The SVT-40 (Самозарядная Винтовка Токарева, образец 1940 года Samozaryadnaya Vintovka Tokareva, Obrazets 1940 goda lit. "Tokarev Self-loading Rifle, Model of 1940") was a Soviet self-loading rifle designed by Fedor Tokarev in 1940 and produced by the Tula Arms Plant, IZhMASh and Kovrov Arsenal from 1940 to 1945. Intended to be the Soviet's service rifle, the SVT-40 was one of the Soviet Union's first attempts at adoption of a semi-automatic rifle.

History[edit | edit source]

The basis of the SVT-40's design goes back to 1938 with the SVT-38, a semi-automatic rifle design also by Tokarev; the SVT-38 replaced the older AVS-36 automatic rifle designed by Sergei Simonov in service after problems with the AVS-36 became apparent.[1]

The SVT-38 first saw service in the Winter War, where interestingly, problems with the SVT-38 began to show; the gun was considered too long, too cumbersome and very user-unfriendly. As such, Tokarev redesigned his SVT-38 to what would become the SVT-40 while production of the SVT-38 was halted in April 1940.[2]

As these factories already had some experience producing the SVT-38, production of the SVT-40 quickly ramped up; some 70,000 were produced by the end of 1940. By 1941, the SVT-40 was in widespread use; a Soviet table of organization and equipment stated that one third of all handheld infantry weapons were to be SVTs, although this was rarely the case in practice.[2]

When Operation Barbarossa was in full swing, many SVT-40s were captured by the Nazi Germans and designated the Selbstladegewehr 259(r) in German use; they would then use these captured SVT-40s as a basis of sorts for the development of their own semi-automatic rifle, the Gewehr 41.[3] With the loss of SVT-40s, production of the Mosin-Nagant was ramped back up to compensate for the loss in firepower; at this point, the SVT-40 was considered a little bit more difficult to manufacture and slightly more difficult to maintain, while recently introduced submachine guns such as the PPSh-41 had begun to prove their worth. With these factors in play, SVT production slowed.

Supposedly, to supplement the lack of machine guns and other automatic weapons in the Red Army, a fully automatic version of the SVT-40, known as the AVT-40 (Автоматическая Винтовка Токарева, образца 1940 года Avtomaticheskaya Vintovka Tokareva, Obrazets 1940 goda lit. "Tokarev automatic rifle, Model of 1940"), was ordered into production in July 1940; problems with the AVT-40 were quickly discovered (such as the rifling being worn down after as little as 250 rounds when fired fully automatically) which caused use of the automatic mode to be discouraged and production halting shortly after.[4]

Production of the SVT-40 continued to slow with no real signs of ramping back up; by January 1945, production of the SVT-40 was ordered to cease. By then, some 1,450,000 were produced, of which 51,170 were the sniper variant.[5] Over its lifespan, the SVT-40 was widely copied and used as the basis of a number of semi-automatic rifles from other countries, such as the AK44 design from W+F Bern.[6]

Design Details[edit | edit source]

The SVT-40 is mechanically very similar to the older SVT-38. The rifle was a gas-operated self-loading rifle using a short stroke spring-loaded gas piston over the barrel. The rifle also used a tilting bolt, similar to many other semi-automatic rifles of the time. A bayonet could also be attached. Notably, the rifle used ten-round detachable box magazines which was quite uncommon for the time.

Compared to the SVT-38, however, the SVT-40 featured a number of improvements over it. The SVT-40 featured a folding magazine release when compared to the SVT-38, and had a one-piece handguard with the cleaning rod housed under the barrel.[7]

Ammunition[edit | edit source]

The rifles used 7.62×54mmR ammunition.

Variants[edit | edit source]

A number of variants of the SVT-40 were produced. A few examples are as follows:


Unofficial name for carbine variant of the SVT-40.


Automatic rifle variant. Differentiated by an "A" cut into the stock.


Automatic carbine variant. Produced as prototype only.[4]

OSK-88 (PSVT-40)

Civilian variant meant to be used as a hunting rifle.[8]


Replica of the SVT-40 produced by ZiD.[9]

References[edit | edit source]

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