Simonov M1936 / Tokarev SVT 38 & 40
| In June of 1941 the Red Army's
infantry forces had entered the war and were mainly only equipped with
the older 19th century bolt action rifles. They mainly used the model
1891 Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle. I have several of these older model
1891 type rifles in my own collection. I will write more about them
Before the war, the Red Army Ordnance Department ordered the test and development of a semiautomatic infantry rifle using the current model 1891 cartridge. As early as 1926 Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov had submitted a design for a self loading type rifle. This design used the propellant gases tapped from the barrel near the muzzle to actuate a piston and rod mounted on the right hand side. The bolt was locked into position by a support block that was raised into a groove under the bolt. This design had several flaws, mostly the exposed operating rod assembly. Simonov was sufficiently encouraged to continue to work on his rifle and refine his ideas. Later in the year 1931 he submitted his next design and it was adopted officially as the 7.62mm ( AVS36 ) or 7.62mm Model 1936 Simonov. This rifle used a vertically moving block to lock the bolt in place. The rifle used a long open track for the bolt handle. This unfortunately allowed dirt and ice to jam the mechanism. The rifles recoil was so severe and it also produced a terrible muzzle blast which a muzzle brake did very little to reduce. This rifle suffered from an extremely high breakage problem due to the 7.62 X 54R cartridge used in the model 1891 type rifle. Close to 67,000 of the AVS36 rifles were built before its production was ended in 1940.
In 1938 Fedor Vasilevich Tokarev submitted a new design that used a short piston that operated the bolt which also locked by dropping into place against a step. Tokarev's rifle had a ten round detachable box magazine. This rifle after further testing was adopted by the Red Army as the (Samozaryadnya Vintovka Sistemi Tokarev Obrazetz 1938g) or the SVT 1938 Model 1938 Tokarev System Self-Loading Rifle. In 1939 Simonov appealed to the Central Committee for assistance in proving that his rifle design was better than Tokarev. The Simonov rifle had 25 fewer moving parts and was cheaper to manufacture. But with testing it was proven the Tokarev model was much more rugged. Josef Stalin along with the Defense Committee decided to keep the Tokarev design.
By November 1939 the SVT 38 was being used in battle as the Red Army attacked Finland. Immediately the SVT38 was showing abnormally high rate of problems and breakage. Modifications were quickly started. The result of modifications resulted in the production of the SVT40. Breakage and stoppages were dramatically reduced, but a ballistic problem still remained. The rimmed model 1891 cartridge was simply too powerful to use in a semiautomatic weapon carried by heavily burdened infantrymen. The SVT40's continued high rate of breakage and excessive cost of manufacture requirements along with it's length and inherent inaccuracy lead to production being discontinued in the summer of 1943. Although the official order to stop production wasn't given until January 1945. 5,823,795 SVT38 / 40 rifles were produced. That is 1.7 million more than the number of M1 Garands supplied to the U.S. Forces during World War II.
Today a SVT40 will bring a pretty good price for a collector. You can locate them if you look long enough for between $650 - $1,200.00 depending on its condition. Even much more for a sniper version. It took me over three years to acquire my Model SVT40.
Weight: 8.93 pounds
Length: 48.6 inches
Barrel length: 24.16 inches
Barrel groves: 4
Magazine Capacity: 10-15 rounds
Bullet weight: 145 grains
Bullet diameter: .311
Propellant weight: 46 grains
Velocity: 2,720 Fps
Rate of accurate fire: 30-40 rounds per minute
Site range of adjustment: 200 - 1500 meters
Cartridge: 7.62 Russian ( 7.62 X 54R )