Strange Guns: Viet-Cong SVT-40

Maxim Popenker blogs about a modified Viet-Cong SVT-40 with some additional features:


While it looks very close to the original SVT-40 carbine, of which only a few thousand were made, it’s more probable that the gun was cut down to size from a full-size rifle. It is, however, consistent so far as I can determine with the SVT-40 carbine, so it’s possible it is a conversion of that very uncommon weapon.

The gun has been modified with a homemade folding stock, grip, and “chassis” to cover the open receiver which used to be housed inside the wood stock. The handguard has also been replaced with a two-piece unit, which looks like it might be sheet steel and either leather or wood.

Most significantly, though, the crafty person who made it has augmented the weapon with a Bren magazine. No word on whether the rifle still shoots its original caliber, and the magazine is modified to accept the wider 7.6x54R cartridges, or if the user has rechambered the gun for .303 British, which would involve setting the barrel back and reaming an entirely new chamber. Also possible is that the rifle is fed .303 British, while still being chambered for 7.62x54R. While these calibers should absolutely not be mixed, given the history of local “gunsmiths” mixing and matching calibers in this way, I would not discount it as a possibility.

Besides what’s evident in the picture, I have found no other details on the weapon, so if readers know anything else about it, please comment below.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Zachary marrs

    How do you say “bubba” in Vietnamese?

    • Zebra Dun

      Em Trai.

      • Zachary marrs

        That was a rhetorical question, nut thanks!

  • Zachary marrs

    I take it you’ve fired neither

    The only thing the svt 40 has is a removable magazine, even then it was intended to reload using stripper clips.

    The finish tried to improve the svt 38/40, but they realized that it was a complete waste of time

  • Alex Nicolin

    That stock would break your shoulder for sure, and maybe knock a few teeth in the process.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      I agree about how level of felt recoil might have been with that all-steel skeleton stock. Then again, the original SVT-40, in keeping with typical rifles of the period, did have a steel buttplate — as did the Mosin-Nagant M91/30 which fired the same 7.62mm x 54R cartridge — and no properly-trained soldier seems to have suffered a broken shoulder or knocked-out teeth from either. There might also have been some attenuation of the recoil resulting from the muzzle brake. The example above appears to be a captured weapon, so is it possible that it once had a rubber buttpad that went missing at some point?

  • Anonymoose

    Pretty sure the North Koreans and possibly the Czechs themselves had BRENs in 7.62x54R. It could be a mag from one of those guns.

    • J.T.

      Na. The Czech and Chinese guns used 8mm.

      • Anonymoose

        Not the North Korean ones, and the norks did send personnel and materiel to North Vietnam.

  • Ken

    SVT’s are fairly unreliable once the gas systems rust up. The M1 has a stainless steel gas assembly. The only way a rusting op rod would jam the gun is if it crumbles.

    They’re also fairly picky on mags. I’ve even seen SVT’s that don’t like matching mags. Unless you have a lot of extra mags that you know feed properly, you can shoot an M1 much more quickly than an SVT. To fire 40 shots, you only need to load five en bloc clips into the M1, but eight stripper clips into an SVT.

    SVT’s tend to have string shots vertically when they heat up, at least more so than M1’s.

  • Ken

    Does a Bren mag need to be widened for the 7.62x54R? I know that a Lee Enfield mag can take 7.62x54R without modifications. A few years ago there was a company (in Arizona?) that would rechamber Lee Enfields to 7.62x54R. The fired cases would end up with a double shoulder as the case fireformed into the shoulder of the original .303 chamber since it’s further up and was not removed by rechambering. I haven’t looked it up, but I think it may be overpressure for the Lee Enfield action.

    • Ian McCollum

      A Bren mag will not reliably feed more than about 10 rounds of 54R.

      • Ken

        Good to know. Maybe that’s all that was loaded into this gun.

        BTW Ian, I love your website.

  • Ken

    I used to really want to buy an SVT because I had thousands of rounds of 7.62x54R, but I kept buying CMP M1’s since they were half the price of an SVT. I’ve since bought thousands of rounds of .30/06. I’m a match shooter, so I don’t mind the price ($0.55 for the surplus I got, $0.38 for my handloads). As fun as an SVT is to blast, they’re not CMP match legal and they’re not particularly accurate, so I’ve put that aside.

    They are fairly cheap as far as WWII semi autos go though. They don’t cost that much more than what an M1 costs on the open, non-CMP market. They are a few times cheaper than the German semi autos.

  • Sorv

    No – they are not! If you read Russian war time memoirs you will find numerous accounts of SVTs jamming and the slodiers abandoning them for Mosins (called “three-line rifles” in Russian) simply because those Mosins did work, and those Tokarves did NOT!

    • Kristophr

      I own both a Garand, and used to own an SVT-40 ( sold it to fund an SMG purchase ).

      The SVT-40 works fine, but requires more maintanance than the average illiterate is capable of. Which is what doomed it.

  • Paul Kisling

    Too bad they did not have any LS-26 magazines. That would make a rocking conversion for an SVD without rechambering.

  • Zebra Dun

    At some point acquisition of a real rifle is called for and a new boat anchor becomes available.