Tokarev SVT-40 Rifle
|Country of Origin||Russia|
|Barrel Length||610 mm|
|Muzzle Velocity||840 m/s|
Contributor: C. Peter ChenThe "Samozaryadnaya Vintovka Tokareva, Obrazets 1940 goda" (Tokarev Self-loading Rifle, Model 1940), or Tokarev SVT-40 for short, was a semi-automatic rifle design that developed from the SVT-38 semi-automatic rifles. Experience from the Winter War with Finland concluded that the SVT-38 rifles were too long and cumbersome, and they were too complex to maintain in combat conditions; some soldiers even complained that ammunition magazines would fall off at times. Production of the SVT-38 design halted in 1940 after about 160,000 were built.
In Jul 1940, the SVT-40 design entered production at Tula, Russia in attempt to address SVT-38 weapons' issues. The production was later expanded to the Ishevsk Arsenal and the Kovrov Arsenal. The SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles were lighter, the ammunition magazines were modified, and the overall construction was simplified slightly to streamline production. By the end of 1940, 70,000 of them were available, and in 1941, over one million examples were built. Although they were effective weapons, the older Mosin-Nagant rifles were easier to use and the PPSh-41 submachine guns were cheaper to manufacture, thus SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles slowly fell out of Russian favor. In 1942, production of these semi-automatic rifles ceased at the Ishevsk Arsenal, and overall production dropped to only 264,000 in 1942. The production ceased altogether in Jan 1945; about 1.5 million SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles were built between 1940 and 1945. A small number of them were built as fully-automatic weapons and they were designated AVT-40, while some others were meant to be used as sniper rifles; both of these variant designs were disappointing.
During WW2, Finnish and German forces also used SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles on a smaller scale, all from captured examples. Finland captured 4,000 SVT-38 weapons during the Winter War and over 15,000 SVT-40 weapons during the Continuation War, while the German Army operated hundreds of thousands of captured SVT-40 semi-automatic weapons under the designation of SIG.259(r). German use of the weapon was so significant that the Germany Army actually published an operating manual for them.
The Russian Army generally stopped using SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles as soon as SKS and AK-47 designs came into production, and by 1955 they were all retired from service; the majority of Russian-operated SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles were placed in storage until the 1990s. The Finnish Army retired its last SVT-40 weapon in 1958, selling 7,500 of them into the civilian market largely in the United States.
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945