Russian and Com Bloc sling Identification
The difficulty in many aspects of weapon collecting is that it is sometimes not possible to just collect one aspect of the hobby. Many of us find that collecting the rifles and pistols of the particular subject we are interested in soon opens up a whole new aspect of that genre to collect as well. I know from my personal experience that I started out just collecting the rifles and that was fine for a time. But as my collection grew and the quest to find examples expanded I was soon faced with some aspects of the hobby that I had not thought of previously. Each rifle issued to a soldier was always accompanied by some accessories which were particular to that rifle and necessary for its successful implementation. Items such as cleaning tools, oil bottles and sight covers. Extras such as ammunition pouches and cartridge belts as well as sight covers and muzzle covers. All specifically designed by the maker to compliment and be an integral part of the "kit" that each rifle was issued with. One of the most basic accessories that was issued with each and every weapon was a sling. Without a sling the weapon was difficult to carry and cumbersome. With it the weapon could be easily carries or slung to free up both hands while on the march or in action. The new section will be a starter for the collector to be able to identify what slings were issued for what Mosin Nagant style rifle in regard to the Russian and Communist Bloc rifles that saw common service. There are untold variations and styles that can be found but these are the most basic examples that are commonly found and would be correct for each rifle. This section will detail in pictures and captions the slings that would be right for your rifle in your collection. I hope that you find it enjoyable and helpful in the pursuit of those accessories. If you have a sling that is not in the section and would like to contribute it to be added just drop me a note with the pictures and we'll plug it in.
Best of luck in collecting!
Mosin Nagant model 1891
The first slings for the 1891 rifle were originally sewn to the front swivel under the barrel band and a rear wire swivel arrangement mounted to the front of the magazine housing. These slings are rarely encountered today as removal and meant destruction of the sling.
The next variation used a magazine mounted rear swivel again and the front of the sling was modified now to include a hook arrangement that passed through a sliding loop creating an adjustable length that could also be quickly removed from the front of the rifle by un-hooking the hook from the front swivel bar. These slings again are very rarely encountered today. The sling pictured here is not Russian made but Bulgarian and is used to illustrate the look and attachment of this type of sling to the pre 1907 style barrel bands that acted as a forward swivel by allowing the hook to attach on the exposed screw body. The Russian version of this early sling is so scarce I was unable to find one to use in this article.
The last version of the 1891 sling was the simplest. It was a 1" wide dark brown leather sling with a steel buckle of square shape. This sling measured 52" long and was attached by a simple sling button arraignment at the front sling slot. It was retained on the rifle by use of small leather straps or "sling loops" that passed through a metal plate reinforcing a slot in the forend and buttstcok of the rifle. These metal screw retained "escutcheons" both strengthened the wood area from being frayed by the loops and protected the leather from being roughened up and fraying by the raw exposed edge of the wood. Often times these slings appear to be black due to use and oil used as a preservative making the slings color darker.
The sling slot arraignment for sling attachment would be used in varying forms for the remainder of the Mosin nagant's use in the Red Army through WW2 and beyond.
Mosin Nagant model 91/30
The initial slings of the Mosin Nagant rifles of the Red Army were constructed of a tanned finished leather with sewn ends. They employed square flat brass buckles for adjustment and leather sling loops of the same tanned leather. The color is most commonly encountered in a simple brown.
Full length shot of the wartime substitute standard 91/30 sewn cloth slings with pig skin sling loops
Russian wartime expedient production slings. These cloth slings are most often found in two styles. One as a solid piece of cotton strap folded over on one end for the front leather sling loop and either sewn or simply riveted as sown in the bottom picture. The texture is rather smooth and not a coarse weave. The other is the top example that is simple two pieces of cotton cloth sewn together down both sides of the sling and the forward sling loop folded over and reinforced sewn in a square with a reinforcement of an X pattern. The rear was simply a loop created by a leather retaining loop. Leather sling loops were used to affix the sling to the sling slots or escutcheons on the stock. These slings were most probably manufactured during the lean years of 1942-1943 in small cottage industry type shops and thus the variation from the standard heavy coarse weave web sling of the Red Army. Also note that the sling loops are not a finely tanned leather but are pig skin straps and simple zinc coated or bare steel buckles.
The standard coarse weave web sling of the Russian Red Army during the wartime period and beyond. These slings can be found in several different colors in use with the army from a dark olive green and to a light khaki green to varying shades of brown. Slings employed with Naval forces are generally black leather and if cloth web a dark blue or slate blue color with black leather sling loops. These are almost always riveted in construction and show dates of the 1950's.
Grouping of m/91-30 Soviet slings.
A Finnish captured sling from the 1939 to 1944 period. It is my guess that this sling is from the late war period of 1942-1944 by the color and construction and use of the pigskin material straps on the sling loops. The boxed [SA] denotes Finnish army property and the "T" marking below
on Finnish equipment stood for "Taisteluvälinehallinto" or in English "Ordnance Department".
Some of the ink stampings that can be found on some of the Russian slings available today. Most of the early slings are devoid of any ink stamps as so many were made in a cottage industry under harsh conditions but on occasion a wartime sling can be found with a government control stamp or ordinance stamp found on the inside like the upper left hand corner from 1943 or the upper right hand corner from 1945. These ink stamps are very hard to read on the darker colored fabric of the web sling and on the dark blue/gray of the Naval slings they are often marked in a gray ink.
A wartime example of the Soviet produced Mosin Nagant m/91-30 sling with all sewn features.
Close up of wartime construction features on the left and post war construction on the right.
Mosin Nagant model 1938
The introduction of the shortened version of the model 1891/30 rifle in 1939 saw the necessary introduction of a special sling for the new carbine. The leather slings of the early period were being phased out in favor of the web construction cotton coarse weave slings with leather reinforcement points. The model 1938 sling was shorter in length and its reinforcement points were of a unique pointed shape as depicted here. Often times the leather reinforcement point of the rear section bears black ink marking of the maker and or unit. The buckles are blued steel and the leather reinforcement points and sling loops are of tanned natural leather color.
Two m/38 slings from the wartime period with a light tan colored sling below that is adjustable with a brass buckle and the top sling of a non adjustable one length feature that is most probably a late war version or post war as it lacks and any of the earlier quality construction features such as a brass buckle or tight weave web or leather reinforcement pads that are eveidfent on the warly slings. Its color is a simple green dyed cotton.
Mosin Nagant model 1944
The sling changes from the earlier model 1938 sling were essentially a simplification of the earlier design. The contoured "pointed" reinforcement pieces made of leather were now simply small square patches sewn in a simple cross or square stitch pattern. The length essentially stayed the same and the buckles were now made of bare zinc coated steel. The sling loops were of varying shades of brown tanned leather with zinc plated buckles again. The sling keeper is either sewn on earlier slings or riveted on post war models.
Comparison of the wartime production m/44 sling top to the longer m/91-30 sling below. The early versions of these slings were all sewn in construction of leather reinforcements and sling loops as well as the sling keeper. They are of a general khaki green color and show blued steel buckles and sling loop buckles.
The construction of the slings followed those of the m/91-30 with post war features being the use of rivets to attach the sling keeper and the sling loops to buckles. Post war slings are usually found with ink dates of the late 1940's through early 1950's as found on 91/30 slings above. With production following closely with that of the 91/30 additional replacement of lost supply from the wartime continued well after the war. m/44 construction began in 1943 on a limited basis with 50,000 rifles being fielded in tests and most probably using the m/38 carbine style sling. By 1944 and the phase out of the m/38 carbine and the subsequent stop of production in the m/38's sling some years early early featured m/44 carbine sling is rather rare to find today due to attrition and age. The vast majority of m/;44 slings will exhibit the post war features.
Two Soviet Naval issued slings for the m/44 carbine. The top a cotton web construction of slate blue color with the black leather fittings and sling loops with zinc plated square buckles.
The bottom is the all leather construction sling utilizing a stitched reinforcing and riveted sling loop and sling keeper fabrication. The leather is a finely tanned black dyed color with unfinished interior.
Two additional all leather slings for the m/44 of Naval issue. These were most likely issued to Naval infantry forces that would require small arms.
Web sling of cotton web construction with zinc plated buckles and black leather fixtures of Soviet Naval issue.
Ink markings on the interior of a Soviet Naval issue black leather m/44 carbine sling.