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The SVT-38 (Samozaryadnaya Vintovka Tokareva, Model 1938) is a semi-automatic rifle that was developed in the Soviet Union during the late 1930s. Designed by engineer Fedor Tokarev, the SVT-38 was intended to provide the Soviet Red Army with a modern and reliable self-loading rifle to replace the bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifles.

Manufactured at Tula Arsenal and later at Izhmash, the SVT-38 featured a gas-operated mechanism with a short-stroke, spring-loaded piston positioned above the barrel. This gas-operated action allowed for the extraction of spent cartridges and chambering of new rounds through a tilting bolt. Notably, this mechanism would serve as inspiration for the later design of the FN FAL, an iconic battle rifle used worldwide.

Equipped with a detachable 10-round magazine, the SVT-38 enabled faster reloading and increased firepower compared to the older Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifles. The open-top receiver design facilitated the use of five-round stripper clips, a feature that allowed for efficient topping up of the magazine during combat. This design choice was particularly useful in battlefield scenarios where rapid reloading was essential.

The SVT-38 wasn't limited to standard infantry use alone. A specialized sniper variant was introduced, featuring an additional locking notch to accommodate a see-through scope mount. Fitted with a 3.5×21 PU telescopic sight, the sniper version aimed to improve the rifle's accuracy and extend effective engagement distances.

Despite its innovative features, the SVT-38 faced several challenges during its service. The gas port was susceptible to fouling, leading to reliability issues. The detachable magazine sometimes had a tendency to unintentionally detach during firing, posing a significant operational inconvenience. Furthermore, accuracy limitations were noted, with the rifle proving effective up to around 600 meters.

The SVT-38's combat debut occurred during the Winter War of 1939-1940 against Finland. While the rifle showcased modern design elements, the identified issues led to its production being curtailed in April 1940. Approximately 150,000 units of the SVT-38 were manufactured before production was discontinued. Ultimately, the SVT-38 served as a precursor to the improved SVT-40, which addressed many of the initial design flaws. 

Origin: Soviet Union

Manufactured: 1938
Manufacturer: Tula Factory

Type: Semi-Automatic Rifle

Caliber: 7.62x54mmR
Barrel Length: 610
mm (24.02")
Action: Gas-Operated, Short Stroke Piston

Magazine Capacity: 10 Round Detachable Box Magazine


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