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The Rifles Of The Soujeluskunta


By Vic Thomas


 

     During the 1920’s it was generally decided by both the Army and the Civil Guard that the m/91 rifle that was in need of an update. Both the Army and the Suojeluskunta or Civil Guard, which was roughly an equivalent of the American National Guard, had been looking at updating and improving their longer m/1891 series rifles. The Army was the first draw up plans for a revised version of the m/91 and get the gun into production. This shorter rifle with new sights and hardware was called the m/27 for the year of adoption. The Civil Guard was not to be left behind in the adoption of an improved rifle for their troops, so work soon began on a revision of the m/24 rifle which was based upon the 1891 design soon after. The Civil Guard obtained a m/27 for their inspection and decided upon some basic improvements to the Army’s newly accepted design.

     With a great amount of competition between the service branches, the Civil Guard wanted to adopt a design that was in their eye’s a superior weapon to the m/27. In the end the author believe that they did just that. Plans were ordered from the Civil Guard's weapons engineers and arms designers to have specifications for an improved shorter barreled rifle design for production testing. This trial design was to be ready by mid 1927 at the latest. At thistime frame in the military capacity of the Civil Guard, they had not yet gained the capacity to produce their own rifle barrels for the weapons they were equipped with. Once again they looked abroad to the Swiss firm of Schweizerische Industrie-Gessellschaft or SIG for short to produce the new m/28 rifle barrles. This world renowned arms maker was located in Neuhausen-am-Rheinfalls in Switzerland and had been contracted in the past by the Civil Guard to manufacture barrels for their m/24 rifles.

     At the same time these contract talks were going on, the Civil Guard began to set up a weapons work shop in the city of Rhiihamki Finland to assemble and produce their own weapons. The factory was called Sujeluskuntien Ase-Ja Konepaja Osakeyhtio. The translation to English reads the “Arms and Engineering workshop of the Civil Guard”. This workshop was then to become known as “SAKO” from then on.

DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT:

The m/28 rifle

 

     The Finnish Civil Guard adopted the new rifle design in 1927 and orders were placed from SIG for the new barrels on October 27, 1927. This order was hastened by the lack of replacement barrels for the earlier m/91-24 rifle that was then the standard infantry rifle of the Civil Guard. The initial order was made for 10,050 barrels. It was stipulated that delivery of these barrels had to be completed by February of 1928. Upon receipt of the first order of barrels, a duplicate order of an additional 10,050 barrels was placed with the Swiss firm again later on that year-possibly the spring of 1928 again. At the completion of the second order of barrels from Switzerland, the Civil Guard decided that a  domesticly produced barrel would be favorable and placed such a domestic order for barrels from the Tikkakoski firm for approximately 11,500 barrels. By 1932 SAKO finally had the capacity to begin production of rifle barrels for their own weapons in and began to do so for the m/28 rifle. These SAKO barreled rifles are the rarest of the m/28 barrel production and only a handful are known to be in American collections. The total production of barrels produced by SAKO was 1400 barrels or less in the year that they had the ability to manufacture the barrels at the end of the model 28 production. The addition of the SAKO produced barrels and refurbishment of earlier rifles makes the production of the m/28’s numbers slightly higher than published barrel production numbers. (48)

     The Initial order from the Civil Guard for the completed rifles to be delivered was placed on 10th of January 1928. (48) The first rifles were delivered soon after in the spring of 1928 with serial number 1 and 2 being delivered to the General Staff of the Suojeluskunta or Civil Guard. The contracted barrels were to be delivered to SAKO and the final assembly and fitting of the weapons was to take place at the SAKO facility in Rhiihamki, Finland. Small parts and fittings such as barrels bands, sight bases and nosecaps were also to be made by SAKO while the production of new stocks and the refurbishment and reconfiguration of the older m/91 stocks to the new m/28 configuration, was to be done at Fo Palmin Lestitehdas in Porvoo as needed for production.

     These rifle stocks that were converted from the earlier m/91 stocks on hand would be marked with the letters (SYT) inside an oval. This marking would be made in the right side finger groove of the stock. The marking indicated that the stock had been successfully modified to the new m/28 configuration and was accepted by the Civil Guard inspectors for assembly on a new rifle. The assembled rifles were to be produced in four distinct series as broken up in serial numbered lots. This was done in part due to the financial burden the order placed upon the Civil Guard. The initial lot of rifles in the first series production was paid for with federal funds by the Finnish government. The new rifle upon inspection by the general staff and the body of the Civil Guard was given the nickname “Pystykorva” due to the distinctive new sight ears that protected the front sight blade. “Pystykorva” translates to “spitz dog ears” or more simply “pointed dog ears” in English.

 

 

The distinctive marking of the SYT in an oval is found in the right finger grasping groove of the m/28 rifle. It's meaning was simple-the rifle was accepted by the Civil Guard inspection team as being successfully modified from a longer model 1891 style stock. All m/28 stocks are of one piece design from modified 1891 stocks. The "S" number of the district that this rifle was issued to is also clear just above the woodline. In this case this m/28 was issued to guardsmen in the Hame district north west of Helsinki.

   

PRODUCTION SERIES:

     The serial numbers of the new rifle were to begin at 1 and be sequential after that. The initial production series was set at the factory to be in lots of approximately 10,000 rifles. The first series of production was ready for delivery by August of 1928. The second series of rifles in the production schedule was begun and it was delivered to the Civil Guard from November of 1928 to June of 1929. This second series of rifles was serial numbered 10,001-20,100. These first two series of rifles utilized the entire barrel contract from the Swiss firm SIG.

     The third series of rifles produced was the first to use the domestic barrels obtained from the Finnish firm of Tikkakoski who aslo produced barrels for the Army. This series of rifles was serial numbered from 20,101 to 30,100. These rifles were in part received by the Civil Guard during the winter of 1929-30 with the last portion of the delivery of the third series delayed until June of 1930. This was due in part to the fact that the rifles were completed when funds were available to the Civil Guard to pay for them.

     The last and final series of rifles in the m/28 design was ordered in October of 1931. This final series was to start at 30,101 and portions of it were not delivered until April of 1932. The whole order was not ready for delivery until November of 1935. This was due in part to the model change over to the newly updated m/28-30. The new m/28-30 was to continue the m/28’s serial number range and the last rifle of completely m/28 design and configuration was serial number 33,016. Total production of the m/28 amounted to 33,016 rifles.

     It should be noted that in the initial contract of barrels from SIG it was found that approximately 7,000 of the 10,050 barrels had a larger rifling cut. Depending on the time frame of production and final assembly it was found that many of the rifles were not compatible in rifling rates at the breech. At this time the rifling was changed from 25.65mm to 24.82mm to solve the problem. (48) It is also interesting to know that the Civil Guard had at one time two different rifles in production simultaneously. The m/91-24 stayed in production on limited basis up until 1928. These were primarily rebuilds and reconditioning of older rifles. Also the m/28-30 production had begun with some portions of the m/28 production still awaiting delivery to the units in the field or in storage. (48)

     The remaining rifles/barrels in the m/28 contract after serial number 33,016 were then modified to the new m/28-30 specifications. This entailed installation of new front and rear sights and stock fittings as well as a new handguard. It was also an option to Civil Guardsmen to return their m/24 or m/28 rifles to the SAKO workshop for an updated version. This modification reconfigured their older m/28’s to the new m/28-30 design or a new rifle was issued if an older model was returned. These factory updates on rifles and the return of individual weapons to be updated at the Civil Guardsmen’s expense- totaled approximately 2,000 rifles. The rifles returned for update by Civil Guard members were given the term “personal reserve rifles” and was an officially accepted modification by SAKO and the Civil Guard. The updated rifles produced by SAKO was given the nomenclature of a m/28-28/30. These were also recognized as transition models and retained the original markings of a m/28 but now resembled the m/28-30 in sights and in appereance.

An upgraded m/28 to m/28-28/30 status. This rifle has had new m/28-30 sights installed as well as a new barrel bushing and cleaning rod retainer. These upgrades were advertised by the Civil Guard to their members and could be performed on their weapons for a fee if they so chose.

     It is reported that the final batch of m/28 rifles produced were made with less than ideal stocks and fittings. SAKO utilized the parts that were often worn or repaired as well as stocks that were of sub standard quality were used to finish the m/28 contract. This allowed them to save the new stocks and parts for the updated design and currently ordered m/28-30. This does explain the poor condition of many of the later m/28’s along with their heavy use. It does not appear that many if any at all went through the same post war overhaul that many of the m/27’s and 28/30’s enjoyed.

     The first Civil Guards rifle to be experimented with telescopic sights was a Japanese model rifle in their inventory in 1928 and 1929, most probably a telescopically sighted T-30 infantry rifle fit with a commercial optical sight and mounts. The results were promising so the program was continued with the new production model 1928 rifle in 1930. A special mount and base was developed and affixed to the left side of the rifle towards the rear portion of the receiver with two large screws and two small pins. The mounts used were obtained from the German firm of Gustav Genschow and Company who's trade name was the acronym "GECO".  GECO would later go on to market their side mounted telescopic mount and bracket to the the Soviets who procured several versions and then promptly produced a version of their own GECO side mount in 1937! The base was a wedge shape and allowed the mount to be slid on from the rear then retained by a large thumb screw. The mount was robust and effective but had a drawback in that it is very heavy. Several different optical packages were tried with the new prototype snipers rifle. All of the the scopes used were purchased from abroad, primarily Germany as Finnish firms at that time could not produce the optical lens's of the quality required for military telescopic sights. The firm of Zeiss provided two examples of scopes-the Zielklein 2.5 power scope and a Zielmulti 1 by 4 adjustable magnification scope. The Hensoldt optical works provided a single example of the Ziel Dialyt 5x magnification optical sight. A 4.5 power scope "Visarfunf" scope was contracted from the firm of Busch who also supplied the "Visardrei" 3x scope for the project in 1931. It should be noted that several rifles were tried with optics obtained from Russia in the PE version at 4x magnification as well as optics of the hunting variety obtained from the Civil Guards retail outlet of "Skoha". Only 11 rifles of the m/28 configuration were converted in such a manner before the project was discontinued. Rifles were pulled singularly from inventory for the project and were serial numbers 20172, 20188, 20214, 20218 and 20234. An additional 5 rifles were drawn from serial production that spanned the serial number range of 23079-23083 to have optical sights mounted for the trials. I have been unable to ascertain why the project was discontinued- be it the lack of acceptable repeatable accuracy which I doubt, to the more plausible explanation of lack of funding for a large scale sniper project. The Civil Guard was more or less a quasi private organization that lacked government funding that the Army enjoyed, so funding a large project that relied upon foreign contracted optics and mounts would have been expensive and not militarily sensible and therefore the trials were conducted with a limited budget. This project did prove though that the interest was great enough and the need for a Civil Guards snipers rifle that was optically sighted was desired by the Civil Guard. It was important enough that when the rifle model was changed to the new 28-30 configuration in 1933, the work was continued on with that rifle mounting a telescopic sight for a snipers capacity now named the m/33.  (See the m/28-30 section for more details)

The Civil Guards m/28 rifle fit with the Gustav Genschow &Co. side mounted optical bracket. the rifle pictured is one later fit with a Soviet 4x PE scope. The Gustav Genschow & Co. was better known by the name of "GECO". This style of mount would be copied very closely by the Soviets in the mid 1930's and be issued in a slightly heavier version by the Red Army in 1938. The m/28 snipers rifle is one of the rarest in the world with only 11 being produced and an unknown number remaining-possibly single examples.

m/28 DESCRIPTION AND FEATURES

The m/28’s design and appearance is very similar to that of the Army’s m/27. It did however incorporate some design improvements.

1) Barrel:

The barrel was the same exterior diameter of that of the m/27. It was however much shorter than the m/91. It’s new length being 68.5 cm as compared to the earlier m/91-24’s barrel length of 80cm.

2) Front sight:

A new protective “eared” front sight similar to that of the m/27’s but with the retaining/centering screw placed in the front rather than rear of the sight blade. It is adjustable for windage by drifting it left or right in its dovetail.

3)Rear sight:

The m/28’s rear sight was again like that of the m/27 and the earlier m/91-24 in that it was essentially a Russian Konovalov style. It did however incorporate some minor changes. Often times the rear sight calibrations on the sight base were in Russian arshins. These were lined out a new graduations in meters were added on the right side of the base. These new settings corresponded to range in hundreds of meters hence, 2, 3, 4, 5 1/2, 7 ,8 1/2. An example would be a setting to 5 1/2 which would eqaute to 550 meters. Also a step or notch was added on the rear of the sight base top for a new range setting of 200 meters. Another modification found on the m/28’s rear sights is the addition of a new rear sight plate to modify and improve the sight picture. This was done previously on some m/24 rifles as well. This change was accomplished by grinding off the rear portion of the sight and adding an “L” shaped piece of sheet metal with a "U" shaped notch. This improved the sight picture and ease in obtaining a good target hold in the Civil Guards thought and was a slight departure from the Army’s “V” shaped notch. This plate was retained on the rear sight leaf by two screws placed vertically through the top of the plate. The rear sight slide remained unchanged.

The model 1928 rear sight plate. It differed from that of the Army's m/27 in shape of the sight notch and method of attachment to the rear sight leaf. The Civil Guards version was attched with 2 screws from the top versus the Army's rear placement of the screws.

 

     Another version of the rear sight plate was also used. It allowed for a slight lateral adjustment of the rear sight for impact point correction. This was accomplished by the "U" notch plate being adjustable left or right a small amount by loosening the screws that retained it and adjusting laterally before retightening them. This type of rear sight is uncommon as later production versions used the simplified sight plate and it is unkown if this was an offical modifiaction. There is a third variation rear sight plate that is very seldomly seen today and is considered extremely rare. This transitional model between the m/28 and 28-30 rear sights being adjustable was developed to create a truly windage adjustable sight that could be easily adjusted. This was done by refitting the rear sight plate with a model that had two small screws on each side of the plate. When one side was loosened and the other tightened the rear sight plate could be drifted a few millimeters in each direction-very much like the m/28-30 and m/39 front sight blade. These late attempts at an easily adjustable sight system are very scarce today as it was not much of a success and most were removed. It also came too late in the production to have any impact in the field as the m/28-30’s new sight system was not only much easier for the soldier to adjust, it was much finer in its adjustment and thus more effective.

 

This rare version of the m/28 rear sight utilized a sliding plate between inner and outer plates. By adjusting the side screws the innner plate as seen above could be moved either left or right slightly to adjust for poinht of impact or windage.

 

4) Stock:

     The stocks used on the m/28 are almost entirely made from reconfigured and modified m/91 stocks. The modifications included shortening the forend to the new length and deepening and widening the barrel channel. The nosecap area was adjusted to accommodate the new nosecap and plate. The band screw holes were also placed at this time for the front (nosecap) and rear barrel band. A new handguard was also made for the m/28 rifle by a wood working firm in Porvoo called Fo Palmin Lestitehdas. This firm also provided some newly made stocks in addition to performing the modification of the older m/91 stocks and refinishing them. A marking or brand was added to the finger groove on the left side that was the (SYT) in an oval. This brand/marking denoted that the modifications were completed to Civil Guard specifications. SAKO used some stocks and fittings that were worn or of not top quality to complete the final stages of the m/28 contract in order to save newly made stocks and fittings for the model change over to the newly adopted an improved m/28-30. (48)

5) Stock Fittings:

     The primary differences in the m/28 and the m/27 are the barrel bands and nosecap designs. Where the early m/27’s nosecap was a one piece design hinged on the top for the handguard to be easily removed, the m/28’s was a solid spilt band type as on a Mauser of K98 type. There were two variations of this nosecap. The early variation used a two piece design. The nosecap and a front plate that was retained by two screws to cover the exsposed stock forend. This plate also served as a guide for the cleaning rod. The second variation nosecap was employed on the third series of production guns and beyond was simplified into a one piece design. It did away the nosecap plate and screws and instead was made as a single piece with a solid front that had a hole to guide and allow the cleaning rod to be removed. The rear bands of the m/28 are also slightly different than the m/27’s. The m/27's are a bit wider at the bottom portion to allow easy removal from the heavier foreands placed on the m/27 rifle stocks. The m/28's used a smaller rear band that was made to be used with the modified m/91 stocks. They are constructed of a solid milled design with a raw edge.

 

.

A view of the front nosecap of the 1st variation used on a early m/28 rifle. Notice the bevel in the wood that was supposed to allow the soldier a better grasp of the nosecap when removing it and also did not create a rasied edge between the stock and nosecap.

 

6) Sling attachments:

     The earliest versions of the m/28 incorporated a second set of sling slots above the normal lower slots. These slots were added just below the comb of the rear buttstock. These additional slots were added to the first 6,000 stocks produced and were intended to allow the Guardsmen to carry the rifle across his chest while on ski’s or mounted. The author refers to this configuration of double sling slots on the rifle a “ski trooper” variation. There are m/28’s in m/27 stocks and vice versa but these are rifles that were returned for refurbishment/repair during the Winter War and Continuation War when the Army was in control of all weapons and their repair-not standard production variants. Many if not all m/28’s will also bear the Army’s boxed SA stamp [SA]. This is due to the Army’s absorption of all Civil Guard weapons during the Continuation War 1941-1944 and marking them as army/government property.

The first 6,000 rifles of the m/28 configuration were made with double sling slots as shown above. This was done to facilitate carrying the rifle across the chest at the ready position while on skis or bicycle.

7) Trigger:

     The trigger arrangements of the m/28 differed from that of the m/27 in two ways. The shape of the trigger itself was slightly modified and the addition of the trigger springs as placed on the earlier m/24 was continued on with the m/28. This spring attachment enhanced the feel and the crispness of the trigger over an unmodified version. Slight modification to the stock was required to seat the spring.

 

m/28 MARKINGS:

     There are four distinct marking variations on the barrels of m/28 rifles. These will be discussed in their order of manufacture. One common trait amongst all is that none have a date stamped on the top of the barrel. Instead it is necessary to remove the barreled action to identify year of manufacture of the barrel. The Swiss SIG firm stamped the last two digits of the year on the barrel bottom enclosed in a square i.e.: [27] or [28]. This marking is located just forward of the receiver-barrel junction and is located in the center of the barrel.

                                   

 

 

 

Type 1 SIG barrel:

     There are two versions of the SIG barrel markings. This first version is extremely scarce. It has a variation of the SAKO gear wheel logo with a fir sprigged “S” inside it. This marking appears often times to be double stamped as many are very faint or poorly stamped and corrections were attempted. These early marked rifles have very low serial numbers most reported are under 900. Some of these early barrels apparently were assembled at a later time as one example is reported at o8936. All of these barrels have the small “o” as a prefix. It appears more like an “open dot” on the barrel rather than an “o”. The serial numbers of these rifles are stamped on the barrel top rather than on the side as in all later versions. No other stamping marks are found on the underside of the barrel like the boxed year designation. These barrels and markings evidently are the first barrels assembled at SAKO in Riihimaki and an attempt was made to identify them as such. This possibly explains the poorly stamped logo on the barrel shank. It is very possible these logos were hand stamped. The SIG logo is located on the right side of the barrel below the wood line as this location was dictated in the contract. The marking is in script and reads Schweizerische Industrie-Gessellschaft, Neuhausen. It may be that these barrels manufactured by SIG were either blanks and completed later at SAKO or spares that were unmarked at SIG. Another explanation may be that these barrels were not useable due to the improper rifling cuts of the early barels and were later modified by SAKo to be accpetable. Thus a marking was added denoting SAKO and the low serial numbers indicating to the author at least that these barrels were the very first production of the run.

 

Type 2 SIG barrel:

     The second variation SIG marking is the most common found on the m/28 series rifles. These markings include the Civil Guard designation of SY and the ammunition type/chamber diameter marking of “D” on the top center of the barrel which was added later by the army. The contract stipulated that the barrel serial number would be located just above the wood line and visible on the barrels left side when the rifle was pointed down range. The serial number on these SIG barrels is preceded with a small “o” as discussed above. The right side of the barrel is to be marked with the district identification number of the Civil Guard district it was issued to. This serial number was preceded with a capital “S”. Therefore this number is often refereed to as an “S” number. Each Civil Guard district was assigned a serial number range. This system was originated in 1921. (20) These barrels as well as later ones also bear the Civil Guard’s inspectors markings from the assembly at SAKO’s workshop. These include a collection of letters that were the attending inspector’s initials. They include the markings E, KE, R, and S. An example of this marking is the KE proof belonging to Kosti Eakola. These markings also have small arrows pointing away in each direction from the initials. The date of manufacture for the barrel was stamped on the barrel bottom. This marking consisted of the last two digits of the year in a square, i.e.: [27].

 

Tikkakoski barrels:

     The third m/28 barrel marking to be found are that of Tikkakoski. These markings are a duplicate of the SIG made barrels markings of SY but a Tikkakoski “T” in an inverted triangle was added below the SY. The small “o” was deleted as a prefix to the serial number as well. These guns still retained the serial number and S number in their respective locations as discussed previously. The addition of the Civil Guards staff acceptance of a =S= but with three horizontal lines instead of the two reproduced for type. This marking first appeared in 1930. This marking is generally stamped twice on the right side of Tikkakoski barrels. Starting at approximately serial number 30,000 a small SAKO gear wheel logo with an S inside started to precede the serial number. The only significant marking found on the underside of Tikkakoski barrels is an assembly number. No date is stamped as to year of barrel manufacture. (see the photo section for more details)

 

 

Late SAKO produced barrels:

     The fourth and rarest marking to be found on m/28 barrels is that of the SAKO weapons factory. SAKO did not have the capability to produce barrels until the very end of the m/28 production just prior to the beginning production on the m/28-30. The marking is that of the well known SAKO gear wheel. It is placed in the same location as the SY placement on previous SIG production barrels. One of the only known guns to have this marking is pictured in “Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918-1988” by Markku Palokangas. This gun is found in the weapons archive of the Sotamuseo (War Museum) located in Helsinki Finland. (48) The author was lucky enough on one research trip to be able to handle serial number 1 of the m/28 production and this rare example of early SAKO barrel production. It was relayed by the director of the Sotamuseo, Mr. Marrku Palokangas that the sporadic serial number range of these rifles bearing the SAKO logo would fall approximately in the last 100 or so produced in the 32,900 to 33,016 range. Only a few known examples are in US collections.

 

 

ACCESSORIES:

     The model 28 rifle was issued with an early leather sling of two piece design. It utilized an oval steel buckle often exhibiting a bronze colored treatment. This was later changed to a one piece design using the same buckle shape of oval. Later versions of this sling can also be found in a canvas/web and were war time replacements and are very scarce, as is the original two piece version. The rifle was issued a bayonet of a new knife like design modeled after the m/27 in use by the Army.

 

 

The model 1927 bayonet of the Army is pictured above the Civil Guards model 1928 bayonet. The differences in the grip panels attachment method is clear here. The raised domed rivets of the Army's version as opposed to the Suljeluskunta's smoothly polished rivets. The scabbard of the Civil Guard bayonet is also painted a dark green over the standard blued finish.

It’s only significant difference was in the attachment points for the grip panels. Special slot screws were used in lieu of the m/27 riveted panels. The model 1928 bayonet at the top with the flush two slotted screws retaining the grip panels and the Army's model 1927 bayonet below with the raised riveted retention method.

 

The =S= acceptance proof of the Civil Guard headquartersfound on the cross guard of the m/28 bayonet.

 

 

A close up of the model 1928 bayonet and its identifying markings. Hackman&Co. was the only maker of the bayonets for the Civil Guard m/28 rifle. The primary Civil Guard inspectors marking of (KE) is found on the cross guard. These intials stand for Kosti Eakola who was the cheif inspector of the Civil Guard at the SAKO facility until 1933.

     An =S= proof as well as an inspector proof of KE was found on the blade bottom and on the pommel. An “S” number is found on the blade handle that is evident between the grip panels on the top. The rifles last two digits of its serial number were stamped on the pommel.

     The blade was polished in finish and issued with a ribbed scabbard of steel construction. This was often times painted an olive green color. The scabbard was also issued with a frog of leather construction for attachment to the belt. A cleaning/field tool kit was also standard issue. It consisted of a special combination tool that allowed for firing pin protrusion by a small slot in one side of the blade flat. It was reversible into a wooden handle for screw size- either large or small. The kit also contained a brush for the bore, a rod extension of brass and a jag that was the other section of the rod extension. A rod collar and rod handle was included.

     Two types of oilers were issued in the cotton or canvas bag that carried the tools. The bag was either SY or Sk.Y marked after 1933 for the m/28-30. The early oiler was a small rectangular shape like a flask with the letters SY stamped into it.  A brass or steel cap that is knurled on the edges was threaded then screwed onto the body. A long hollow 'dripper" tube was attached to the bottom of the cap to facilitate the oil to be able to run into the bore or onto a patch in a controlled manner It was painted an olive green color. Some Finnish sources indiacte that the kit would aslo contain a larger flask that was SY marked as the smaller version. This larger flask would contain the cleaning solution of an alkaline base to neutralize the corrosive effects of the rifle powder in the bore. Some Souljeluskunta field manuals of the day hint at this being the case. The later version of the oiler was large round oilier with the letters SY embossed on one side and the makers stamp on the lid, usually K.V. Karlsson, Konetehdas Oy. This subcontractor is prevalent in Civil Guard small metal items as G.W. Sohlberg was for the Army. This oiler was left unfinished or with a zinc coating to resist corrosion.

     The rifle was also issued a front sight protecting muzzle cover that also doubled as a rod guide when used for cleaning. This cover was made of aluminum and used a spring catch very much like a bayonet locking button to secure the cover to the hole in the side of the front sight ears. The end of the cover was knurled and unscrewed to allow access to the rod hole/guide. Typical markings on the cover are a =S= or in the cae of the very early versions a stylized S in a circle on the cap top . These covers as well as all Finnish accessories are very difficult to come by today.

The m/28 muzzle cover performed two functions. With the cap screwed on it served as a protective device of the muzzle crown and the front sight blade when the rifle was not in use. With the cap removed it was used as a cleaning rod guide to prevent damage to the crown of the muzzle by the rod rubbing at the edges thus decreasing accuracy over time.  The early versions as pictured on the right above seem to be milled from blocks of aluminum. The later version are much rounder in appearance and are obviously castings which show a more rough texture to the exterior.

CONCLUSION

     The m/28 is one of the scarcest Finnish rifles to found on the US collector market and one of the authors favorites in the Finnish wartime 1939-1945 rifle series. This scarcity is due in fact to the low production numbers originally produced and the attrition that resulted from use in 3 wars and countless training sessions as part of Army inventory post war. These rifles did not apparently enjoy the wide scale refurbishment programs that most of the other Finnish rifles did. The total production of m/28 being listed at 33.016 is by far the fewest of any Finnish service rifle from 1927-1945. The Finnish Defense forces list an inventory from 1951 of only 16,600 of m/28 type in storage. These rifles are the forerunner of the famed and storied m/28-30 and many shoot as well as their famous younger cousin. These rifles also have some of the rarest official variations in a series to be found in this model such as the civilian purchase/upgrade model and the transitional models produced by the factory from remaining m/28 stockpile parts. The Finnish Defense Force officially declared the rifle obsolete in the mid 1980’s and disposed of them to the collector market in the US. in 1986. Today they are a highly sought after collectors piece both here in the States and world wide.

For more in depth photgraphs please go to the Photo Section of the m/28 rifle by clicking the link below.

m/28 photo section


 
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