• M39 Mosin Nagant Civil Guard Rifle

    1944 M39 Finnish Mosin Nagant
    (Mfg by Sako, issued to "SkY" civil guard)

    (Click PIC to Enlarge)

    Caliber: ....................... 7.62x54R
    Barrel Length: ............. 26.96 in. (685mm)
    Rifling: ........................ 4 groove, right hand twist, 1:10"
    Overall Length: ............ 46.6 in. (1185mm)
    Weight: ....................... 10.0 lbs (4.55Kg)
    Magazine capacity: ....... 5 rounds.
    Qty mfg: ...................... Approximately 116,800 total M39 production, only 10,500 made for the SkY (Civil Guard) (In production from 1940 - 1945, 1967-1970 and 1973)

    Canadian Collector Market Value Estimate: $

    Source: The Mosin-Nagant Rifle by Terrence Lapin, ISBN: 1882391217, production totals obtained from Mosin Nagant

    1944 M39 Finnish Mosin Nagant

    (26 picture virtual tour)
    Observations: (by "Claven2")
    Note: Pics of rifle provided courtesy of Milsurps.com moderator Claven2.

    In the 1930's the Finnish Armed Forces were still divided into the Army and the Civil Guard (The Suojeluskunta, or "Sk"). The Army was expected to fill the role of a traditional standing army, while the civil guard could be compared in many ways to the role of the National Guard in the USA.

    At this time, the Army's first line issue rifle was the M27 Mosin Nagant. It was a good design, much improved over the M91 it replaced. It was, however, not without its faults. Many of these rifles were built with older recycled M91 stocks which tended to crack under heavy bayonet use. Additionally, the modified Konovalov sights were not much changed from the M91 it replaced. The Sk's rifles of the day were the M24, M28 and M28/30 - the M28/30 being the most advanced of the three. The M28 was an excellent and accurate rifle making use of an entirely new rear sight design that was easier to use and much more rugged than the Konovalov design. The barrel was floated at the nose by use of an aluminum collar to improve accuracy and a mauser-style front band was used to retain the end of the hand-guard. The M28/30 had a reputation for being the most accurate Mosin ever designed - many people still maintain this to be true today.

    The Finnish government, however, was looking to standardize on a single rifle design for both the Army and the Sk. Maintaining separate stores of arms and spares for both organizations, as well as the multiple production lines was not as efficient as it could have been. Additionally, a few faults were to be found in both designs under field conditions and the Finns felt that many of these could be addressed in a one rifle.

    A committee was established to combine the best characteristics of the M27 and M28/30 into one rifle for general use of the armed forces. The Army came up with a new design given the designation M91/35, while the civil guard maintained that the M28/30 was a superior weapon as-is. Trials convinced the committee that the M28/30 was indeed the superior rifle though some of the improvements of the M91/35 prototypes were incorporated into the new design. The result was the M39, officially adopted by the Army on April 14, 1939.

    The Winter War with Russia commenced in November of 1939. It is said that only 10 rifles had been manufactured by the outbreak of hostilities. Production continued throughout the Winter and Continuation wars along side other models like the M91 which were retained due to the limited numbers of M39's that could be produced under the pressures of war.

    The M39 is arguably the best Mosin Nagant ever devised for combat conditions. The stock is thicker and more robust than any other variant. The barrel is thicker than that of the M91/30, yet slightly thinner than the M27's barrel to offset the weight of the heavier and more rugged stock. The rear sights were modified from those of the M28/30 to allow for a 150m setting ideal for close range snap-shooting. The rear sight assembly itself is much more rugged and user-friendly than any of the Russian designs and the front sight of the M39 is windage adjustable in the field using the issue Mosin Nagant cleaning kit tools.

    The rifle was designed so that the sling could be slung traditionally from the underside of the stock, or mauser-style along the side. This versatile arrangement meant the same model rifle could be issued to all troops including ski and bicycle troops who slung the rifle across the back or the chest. Although some of the earliest made Sako M39’s from 1940 and 1941 were fitted with straight grip stocks which were already in inventory, the majority of M39’s are fitted with a semi-pistol grip meant to aid in holding the rifle steady for accurate shooting.

    The chamber and rifling patterns employed were also well thought out. The M39 was the first Finnish rifle specifically designed to make optimum use of both Finnish 7.62x53R and captured Russian 7.62x54R machine gun ammunition and issue ball. Most Finn rifles were modified to these chamber specs as well, given the quantities of captured ammo the Finns would soon inherit when war came with Russia.

    The M39 was manufactured by two primary companies, Sako (1940-1945) and VKT (1940-1944), producing on the order of 100,800 rifles. Additionally, approximately 16,500 additional rifles were assembled post-war from cut down M91 barrels by the makers Tikka, VKT, and the Belgian made B marked M91 barrels. Approximately 3500 of this number were assembled during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and bear no maker’s markings.

    The rifles made specifically for the Sk were all made at Sako between 1942 and 1944. Only 10,500 rifles form part of this contract and they can be identified by the letters “SkY” stamped over the serial number. SkY marked M39’s are among the rarer examples of the M39 rifle.

    The treaty that ended the Continuation War, among other things, forbade the Finns from manufacturing new small arms. This restriction prompted the limited modification of existing M91 stores to M39 configuration which took place post-war to meet the army’s needs. As such, it is theoretically possible to see almost any maker’s markings or dates on an M39, though non-typical markings should be considered exceedingly rare.

    Mating the tried Mosin Nagant action and feed system with the best characteristics of both the M27 and the M28/30 surely produced the finest combat Mosin variant of all time. One could easily argue that the M39 ranks among the greatest bolt action combat rifles ever fielded by an army and the M39’s reputation on modern rifle ranges are quickly dispelling the myth of the “junky” Mosin Nagant.

    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. The depicted rifle is one of the 10,500 Sako M39’s made specifically for the Sk (Civil Guard). Like many M39’s, the tsarist receiver crest has been carefully ground off. The rifle is also wearing a new looking stock set with square finger joints. These square jointed stocks are all of post-war origin, indicating this rifle was rebuilt after the Continuation War and restocked at that time. Additionally, you will note that the front blade height no longer matches the original blade height stamped into the barrel immediately behind the front sight assembly. This indicates the rifle’s point of impact changed when it was restocked so the Finnish armorers re-sighted the weapon and installed a slightly shorter front blade.

    The vertical laminate re-enforcing strips present in the butt-stock are a modification adopted in 1956. Many Finnish mosins were later modified in this way, so it is impossible to know if they are a retrofit or if the stock itself is of post-1956 manufacture. It is important to note that the M39 remained in Finnish service well into the 1970’s, so any given rifle could likely have undergone several refurbishments and upgrades.

    Collectors should look for M39’s made by Sako for the SkY (like this one), Tikka made barrels on M39’s, M39’s without maker’s markings, B barrel M39’s and M39’s bearing barrel dates before 1941. Such examples represent the rarest M39 rifles available. Additionally, a rifle wearing its original wartime stock with either rounded or transitional pointed finger splices and intact stock cartouches should be considered more desirable than the same rifle which has been restocked post-war.

    As with most mosins, the absence of import markings will generally increase value and desirability. It is also important to note that while many M39’s are stamped matching on the bolt, barrel, floor-plate, butt-plate and even the bayonet lug - Any Finn mosin with a matching bolt could be considered “Finn matching” and may have been manufactured that way when new, despite mismatched or scrubbed butt-plate, floor-plate, nose-cap, etc. There seems to be little, if any, pattern to dictate when the Finns bothered to re-serialize parts other than the bolt when they built rifles.

    The Finns also often used metal shims to tweak a rifle’s bedding. If you detail strip an M39, make sure you note how the shims fit back into the rifle, else point of aim will be affected.

    Lastly, M39 rifles were generally finished with pine tar during the war. This finish is very difficult to replicate, so take that into account if you come across a rifle that a basement gunsmith has ill-advisedly sanded or stripped. Many post-war stocks appear to have no finish at all, or are just linseed oiled or sealed with some type of wood sealant. This is the correct finish for a post-war M39 stock. Altering it can and will decrease value.
    ...... (Feedback by "Claven2")
    This article was originally published in forum thread: M39 Mosin Nagant Civil Guard Rifle started by Badger View original post
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