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SVT-40: The Soviet Standard Semiauto from WW2

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The Red Army was interested in developing a semiautomatic rifle clear back to the mid 1920s, and they spent about 15 years running trials and development programs to find one. First in 1930 a Degtyarev design was adopted, followed by the Simonov AVS-36, and then Tokarev won out in 1938 with the SVT-38. Combat experience in the Winter War led to an upgrade program to reduce the weight of the rifle, and that created the SVT-40. Between April 1940 and mid 1942, about 1.4 million SVT-40s were produced in three different factories. They were supposed to be the new standard infantry rifle and also the sniper’s rifle – although they ultimately failed to really be either.

In 1942, production shifted to the AVT-40, identical to the SVT-40 but with a trigger group capable of fully automatic fire. Another roughly 500,000 of these were produced by the end of the war, but the focus of small arms issue had changed to Mosins and submachine guns – options that were a lot cheaper to produce.

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