Last January, I successfully secured an M1891/30 rifle for my collection and wrote an article about my find which is now posted on the forum: http://surplusrifleforum.com/viewtopic
. ... 81&t=69250. (Note that I have utilized that article for the purposes of writing this one.) I was very pleased to have come across an original example of the M1891/30, as I had been searching for several years without finding one. Having acquired such a rifle, I began to search for the next piece for my collection.
Several weeks ago, I found what I had been looking for since the M1891/30 acquisition. This time, an M1938 Carbine became my interest. I monitored the firearm’s listing on an online auction site, placing my bid after a very heated bidding war. To my surprise – and great relief – I won the auction as the high bidder.
To the untrained eye, this carbine would be nothing spectacular, but the educated collector would quickly recognize its value according to the finer details.
I am a very demanding collector and I take pride in acquiring excellent examples of wartime rifles from the Second World War. Simply put, I am ecstatic to have added this carbine to my collection. While others have posted detailed articles on "bring-back" K-98k rifles or Type 99 carbines, there seems to be a lack of information regarding M1938 carbines in original condition. It is my hope that in writing this short article, other collectors on this forum will have a short reference to study and aid them in their own collecting endeavors.
The M1938 carbine was designed as an alternative weapon for Soviet infantry and support units during the Second World War. The premise of the weapon's design was that it would provide a soldier with a weapon that was shorter and lighter in comparison to the model 1891/30 which was the standard service rifle. Note the difference in size between the M1891/30 rifle and the M1938 carbine:
It was determined - through field use and combat experiences - that the M1938 carbine was an effective weapon. However, it lacked a mounted bayonet which had been so important on the M1891/30 rifle. Therefore, the M1944 carbine was designed and produced to provide the soldier with a carbine-length weapon which also included a bayonet. In this point, the M1938 carbine was replaced by the M1944 carbine.
This carbine is an M1938 manufactured in 1941 by Izhevsk. Every part on this example is original to its factory production and it goes without saying that the parts are matching. While most M1938 carbines of the Second World War were eventually refurbished, this one has remained entirely in its original condition. Intact M1938 carbines are few in number, especially considering that their production numbers were limited to begin with; perhaps it is even more interesting that this one remains in its original state considering the obvious history which it has witnessed. This carbine was captured by Finland at some point during the war, most likely during the Continuation War conflict. It bears the "SA" stamp on the receiver. Collectors are well aware that many Finnish-captured rifles were refurbished to some degree, evident in their unique finger-grooved stocks, replaced front sights, and renumbered or mismatched parts. In this point, the M1938 carbine featured in this article really becomes intriguing.
The stock and its components...
Izhevsk-produced stocks bear the circular C.C.C.P. stamp and the "MK" proof. The absence of these markings is usually the first indication that the stock has been sanded or replaced. In this case, the stamps are visible and clean.
According to the year of manufacture, variations in the stock can be used to identify it as correct and original. The screwed-in sling escutcheons are typical of pre- and early-war stock production. For this rifle, produced early in 1941, the escutcheons are considered correct. Moreover, they provide a useful piece of information to the collector: on a moderately-sanded stock, these escutcheons may appear to be slightly raised out of the stock and will lose their gray "patina" as well as the fine "lines" which appear on their visible surfaces.
Take note of the brass endcaps found on the handguard; while 7.62x54r.net suggests that the use of brass endcaps was uncommon, most rifles of this period that I have studied - whether Izhevsk or Tula in manufacture - will bear this feature. Additionally, the use of rivets seems to be more common as well to the brass than the site indicates.
In the photographs above, the brass endcap and rivet is visible. The finish of the brass is also a good indicator of a replaced or cleaned handguard; just like the patina found on the sling escutcheons, brass endcaps should appear "dirty" or slightly tarnished rather than bright.
Finally, the retaining bands and springs found on the stock should be uniform in wear and finish; that is to say, a stock should not have a perfectly blued retaining band spring and a well-worn retaining band. Rather, the wear should be uniform in appearance, as one might expect. If the parts are original to each other and have not been cleaned or replaced, then the best indicator of this point is a similar finish between the parts. Note that the retaining band springs are milled steel rather than stamped steel, indicating correct and original parts for this carbine.
The finish on the stock is a difficult topic to precisely describe, since the wear and damage sustained by each stock varies. However, it is certainly safe to say that an original stock should not appear glossy and new when the metal components provide evidence of moderate to heavy use. On the other hand, although a weapon may have been used in combat, it may not necessarily be rough in appearance; this particular M1938 has seen its share of service but was clearly cared for. Dings and dents are present and the finish is matte in tone, but the overall feel of the stock is smooth and solid.
Proof marks in the stock...
Take note of the rough machining and inletting in the stock's interior...
Areas where metal has been pressed against the wood have caused the stock to naturally compress...
Despite the rough machining of the stock, the metal-to-wood fit is reasonably decent...
Note the hairline crack in the top of the handguard and to the front tip of the stock; these are some of the most common points of damage for M1891/30 rifles, M1938 carbines, and M1944 carbines. The top handguard is made of very thin wood and can be damaged by a very light impact. Evidently, the handguard on this weapon has sustained such damage, though the “patina” of the crack and the overall appearance suggests that it was a service-related incident dating to the wartime period. Additionally, the hairline crack at the front tip of the stock is also service-related and is very common among these firearms; incidentally, the design of the weapon was flawed in this area, as many refurbished examples show repairs made to correct this problem. This carbine has not been repaired and therefore has a unique value to it.
Verifying that the stock is original to the rifle can be accomplished through several "tests." Foremost, the features of the stock should be correct for the year of manufacture as well as the manufacturing arsenal; Tula-produced stocks will bear the same date stamped into the stock as found on the receiver. Izhevsk-produced stocks generally are not dated (exceptions typically have the year of manufacture stamped into the wood underneath the buttplate). As noted above, proper features and uniform wear are the best indicators of original stocks.
Depending on the year of production, the holes of the buttplate and buttstock should not be countersunk, as shown correctly in the photograph below.
If a stock has remained with its original barreled receiver, it will usually show the proof marks of the metal pressed into the wood opposite of the marks. Take note of the Izhevsk arrow-in-triangle marking shown below as well as the proof markings found on the underside of the barreled receiver.
A view of the cleaning rod in its groove beneath the stock...
The barreled receiver and other metal components...
The receiver of this carbine is unique since it is dated 1941 yet it is “round” and low-walled. This indicates that the carbine was produced early in 1941, before the transition to round, high-walled receivers took place. (Low-walled receivers on M1938 carbines were used from 1939-1941, while high-walled receivers were used from 1941 through the end of production)
One should also note the rear sight of this carbine; it can be described as having a “flat” or “straight” ramp beneath the aperture. This indicates early production as well, since the rear sight was modified with a “curved” ramp beneath the aperture during 1942. Therefore, this feature helps to verify that the carbine’s features are correct for the 1941 date.
When considering the purchase of an M1938 carbine that is said to be "all-matching," it is necessary to study the details closely.
The barrel is stamped with a serial number which may include letter prefixes (1937 saw Tula's introduction of letter prefixes to M1891/30 rifle production while Izhevsk introduced the prefixes in 1938; I suspect that this guideline can be applied to M1938 carbine production as well). Take note of the shape of each letter and number; every minute line and mark that makes up a letter or number must be the same on the other numbered parts of a rifle (serial numbers were stamped into the barrel, bolt handle, buttplate, and magazine floorplate). Many refurbished rifles have matching parts, some with prefixes as well, however the font of the letters and numbers may show variations which would indicate that they are not original to the barreled receiver.
The numbered parts of this article's M1938:
Features of metal components...
Simply put, there is a dizzying array of variations which may be found on the M1938 carbine. It is necessary to study each part's markings and features to determine whether it is correct and original to the rifle. Once again, uniform wear and finish, proper markings, and the proper features of the parts can all provide very good indicators as to their originality. PLEASE SEE PART II OF THIS ARTICLE....http://surplusrifleforum.com/viewtopic
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