Finnish M91 Rifle
From Tuco Of Mosin-Nagant
all the rifles that have served the nation of Finland, it
is the contribution of the Mosin Nagant M91 that stands above
all others. This service has had many facets from
direct issue to the use of their receivers in the many Finnish
models of the Mosin Nagant. It is hard to imagine that
a rifle produced for Imperial Russia in 1891 would have done
so much for the nation of Finland.
is this disbelief that have lead to many overlooking the M91
as a collector's rifle and this miscalculation has also created
many false "historical facts" about these fine weapons.
Not many seem to realize the M91, in one form or another,
was the most widely issued Finnish rifle until overtaken by
the M39 Service Rifle late in the Continuation War (1941-44).
Some have also stated the M91 was issued only to rear echelon
troops in this time period but nothing could be further from
the truth. These were Finnish "front line"
weapons from 1918 till 1945 and were still in service as late
as 1988. They are definitely not a rifle to be overlooked
Finnish M91 is a bit broad in topic as the manufacture was
spread out over a number of years. There are also many
variations and makers, so please bear with me on the length
of this article. I want to note that I have not really
covered all the variations in detail, like the M91 RV, as
this will come later in an article of their own.
First Finnish M91's
Finns captured a vast number of Russian M91's during the Finnish
Civil War of 1918 with these rifles in various states of condition.
After the fighting the Finns needed to quickly equip their
armed forces with suitable weapons and they rightfully decided
to use the captured rifles on hand. As this was the case the
Finns needed to find a solution for M91 rifles in lessor condition.
One of the first Finnish modifications of the older Russian
rifles was the little known Ulanie Carbine. This was a modification
in which the Finns cut down M91 barrels that had damaged crowns
or worn bores near the muzzle. The length of these
carbines is about a meter and in most cases have a Civil Guard
marked bolt, as it was the Civil Guard that did this alteration.
These carbines are very rare as most were scrapped by the
early 1930's. The Ulanie Carbine was never made
in large enough numbers to receive an official designation
by any Finnish organization, as was the case with what is
commonly referred to as the M24 Carbine.
these carbines were a good solution to the M91's that had
suffered damage near the end of the barrel, the carbines were
not a solution for M91's that had more extensive troubles.
For the rifles in this category there were only two reasonable
alternatives, relining the worn barrels or new production
of replacement M91 barrels. The Finns decided to undertake
both tasks and this is the true beginning of the Finnish manufactured
M91 Mosin Nagant. As is the case with all the Finnish
Mosin Nagants, the receivers used were older Russian receivers.
The Finns never manufactured receivers on their own but "recycled"
Russian receivers to create Finnish models.
small number of M91 barrels were produced by Suomen Ampumataruikehdas
with apparently this production running from 1922-1924.
These barrels are marked SAT Riihimaki and were fitted to
Russian receivers in Finnish stockpiles. The SAT
M91's are one of the most uncommon military rifles one will
ever encounter as the production seems to have only been 200
barrels. When one couples this low production run with
the years of use these rifles must have seen, one can clearly
see the SAT M91 is indeed a true collectors item to any Mosin
Nagant collector. The chances of finding one of these
historical rifles is next to none and there are very few in
Depot Number 1 (AV-1) was also involved in the early "manufacturing"
of M91 barrels as they undertook the task of retubing and
relining older M91 barrels. The barrels from AV-1
were retubed by using the Italian "Salerno-Method"
which is the same method used by the Italian Army in the early
1920's. This work was done from 1925-1927 with approximately
13,000 barrels undergoing this process. These
retubed barrels will bear a P marking with the last two digits
of the year following the P. These will be marked
P-25, P-26, and P-27 and will also have an AV-1 stamping on
the barrel shank. This author has never seen
or heard of a P-25 example in a US collection. It is
known these are so marked as Markku Palokangas, the noted
Finnish firearms author, mentions these in his works, but
the lack of examples seems to point to their rarity.
production of these barrels was halted suddenly in 1927 as
the Finnish Army deemed the barrels unsatisfactory.
It is not at all clear why these barrels were considered inferior
and to further muddy the waters many of these barrels were
fitted and used later in the Winter War. The performance
of these barrels in combat seemed to be respectable and this
production halt is still a controversial issue in Finland.
The rifles seem to have receivers and barrels that have been
blued and as well as some being left in the white. It
is not 100% clear why this is the case.
now famous Tikka plant was also producing barrels for the
early Finnish M91 as they manufactured 10,000 barrels from
1925-1927. The initial production of 1925 must
have been very low as there are documented 1926 Tikka barrels
whose serial number is in the 300 range. These Tikka
made barrels were fitted into M91 stocks and receivers at
AV-1 in 1927 and 1928.
1925 and 1926 made barrels will have the date on the underside
of the barrel, where as the 1927 dated barrels have the date
on the top of the barrel shank. There are examples of
1926 dated Tikka M91's that have the date on the top of the
barrel shank but it is not known when this came to pass.
It is possible that the practice of dating on the top of the
barrel shank began sometime mid to late 1926 but this is nothing
more than speculation at this point. Of these
10,000 barrels the final 3,000 were a more heavier barreled
model than the first 7,000 produced. This change was
inline with the same process that was underway with the Finnish
Civil Guard in regards to the M91/24 rifle.
barrels will bear the early Tikka proof, the date, as well
as an A, B, or C. The A, B, and C are bore dimensions
with the C being the more uncommon marking. Many of
these rifles were later reworked and added to Finnish front
line service in WW2. These reworked rifles may also
have the D stamping which means the chamber area was made
larger for use with the later Finnish/Russian D round.
Diameters Early Tikka M91 Rifles
B and C bore diameter marking on two 1927 Tikka's
the M91's listed above are great collectibles and would have
seen service in both the Finnish Army as well as the Finnish
Civil Guard. The early production dates, the low production
numbers, and the issue rate are all factors in the relative
rarity of these rifles. It is possible to find these
early rifles in very good or better condition but most will
show the years of usage in wear and tear. They
are without a doubt a very important piece of any Mosin Nagant
the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939 starting the Winter
War, the Finns had just started production of the M39 Service
Rifle. The M39 was to be the new standard issue
rifle to both the Finnish Army and to Civil Guard units replacing
the older mixed models that were in service. The
invasion stalled this production and the Finns started to
manufacture the M91 yet again in 1940. This was
done as it is much easier to produce a known and proven model
under adverse conditions than to undergo new production of
an "untested" model with all the start up problems
that would be associated with it. The M91 had served
Finland well in the past and it was about to serve yet again,
meeting the USSR who was Finland's greatest threat.
new M91 barrels were manufactured at VKT from 1940-1942
and Tikka from 1940-1943, when the production of the M39 and
M91/30 made this production no longer necessary. The
total production of barrels was in the 77,000 range. There
are also certain M91 barrels that have a B proof where normally
the manufactures proof would be found. This B marking
has been debated time and time again but it is clear the B
signifies a barrel blank from Belgium. It is assumed
these blanks were made into barrels at VKT and some rare examples
have VKT proofs as well as the B marking. Belgium
supplied at least 13,000 of these blanks as Winter War aid
and all were supposed to be for the M91 rifle; however,
the Finns did use a number of these blanks for the M39 service
rifle. The exact number of these B barrels that were
made into M39's is not clear and the serial numbers also run
in the same range as the M91. All of the B's were assembled
post war regardless of whether they are M91's or M39's.
It is known that 5,000 Tikka M39's were produced post war
from M91 rifles but the number of B barrels has never been
shown (to my knowledge at least). Both the M39's and
the M91's have 1942 dates but that does not mean they were
assembled in 1942. Whatever the final numbers may be
the B barreled M39's and M91's are highly prized as collector's
B that shows the Belgium Liege proofs (bottom middle)
It is very uncommon to encounter this proof. This rifle
also bears VKT proofs and that is also rather uncommon.
All in all the above is a RARE rifle.
from the Steve Lucas Collection.
M91's were sent into service almost immediately and served
in all facets in the Finnish Armed Forces. They
were indeed used by front line troops as well as being issued
to secondary units. These rifles were also used by the
"Home Guard" ( this is the Civil Guard that served
during the Continuation War) and used in training camps during
the war. Post war many of these M91's were cutdown
to M39 specs and were reissued. One will also
encounter post war M91's that have been modified for bayonet
training as the M91 stayed in Finnish service long after the
dark days of World War Two.
new barrels were not the only improvement the Finns undertook
with the M91 rifle as they also modified the stock and the
sights. One of the earliest improvements dealt with
the rear sights as the Finns decided the Russian system of
measurement was too bizarre for their use. The Finns
answer to this problem was to add a 3, 4, 5 1/2, 7,
and 81/2 to the right side of the rear sight base. These
markings are in meters which would make the sighting of these
rifles much easier on the Finnish troops. In 1926 the
Finns added a notch to the base filing a 150 meter setting.
These updated sights were received quite well by the Finnish
soldiers and better accuracy was a direct result. The
Finns also replaced the front sight with a Finnish made blade
type whose easier seen design lead to a faster sight picture.
Finns also improved the stocks and this was done in at least
a couple of stages. The first stage was early in the
history of the M91 as the Finns replaced the older Russian
open slot with an much improved closed sling swivel system.
This new feature allowed the use of a sling without the added
leather sling loops, also called "Dog Collars" by
some collectors. This improvement made the sling attachment
much more secure than the older Russian style, and it also
prevented the loss of the leather collars (which would mean
one could not use the sling). Not all Finnish
M91 stocks have these swivels still in place as they could
have been lost for a number of reasons. If they are
not in place the use of the "Dog Collar" would suffice.
Finnish M91 stock showing the Finnish improved sling attachment.
the 1940's production of the M91 rifles the Finns decided
to use a two piece stock and not the older Russian one piece.
This design had long been established on many Finnish models
having first been introduced in 1932. In most cases
the buttstocks were newly made, as AV-3 produced 77,000 birch
stocks from 1941-1944. These stocks are usually wider
and thicker at the wrist than the Russian stocks and many
times will bear Finnish stock makers cartouches.
There are examples that used a Russian, as well as American,
rear stocks that were attached to a new Finnish forestock.
Shims were also fitted on many of these stocks to help free
float the barrel for better accuracy. It is not uncommon
to see these later stocks on M91/24 Civil Guard rifles as
the 91/24's were sent into Finnish Army service after the
Winter War. The Finns did not keep records of how many
91/24's were in stock at this time as they were lumped in
with M91 numbers. The stock needed to be fitted a bit
to handle the heavier barrel of the 91/24 but this work was
not a difficult alteration.
the Finns used a number of slings the most common M91 sling
is thin brown leather with a square buckle. There
is also a black version used on the M39 that is commonly encountered
on the M91 as they are thin enough to fit through the sling
swivels on the stock. The slings may or may not be SA
marked. Too be honest the Finns used any and all slings
they had on hand so if one gets picky any Finnish Mosin sling
is "correct" on a Finnish rifle. When
talking of 1941-44 this is very true as so many new rifles
were sent into service that sling production and issue fell
behind. There are even Finnish slings made from tractor
belts and like makeshift items that were issued to these rifles.
B Barrel, 1942 Tikka, P-26 M91
Finns used the Russian M91 bayonet on both the Finnish and
Russian version of the M91 rifle. Unlike the Russians
the Finns used a brown leather and metal scabbard with their
M91 bayonets , although it is rare to find this accessory.
The bayonets themselves are SA marked in many cases but again
this is not always the case. One must remember there
are always going to be those that slip through the proofing
process for any number of reasons. It has been reported
the Finns also used the standard Soviet M91/30 bayonet on
the M91 as many of these would have been captured in the Winter
War. These later bayonets will indeed fit the M91 and
it makes sense the Finns would make use of whatever they had
on hand. The same could more than likely be stated
for the Russians, as one can assume they also used M91/30
bayonets on M91's when there was a need.
M91 bayonet with metal scabbard and leather frog.
hope that this has been helpful for those that are collecting
the Finnish versions of the Mosin Nagant rifle, as too often
the M91 is overlooked. That is unfortunate as
these are fine rifles with an interesting history.
While at this point these are not too uncommon here in the
US (10/26/02 ) these will dry up in time. SAMCO GLOBAL
has imported large numbers of these rifles in the past year
and this has made them seem common. This is a
false truth as no Finnish rifle can be called common.
The collectablity of the earlier models is quite high and
these rifles can really tell one a story of its use.
I have one 1926 Tikka M91 that has 4 Civil Guard district
numbers as well as an SA marking. There is no doubt
it was a rifle of a true Finnish hero and as the present owner,
I am proud to have it in my possession. These are outstanding
rifles and need to be looked at in a better light by some
collectors, as they are indeed overlooking a nice part of
Finnish arms history.
Fennica Sotilasaseet-T. Hyytinen (Finnish Version)
Suomessa 1918-1991 Vol1-3-M. Palokangas: Vammalan Kirijapaino
years of personal notes, interviews, and observations of the