Lets Talk Tokarev: The Soviet SVT 40

Initially losing to Simonov’s AVS36, Tokarev’s design was later retried and adopted as the SVT 38, later becoming the SVT 40 after the Finnish Winter War debacle that the Soviet Union found itself in, just prior to the Second World War. Very forward thinking in many aspects of the design, the rifle featured a 10 round detachable magazine, short stroke gas piston operated tilt locking bolt, and an extremely lightweight construction compared to numerous other designs of the time. It was also the second most produced semi-automatic rifle of the Second World War after the M1 Garand, with over 1.6 million rifles manufactured during the war. Had it not been for the war itself, the SVT 40 was well on the path to completely replacing the Mosin Nagant. But with the changing infantry tactics against the German Army, and the severe shortage of manufacturing capability, in addition to some reliability and accuracy issues, led to the diminishing usage of the rifle during the war, with product ceased at the end. Of course, Simonov got the last laugh with elements of his AVS-36 being incorporated into the 7.62x39mm SKS, making the SVT 40 obsolete by the war’s end.

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  • Spencerhut

    Got one of these and ~1k rounds of ammo. Took it to a picnic with friends and shot all the ammo. Had a great time. Then sold it to the first Commie fanboy that walked into the store. Fun gun, modest recoil. Chicks dig it.

  • SP mclaughlin

    AXIS HAVE TAKEN THE COMMISSAR’S HOUSE
    favorite gun from red orchestra.

    • PK

      Now there’s a game I haven’t thought about in a long, long time.

      • int19h

        Red Orchestra 2 is still alive and well, with a few well-populated servers around.

        They have since released a new Vietnam-themed game… and that one is apparently not all that impressive. I personally haven’t tried, because who cares about yet another Nam shooter? Give us more Eastern Front goodness.

  • nanoc

    Canadians with their inexpensive SVT-40s. Cheapest one i could find in California was 900$ and that was for a beat up one with a shot out barrel. If you want a very nice example its like $1500.

    • PK

      Talk about an ideal candidate for rebarreling… happen to remember which shop had that? I bet it’s easier to ship guns out of CA than into CA.

      • nanoc

        Don’t remember where i saw it at but 900$ was way way to much for that example. If your in California Calguns is the best place to find one but be prepared to shell out some money.

        • PK

          No, I’m not in CA. I figured if you happened to recall the store, I could find a number and give them a call.

    • The_Champ

      Yep, one the few guns we Canadians can get cheaply and abundantly that Americans cannot. Although things do change quickly as like all old milsurps there is a finite supply.

      I bought my SVT about four years ago for $350, and I’m now seeing them price tagged at $800-900 in stores.

      • civilianaf

        Jeez, thats amazing. More power to you.

    • civilianaf

      I have seen them for $3000 and up, and only Tigers. Where can I get one for $1500? Ill take all of them.

      • Ken

        They’re $1200-1500 here in VA. There’s a Podolsk made one for sale locally here.

        • civilianaf

          Id love to pick it up, let me know how to hook up with it…

          • Ken

            Post an email or something and I’ll send you a link.

  • 22winmag

    Just because something is cool or futuristic doesn’t mean is isn’t tangential (at best) to firearms.

  • Kivaari

    The rifle shown saw Finnish Army use. The “SA” in a box stamped on the receiver is the give away. ALL of them I have ever seen in 60 years has had Finn markings.

  • Flinch much

    Finally a good non tacticool article from Patrick!

    • Stephen Paraski

      He changed his looks after being fired from Brownells. He copied Mile’s look to be more tacticool.

  • Seth Hill

    Saw one at the last gunshow I went to, if I could have I would have bought it.

  • The_Champ

    I do very much enjoy shooting my SVT, as I enjoy all full power, self loading military rifles.

    My personal SVT has functioned very reliably. Accuracy is kind of mid range as far as milsurps go. 7.62×54 is a stout cartridge in any firearm, but more manageable in this self-loader. The muzzle brake does a tremendous job up keeping the barrel from jumping up and all of the recoil seems to come straight back. Cleaning and disassembly is pretty easy. They certainly could have sliced a few inches off of that long barrel, but the weight and feel of the SVT is surprisingly svelte.

    All in all I think it is a perfectly suitable military rifle for its era. From a modern range shooters perspective it is certainly lacking some of the fine details of the M1 Garand however in a broader sense, in the context of a massive world war, and as a mass issued weapon, I would call it mostly equivalent and equal to the M1 (I’m sure many will disagree).

    I would take issue with Miles’ comment that not that many SVTs were used during the war. I’m sure nearly every single SVT available was shipped to the front for use, these were desperate times after all. Every source and history I’ve read suggests that SVT production stopped, and Mosin production ramped up for purely economic reasons, and not any design failings of the SVT. Mosin’s were cheaper, easier, and faster to produce.

    • Ken

      A big flaw with the SVT is the gas system that’s prone to rusting. The M1 used a stainless steel gas tube and piston head. In the Pacific, M1 barrels could last as little as two weeks before the corrosion ruined them, but at least the gas systems remained intact.

      • The_Champ

        That seems believable. Reminds me of the upgrades done to another self-loader of the era, the AG-42, which changed out the original gas tube for a stainless steel one.

        The headaches that come with corrosive ammo I guess. I suppose the solution was go stainless steel, or switch to non-corrosive. I believe Swiss ammo and M1 Carbine ammo was already non-corrosive in that era.

        It seems as though there is lots of anecdotal evidence of the enemy(Germans and Finns) using captured SVTs. The common gun lore seems to say that these better trained troops maintained the rifles better, and thus thought more highly of them than the Russians. Don’t know if this is true, but it is clear that some Germans gave up their Mausers for SVTs.

        • Ken

          I think the Swedes has noncorrosive ammo in military use by the 20s, but being a direct impingement rifle, the tiny gas tube in the AG42 could have been prone to rusting regardless since it would be difficult to clean and oil. Hatcher’s Notebook talks about a bit about that early noncorrosive ammo. He said that the Swiss and Germans had noncorrosive primers prior to WWI, and that even in the 20s, Americans weren’t certain whether it was the primers or the powder that caused corrosion. No one had bothered to read academic writings that were available from the Swiss and Germans until much later.

          • The_Champ

            Interesting. I didn’t realize non-corrosive stuff dated back that far. I assume the corrosive ammo must have been easier or cheaper to build at that point because it seems it was pretty standard in military ammo even beyond WWII.

          • Ken

            It took a while for various entities to develop the non-corrosive primers. They ran into issues like consistency, igniting aggressively enough, and longevity. Some were better than others. The US tested the Swiss primer in the interwar era and found that it did not perform well at all in heat and humidity.