Odd Guns: Sporterized .303 British Finnish SVT-40

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While I am one of the last people to condone the conversion of what are often valuable historical artifacts to a “sporting” configuration, in some cases these conversions themselves add value (both monetary and historical) to the firearm in question. Is the example below one of these exceptions? I will leave it to TFB readers to decide that. From WeaponsMan:

It’s probably not fair to call this the work of Bubba the Gunsmith, because it was the work of professionals, turning what was then an awkward, ugly, unwanted military rifle in a weird caliber into something a hunter might reasonably take afield, and in the process, turning a bunch of ex-Soviet arms dumped by the Finnish Army, which had captured and tried to use them, into dollars — in this case, Canadian dollars.

Globe Tokarev 01

How were the principals of Globe Firearms Ltd. to know that some day original, unmolested Tokarev rifles would be worth real money? For that matter, how were they to know that the uiquitous .303 British round would become a rarity in North America, and the Russian 7.62 mm x 54mm become more popular? You could not have predicted either outcome in the mid-1960s, unless you were an actual clairvoyant — or certifiably insane.

Remarked with customizer and caliber.

This gun has now turned up on Gun Broker, with $950 asked, about what a decent condition Tokarev goes for (but there are very few decent condition guns out there — lots of purple-bolt-carrier Century imports, really). You’d have to want this oddball sporter pretty badly to go that much for it, in our opinion.

Be sure to click through and read the whole thing.

Hognose mentions in the article that at the time, .303 British was a sensible conversion, as there was little imported 7.62x54R ammunition coming into the country. Of course, today’s buyer sees this as a decided negative, unless perhaps they are a collector of sporterized guns like this.



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 can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • iksnilol

    DAAAAAYUM!

    I didn’t know people bothered converting to .303, I doubt it is common even in Britain. SVT-40s are still made, though I doubt you can import into the US (Does it fall under C&R?). IIRC Molot makes them.

    • Tom

      .303 is pretty common through out the old Empire to this day. Where as most countries seemed to adopt the Mauser in any one of a dozen calibres pretty much all the Empire went to .303 and the Lee Enfield which leaves a pretty significant legacy in terms of available arms and ammunition.

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      .303 isn’t too difficult to find in the UK, a lot of Lee Enfields were coverted to .308 Winchester but you can still find plenty that were not so the market is there. I’ve never had any trouble sourcing it when required.

      • iksnilol

        So it is available? That’s good to know.

    • Blastattack

      SVT40s are not “still made” and have not been since 1945. Molot “manufactures” the rifles by engraving some import markings on them an calling them “new manufacture”.

      • iksnilol

        Hey, I’ve seen them for cheap everywhere. And there’s new production mags, so I doubt the production lines are dead.

        • Blastattack

          You can rest assured the production lines are long dead. The last SVT40s rolled off the assembly lines in 1945.

        • There are new production magazines for MP44s, too. Even when no one is making new rifles.

          Sheet metal bending jigs last a loooong time with almost no maintenance. 😉

      • To be fair, nobody says “hunting carbine converted” surplus PPShs, SKSs, SVTs, AKMs, and Mosins are new manufacture. They’re just renamed, marked, certified and tested to comply with Russian law as sporting weapons, that’s all. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be able to buy them.

        (Oh BTW they also insert forensic markers in them for domestic market – for example a small depression on a bolt-face and a little peg or a punched depression inside the barrel – to mark the case and the bullet)

      • Secundius

        @ Blastattack.

        Technically Production of the SVT40 ended, January 1941. But a “Cottage Industry” continued until 1945, when all production ended. Last Military Rile produced outside of Finland was 1958 by the Soviet Union, and Last Civilian Production Run by Russian Federation was in the 1980’s. They were Barrel Stamped OCK-88…

  • Cameron Bissell

    303 is common in the former empire countries. 7.62×54 maybe wasn’t as easy to get surplus in the 60s when they went from 303 to 7.62nato

    • Secundius

      @ Cameron Bissell.

      .303 British is actually 7.92×56.44, try 7.92×57 or 8×57 Mauser instead…

      • Cameron Bissell

        Thanks for the case dimensions. I didn’t mean 7.62 nato and 303 were interchangeable, I meant when the commonwealth started using l1a1s I bet they sold off the surplus 303 ammo for cheap just like the U.S. Did with 30-06

        • Secundius

          @ Cameron Bissell.

          After the Spanish/American War of 1898. When Spain were Resetting our Watches with their 7×57 (7.24×57 actual) Mauser’s. While we (the USA) were still using .30-40 Krags. Everybody in the World wanted a Mauser Rifle with the own distinct Caliber. Ironically the USA, wanted one too, But Springfield decided to improve the Bullet design and new Propellant Charges and came up with the Springfield Model 1903 in .30-06 (.308-inch/7.62×63 or 7.8×63.3 actual). The Most Interesting thing about the 98k Mauser is, it can Chamber all Mauser Rounds in the World. Except for the 8x60S (Swedish/Mauser)…

  • Call me crazy, but it looks better as a sporterized carbine. What really boils my blood, however, are Gewehr 43 mutilations, err, sporterizations.

    • John Yossarian

      You’re crazy! Now – Call me crazy, but the original rifle looks way better.

      I think with this conversion, they could have re-used the original barrel since both loadings use the same diameter bullet. I believe the barrel just needed to be re-chambered and headspaced. Anyone know if that’s not the case?

      • iksnilol

        Pretty much, 303 and 54mmR use the same bullets.

        • Secundius

          @ iksnilol.

          Technically both the British .303 and the Russian 54’s are Mauser Rounds. British being 7.92×56.44R and the Russian a 7.92×53.72R…

          • iksnilol

            What do you mean that they are “Mauser rounds”?

            I know that they use the samme bullets and are rimmed, but what does it mean that it is a Mauser round?

          • Secundius

            @ iksnilol.

            There ALL Mauser Pattern 1905 Ammunition. After the Spanish/American War of 1898. ALL the World Governments, including the USA. Wanted the Mauser Rifle.

            But, Springfield Stuck their “Two-Cents Worth” in the Design and came out with the 1903 .30 “Government ’06 Winchester Round aka .30-06Sprngfld (.308/7.8×63.3mm actual).

          • iksnilol

            You don’t understand my question. What is a “Mauser Pattern” cartridge?

          • Secundius

            @ iksnilol.

            For God Sake’s! 7.92x57mmR the “Parent Round”, ALL OTHER’s are just Siblings of that Round…

          • iksnilol

            Why the R? The 7.92×57 is rimless.

            Not really, the other cartridges were made independently. Don’t try to convince me that 7.62x54mmR was made from 7.92x57mm.

            The 7.92x57mm is a parent cartridge to the following:

            5.6×57mm
            6×57mm Triebel (wildcat)
            6.5×57mm
            9×57mm Mauser
            9.3×57mm
            10×57mm
            10.5×57mm

          • Secundius

            @ iksnilol.

            It’s NOT! It’s the European Designation for RIMMED Cartridges…

          • iksnilol

            8mm Mauser is rimless. I know R is the designation for rimmed cartridges.

          • Secundius

            @ iksnilol.

            The 7.92×57 came in two versions Rimmed and Rimless. With the “R”, designated RIMMED, without the “R”, designated RIMLESS…

          • iksnilol

            Which was made later for break barrel rifles (AKA made for civilian use).

          • Secundius

            @ iksnolol.

            And the Civilian Hunting Rifles were 8×57 I or IS, and was Range Limited to about 500-meters…

          • iksnilol

            Uh, the I and IS don’t have anything to do with whether it is rimmed or not.

          • Secundius

            @ iksnilol.

            You also forgot the 53’s, 54’s, 55’s, 56’s, 58’s and 60’s Cartridge Sizes…

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, they weren’t based on the 7.92x57mm Mauser. They were just made to fit into the Mauser action.

          • jcitizen

            I used to think this Russian round was copied from the .303 British, and they both went smokeless in 1891 when it was introduced. However, I’ve since found that Russians were not the copycats I was lead to believe, when I was a kid.

    • Secundius

      @ Frosty_The_White_Man.

      The Gas-Operation Bolt of the Finnish SVT-40, was copied by the German’s and used in the Gewehr 43 Semi-Automatic Rifle…

      • What does that have to do with aesthetic concerns?

        • Secundius

          @ Frosty_The_White_Man.

          Probably Nothing, or Maybe Cost. The KISS Principle, Make it Functionable without the Glitz. A “Standard” as opposed to a “Limited Edition”…

  • DW

    Faster way to throw .303s downrange, the mad minute just got redefined.

    • iksnilol

      Just bring in the Vickers if you want a truly “mad” minute.

      • DW

        That is called the fun minute.

        • iksnilol

          Not if you’re paying for the ammo.

  • Evan

    Sporterizing guns is gay. Always. There’s no excuse whatsoever. Same with caliber conversions of old military rifles. This nonsense is why I’ve never been able to find an Arisaka that hasn’t been butchered and converted to some ridiculous caliber that I don’t want it in.

    • Mentok

      Hey now, there are plenty of gay people who object to sporterization.

      • Evan

        Right, gays can feel however they like about sporterization, but anyone who knowingly sells a gun to one should lose their FFL and/or be sent to prison. Seriously, a mentally ill sex offender is the LAST person who should be given a gun, all political correctness aside.

        • Charles Applegate

          What are you babbling about?

          • John Daniels

            Pretty sure he’s saying that gay automatically equals mentally ill sex offender, and that anybody who sells a gun to a gay person should be subjected to extremely severe legal punishments.

          • Charles Applegate

            So I was right about the ‘babbling’ part…

          • Evan

            Right on. Look to yesterday’s news from Virginia for some pretty strong corroboration.

        • iksnilol

          :O

    • Phil Elliott

      Oh I don’t know about that, bought an Arisaka conversion in a pawn shop back in the late sixties, decent wood on it and A Douglas Supreme bbl. in .243. Took it to the Late gunsmith Duane Hobby and he did some work on the feed ramp. been totally reliable ever since. Has accounted for about 20 deer since then.

      • Evan

        If I want a .243, I’ll buy a rifle that was built as a .243. When I buy milsurp rifles, I want them in their original caliber and configuration.

        • Secundius

          @ Evan.

          Mil-Spec. .243, is .243Win (6.2×52) or 6.2x 51.9 actual…

          • Evan

            I’m not sure what your point is here. Basically, what I’m saying is that I don’t like military surplus rifles that have been sporterized and/or caliber converted.

          • Secundius

            @ Evan.

            A .30-30Win is also .30Government/.30Civilian TAKE YOUR PICK. Some Military Rifles used Civilian Ammunition Loads and Vice Versa. While other like the .223Rem/Civilian or 5.56x45NATO, Two Different Beasts. Or, the .308Win or 7.62x51NATO, also Two Different Beasts. You NEVER going to get a Exact Match, unless you can find a Ammunition Manufacturer that Specializes in BOTH. I already gave One Name, if you don’t like rhem. Well there’s a WHOLE PLANET with Ammunition Manufactures out their waiting for you to EXPLORE. Helpful Hint. Try Egypt or Pakistan, they Manufacturer Hard To Fine Ammunition Calibers…

          • Evan

            Again, what does any of that have to do with the topic at hand? I dislike sporterized and caliber converted milsurp rifles. If I buy a Kar98K, I want it in 8mm Mauser with the full stock. If it’s chopped down or chambered in any other cartridge, I consider it ruined. I have no problem finding obsolete military calibers at gun shows or at Cabela’s, but that is entirely off topic.

          • Secundius

            @ Evan.

            An 8-mil Mauser IS THE EXACT SAME AS THE 7.92×57 Mauser, the 7.92 was ROUNDED-UP to 8-mil. for less Confusion. Obviously THEY were WRONG about CONFUSION…

          • Evan

            Yes, I and everyone else who is into old military bolt guns already knows this. In fact, my Mauser, a 1937 build from the Berlin-Borsigwalde factory, has a receiver stamped 7,9mm.

            Again, what is your point? I get that you know different calibers, seeing as how this is the Firearm Blog, I can assume virtually everyone posting here does too. What does any of this 8mm=7.92X57, .30-06=7.62X61 stuff have to do even remotely with what everyone else here is talking about? When I say I have zero interest in an Arisaka rechambered for .243, what does bringing up the metric dimensions of the .243 round have to do with that conversation? If you wanted to mention the Chrysanthemum marking that’s usually filed off available Arisakas, that would be relevant. What you’re saying isn’t.

          • Secundius

            @ Evan.

            Next time instead of using a Q-Tip, use a Phillip Head Screw Driver or a Sailor’s Awl…

          • Evan

            If you stay on target like you stay on topic, please warn me if you ever plan to go to any range in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I want to make sure I’m nowhere in the vicinity.

          • Secundius

            @ Evan.

            Don’t Worry about that, UNLESS it’s a Dalessandro’s, Geno’s, Joe’s, John’s, Pat’s or Primanti’s I will…

          • Evan

            I live a few blocks away from Dalessandro’s. Let me assure you that they charge $12 for a sandwich that is hideously overrated. I wouldn’t suggest going there no matter what. Never been to any of the other places you mentioned, probably never will, because the Philly cheesesteak in general isn’t all that great, and from what I’ve gathered in the year and a half or so that I’ve lived here, they all pretty much taste exactly the same. If you want a sandwich in Philadelphia, get a roast pork Italiano. Now that’s a good sandwich.

          • iksnilol

            That really isn’t relevant to Evan’s wants. He the guy simply wants a milsurp rifle that hasn’t been modified. As in, it is in the same configuration and chambering as it would be when it was originally issued.

          • Secundius

            @ Iksnilol.

            The only way that’s going to happen is, if he builds a “Time Machine” and goes back to 1905, Imperial German Empire…

          • iksnilol

            Not really, you just find a gun that wasn’t tampered or modified. You are making it way more complicated than it really is.

          • Secundius

            @ iksnilol.

            “Scavenger Hunt”. GOOD LUCK, TA TA…

          • iksnilol

            You lost me, you’re a worse lunatic than I am. And I sang “Don’t Stop Believing” really off key in the middle of the night in a hotel.

          • Secundius

            @ iksnilol.

            Incorrect, Sir! Evan, IS…

    • Secundius

      @ Evan.

      Have you tried Hornady in 7.7×58 Arisaka. Their contracting with Prvi Partizan to Manufacture Ammunition for them…

      • Evan

        I have not. I’ve never found an Arisaka for sale that was in its original caliber and not chopped up and “sporterized”. I have zero interest in milsurp rifles that aren’t chambered in their original calibers and/or are sporterized.

        • Secundius

          @ Evan.

          Prvi Partizan has been making OLD STOCK ammunition for better than 70-years. Also the 7.7×58 Arisaka is a copy of the British .303 Vickers Mk.1 Ammunition, pre WW1. Technically a Mauser Round…

  • Graham2

    Why is .303 so often referred to as ‘.303 British’? Us Brits don’t say ’30-06 American’.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Why not? It wouldn’t hurt our feelings. We call it the .303 British because shooting it gives you a stiff upper lip, amongst other things.

    • In the USA, there was the .303 Savage, so “British” was used to differentiate the two. Also, we had .30-03 as well as .30-30 which is still popular, so it’s helpful to distinguish them.

      • Secundius

        @ Nathaniel F.

        .303 Savage is virtually identical to 7.62x51NATO, .303British (7.92×56.44R) and .30-30 (.308/7.8×51.8)…

    • Marcus Toroian

      If I am not mistaken, I believe that .30-06 Springfield was, at some points, referred to as .30 US while in service as a military cartridge.

      • Secundius

        @ Marcus Toroian.

        The .30 US aka .30 Carbine 7.62×33 Short…

    • Because, when the terminology was established, there were common US hunting cartridges in .303. Same reason 7.62x54mmR was called “.30 Russian” or “7.62mm Russian”. Or why .380/200 is often called “. 38 British”.

      It *instantly* identifies *which* .303 you’re talking about, to an American shooter. Whereas .30-06 is already self-identified as the US .30 Government cartridge of 1906.

      • Secundius

        @ Rick Randall.

        Most common mistake “R” is NOT Russian, BUT “Rimmed” Cartridge, a European Habit…

        • Didn’t say, or even imply, that it was called “.30 Russian” because of the “R”.

          Americans called it “. 30 Russian” because it was a .30 round that the Russians used. And, for decades, it was the *only* 7.62mm Russian round Americans were familiar with (the Nagant pistol round was, frankly, too obscure, and the 7.62 Tokarev was just a hot “.30 Mauser”).

          After the 7.62x39mm came out, many Americans even referred to the two cartridges as “.30 Russian Long” and “.30 Russian Short” for a while.

    • Dan

      You need to start that trend immediately better yet call it the 30-06 Murica!

      • Secundius

        @ Dan.

        If you want a “Murica” Round in .30-06. Go to the .35 Whelen (0.358/9.1×63.3mm) Round…

    • Secundius

      @ Graham2.

      .303 British is actually a Mauser Round 7.92×56.44 Vickers/Mauser, virtually identical to the German 7.92×57 or 8-mil Mauser. The .30-06Sprnfld. is actually .308/7.8×63.3 round…

    • Secundius

      @ Graham.

      Technically, it’s called the Royal Ordnance L44A2 Ball Rifle Ammunition. But actually, the .303 British is aka 7.7x56mmR Vickers Mk. 1 or .312/7.92×56.44mmR British/Mauser. And the .30-06Sprngfld. .30 “Government” ’06 Winchester aka .308/7.8×63.3mm. Any less confusing now???

  • Blastattack

    HAHAHAHAHA!!!! These go for like $300-$400 in Canada because they are certifiably terrible. The shortened gas system launches cases a mile and drives the carrier HARD into the receiver, eventually leading to the receiver cracking. Easy fix to adjust the gas system, but most don’t bother.

    • Wetcoaster

      Heck, real SVT-40s got for about $400-$500 in Canada

  • Jacob Hughes

    SVT’s in Canada are $300 on sale! And they literally have barrels of them laying around because nobody wants them when you can get new 2015 production Norinco SKS’s for $250 and Norinco 7.62×39 for under $0.10 a round!

  • jcitizen

    I was really stupid for not buying an SVT 70 back when there were quality examples at every gun show, and the price was cheap. I’d have a ready made semi that shot the cheapest ammo on the market. You had to watch out though. Some of the full auto versions got past the importers, and that would NOT be worth putting up with!