History of the SVT 40 Sniper

By 1940 it was decided that a semi-automatic sniper was needed. The relatively new SVT 40 rifle was selected to be used. A new mounting system had to be designed since a side mount would not work. After several mounting attempts a specially made mount was designed and accepted. This mounting system will only be found on SVT 40 snipers. It uses a saddle type mount with fork like prongs that slide onto both sides of the rear receiver. Atop this mount the scope was secured by two rings. Rails were cut into the sides of the receiver and a notch was cut on the rear bridge to allow for a stop pin to be inserted through the mount and receiver. Until mid to late 1941 all SVT 40 rifles had the rails cut into the receiver. This feature alone does not make a rifle a sniper. Around this same time a newer, smaller scope, known as the PU (“short scope”), was developed and accepted. This scope would also be used on the M91/30 rifle with the Kochetov Mount. Scope mounts were numbered to the rifle on the rear heal of the mount. 1941 mounts will display the rifles letter prefix and full number. In 1942, the letter prefix was dropped and only the rifle number added. This is the only method of dating an SVT scope mount.

 

SVT 40 sniper rifles were produced by Factory No. 314 Tula in 1941 and in Mednogorsk in 1942. A very small number of rifles were converted to snipers in the years 1940 as prototypes. The earlier SVT 38 was never converted for sniper use. By 1942 several complaints about the performance of SVT were reported. The most concerning issue was accuracy with the first shot. However, the SVT as a infantry rifle was be rejected altogether. Rifles could not be manufactured at the same rate they were being lost. The time needed to produce rifles was too costly and by mid 1942 the SVT 40 was abandoned. It would be replaced by the AVT 40 which was a fully automatic version. A very small number of these AVT 40 rifles were fitted with scopes (300 according to author Chumak) but this proved fruitless and thus the role of the SVT 40 as a sniper ended.

 

Production totals by year are:

1941 = 38,006 rifles and 1942 = 14,220 rifles.

 

Collecting the SVT 40 Sniper

An authentic SVT 40 sniper is very easy to authenticate. Factory No. 314 Tula was the sole manufacturer. All 1941 dated sniper rifles will have a serial number less then 2000, are grouped in unique prefix blocks and have a C stamped on the right side of the receiver. In 1942 these rules do not apply. Instead, 1942 rifles are spread across serial blocks and the C on the receiver is often not present. Some rifles were converted in the field for sniper use by cutting a notch on the rear of the receiver. However, such a rifle would be nearly impossible to authenticate.

 

Post war, SVT 40 snipers were rebuilt and made into regular infantry rifles. These refurbished rifles are the most commonly seen and can be easily identified has having been a authentic sniper. Factory original and matching SVT 40 snipers are rarely seen in the collecting market.

Picture showing a Waffen SS soldier with a SVT sniper.

Picture showing a Russian soldier with a SVT sniper.

Example of a 1941 SVT 40 Sniper

(Left) The scope mount slides onto the rear of the receiver and a stop pin is inserted to secure the mount tightly against the receiver.

(Left) A notch was cut on the top/rear of the receiver to allow the stop pin to be inserted, holding the mount in place.

(Right) The vast majority of 1941 dated snipers will have this C inspection stamp on the right side of the receiver.

Features of a real SVT mount

Right and Left side view of a original 1941 mount

Authentic mounts will have a small inspection stamp on the rear right side.

The retaining pin that is inserted through the mount and notch on the receiver will have a Tula Star along with other small stamps. Reproduction pins are often smaller in size and won't have any stamps.

The screw that holds the recoil spring in place will be staked in place.

Several small inspection stamps will be found on the underside.

The rifle serial number was stamped on the heal of the mount. In 1941 the letter prefix was include. Sometime in1942 the prefix was dropped.

1941 with letter prefix

1942 without letter prefix

Example of a SVT mount

History of the PU Sniper

On August 6th, 1942 the Artillery Committee of the GAU officially determined that the SVT 40 sniper was not suitable for sniper use. The SVT 40 was still being produced as a sniper in small numbers when in August the new PU sniper system designed by D.M. Kochetov was accepted. The same PU “short scope” that was used on the SVT was utilized with the Kochetov mount. This was the final mounting system accepted and used by the Russians during WWII. The M38 or M44 carbine were never produced as a sniper.

 

Factory No. 536 Tula and Factory No. 74 Izhevsk both produced the PU sniper from 1942 to 1944. There were no PU snipers produced during WWII outside of these three years. There was a small number produced in 1945 and post war. Interestingly, 1942 was a unique year. It was the only year that all mounting systems (PEM Top mount, PEM Side mount, SVT and PU) were all produced. These production numbers where pulled from Alexander Yuschenko’s book “M91/30 Rifles and M38/M44 Carbines in 1941-1945.” A highly recommended book.

 

Production totals by year are:

 

Factory No. 536 Tula

1942 = 2,020 rifles, 1943 = 59,112 rifles. Total produced unknown in 1944. Planned production was 22,000

Factory No. 74 Izhevsk

1942 = 12,728 rifles, 1943 159,600 rifles. Total produced unknown in 1944. Planned production was 133,000

 

As already mentioned, these new M91/30 snipers with the Kochetov side mount utilized the PU scope. PU stood of “short scope” and was initially designed for use with the SVT 40 sniper. In 1940 it was Factory No. 3 in Kharkov that created this new scope with no directive. The PU scope would become the most mass produced sniper scope of WWII by any country. Although designed for the SVT, it proved effective for the M91/30. The early PU scopes had a scope body that allowed for use with the SVT mount. This body type continued to be used on the Kochetov mount until 1943 when it was updated. These early body types not used on the SVT will have a CB mark on the turret indicating calibration of the M91/30.

 

There were a total of five factories that produced the PU scope. In February of 1941, Factory No. 3 in Kharkov was renumbered Factory No. 296. Despite being the developer, Factory No. 3/296 only produced about 5% of the total PU scopes. It was Factory No. 357, formally known as Progress (producer of the PEM scope), who produced the majority. Below is a complete break down of the total number of scopes produced by each factory.

 

Scope production totals by factory:

 

Factory No. 3 and 296 in Kharkov/Bersk = 25,961 from 1940 to 1942

Factory No. 357 in Leningrad/Omsk = 315,383 from 1940 to 1945

Factory No. 237 in Kazan = 39,007 from 1943 to 1944

Factory No. 297 in Yoshar-Ola = 91,617 from 1943 to 1944

Factory No. 393 in Krasnogorsk = 80,591 from 1943 to 1944

Unlike other factories, Factory No. 393 was unable to produce the PU in the typical fashion. Instead, they used a silicon-aluminum alloy similar to an early prototype known as the PU-42. In 1943 this PU-42 scope was modernized and designated the PU-43. Factory No. 536 Tula utilized many of these PU-43 scopes and the majority of original late war matching Tula snipers will have them. Izhevsk also used some in production. In 1944 the production of any scope made from silicon-aluminum alloy was prohibited and as a result, production stopped. It was determined that a scope made from silicon-aluminum alloy was not stronger enough to withstand rifle recoil. Also, these scopes could not be rebuilt. These are likely the reasons for their discontinued production.

The PU sniper was a successful sniper rifle. It was easy to produce in large quantities and was an effective weapon in combat. When captured, German forces made good use of them.

Collecting the PU Sniper

Factory No. 74 Izhevsk and Factory No. 536 Tula both produced the PU sniper from 1942 to 1944. Any rifle not made in these years is fake. There are a number of features that distinguish a PU sniper from a regular infantry rifle. Both factories used special marks on the barrels (accuracy proofs) to identify rifles as suitable for sniper use. Tula used a CH while Izhevsk used a C inside of a circle. Look for these marks when trying to identify a authentic example. These markings can often times be lightly struck and require a close look in order to see.

 

Another feature to look at is the stock of a PU rifle. Stocks were cut to accommodate the base mount and unlike regular infantry rifles the sling cut outs have liners on the front and rear sling slots. Izhevsk 1943 to early 1944 rifles will have half liners in both sides. Some time in early to mid 1944 a full pressed liner was used. Tula PU rifles will always have full liners and stocks will also have a small half circle relief cut behind the rear band. Dating a Tula stock is simple, it will have a year stamped on the right side below the Tula Star acceptance stamp. Dating a Izhevsk stock requires that the inspection stamp be identified. For the years 1942 to 1944 there are only a few inspection stamps that need to be known. АП for 1942, ОГ, ИЛ for 1943 and ИЛ for 1944. The matching inspection stamp will be also be located on the left side of the barrel shank prior to 1943.

 

Scope mounts were numbered differently from each factory. From the factory, Tula stamped the rifle serial number on the mount and made no attempt the add the scope serial number to the rifle. A small star will be found on the left side of the mount next the rifle serial number. The right side (or inside) will have deep, small, circular machining marks. Izhevsk used a different practice. Instead Izhevsk stamped the scope serial number on the left side of the barrel shank and the rifle number was not added to the mount. The left side will have a the typical arrow inside a triangle seen on Izhevsk parts. The right side (or inside) will have larger, shallow, circular machining marks. All this was to insure that the rifle and scope were not separated. Both factories also bent the bolt to accommodate the scope. Bends can vary but for the most part are very similar. Studying authentic examples is the best way to educate yourself.

 

All of these features only apply to factory matching rifles. During refurbishment post WWII the arsenals did not follow these same factory standards. Refurbished rifles will display a mixture of features and parts from both factories. Often times scopes will be replaced requiring the arsenal to renumber the barrel shank. And it was common practice to electric pencil the rifle and scope serial number on the side of the scope mount.

 

Below is a list of features for quick reference.

Tula Features: CH marked barrel, full press in liners on sling slots, relief cut for scope base, half circle relief cut behind barrel band, and bent bolt. The rifle serial number will be stamped on the scope base.

 

Izhevsk Features: Circle C on the barrel, half or full liners on both sling slots, stock relief cut for the scope base, and bent bolt. The scope mount will be unmarked. Scope serial number will be stamped on the left barrel shank.

Picture showing a German soldier with a PU sniper. It can be seen where the front end of the rifle has been wrapped with some sort of material. This was perhaps down to break up the outline of the rifle (camouflage).

Example of a 1944 Izhevsk PU

(Left) Picture showing the scope serial number stamped on the barrel shank.

(Right) Picture of the top of the barrel with Izhevsk factory emblem, date and rifle serial number. Although hard to see, the circle C is to the right of the hammer and sickle emblem.

(Above) Picture showing the scope mount with no numbering.

(Below) Pictures showing the matching butt plate, floor plate and bolt.

Example of a 1944 Tula PU

(Above ) The scope mount on Tula produced PU snipers had the rifle serial number stamped on the side. 

(Below) Pictures showing the matching floor plate and bolt.

(Above) Once fitted to the mount a line was engraved across the scope and ring to allow for realignment in the event the scope got turned. This feature is also seen on early SVT mounts.

(Left) This PU, like many late Tula snipers, was fitted with a Factory No. 393 Krasnogorsk scope made of silicon-aluminum alloy.

(Right) Picture of the top of the barrel with Tula factory emblem, date and rifle serial number. Above the Tula star the sniper barrel proof CH can clearly be seen.

Example of a 1944 Izhevsk PU with No. 393 Scope

Izhevsk vs Tula

Photo Comparison of the main differneces between a PU sniper produced by Tula versus Izhevsk.

Barrel

Tula - CH

Izhevsk - Cirlce C

Outer side of scope mount

Tula - Rifle serial number added to the side

Izhevsk - No number added.

Inner side of scope mount

Tula - Small, deep circular machine marks

Izhevsk - Large, shallow circular machine marks

Sling cut-out liners used during the war

Full screwed in liner used by Tula until 1940 and then again in 1942. Izhevsk used them until 1941

No liner used by Izhevsk in 1942 on regular production rifles and PEM Side Mounts.

Tula with cut

Izhevsk added a band notch in 1939 but stopped by the end of 1941 prior to PU production.

Barrel band notch

Half liner used by Izhevsk in 1943 to early 1944. Possibly used in late 1942. Tula never used the half liner.

Full pressed in liner used by Tula in 1943 and 1944. Sometime in early to mid 1944 Izhevsk bagan using them also.

Floor plate

Tula - Stamped

Izhevsk - Milled

Dating a war time stock

Dating a Tula stock is simple, it will have a year stamped on the right side below the Tula Star acceptance stamp. Dating a Izhevsk stock requires that the inspection stamp be identified. For the years 1942 to 1944 there are only a few inspection stamps that need to be known. АП for 1942, ОГ, ИЛ for 1943 and ИЛ for 1944. The matching inspection stamp will be also be located on the left side of the barrel shank prior to 1943.

Izhevsk roundel and three inspection stamps found on war time PU snipers

Izhevsk CCCP Roundel

АП in 1942

ОГ in 1943

ИЛ in late 1943 and 1944

Tula star acceptance stamp with date

1943

1944