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The Russian-Soviet Mosin Nagant

Model 1944 (M44) Carbine

From - Tuco Of Mosin-Nagant Dot Net

m44hardlaminateed.jpg (16051 bytes)

7.62 Karbin obrazets 1944-ogo goda

Overall length 1.03 meters/1030mm 40.4 inches
Barrel length 520 millimeters 20.5 inches
Weight 4.03 kilograms 8.9 pounds
Sights Front: globe protected post drift adjustable Rear: Tangent graduated to 1000m
Production makers/totals Izhevsk-Tula 3,900,000-~100,000

 

 

 

THE NEED

 

Although the Soviet designed Mosin Nagant M91/30 rifle had served with distinction in The Great Patriotic War, the Soviet high command determined there was a need for a shorter and more handy bolt action service rifle for the Red Army. The savage street by street combat in cities such as Stalingrad clearly showed that a carbine length weapon would better satisfy the needs of the Red Army. While the earlier Model 1938 Carbine seemed to fill this demand, the lack of a bayonet was seen as a grave deficiency in Soviet circles. The Soviet Union was winning the war against Hitler with shear numbers of men and machines coupled with mass of attack. While the concept of soldiers with bayonets advancing in gigantic formations seemed antiquated to the militaries of the West, this philosophy was still a key factor in the Soviet order of battle. A new carbine whose bayonet would reflect this doctrine was deemed in order, and the concept behind the Model 1944 Carbine ( M44 Carbine ) was born.

bayonettest.jpg (30973 bytes)

"On To Glory for Mother Russia"


DESIGN AND PRODUCTION

The Model 1944 Carbine was designed with the earlier Russian Model 1938 Carbine as an official blueprint, with the only major deviation in overall design being the addition of some form of bayonet. Bayonet testing was undertaken in 1943, with a specimen designed by N.S. Semin becoming design of choice. The selected bayonet was a permanent side folder and seemed the perfect solution to the Soviet dilemma. The short length of the carbine would not be affected in normal use and the side- folding bayonet could smoothly be extended when necessity arose. The added convenience of a permanently attached 15.1 inch crucifix bayonet was that this was one less item the Red Army soldier would be forced to carry, or lose for that matter. The carbine can be fired with the bayonet folded in place or extended, but it is important to note that the M44 was designed to be fired with the bayonet in the extended position. This design fact means when the bayonet is not extended, the point of aim/impact changes. A small slot, or channel, was carved into the right side of the stock that allowed the tip of the bayonet to rest when not extended. This added groove is the only major stock modification that separates the M44 carbine stock from the earlier M38 carbine stock. Although one source states differently there were indeed "dimples" cut into both M91/30 and M38 stocks.  These dimples are located behind the rear barrel band. M38 carbines can also be found in M44 stocks. As the M44 stock will fit both models production of the M38 stock was halted once M44 production was underway, since there was no real reason to produce two stock types when one would do.  So M38 carbines made from 1943--1945 might well have been fitted with M44 stocks at the factory.

There was also a limited use of a laminated stock for the M44 during the war years, as it seem that in 1943 the Soviets were producing a version of laminate stock for the Mosin Nagant- the first production of  laminates being for the M38 carbine. The wartime use of laminate stocks was by no means common as most laminate stocks are post war manufactured. Almost allt of the M44 laminate stocks have a reinforcing bar/screw in the rear of the stock behind the trigger housing to add strength as it was found these stocks could crack during firing. There are at least two distinct color variations of these laminate stocks that collectors have observed. The first variations have a blonde hue while the second specimens are more red in color.  It has been suggested the blonde stock is the original color while the red is the result of the shellac added later.   This does indeed seem to be the case in examples that I have examined, as the Soviet use of shellac seems to have been dropped or scaled back as standard practice during the War years.  It is assumed this was done to ease in production time as anything that saved production time would have been implemented.  While laminate M44 stocks seem to have captured the interest of collectors the fact is these are not rare nor uncommon.  It is rather rare to locate a true laminate M38 stock or a laminate M91/30 stock but this is not the case with the M44 carbine.  Laminate M44 stocks are pretty commonplace with most being fitted post war.

davetest.jpg (5388 bytes)

Laminate stock M44 Carbine From DaveCollector9 Collection

The initial production of the M44 Carbine began in mid-late 1943 at the Izhevsk Armaments Factory. There were 50,000* of these carbines produced in 1943 and they were quickly deemed a success in field testing. Final approval was given and full production began in January of 1944. Production was undertaken at both the Izhevsk and Tula factories during the war, although the production at Tula was on a limited scale. To locate a Tula made M44 Carbine is quite a find for the Mosin collector, as the Tula production was on such a small scale that many had questioned if Tula was even involved in M44 Carbine manufacture.  We now know that Tula production of the M44 carbine only lasted a portion of one year, 1944. The exact number of Tula manufactured M44's is unknown but it is very clear that Tula production was quite small. While more examples of these have showed up in recent years, Tula produced carbines still need to be viewed as at least uncommon finds. 

The round receiver was standard on M44 production but one can locate both Tula and Izhevsk carbines that make use of older hex receivers.  This is much more common to see in the carbines from Tula but it is not a Tula only trait.  It is assumed this was done on Tula carbines in an effort to assist in startup of production, as in 1944 Tula reopened its factory at its original location *Tula had been forced to move during the War due to Nazi advances.  As such it seems that Tula was supplied with both round and hex receivers from other stocks to assist in production.  One can surmise many of the older hex receivers seen are from rifles that were damaged in the fighting so were given a new life as a M44 Carbine.  The use of the hex receivers at Izhevsk seem to point to use in 1945 which might be a result of the Soviets making use of stockpiles of damaged rifles from the War.  Since M91/30 production was to be halted the receivers of these rifles were used in new production carbines

Two hex receivered M44 carbines.  The top a 1944 dated Tula in a laminate stock and below a 1945 dated Izhevsk in a hardwood stock.

Izhevsk Model 1944 Production

1943

50,000

1944

3,620,000

1945

3,472,245

1946

189,027

1947

120,061

1948

160,498

Russianmark44tu.jpg (51640 bytes)Russianmark44iz.jpg (45965 bytes)

Tula M44 Proof On Left Izhevsk On Right


WARTIME ISSUE

The M44 was issued to a wide range of Red Army soldiers, as the carbine was not designed solely as an issue weapon to artillery, messenger, rear echelon or cavalry troops. Unlike Soviet and Russian carbines of the past the M44 was issued to front line infantry troops, and there is known Soviet war- time footage showing front line infantry troops armed with M44 carbines. In some of this same footage it was also noticed that a small number of the dreaded and feared NKVD blocking troops carrying M44's. The NKVD blocking troops were perhaps the most odious Red Army servicemen of the period, as it was their task to shoot any Red Army troops that attempted retreat without instructions.

The concept behind the mass issue of the M44 Carbine was quite a significant change in the historical Soviet delivery of carbines. In the past only certain troops, such as the artillery or similar troops mentioned above, were issued carbines. Both the Soviet and old Imperial Russian forces had historically theorized the full-sized rifles, like the old Imperial M91 and Soviet M91/30, were the best overall selection for infantry troops. The concept of the M44 Carbine being designed for the whole of the Red Army is quite a shift in this doctrine. For the first time a bolt action carbine was not designed to perform one role for one classification of soldier but was manufactured for all soldiers.

There has been speculation that this transformation in Soviet reasoning could be based in the remarkable success of the Soviet made sub machine guns. These short and handy SMG's had reeked havoc on the German lines, and the M44 was quite possibly assembled with this success in mind. The Eastern Front of WW2 was some of the most barbarous fighting in the annals of mankind, so a robust fast handling bolt action carbine would be appropriate in this genuine "Hell On Earth".

Due to the late war production of the M44, it was never issued on the grand scale the Red Army had intended. In reality it would be inaccurate to call the M44 a commonly encountered wartime weapon as the fighting ended before a mass issue could take place. All troop reports concerning these carbines appear to have been quite complimentary, as the M44's short length (1020mm) and light weight ( 3.90kg unloaded ) was quite a relief from the heavier and bulky M91/30. The M44 was quite popular with the small number of troops that these carbines were actually issued to. Although the M44 is a bit hefty for a carbine, the bayonet and assembly is not what one would call light, the M44 is still an agreeable weapon for battlefield use. Many shooters feel that the M44 is one of the more natural point-shooting military surplus firearms; however, there are those that find the M44 a bit muzzle heavy.

 


POST WORLD WAR TWO

The M44 was deemed such a success that Russian production continued at least until 1948, although there are unconfirmed reports that the production proceeded into the 1950's. This does seem unlikely as there are no known examples of a Russian M44 produced after 1948. It is also theorized that Russian M44 machinery was moved into Poland in 1949 for the Polish M44 production which began in 1950.

A major alteration that took place post-war was an improvement in the bayonet assembly. A protective ear , shaped a bit like a mushroom, was added to the top of the assembly. One of these "ears" was already in place on the bottom of the assembly.  It is also known that some earlier examples of bayonet assemblies were updated to the later style. It is very hard to say just how many were upgraded but it is not uncommon to see such an update on earlier carbines. . The front sight base was widened a bit in another post-war development.  There is no way to place an exact date on when the bayonet and sight updates were first put in place but it was sometime in 1945, the best guess being late 1945.  There was another alteration that took place dealing with the stock, as the stock butt was spliced into a two piece arraignment.  This was done as it saved on wood and is very common on all postwar made stocks.  It appears this stock alteration was first done in late 1944 or maybe in early 1945 but this is just a guess going on known examples.

These revisions are also found on the later M44 Carbine clones manufactured in China, Poland, Hungary, and Romania. The production of these M44 clones was undertaken with aid from the Soviet Union, as the Soviets were in full production of the SKS at that point. It was the semi automatic SKS that phased out the Soviet use of the M44, making the M44 somewhat obsolete in Red Army service. This did open a new chapter in the use of the M44, as now the carbine would be introduced to the rest of the world.

russm44earbay2.jpg (51046 bytes)

First And Second Bayonet Variation

A good deal of the history of the M44 Carbine is written in the Cold War period and in fact the carbine's history is still being written today. The Eastern European Clones, which will be covered in detail on this site in the near future, have seen use as training weapons and have also been used in various uprisings. The Type 53 Carbine manufactured in the People's Republic of China is another M44 clone that has seen widespread use in global conflicts.

The Russian M44 was a common site in the hands of the People's Army from communist China in the Korean War. The Type 53 Carbine and the Soviet produced M44's saw extensive utilization in Vietnam. The Type 53 has also seen service in the numerous countries that fall under the yoke of Red China. In the jungles of Peru the Shining Path insurgents have made extensive use of the Russian M44 and the Type 53 Carbine in their malicious battle in the name of communism inspired by the People's Republic of China. The M44 family has also played a part in the recent troubles in Kosovo, as there are several published photos of rebels armed with M44's fighting the Serbs. In a recent Soldier Of Fortune Magazine article concerning Kosovo a Type 53 Carbine was mentioned by name, and this furthers shows just how long a deserving carbine can serve in "active duty". There is also little doubt that all the forces in the former Yugoslavia have at least some M44's in service, be this in regular or "irregular" troop duty. 

Russian manufactured M44's have also appeared in Central America, Mexico, sections of Africa ( where the Type 53 is also quite common in some regions), and many were encountered in the US invasion of Grenada. It is feasible that the M44's encountered in Grenada were provided by the Cubans. If Cuba did indeed supply these M44's there is a likelihood that a supply of the Type 53 Carbine would also have been in this inventory. The Soviet manufactured M44 also served in the former East Germany long into the Cold War years. The East Germans issued these carbines to a number of troops, which included guards serving at the Berlin Wall. It is quite clear that the M44 Carbine has seen more use in the post-war period than it ever did in WW2.

 

Jack Ladrigan with captured M44 in the Korean War.  The carbine was captured near Pyong Yang, in November of 1950. He was with the 70th Heavy tank Battalion US Army were he was a tank driver.  This carbine was destroyed later that winter when his tank was hit.  In 2000 his son presented him with a 1947 dated M44 as a present, which was a real hit at the unit's reunion.

Conclusion

 

The M44 is a fascinating carbine that was designed and created in the waning years of WW2. While the M44 served well in its limited use in the war, its most concentrated service has been in more modern times. It is a carbine that truly has survived the test of time by being compact, elementary, sturdy, and quite accurate as carbines go. The simplicity of the M44 is a major key to this success as the M44 is a carbine that will not outsmart the soldier it is issued to. This is significant in that the soldiers of the Red Army of WW2 were never known for their technical expertise. This is also the case with the many guerilla soldiers that have made use of these carbines in recent times, as their weapons training is mediocre at best. A complex weapon does these soldiers no good, as they simply do not have the competence to put them to capable use. The M44 also represented an inexpensive way to finance and expand the international communist revolution. The insurgents armed with these communist supplied weapons could , and did, create instability in areas around the globe with little cost to their Russian or Chinese taskmasters.


Some Words From Tuco

 

The US market has been blessed with recent mass importation of not only the Russian manufactured M44's but also the M44 clones. As collectors we are quite fortunate as at this time these carbines are almost commonplace. If you want one of these fine carbines you can still find them at a reasonable price. Needless to say the American collecting society has fallen in love with these well-made and robust carbines. These carbines have all the traits that a collector wants. They have an engaging history and they are accurate, effective, and priced right. The ammo is also plentiful and these carbines are quite simply a joy to shoot. All these are factors that account for the widespread popularity of these carbines. They have become quite prevalent at shows and also at the range. More than a few collectors have a inflamed shoulder from a long day at the range with the M44. Ouch…Do not shoot too much heavy ball ammo in these carbines…

I hope that this section gives the reader at least a brief insight into these long serving carbines. I further hope that this article strengthens the respect that the reader may well already have of these carbines. This is by no means the definitive essay on the M44 but maybe it has offered a bit of an education to its readers. If you do not own one of these carbines, I suggest that you go out and get one today. You will not regret it.

Russian Infantry Weapons of W.W.II-AJ Barker and John Walter: Arco publishing 1971

Soviet Small Arms and Ammo.-D.N. Bolotin

The Mosin Nagant Rifle, Terence W Lapin - North Cape Publications

Many years of personal notes and observations of the author

Drei Linien Die Gewehre Mosin Nagant-K.H. Wrobel Journal-Verlag Schwend GMBH 1999

Photo Section

There is a comprehensive section that covers the Chinese and Eastern European M44 Models.  Please follow the link from the main Russian/Soviet section to the Chinese and Eastern European area for more info.

 

 


 
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