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Prototype W+F Bern AK44 Copy of the SVT

The Swiss factories of SIG and W+F Bern both produced a remarkable number and variety of experimental self-loading rifles in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. Nothing would be adopted by the Swiss military until the StG-57, but these two firms were continuously working to develop a military self-loader for either Swiss or foreign purchase almost form the end of the First World War.

This example from W+F Bern, designated the AK-44 (for its design date, 1944) is not so much a new experimental design but rather a very faithful copy of the Soviet SVT-40 rifle. It uses a mechanically identical tilting bolt and short stroke gas piston, and even shares the metal front handguard, muzzle brake design, and simple manual safety of the Tokarev – although chambered for the Swiss 7.5x55mm cartridge and using a 6-round magazine instead of the Soviet 10-round type (almost certainly because of the Swiss use of 6-round charger clips).

Multiple different variations on the AK-44 were made, with variations in the muzzle configuration (SVT-40 type in this case; others had K31 configurations, FG-42 configurations, and more). Several different types of optical sight were also experimented with on the AK-44, including a German style mount for a ZF-4 type scope on a side rail, and a Swiss periscopic optic in this case – the same pattern as the Swiss K31/42 and K31/43 snipers’ rifles.

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