SVT-40 sniper rifles
The first trials of the sniper version of the Tokarev semi-auto rifle were concluded in the mid 1930's. At that time trial rifles and carbines that hadn't been accepted into service yet were tested. The trials showed that the PE/PEM scope was not suitable for use on semi-auto rifles because it was too long and caused problems with empty case ejection. Offset placement of the scope, like was done with the AVS sniper rifle, was not very comfortable for the shooter. It was decided to create a new scope which should be shorter than a PEM.
First trials with the new scopes were concluded in January 1940. A few SVT-38 rifles were tested at the proving grounds with various mounts, one of them was a mount created by F. Tokarev. All mounts were tested with trial 2.5x scopes, made by factory No.357 in Leningrad. The Tokarev mount showed the best performance and was recommended for a further update. The scope performance results were not very good and got negative feedback.
The next trials occurred in May 1940. At this time the Tokarev mount was tested with a newly created PU scope, the rifle used for the test was an SVT-40, not the SVT-38 (in May of 1940 the SVT-40 hadn't been officially accepted into service, neither had the PU scope). Both the mount and scope successfully passed the trials, it was recommended to start their mass production. However, the Tokarev mount needed to be updated, rings were supposed to be redesigned according to the proving ground recommendations.
Despite the fact that by mid 1940 there were drawings ready and trial mounts identical to mass produced mount existed, mass production of sniper SVT-40 rifles started only in March of 1941 by factory No. 314 in Tula
SVT-38 mounts from the January 1940 trials. Bottom right - Tokarev mount.
Luidmila Pavlichenko, the most famous WWII female sniper, with an SVT-40 sniper rifle
SVT-40 Tokarev mount from May 1940 trials.
Source - Чумак Р.Н. Самозарядные и автоматические винтовки Токарева, СПб. Атлант. 2014
Types of sniper rifles
SVT-40 sniper rifles can be split into 2 groups:
1) Factory issued snipers. These are sniper rifles produced in 1941 and 1942 only by factory No.314 (factory marking - "star") in Tula ( starting in November 1941 - Mednogorsk). These rifles were specially produced on a separate production line with smaller tolerances compared to regular rifles. They had special markings and special serial numbers ranges.
2) Field made snipers - these could be any SVT rifles with factory rails and a field made notch. Considering that factory No.314 did not produced any spare sniper mounts, mounts were taken from damaged factory issued sniper rifles. It's almost impossible to verify originality of rifles of this group (only if they are in relic condition, only a few such rifles are known), they will not be covered on this page.
1941 and 1942 factory issued sniper rifles have some differences in markings. 1941 SVT snipers were marked with a "C" proofmark on the right side of the receiver bridge (only in this location, all "C" markings in other locations, including the flat surface near the production year are just production proofmarks). They were issued within special serial numbers groups. The first 2,000 serial numbers in specific letter prefixes were reserved for sniper rifles, while serial numbers higher than 2,000 in the same letter prefixes were used for regular rifle. 1941 Tula sniper and regular rifles can have similar letter prefix, but the sniper rifle will always have a serial number less than 2,000.
In some very rare cases a genuine sniper rifle with the correct serial number pattern can have a missing "C" proofmark, this has been observed on a few wartime produced sniper rifles. Another exclusion is that very few rifles from the sniper group of serial numbers (specific letter prefix and a number less than 2,000) were issued as regular rifles, without a sniper notch. The quantity of thse rifles is very low, the possibility of finding them is much smaller than finding a legit sniper. Judging from known samples, the ratio is approximately 80 to 1.
It should be mentioned that grooves on the receiver (rails) do not indicate that a rifle was a "sniper", rails were made on all SVT-40's, produced by all factories until the Summer of 1941. At this time they were eliminated to simplify production during wartime.
1941 sniper rifle.
To verify a 1941 sniper you should follow these steps:
1) check the rear side of the receiver, rifle should have grooves (rails) for the sniper mount and a notch for the mount cross pin (shape should be similar to shape of the notch on the image below);
2) rifle should be manufactured by Tula factory No.314;
3) serial number should have a numerical part less than 2,000, the serial number prefix should fall within the list of letter prefixes shown in the table below;
4) right side of the receiver should have a "C" proofmark.
If rifle does not match any of the criteria from paragraphs 1,2,3 above, it's not a factory issued sniper. If it matches points 1,2,3 and does not match point 4, feel free to ask for advice via the Contact form.
1942 sniper rifle.
After factory No. 314 was evacuated to Mednogorsk in October 1941, production of SVT snipers was restored only in March of 1942. 1942 sniper rifles are more difficult to verify. They were not marked with a "C" , they also do not have a special reserved serial number range (like first 2,000 numbers in the letter prefix during 1942). They still fall into specific letter prefix groups, regular 1942 rifles with rails than can be faked to sniper rifles are even more scarce than sniper rifles.
So, you need to:
1) check rear side of the receiver, rifle should have grooves (rails) for sniper mount and a notch for the mount cross pin (shape should be similar to shape of the notch in the image below);
2) rifle should be manufactured by Mednogorsk factory No.314;
3) serial number prefix should fall into the list of letter prefixes shown in the table below;
Both 1941 and 1942 genuine SVT-40 sniper rifles had some additional features, different from regular rifles, which are not mentioned in this article. There is still a possibility to verify even a very good fake.
1941 SVT sniper rifle features.
Photo courtesy of Oleg K.
Fake SVT sniper rifles
Some time ago there was a taboo between collectors to post online pictures of real SVT snipers, including detailed pictures of the notch. It was believed that this will help protect the market from good fakes. However, things changed. Very good fakes are already on the market, people that made them do not need to look at pictures, they have real rifles that they try to copy, including the markings.
Majority of good fakes circulate in Canada and Europe, places, where SVT-40's were imported in large numbers during 2010's. The approach to the production of SVT sniper rifles, used by Soviets, gave us a unique possibility to be protected from fakes on a high level - the fact that sniper rifles were grouped within special batches of serial numbers makes fakes easy to spot, if you know where to look.
Fake "C" proofmark and fake sniper mount crosspin notches.
Known SVT-40 sniper rifles serials
1941 Tula factory No.314 sniper rifles
Production period - March-October 1941
Produced quantity :
March - 1,012
April - 3,015
May - 4,106
June - 5,013
July - 7,600
August - 7,500
September - 8,000
October - 1,760
Total - 38,006
Serial numbers of know legitimate sniper rifles
Preserial 1940 sniper rifles
ИО 351 *NIPSVO test rifle, used for PU scope tests in May of 1940.
ИО 408*NIPSVO test rifle, used for PU scope tests in May of 1940.
AM 112 mount
AM 218 mount
AM 528 mount
*AM is a controversial letter prefix. According to the table of serial numbers from the main section, sniper rifles with this prefix were issued in January 1941. But sniper rifles were not produced in January, also, a new pattern font (post spring 1941) was used on rifles/mounts with this prefix. These are definitely post January production, more details are required for clarification.
ГБ 277 *Dzerzhinskiy academy museum
ГБ 543 *Museum, with experimental Skvortsov 20 round drum magazine
ЖБ 1х0 mount
ЖБ 410 mount
ЖБ 94х mount
ЖБ 1034 mount
ЖБ 1075 mount
ЖБ 1429 mount
ЖБ 1х9х mount
ЖБ 1990 mount
ЖК 343 *NIPSVO test rifle
ЖК 349 mount
ИБ 1061 mount
ИБ 1111 mount
ИК 9хх mount
ИК 1075 mount
ИК 1503 mount
ИМ 636 mount
ИМ 666 mount
ИМ 1678 mount
ЛБ 1782 mount
ЛК 1335 mount
ЛК 1497 mount
ЛК 1892 mount
НА 483 mount
НА 913 mount
НВ 1660 (no C proofmark)
НЖ 1082 (no C proofmark)
НЖ 1339 mount
НЖ 1597 mount
НЖ 1649 (no C proofmark)
НЖ 1689 mount
НЖ 1754 mount
НЖ 1936 mount
НИ 3хх mount
НИ 416 mount
НИ 597 mount
НИ хх08 mount
ПА 502 mount
ПА 1002 mount
ПА 1424 mount
ПВ 273 mount
СА 650 (no C proofmark)
CA 1364 mount
СА 1488 mount
CA 1620 mount
СА 1645 mount
СБ х12 mount
CB 112 mount
СВ 181 mount
СВ 196 mount
СВ 260 mount
СВ 372 mount
СВ 511 mount
СВ 868 mount
СГ 807 mount
СГ 1845 mount
СГ 1889 mount
СЖ 816 mount
СЖ 1523 mount
СЖ 1x16 mount
ТБ 246 mount
ТВ 116 (no C proofmark)
1942 Mednogorsk factory No.314 sniper rifles (none of these rifle have the C proofmark)
Production period - January-October 1942
Produced quantity :
January - 2
February - 0
March - 310
April - 400
May - ?
June - ?
July - ?
August - ?
September - ?
October - 160
Total - 14,220
Serial numbers of know legitimate sniper rifles
НБ 104 *NIPSVO test rifle
НБ 1757 *NIPSVO test rifle
НБ 2525 *NIPSVO test rifle
НБ 7398 *NIPSVO test rifle
HB 2945 *NIPSVO test rifle
ПА 5903 *belongs to sniper Matvey Zvyagintsev
СА 2421 *St.Petersburg Artillery museum
CB 7238 * GPW museum, Kiev
СГ 2787 factory matching, Gunbroker
** 2851 mount
** 3276 mount
** 3285 mount
** 5115 mount
*-NIPSVO KA (Научно исследовательский полигон стрелкового вооружения Красной Армии) - scientific research proving ground of infantry weapons of Red Army.
SVT-40 sniper scope mounts
Sniper scope mounts were also produced by a single factory, No. 314, the same that made SVT-40 sniper rifles. They were individually adjusted to the rifle at the factory and were stamped with rifle's serial number. The font of the serial number on the mount was the same as was used on the rifle. In 1941 the mount was stamped with the full serial number (with letter prefix), in 1942 - only with the numerical part of the serial number.
Original SVT-40 sniper mounts are now very rare and expensive, there are a lot of reproductions and fakes around.
Genuine 1941 SVT sniper mount.
Markings on 1942 mounts. Serial number without the letter prefix.
On the original, the top part of the mount with rings ("clip" according to the Russian terminology used in drawings) was separate from the bottom part (with rails), both parts were connected with 4 rivets (2 from each side), sometimes these rivets are very difficult to spot.
The most common reproduction, that is very rarely advertised as original, is made as a one piece. That's why it is very easy to spot. It is manufactured in Taiwan as a fair reproduction and is produced by forging. The bottom rear part has square shapes compared to the original mount, the finish is blank and matte. Earlier versions had some problems with pin positioning, it damaged the notch during shooting because it was placed too high, the spring in the recoil buffer was too weak. At the moment it seems that the manufacturer fixed the problem
Taiwan manufactured reproduction mount.
Photo courtesy of Phillip Gorny
Mounts in the next group were manufactured similar to the originals - top part with rings and bottom are made as separate parts and are connected by welding/rivets. So far four mounts of this type are known. Two of them were produced in Ukraine as fair reproductions (at least they were sold like this by the original manufacturers), one type was made in Finland in the 1990's and widely sold in the USA as original. The manufacturer and production period of another mount is not known,
It's time to provide more details about each type. The type that was produced in the lowest numbers was the mount made by private Ukrainian manufacturer in early - mid 2010's. Only a few of them were made, originally they didn't have any markings. They were rough in some areas, generally they were relatively nice products at a good price.
Reproduction mount from a private Ukranian manufacturer, 2010's.
Another good quality mount was manufactured by the Ukrainian military optics factory in Izum. This factory also produced reproduction PU scopes and PU mounts. Compared with the previous type, these mounts were produced in much bigger numbers during the 2000's and still pop up in European countries. Originally the mounts were unmarked, or had a star marking on the rear. Sometimes they can be found with serial numbers (1942 pattern, without letter prefix), but it is difficult to say who stamped them.
Izym factory made reproduction mounts and scopes.
Scopes are easy to spot because they have a ring between tube and eyepiece block.
Pictures from open sources.
Close up pictures of markings on Izum made mounts. Pictures from open sources.
On the right - aged Izum mount, somebody tried to age it to make it look like an old original. On the left - standard Izum mount. Pictures from open sources.
US collectors can came across reproductions that were made in the 1990's in Finland and were widely sold as originals. These are commonly referred to as "Finnbear" mounts. While the main features are close to originals, they are still different in several details. During production the manufacturer tried to reproduce original markings, but it is obvious that he did not know the styles of numbering that were used by the Soviets.
So far all known mounts in this group are numbered using the XX YYY pattern, where the first two symbols are supposed to reproduce the letter prefix, and next 3 symbols are the serial number. Two letter prefixes are used - one is "6Г" , the other is a reversed "Г" and "А". It looks like the manufacturer had access to original mounts and tried to reproduce original numbers. However, the Soviet letters are stamped poorly and they they were reproduced the wrong way. The "6Г" letter prefix was highly likely copied from the "СГ" letter prefix, the reversed "Г" and "А" - from "ПА" prefix, both are legit 1941 sniper prefixes.
Reproduction mount of Finnish origin.
Photo courtesy - Phillip Gorny
Serial numbers with fantasy letter prefixes, "6Г", and reversed "Г" and "А".
Mount No.733 - photo courtesy of CH, Gunboards forums
Legitimate mount with a "СГ" prefix
There is one more type of reproduction mount, it is different from all the types mentioned above. No details are known about the production country or period. So far only one specimen is known.
Reproduction mount with unknown origin.
Picture from open sources.