wide, early with swivel or late with sling slot, early SVT with one safety lever cutout and late AVT (or we might call it universal as it was used on sniper SVTs) with two cutouts. It's not correct to call wide stock "AVT" as AVTs were issued with narrow stocks too. It's also not correct to call stock with sling slot "Naval" as they have nothing to do with the Navy.
Narrow stock with single cutout. Notice the width of the wood aside of receiver is slightly wider than receiver side walls. From author’s collection.
Narrow stock with two cutouts. Notice the width of the wood is slightly wider than receiver side walls. From author’s collection.
Wide stock with single cutout. Notice the width of the wood aside of receiver is significantly wider than receiver side walls. From author’s collection.
Wide stock with two cutouts. Notice the width of the wood aside of receiver is significantly wider than receiver side walls. From author’s collection.
Early stock with swivel and late with slot. From author’s collection.
Without going into discussion about what is collecting and what is collectible (we all have different opinions on that) I here present my own thoughts on the subject.
- The general opinion is that the most scarce and most collectible rifles would be those that are very close to original condition and preserved well. Unfortunately such SVT-40 rifles are extremely scarce. So called "bring backs" are few and far between, and only some Finn capture rifles still have the original Soviet wood finish, while many have refinished wood and even reblued metal parts. Also, the SA property mark does not add value in my opinion for the reason that in many cases it was applied post-war. While technically Finland started using the SA mark in March of 1942, it was stamped only on weapons that ended up at arsenal repair facilities and not all weapons passed through these until after the end of the war. I must acknowledge that some collectors value specifically Finnish capture weapons and SA is a desirable proof mark for them. An interesting variation is the Bulgarian "light" refurb. Among them one can find rifles with all parts (except magazine) originally matching, however the wood finish is not original and metal is reblued. Because of the many factors listed above SVT-40 collector’s desire to own the rifles in most original condition does not line up with reality of what is available. Don’t be discouraged by that. Refurbished rifles while not original still are collectible if you want to have line up of all the years, features or factories. No purist collector will be able to complete such collection with all original rifles!
- As most of the available rifles in North America are in refurbished condition (Soviet arsenal refurbished) the first thing that one needs to pay attention to is the receiver and its features. The receiver defines the year, make and includes several other important features like rails.The typical refurb will be a complete “mixmaster” but rifles may be found with correct ancillary parts for the year of the receiver (possibly from the same factory) which can add value. If the refurbished rifle is unfired and still in cosmo - even better. With Finn capture rifles one needs to pay attention to the stock (original finish vs sanded vs sanded and finished with oil), matching vs mismatching parts. Many of the refurb rifles have wood repairs on stock
- Matching - non matching. Technically speaking a fully matching rifle would have at least one matching magazine (originally three magazines were issued, numbered to rifle). So in my opinion it's incorrect to call rifle "fully matching" with mismatched magazine. Truly matching rifles are extremely scarce and only a few are known to collectors. Most of the rifles collectors will encounter will be either Soviet refurbs or Finn capture rifles. The former have force-matched numbers electro-penciled, and latter mostly mixed numbers.
9. Variations and their rarity.
I’m proposing two ratings with first being very subjective and based on observations of how common certain variations are in North America. This rating does not always reflects production numbers, but rather numbers of surviving rifles that are available for NA collectors.
Rarity (increasing on a scale of 1-10) in the list below is sorted mainly by receiver (and ancillary) features, year of manufacture and association with significant changes (like factory relocation). Condition of the rifle such as finish (original vs refurbished), type of refurb, matching / non matching are not taken into account. It is evident that condition plays important role on top of everything else.
A second rarity rating is based on production numbers. Assumptions are: total number of rifle produced is 1954144. Tula 1941 assumed as 675,976 and Podolsk 1941 assumed as 100,000.
Information about magazines is based mainly on observations. There are three major types of magazines: Type 1 (SVT-38 magazine manufactured by Factory No.314 in Tula) , Type 2 (SVT-38 magazine manufactured by Factory No.74 in Izhevsk) and Type 3 (SVT-40 magazine manufactured by all factories). Type 1 (SVT-38) magazines have round holes in body to hold the cup like floor plate. Type 2 has same design but with "stadium" shaped hole. Information that Type 2 magazine is actually early SVT-40 magazine was published in Koldunov book (Source 3 page 80), however this information is not correct. Type 3 magazine has flat floor plate with small hole in it. It looks like Type 1 and Type 2 magazines were made with solid single locking lug. Later design was changed to double lugs. Factory No. 314 probably switched to double lugs design only during production of Type 3 magazines. There were also design changes in the way body of the magazine was formed and other minor deviations. Below are some of the types of the magazines one can encounter (all magazines are from author's collection unless noted otherwise). They are sorted in what I believe is more or less chronological order.
Type 1 (Factory No.314 SVT-38 magazine) with round holes
Type 2 (Factory No.74 SVT-38 magazine) with stadium shaped hole
Type 2 magazine with lug changed from single to double
Type 2 mag with front wall with seam
Type 3 (SVT-40) mag with still single lug and still no seam on front wall
Type 3 mag with double lug and seam. Represents typical early Type 3 mag with good finish and rifle serial and 1,2 or 3 mag number.
Late Type 3 were serialized but not numbered with 1,2 or 3
Type 3 spare armorer mag, not serialized originally, EPed later.
Type 3 mag scrubbed in Bulgaria with Bulgarian KK22 mark
Late Type 3 with very rough surface
One of the war-time simplification. From the open sources.
a. Bayonets with upper cut were produced until Jan 1941, since Feb lower cut bayonets were produced (Source: 1. P.225). Bayonets were partially or fully oxidized.
b. There were numerous technological changes in scabbard manufacturing so the following information is based only on visual appearance of scabbard and bayonet. Early type had roundel at the end of the scabbard. Late type with no roundel was introduced in first half of 1942 (Source: 1. P.225), according to another source - 18 April 1941 (Source: 3. P.127). Early scabbard had one flat metal band and another one wire type to hold the belt loop. In first part of 1942 both bands made flat and connected or (rare) - not connected. There was also transitional scabbard type - no roundel, but still early bands.
From top to bottom: upper cut partially oxidized unissued bayonet in early scabbard, lower cut refurbished bayonet in early scabbard of the same type, partially oxidized bayonet in scabbard with no roundel but still with early type of bands combination, fully oxidized issued bayonet in late scabbard, refurbished bayonet in later scabbard of rare type with disconnected bands. From author's collection.
Same bayonets, inner side, notice different belt loops - original textile, post war refurb, original textile, leather, leather substitute.
Same bayonets from left to right, close up on blades and bands.
Same bayonets, close up on belt loops and metal bands.
12. SVT-40 sniper rifles
Sniper rifles and mount are described in details in special SVT -40 sniper rifles section
13. SVT-40 carbines
A lot of misinformation circulates about SVT carbines. Tokarev created a number of carbine models, based on his SVT rifles, but almost all of them remained a trial pieces, made in very very low numbers. Only one model issued outside Tokarev workshop/proving ground and participated in real field trials. It was Carbine model 1940, which was issued in different configurations - semi auto, full auto, and sniper. Drawings of this carbine were made by Izhevsk factory No.74.
Only few sniper carbines were made, they were issued as present piece to high rank military officers and party leaders. At least 3 of them are known to survive and are located in Russian museums. Group from 50 semi auto carbines was tested in 214th Airborne division in January 1941. After successful trials Main Artillery Directorate obliged Izhevsk factory to produce 30000 carbines, production should start in July. But since war began on June 22, factory have more important matters, and there is no information that any of these carbines were produced.
Soldier of 214th Airborne division with Tokarev carbine. January 1941.
Photo courtesy of ingpro, forum.guns.ru
Interesting, that carbine has two-port muzzle break.
14. SVT-40 sling
There's only one type of SVT-40 sling exists - it's a webbing sling with non-detachable collar from one side, and with a ring (D-shape or rectangular shape) with detachable collar from another side. Special SVT-40 sling was produced only during brief, intial SVT-40 production period. After the war beginning its production was stopped, and SVT-40's were used mainly with M91/30 slings, use of the slings from other weapons is also observed on the wartime pictures.
SVT-40 sling with D-shape ring. Detachable dog collar is missing.
SVT-40 sling with D-shape ring and original dog collar.
Photo courtesy of John Tankki.
SVT-40 sling with rectangular shape ring. Detachable dog collar is replacement (M91/30 dog collar was used).
Original SVT-40 dog collar is wider.
Photo courtesy of Matt Darnell.
SVT-40 slings on the wartime pictures
Чумак Р.Н. Самозарядные и автоматические винтовки Токарева, СПб. Атлант. 2014
Alexander's Yuschenko SVT-40 serial numbers study.
Колдунов С.А. Самозарядная винтовка Токарева образца 1940 года (СВТ-40). Санкт-Петербург. 2013
Author's observation of available rifles