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The Finnish Issue Of The Mosin Nagant Model 91/30 (1891/1930) Rifle

From Tuco Of Mosin-Nagant Dot Net

The Model 1891/1930 Mosin Nagant rifle, or M91/30, has been a very important rifle in the history of the Finnish nation. Whether in its standard Soviet form, a Soviet rifle altered by the Finns, or the Finnish produced Tikka version of the rifle, the M91/30 served Finland quite well in combat and peacetime duties. As the Finns reworked, remade, and even produced these rifles, there are a number of "versions" on the market. This article will try and cover these in some detail, so the reader can understand the differences in what rifles were issued to the Finns.
The Standard Soviet M91/30

When the Red Army invaded Finland in November of 1939, starting The Winter War, the Soviet troops were mainly armed with their standard arm the M91/30 rifle. The Finns captured large numbers of these rifles in battle and by the end of the Winter War there were approximately 25,000 Soviet issue M91/30 in the Finnish stockpiles. By the end of the Continuation War (1941-44) the Finns had taken almost 100,000 more Red Army issue M91/30's. Further adding to this already high number were 57,000 M91/30's that were supplied by the Germans in 1944. The vast majority of the rifles supplied by Germany were in fair to poor condition, allowing mainly only for the use of parts.

Three Finnish captured Soviet M91/30s, all having the original globe hooded front sights still in place. The top example has a Finnish re-numbered bolt while the second rifle is all matching with its Soviet numbers intact. The last example has Finnish produced stock while the upper rifles have two versions of the original Soviet stock. One can encounter many different variations of these rifles in various states of Finnish alteration. All rifles are SA marked .

It was common practice to issue the non standard caliber arms to units like artillery and as such it does seem to fit these units were the ones that would be in more dire need of replacement standard caliber rifles. the Continuation War. As this was the case a large number of these rifles were sent directly into Finnish service during the Finnish wars of 1939-40. . which is a rather uncommon item to encounter. Below is an all matching Soviet M91/30 dated 1941 captured by the Finns and then reissued for Finnish use. Top is a Finnish capture of a Russian Cossack rifle. In many cases it was a M91/30 that replaced the Italian made carbine. the Winter War. The captured M91/30's were also needed to replace the many non standard caliber arms that were in Finnish service. although the M91/30 was not seen in the same numbers as the M91 rifle. It was not at all uncommon to see M91/30's in the hands of front line Finnish troops.35mm.35mm. It was also common to see at least a few M91/30 mixed into standard infantry units during all phases of the Finnish battles against the Soviets. Top a SA marked 1937 dated Izhevsk Soviet M91/30 and below a Finnish marked and issued M1938 Carcano in 7. It is unknown when this rifle fell into Finnish hands as it could be from the Finnish Civil War. A number of these issued rifles were nothing more than standard Soviet versions. such as the M1938 Carcano in 7. Oftentimes if any repair work was needed it was done in field armory positions setup on or near the front lines. The old phrase of only dropped once comes to mind here. These "field-armories" played quite a key role during the Finnish struggle.Many of the rifles captured by the Finns were in at least good condition and in some cases in like new condition. by keeping many troops on the front line equipped with arms in good working order. The Carcano was a common issue weapon to artillery units and it was also just as common for soldiers issued the Carcanos to replace them with a Mosin Nagant as soon as the opportunity presented itself. On this example the handguard was replaced with one from a M91/30 rifle. but the rest of the configuration is original. I have another such example with a Finnish stock and handguard in my collection. and 1944-45. One reason that might explain the apparent high issue of M91/30's to artillery and like units is that the newly captured M91/30's were used as the replacements for these non standard arms. as the Finns were in dire need of weapons due to their own losses in battle. or even bought abroad. 1941-44. as there was no need for the Finns to rework or take action to repair these rifles.

Tikka has long been an important manufacture of weapons and was also producing the M91 up to 1943. One may also encounter the Tikka rifles with stocks that use Russian buttstocks with new Finnish forestocks spliced on.The Tikka M91/30 In 1943 the Finns began production of their own improved version of the M91/30. while M91 production was still underway at VKT and Tikka. As the assembly of the rifles was done at AV3 one may encounter the AV-3 cartouche on the stocks of these rifles. One would assume the Finns would have stayed with the production of rifles they had made for years. with there being 20. as well as a new front sight. Included in these alterations were a new stock and handguard. The handguards will have blued metal endcaps on the Finnish made examples as opposed to the non blued Soviet examples. The Finnish cleaning rod is the M39 style. The Finnish produced stocks are fatter and thicker than the standard Soviet version. These are commonly referred to as "pot belly" stocks as the area of the stock behind the splice is a bit "humped". The final assembly of the rifles as completed works took place at the AV-3 plant at Kuopio. Many of the Tikka made rifles will have the Finnish replacement blade front sight but it is not uncommon to locate examples with standard Soviet globe sights in place. It would make sense and be much more productive to use the Soviet sights in ready supply than to waste them.000 stocks and handguards made in this time frame. While it is clear this decision was made due to the high number of captured weapons parts on hand. the decision to undertake a new rifle production while preparing for a Soviet invasion is still an interesting one. This is more than likely due to a smaller number of Finnish sights on hand compared to a massive amount of Soviet sights in Finnish supply. a new cleaning rod. as the work was contracted out to a number of other firms. that the production was a logical step. rather than undertaking new production and all the problems that startup might have entailed. with the cleaning rods being seen blued as well as in the white. . In reading various Finnish reports it seems the Finns had seriously investigated M91/30 production as early as late 1941. so why the production of a new rifle was deemed necessary is not entirely clear. It is thought Finns believed that with all the parts in their stockpiles including the spare part M91/30's from Germany -. which had become the Finnish standard in or around 1940-41. The Tikkakoski Works. known as Tikka for short. The stocks and handguards were not made at Tikka. The rifles were not just to have new Tikka barrels but would also implement a number of Finnish alterations. The Finns were producing both the M39 and the M91 rifle at the time. coupled with the need for weapons. was to undertake the manufacture of the new barrels for the improved Finnish version of the M91/30.

The information that is based on serial number ranges is a bit new since it has only been in recent years these rifles were surplused – so it was only recently that researchers could start to compare serial numbers on a large scale. which was of the M39 rod style. Since the numbers were added to the barrels before finial fitting to a rifle. and so on. Over time these losses added up and this explains why there can be a serial number range that is greater than actual production. The rest of the rifles were assembled post WW2 in Finnish arms works. if a barrel was scrapped or pulled the serial number was already assigned and would not be used again. as well as the serial number ranges. The production numbers of 24. he informed me that the Finns were having massive issues with steel quality in the production of these barrels. even though there were 14. The scrapping was done in complete lots as well as smaller lots. On the right rifle is a Finnish made cleaning rod for the M91/30.000+ barrels were produced. There seems to be much conflicting information on the total number of these rifles produced. Tikka produced just over 14.000 barrels that were not fitted to rifles but it is known that in Finland one can find Tikka M91-30 barrels (just the barrels not barreled receivers or rifles) at shows as well as certain surplus shops.000 range. so one might loose 10 barrels in one batch. 250 in the next. so it was unclear as to why the serial number range seemed to be much higher than the production totals out of Finland. Both rifles are Tikka's one dated 1943 the other 1944. the end of the Finnish involvement in the Continuation War. This still leaves between 1.000-13. In speaking to Mr. These numbers seem to conflict with what some authors have stated on the matter as they have production numbers in the 24. What was found in looking at these numbers is there seemed to be no large breaks in the numbers. This was such an issue that many production barrels were scrapped as the quality was substandard. In the first year of production -1943approximately 5. In or around 1940-41 the Finns went to a standard cleaning rod type just cut to different lengths depending on the rifle the rod was to be issued to.000 and 2. Markku Palokangas in April of 2005. It is assumed these are the left over and unused barrels that are now for sale to the public.000 of these 14. Based on Finnish sources it appears that only around 12.000 is based on the collection of known serial numbers. It is interesting to note that approximately only 5.Finnish improved raised blade front site with the standard Soviet globe sight on the right. In doing some research in Finland I was able to find the answer to this question.000 barrels to be used on the new Finnish rifles. 100 in the next. with the rest of the barrels having 1944 dates.000+ barrels manufactured.000 of these rifles were ever completely assembled.000 of these rifles were listed as being assembled by 1944. .

indicating a M91 receiver or an earlier style M91/30 receiver. the issue of these rifles was on a limited bases. These were not nearly as commonly encountered as the Soviet versions of the M91/30's present in Finnish stockpiles. For what ever the reason. damaged parts. The round receiver was implemented by the Soviets in or around 1937. These swivels are thin and will not take a standard Soviet M91/30 issue sling. broken stocks. There are a small number of the Tikka M91/30's that have round receivers. these rifles could not be issued even with work from Finnish field armories. Most of the completed rifles make use of a hex receiver. These rifle ranged from modest repairs to complete need of overhaul. . The Reworked Soviet Rifles While a great number of the Soviet captured M91/30's were in issue condition. While the Finns did issue these to some extent they would have to be thought of at best as a minor issue. but it is clear the numbers are rather low. Some problems the Finns encountered were poorly cleaned bores or damaged crowns. The exact number of these round receiver Tikka's is not known. These round receiver rifles are an interesting variant of the rifle to collect and many collectors have indeed snapped up these more uncommon versions.One of the additions encountered in some of the re-worked Soviet and many of the Tikka produced rifles are the addition of Finnish sling swivels. however. Finnish made stock showing the splice used on the Finnish manufactured M91/30 stocks. It was these captures that were sent to Finland for a more complete rework. which indicate a later style M91/30 receiver was used.000 were completed by war's end. there were also examples that needed further repair or rework. As only 5. as such a Finnish produced sling was issued for these rifles. The above example is from a Finnish manufactured stock. as well as missing parts. This is the same general swivels that one will find on Finnish Model 1891 rifles made at Tikka and VKT during WW2. hastily constructed rifles. while not the norm one can still encounter hex receiver Soviet rifles with dates past 1937.

others might have the later Finnish made stocks. and there are still others that use a Soviet rear stock with a new Finnish forestock spliced to it. It appears to be shrapnel. There are even some examples that have been encountered that have older Soviet Dragoon rear stocks in place with a new Finnish forestocks added. One can almost encounter anything which makes their collecting quite interesting. Both bolts of these rifles have been Finnish re-numbered to match. The rifle on the top shows a bit of damage as a section of the wood behind the bolt is missing. Neither rifle show any Finnish alteration but for the repairs. The carbines were a somewhat rare Finnish capture and are great collectors items. one can find Soviet stocks with Finnish swivels. can be quite a range. Both arms are as issued to Red Army troops with only the SA marking denoting Finnish capture. SA stamp. The carbine is interesting as there is a piece of metal embedded deep into the stock. As these rifles could suffer from any number of problems. That is one reason the title of the article is Finnish Issue Of The Mosin Nagant Model 1891/1930 Rifle. One might also see Finnish sling swivels added to a standard Soviet stock. Top is a captured M91/30 rifle and below a Finnish captured Model 1938 Carbine. The top rifle does not have the groves to assist in removing the rear bands while the rifle below does have this stock feature in place. Both the rifle and carbine slings are SA marked as Finnish issue. Some will still have the standard Soviet made stock. Others will have new Finnish made front sights. also showing signs of an older repair. as well as all the other Finnish issued M91/30's. It is also clear the Finns counterbored a number of these rifles. The lower rifle also has damage to the bottom rear of the stock. Cleaning rods can be of Finnish or Soviet origin. as really that is the only safe way to phrase it. There are also those that were in such poor condition they were used simply for parts even further adding to the large total of spare parts in stock. The variations of stocks seen on these. The stocks on these rifles can also be a bit of mix and match. As one can encounter any number of small variations it can get a bit confusing what really could or should be called a "Finnish" M91/30 rifle. . to improve accuracy from worn or damaged barrels. and re-number. one can encounter quite a range of Finnish alteration or repair. Some of these captures will just have new stocks.Two Soviet manufactured M91/30's that are Finnish captures. This is old damage as the cut has been smoothed and somewhat repaired for issue.

A PI cut into the stock of a Finnish captured Soviet M91/30 rifle. however. Of all the "Finnish M91/30's" these reworked Soviets are in many regards some of the more interesting to encounter. This marking is a 41 and this marking appears on various Soviet rifles captured and re-issued to the Finns. The Finns were indeed "experimenting" a bit with property markings in this time period. The rifle is a 1934 dated Tula manufactured example. It just goes to further prove just how creative the Finns could be with captured weapons. Many that subscribe to the 41 as a date feel that rifles so marked can be identified as Winter War captures. just that some of the Finnish stockpile from the Winter War are identifiable in this manner. I should note the original conversion or update of the Dragoon rifles to M91/30 specs was done by the Soviets and not the Finns. Others have stated they have seen or own rifles that have dates later than 1941 that have this marking. and it is a marking that has been debated a bit in collector's circles. so it was in 1941 that the rifles were reworked. Many have speculated this 41 represents the year 1941. Personally I have even encountered Soviet converted Dragoon rifles with Finnish replacement M91/30 front sights and also in Finnish M91/30 stocks. Whatever the meaning of the marking might be. and this could well just be another example of this. It could indicate the year of rework or could have another meaning related to the year. It can be rather safely assumed the 41 is indeed for the year 1941. and as such these variants do indeed create an interesting sideline in Finnish collecting. There are no records that I am aware of that shows the Finns directly converted Dragoon M91's to M91/30's. It is just about endless what one might come across. That is not to say that all Winter War captures are so marked. As such I have never seen one with a date later than 1941. It also opens the door for the new collector as in most cases the prices of such rifles are very reasonable. In the case of the rifles mentioned above the Finns just replaced the globe front sights the Soviets added during the original conversion of the Dragoons to M91/30 rifles. the 41 stamped M91/30's are a nice addition to one's collection. There is an interesting marking that appears on these Finnish captured rifles. . This rifle has seen quite a bit of use and has a Finnish replacement front sight. this is not a common marking and it is possible it was only used for a short time in 1941.

Simply put they are as well made as any Finnish Mosin Nagant Rifle. new parts were fitted. While not often encountered the older Dragoons updated to M91/30 specs -Note: upgraded by the Soviets not by the Finns. there is the genuine reality that these rifles were reworked by the Finns to indeed be improved rifles. There are many shooters that favor the Tikka M91/30's over any other Finnish Mosin Nagant. the condition is almost new in many cases. It is also quite probable that with some looking a collector can find one of the Tikka's with the original Finnish hangtag still in place. The M91/30 was the main battle rifle of the Red Army during the fighting against Finland in both the Winter and Continuation Wars. The majority of these were not assembled during the fighting and as such there is no shortcut or let up in the quality of these rifles due to wartime pressures.have to rank as a great find for the Mosin Nagant collector. however. stocks were more carefully fitted. Personally I own a number of the Soviet made Finnish captured M91/30's and think quite a bit of them as collector's items. and overall more time was paid to the general function of the rifle. As a great number of these were never directly issued. limited in accuracy only by the ability of the shooter. whose history should be both remembered and respected. For the shooter the lack of issue can mean a minty or like new bore to take to the local range. As a whole these are very accurate rifles. Many of these were taken in direct fighting so are true war veterans. This says quite a lot as the Finnish M28/30 and M39 are considered two of the most accurate military rifles one can encounter. Lastly in regards to the ever-present quality issue.Finnish Issue M91/30's The collector's status of the Tikka manufactured rifles is one that at times has been unclear and often debated. which is always a welcomed addition to any collection. the reality is the Tikka M91/30 is a low production Finnish manufactured Mosin Nagant of excellent quality with most being in magnificent condition. so it is hard to overlook the history of these captures. . While some might be able to question the quality of the Soviet made rifles when compared to the Finnish made. there is no doubt of the historical significance of the captured Soviet made Mosin Nagants. Poor bores or crowns were counterbored. As such in many regards these captured rifles are improved versions of the Soviet model in their own right.

of various makes. Make sure to see the photo section for more information and photos covering much of what this article discussed. there are those that seem to forget the M91/30 rifle. Added photos and insight also from Vic Thomas. So yes. At the end of the war the Finns had over 93.Two Soviet M91/30 bayonets that are SA marked. and observations of the author Photos . or M91. most are not so marked. this number of rifles represents a respectable ratio of their total arms in stock.North China Arms Sotilaskasiaseet Suomessa 1918-1991 Vol1-3-M. It is very important to remember just what a key role these rifles played in the history of Finland. They also further prove just how proficient the Finns were at making do with what they had on hand during the fighting. They all have my thanks. More detailed information on these arms. the M91/30 rifle was indeed a key in Finland's fight for freedom and should not be overlooked. Kevin Carney. Those that have the SA marking intact are indeed nice items for the collector. This service was not only in the time of war but also the use in the post war years. Arma Fennica Sotilasaseet-T.000 M91/30's. One can really get quite the spice of life in these rifles. As Finland is not a large nation without a sizeable standing army. as well as a number of collectors around the world. Palokangas: Vammalan Kirijapaino Oy Many years of personal notes. Most of the information for this article has come from rifles in my personal collection and from the collections of good friends. interviews. denoting a Finnish capture. Hyytinen (Finnish Version) MHC Vic Thomas Kevin Carney . The rifles are a testament to the ability of the Finns to get functional and quality rifles into their soldiers hands in a short period of time. It is not at all uncommon for collectors to have a number of these rifles in their collection. While over the years these rifles have been released for sale. and none of them being exactly the same in configuration. While many collectors and historians know the role played by rifles such as the M27. Each rifle in some regards has its own personality and shows its own traits. or any Finnish arms for that matter. While the Finns captured massive numbers of these bayonets. the largest number of these rifles were still in Finn storage until the 1980's. in their stockpiles. M28/30. can be located in the works of Finnish author/researcher Markku Palokangas. M39. As stated earlier in the article the added bonus is the fact that one can come across quite a range of rifles that the Finns issued.

Top sling is a Finnish canvas sling used for the M91/30 rifle. There are other slings made of leather that are Finnish made that one can also encounter on Finnish swiveled M91/30's. One can also see how the Finnish stock is a bit thicker than the Soviet example. Top is a Finnish stock made for the M91/30 rifle. . giving them the name "pot bellied". Below photo is a close-up of the SA markings on a Soviet M91/30 sling. In many cases M91 slings were used. These lack the grooves seem on some of the Soviet versions behind the rear barrel bands. The thinner size allows its use with the Finnish added sling swivels. This is a thinner sling than the Soviet M91/30 version seen below it.

Middle: A close up of the blued endcaps of a Finnish made handguard.Top: A photo of the stock splice on a Finnish made stock. . Tula 1934. Lower: The letters PI cut into the stock of a Finnish captured M91/30.

.A good photo from Kevin Carney that clearly shows the 41 stamping that is sometimes located on these captured rifles. The 41 marking from the Tula rifle above. A Tula manufactured M91/30 captured by the Finns.

there seems to be a slightly different font of the stamp that is encountered. A last look at the 41. As one can see by looking over these photos. The 41 stamping from a 1938 dated rifle. . Kevin reports that the earliest rifle he has seen with the 41 was a 1920 dated example of a Finnish capture.A close-up of the 41 marking from the above rifle.

captured back by the Soviets. which can be seen on the right of the photo. reworked into a new rifle in Finland. as well as a Finnish hang tag. original M91/30 globe sight. Another odd version of M91/30 reworked by the Finns.An interesting carbine. This rifle from the authors collection has a 1943 Tula made barrel but is fitted on an older M91 receiver. . This is a so called M91/59 carbine. It is known that the Soviets in WW2 at times used older receivers and fitted them with new barrels. It is also possible the Finns did this but it is more likely the fitting was done by the Soviets. which is a Soviet postwar cutdown of the M91/30 rifle. The receiver still has the Imperial Russian eagles intact. As such this was a rifle whose receiver was once captured from the Soviets. As stated a very interesting carbine of which there are only two such examples that I know of. has a new Finnish stock. This is just one more example of the oddball rifles that can be lumped into the category of "Finnish M91/30's". The rifle is SA stamped. then later reworked into a carbine. What makes this rifle interesting is that it was once a Tikka made M91/30.