The Finnish Model M27 Mosin-Nagant Rifle
The Finnish Model M27 Mosin-Nagant Rifle...
In the mid 1920’s talks began concerning a new service rifle to replace the older m/91. These talks revolved around two separate proposals, modification of the m/91 or a completely new design of rifle. After submittal of the proposals it was decided that it was not feasible both economically and politically to produce a completely new rifle for the Finnish Army. The basis of the decision to pursue a different option was based upon the costs involved. Finland was still a fledgling new nation, and a large outlay of capitol was not feasible to produce a completely new rifle. To circumvent the cost factor, the Army Ordnance Department proposed a new rifle based on the Mosin Nagant already in service with the Army, the m/1891. To further reduce the cost of the new rifle, it was also proposed that the newly designed rifles would be specifically deployed to front line combat troops to keep costs in line. The initial plan was to produce 120,000 rifles for combat troops and use the existing supply of m/1891 rifles as well as refurbished m/91’s as secondary rifles for use in support units and rear echelon troops. The Army begrudgingly accepted the proposal of the trusted m/91 in a modified form. The new rifle would have a shorter barrel to reduce the unwieldy length of the earlier m/91. A reduction of 15.5 cm was submitted. This length brought the total barrel length down to 68.5cm from 80.0cm. With this reduction a new handguard and retaining bands would also be needed. Further modifications to improve the trigger operation and sighting/accuracy capability were also submitted. These modifications demanded the use of a new sear and trigger stop shape as well as having an additional trigger pin to facilitate a smoother pull and crisp let off. New sights were proposed as well, both front and rear. The older unprotected front sight blade of the m/91 was to be protected by the addition of two prominent guards on either side of a stout new sight blade. These new guards acted in two ways. One was the protection of the
sight blade from damage and the other was to create a centering effect of the sight picture for quick target acquisitions and firing. The sides of the front sight "ears" had a hole in the center to allow for light to pass onto the blade laterally and to facilitate the adjustment of the front sight in it’s seating dovetail for windage. The front sight base was pressure fit and then soldered in place. An additional screw at the rear of the sight blade acted as a centering point for installation and solder. The front sight blades were initially of the standard flat rear edge type but were later changed to the stepped variety that was found on later m/91Tikka produced weapons. The rear sights were reused Russian types of the Konovalov style but with a slight alteration. The Finnish sights would be marked in meters and the Russian marked graduations in arshins were milled off or lined out on the sight base sides and replaced with Finnish markings in meters. Additionally the rear sight base was altered to add another "step" in the sight scale of 200 meters, the standard battle sight range for the Finnish army. The rear of the Konovalov sight was removed by grinding to form a flat surface. Affixed to this new flat was a Finnish rear sight plate that allowed the proper sighting relationship with the new front sight blade. Two screws affixed this plate. The sight picture of this plate was a "U" shape as opposed to the Russian style of a shallow "V". Later versions of the m/27 utilized a notch of a deeper "V" shaped aperture centered in a slight "U" shaped depression. This change occurred approximately in 1930 or earlier by examination of physical examples. It is noted that some m/27’s do not have any rear sight modifications of any kind over the Konovalov style. This unusual feature seems to be predominating in two date ranges, 1934 and 1937. Whether by coincidence or by pattern this was the year before a proposed halt in production in 1935 and the first year of full production with a complete overhaul of all of the m/27’s in stock to improved standards. These modifications as well as new stocks fabricated from the earlier m/91 stocks constituted the primary changes over the m/91. The new stocks were to be shortened m/91 stocks with a deeper barrel channel to accommodate the thicker barrel of the m/27. This resulted in a slightly thinner barrel channel wall that would later come back to haunt the design. The new stock was initially fitted with front and rear slots as the m/91 was, but later in production a plug was added to the rear slot effectively filling it and a 360 degree rotating steel swivel was fitted into the bottom of the stock. This was a result of an effort to prevent the sling from twisting when slung on the soldier’s back. The front slot was retained. One minor modification to the m/91 bolt was also undertaken. The connecting bar for the bolt head and body was replaced by a Finnish version with two small "wings" on the rear of the bolt. These "wings" or guides fit into corresponding slots cut into the rear of the receiver where the bolt was inserted. This addition was supposed to stabilize the bolt and improve the loading of cartridges by keeping the bolt in a more stabilized parallel position. This was a fine thought in theory but under field conditions it later proved to be an unforeseen problem. If the slot guides got dirt in them the bolt would not seat fully forward. Also this meant the bolt of a m/27 could only be used in a m/27 with the guide slots milled into the rear of the receiver. This presented the possible problem in field replacements of say a m/27 bolt into a non-modified receiver. It would not fit. The connecting bar on which the small guides were present would have to be switched with an unmodified version. A m/91 bolt was however easily used to replace the assembly. This guide and slot modification of the connecting bar assembly of the m/27 bolt, appeared on the first m/27’s in 1927 and continued to be used until early 1933 when it was dropped. It is noted from interviews of some Finnish veterans that often they would remove the Finnish bolt in their rifle and replace it with a Russian bolt when the opportunity presented itself. This was due to the fact that the Russian bolt was not machined too tolerances as tight as the Finnish counterpart and would operate easily under harsh conditions.
It should be explained here early on some of the markings that are used to identify the maker of the particular m/27. The primary manufacturer of the barrels for the m/27 rifle was Tikkakoski, a private enterprise heavily connected to the government through contracts for military weapons. This is often shortened to just "Tikka". The identifying mark of the Tikka arsenal was a capitol letter "T" inside of an inverted triangle. This marking was modified slightly in 1938 to include a circle surrounding this triangle "T" stamping. The other arsenal to produce the m/27 barrels was that of VKT or the government owned State Rifle Factory. It’s identifying marking was that of the Finnish letter abbreviations of the name-Valtion Kivääritehdas or VKT enclosed by a diamond shape with flat sides. These markings are found on the top of the barrel. Below the maker mark is found the rifles serial number with the barrel chamber designation markings below that. Finally the date of the barrels production is found at the bottom of the barrel just above the receiver line. Other markings that are commonly found on the m/27 are the Finnish Army property stamp of a boxed SA- [SA] which can be found in number of places on the m/27 barrels. Most commonly it is found on the left side of the barrel just above the wodline of the stock. It is however found on the right sometimes or on the top of the barrel next to the makers stamping. The capitol letter "D" is almost always found on the barrel next to the maker’s mark or somewhere in obvious sight on the top of the barrel. It is often seen as well next to the capitol letter "F" marking which is explained below.
This "D" stamping denotes that the rifles chamber has been altered to accept the Finnish D-166 heavy ball bullet. This change was done to accommodate a chamber size that would be able to use all types of 7.62x54R ammunition. The Finnish forces had captured vast quantities of Russian ammunition and it often was not useable in the m/27 due to the Finnish rifles tighter chamber tolerances. This alteration solved that problem and enabled the use of all captured ammunition as well as the new D-166 ball ammo and MG cartridges of the Finnish weapons of the day. It is very uncommon to find a Finnish rifle of any kind that has not been marked with this "D" stamping to indicate this modification. One of the most puzzling markings commonly found on the m/27 is the capitol letter "F" found over the date of the rifle on the barrel shank. This letter was erroneously thought by others to be the designation of Swedish Fägestra steel used in the fabrication of the barrel production. This is not the correct meaning of the "F" marking. In actuality the "F" marking is one of three that were used. The trial rifles of the m/27 series were marked with an "A" to denote the shape and contuor of the neck area of the chamber. The Finnish army had been experimenting with different bullet loads and shell casing measurements to determine the optimum cartridge to achieve the greatest accuracy out of the m/27. The first shell designation with a modified casing measurements in the neck area-that was made with a much steeper shoulder than the normal Finnish 7.62x53R cartridge, was the "A" cartridge designation. This shell was not adopted for wide spread use and the marking was dropped. No known m/27 that I am aware of are found with this "A" chamber shape marking. (The author would be glad to offer a great trade should one pop up!)
The other marking that was used on the barrel was the capitol letter "F" which identified the chamber measurements of the "F" designated cartridge. This cartridge used a shallower neck incline as found on early Finnish 7.62x53R
ammunition. The final marking of "D" is as outlined above. The final letter code of "D" indicated an alteration of the chamber diameter and shape to accept the Finnish D-166 cartridge that differed very slightly from the "F" chamber. So in review the barrel markings of "A", "F" and "D" were marked on the barrel of the m/27 just above the date and between the serial number to indicate the barrels chamber characteristic and what type of ammunition was capable of being fired through the weapon.
The contract to produce the new barrels for the 1927 model of rifle was awarded to Tikkakoski. Tikka began production of the m/27 barrels, as it would be known by its year of adoption, in late August of 1927. The serial numbering was to start at 20,000. The Military Command Office accepted the first barrels on the 29th of December 1927. The first year of production only resulted in 799 barrels produced. These barrels were then sent to the weapons depots, Asevarikko as they are called in Finnish. The abbreviation used to denote this is AV. There were three weapons depots at that time, AV1 located in Helsinki, AV2 located in Viipuri, and AV3 located in Kupio. It was at these depots that the assembly of rifles was completed. The principal assembly depot was AV1 in Helsinki. The following year-1928, the m/27 rifle was formally put into service with the troops. (48)
Early And Late Tikka M27 Rifle Markings 1929 proved to be a difficult year for production of the m/27. The reasons for this are not clear, whether bureaucratic or assembly wise, but only 84 rifles were recorded as being put into stock with the Army records. Assembly did pick up in ensuing years, 1930 saw 1500 rifles produced with 6100 in the following year of 1931. (48) Finnish sources and
records indicate that it is difficult to ascertain definite production figures on a yearly basis as many times barrel production either met, exceeded or was behind in regards to the final assembly process. Their indication is that after 1931 approx 9,000 to 12,000 rifles were produced on a yearly basis. This number entered into a formula of known production puts the Army in possession of approximately 49,000 m/27 type rifles in 1934. With the recording of serial numbers and variant types in my database it is more apparent to see the production variances and approximate yearly production. These numbers will be reviewed and explained in more detail elsewhere in the text. Initial reports upon the wide spread receipt of the new rifle by the rank and file of the Army troopers was enthusiastic. Its shorter length was a welcome respite from the longer and heavier m/91. It’s sights also garnered complimentary remarks. Early on in the production schedule when satisfactory resolution of the initial assembly complications were dealt with, the various parts of the rifle that were suitable for sub-contracting were beginning to be farmed out to shops around Finland. When the stock production handled by the sate run shops for the m/27 lagged behind the schedule, an order for a sub-contracted stock was placed with a Lithuanian firm in 1931. Various sub-contracted makers of the stocks were V. Lindomin Oy. Oy Haikka and Palmin Malmin produced handguards for the stock. Other parts of the rifle itself were also included in a contracted basis. The State Rifle Factory or VKT was even ordered to produce 8,000 trigger assemblies for use by Tikkakoski in the production of the m/27. (48) In addition to these assemblies being contracted, other small parts were done in this fashion as well, both rifle parts and accessories for the rifle. The Leonard Lindelöfin company-famous for sub-machine gun production and already familiar with weapon parts fabrication took on production of the front sight blades and the protective sight ear assemblies. They were joined in this contract by Oy E. M. Nordquist Ab. Small non-gun parts necessary to the m/27 were also sub-contracted to local shops. These included the slings and attachment apparatus-sling loops- that were made by Frittala in Oulu, a large well-known leather working facility. K.V. Karlssonin Konetehdas Oy produced the metal buckles and the euscueteons wwere the responsibility of Malmin Puunjalostus OY. Palmin Lestitehdas Oy. took on the job of supplemental handguard production in conjunction with Oy Haikka. (48)
VKT M27 Rifle Marking From 1932 It is interesting to note that VKT produced the m/27 in a standard form as well. Very little is recorded on this but production seems to have been started in 1932 from examination of physical rifles and ceases later in that year. Approximately 2150 rifles were produced in the first production order. Another small batch was made again in 1935. This limited production may have been an attempt to continue some production capability while the design overhaul and resumption of production at Tikkakoski was underway. Only 400 or so rifles managed to come off the line at the Sate Rifle Factory or VKT during the 1935 production run. These guns feature an unusual mixture of features. The 1932 produced weapons almost always have the early features while a mix of later features can be found in the 1935 production. It is possible that the updated nosecap and bands were not ready in quantity for VKT to obtain until late in the second production run. Tikkakoski was also manufacturing another version of the m/27 in this time frame, 1933-1934. It was the m/27 rv or Cavalry rifle. It was a shortened and modified version of the m/27 standard rifle designed to replace the German Kar98a in service with the Finnish Cavalry Regiments. This rifle would eliminate the need for a non-standard rifle cartridge in the Finnish supply scheme as the 98a was chambered for 8mm Mauser. The new m/27 carbine was to feature many of the design characteristics of the rifle it replaced. Talks had started as early as 1931 regarding the replacement of the Kar98a in service with the Finnish cavalry and centered on the standardization of one rifle model for the entire corps. At that time the cavalry regiments were armed with a mixture of rifles such as some nonstandard carbines and the bulk of the units being armed with the Kar98a and the m/91rv or cavalry rifle. This rifle-the m/91rv was in essence a m/91 Dragoon rifle that was modified in terms of the stock fittings. These fittings allowed for a sling in the rear to be similar to that of the Kar98a and the front sling attachment point being a side swivel fit
behind the front sling slot that allowed the rifle to be easily carried across the back while mounted. While the Mausers problem was obvious-it’s 7x92mm caliber being non- standard in the Finnish Army, the m/91 was simply too long for the cavalries liking. A shorter rifle was wanted to replace all of the others and be one standardized weapon in the Finnish caliber of 7.62x53R. The production for the short rifle based upon the army’s newly adopted m/27 rifle was begun at Tikkakoski in 1933. The first rifles of the order for 2000 were to emerge from the factory the following year in December of 1934. At that time 1261 carbine length barrels being 52cm long and manufactured by Tikkakoski were received at the primary weapons depot in Helsinki-AV1. There the rifles were final assembled with stocks from older m/91 rifles that were modified with a new forend for the short rifle. The buttstock was to have a side cut out just like the Mauser for mounting a sling that was derived from the Kar98a version. The rear sling slot was filled in and the bottom of the stock was fit with a 360 degree rotating swivel as found on the standard m/27. The handguards for the rifle, which differed significantly from the standard m/27 style, were subcontracted out again to the firm Palmin Lestitehdas Oy. The metal parts for the gun were not any different from the standard rifles in terms of the receiver, magazine assembly and nosecap. The bolt was however a modified version of the standard rifles style. It was to have a bent handle like that of the Kar98a and be a half bolt knob shape. The underside of the knob is checkered to gain an improved grip. This bent bolt required the stock to be dished out like the Kar98a’s under the bolt handle to allow sufficient space to grasp the bolt ball. This modified part as well as a new style rear barrel band would be produced at AV1 after receiving the Army headquarters' order to begin fabricating these on the 10th of March 1934. These barrel bands would be a wider version of the m/27’s and have a permantly attached sling swivel welded to the band on the rifles left side. A new shorter cleaning rod would also be required and this job was again sub-contracted to the metal fabrication workshops of E.M. Norduist Ab. of Helsinki.
The Bent Bolt Of The M27 Carbine After the initial order of 1261 barrels had been assembled into rifles, the remaining 739 barrels were completed 3 months later in March of 1935. This was a great step in finally adopting one standard rifle based upon the common caliber of the Finnish Army, that was acceptable for use by the Cavalry regiments requirements and for use with communications and riding artillery batteries. These Finnish units would be armed with a Finnish produced weapon to replace all of the non-standard weapons they were currently armed with. At this time all of the rifles were moved from the assembly point in Helsinki to the home of the Cavalry Brigade in Lappeenranta. Once there the rifles were distributed to the two cavalry units-URR (Uusimaa) and its counterpart based at Häme (HRR). In addition some rifles were dispersed to the cavalry’s non-commissioned officers school (RvAUK) and the mounted communications unit (VEsK) as well as the riding artillery battery of Mikkeliin (RatsPtri). The rifles issued to each particular unit was identified by the brass disc that inset into the right side of the buttstock and retained by two brass woos screws. These discs were stamped with the regimental identification number, the unit designation code and the rifles number within that unit. This was following the pattern done on other Finnish rifles serving in the Finnish Army at the time like the m/1891, m/27 and the m/23 pistol. An additional order for 192 barreled actions was given to the Sate Rifle Factory (VKT) in the spring (May) of 1937. Again the barrels were produced in the short 52cm length of the carbine and were sent to AV1 for final assembly. Parts used were those that were held in stock from the initial assembly in 1935. As the barrels for the m/27rv are dated 1933 and 1935 for the later VKT produced versions, it is apparent that the barrels for the VKT made gun may be modified and recontoured m/27 barrels from the second supplemental production run done at VKT in 1935. This theory of mine is based upon the barrel date of the weapon being 1935 but the production order was not given until two years later in May of 1937. Another indication that the barrels were actually recontoured m/27 standard barrels is that the VKT made barrels of 1935 exhibit a different type of crown as those of the Tikkakoski barrels that were purposely ordered and built as short rifle length. The fall of 1937 saw another small order of 25 rifles being placed with VKT again. The rifle was issued the standard accessories of the m/27 rifle, a cleaning kit and a bayonet and frog. The sling was a specially made type that duplicated the Kar98a’s style and function and was fit through the Mauser style sling slot cut into the stock to accommodate it.
The m/27rv is one of the rarest Mosin Nagants of Finnish production and is highly sought after by collectors today. It is considered a crown jewel by both American and Finnish collectors as well as those worldwide should they be able to claim one for their collections. This is due to two factors. The units that received the m/27rv were the very best cavalry units of the Finnish Army. The units were used as an elite quick reaction force and saw heavy combat during the Winter and Continuation Wars (1939-1940, 1941-1945) This resulted in quite a few rifles being damaged or lost in battle. During an inventory of weapons after the war by the Finnish depots, only half of the rifles produced had survived -approximately 1250. Of those rifles 75% or 923 were found to be beyond repair or refurbishment and were sold as scrap. The rifles that remained were examined for placement in Finnish military museums and the remaining 304 were sold to Interarmco in 1960 as Finnish archival information SArk T 22220/254 records. So the complete production of the m/27rv amounted to just 2217 rifles manufactured. It is sometimes reported that approximately 3000 rifles were made as the production sequence in the serial numbers was for these short barrels to be made in the serial number block beginning with 72,000 and ending by 75,000. The author knows that most of the m/27rv’s that remain in Finland are the scrapped parts of the 923 that were deemed unacceptable. Almost all of the m/27rv’s that are in their original configuration with original parts in Finland have been re-imported from the United States back to Finland from the initial import by Interarmco in the 1960’s and from a secondary batch of m/27 rifles that arrived in the United States in 1984 with some m/27rv’s mixed in. The curators of the Suomen Museoase Oy gave this information to me upon a visit there in the summer of 2000. As soon as the Army began to receive and distribute sufficient quantities of the m/27, it was soon discovered during field exercises and live fire training, that a serious deficiency was inherent in the m/27. Primarily the new front nose cap/bayonet lug assembly was found to twist during bayonet fighting drills and cause the stock to split in that area. The nosecap was a new design that allow the top to hinge upward to permit removal of the handguard without completely removing the nosecap. This nosecap was retained on the tip of the stock by a rather thin cross screw that did not provide adequate support to prevent any rotation of the unit. It was also found that firing the rifle with the bayonet affixed resulted in a similar problem of the stock cracking in the forend area of the nose cap. This problem was a result of the inadequate support and retention of the nose cap assembly to the stock. Also a contributing factor was that the initial stocks utilized a modified m/91 stock. The modification consisted of increasing the barrel channel to accommodate the m/27’s heavier (thicker) barrel diameter resulting in a thinner walled barrel channel. This contributed to the stress point between the nosecap assembly and the front sling slot, which resulted in longitudinal fractures.
Top Later M27 Stock Bottom Early M27 Stock This was a major setback in production of the new m/27 and upon a definitive report on the problem the subsequent manufacture of the m/27 was discontinued immediately. Major General A.S. Heikinheimon was ordered to review the problems. Upon completion of his review he suggested to the Armaments Committee that as of November 8, 1934 any further stock production be halted at the end of the current production run. (48) He further ordered that several repair/modification proposals be looked into to rectify the problems. In 1935 it was decided after various proposals were submitted and considered that a modification of the existing nose cap would solve the problem and was economically feasible. It was also ordered at this time that all existing stocks of weapons would be modified to accept the new nose cap. This newly modified nose cap now had a large steel support leg welded to each side, extending back into the stock in inletted channels of approximately 3 " in length. It was to be retained in the rear of these support legs by a large screw that passed from the right support bar to the left.. The forward retaining screw was also used in the anterior portion of the nose cap. This eliminated the torque applied when the gun was used during bayonet fighting or when the rifle was fired with the bayonet affixed. A modified version of this nosecap would reappear on the later m/39 rifle that would the successor to the m/27. In addition it was decided that the use of the older m/91 modified stocks be suspended and a new heavier forend be grafted to the older buttstocks with the use of a three fingered splice joint. Many older m/91 stocks modified for use on the m/27 were refit with new heavier forends using this technique. These guns required a new heavier rear barrel band as well. This accounts for many m/27’s with new light colored forends and darker well used buttstocks from the original m/91 stock modifications.
One Version Of The M27 Buttstock It should be noted here that there can be found no less than six distinct stock variations found in the m/27 rifle production. The primary stocks were simply modified Russian m/1891 one piece stocks with sling slots front and back. The second variation to be found is the rear slot has been filled and the rotating swivel has been added to the bottom. The front slot remains unchanged. This style of stock was used from approximately 1927 to 1934 in conjunction with the 1st variation. I assume that the stocks were being modified as the production went along. This is the most common of the stock variations. The third variant in m/27 stock production is the Finnish produced buttstock utilizing a spliced forend and lacking a rear sling slot completely-only having the rear rotating swivel. This 3rd variant is found on rifles produced from 1934-1937 in most instances. It is in this time frame that the appearance of the "bicycle/ski troop" style stock, as I call it appears. This 4th variant has the rear slot filled or it is not present at all. A side mounted front swivel then complements the bottom rotating swivel. This swivel is mounted on a bar that is approximate to the shape of the front sling slot. A wider lip at one side prevents the bar from passing completely through the sling slot. It is retained by the swivel being fastened by a vertical screw that allows for the swivel to move freely and thus effectively blocking the bar from being withdrawn from the slot. The nomenclature I use for this type of stock-the "bicycle/ski troop" model-is not a Finnish designation but one that I recorded in my private notes for my own recognition after an interview with a Finnish veteran. This veteran was a bicycle trooper in summer and issued skis come the bitter winter months. He commented to me after seeing a picture of one of the guns using this style of swivel that he really preferred that arraignment when carrying the m/27 rifle. It allowed the rifle to be slung flat on the back while traveling and he and his fellow soldiers on patrol sought these types of swivel arraignments out specifically. From that information I refer to this type of arraignment as the "bicycle/ski trooper" variation in the swivel set up. The fifth variant is the Finnish production of a m/27 stock that returns to the primary characteristics of a front and rear sling slot. This Finnish produced version is much heavier in the wrist and forearm than previous versions. It is found only with the second pattern barrel bands, as they are much heavier and thicker to accommodate this stock. The sixth and final variant is the use of a m/91-30 stock on the m/27. This practice was done on a strict wartime expediency and is not common in any way. Very very few m/27’s were repaired in this manner. During the closing days of the war it was essential that rifles were returned to the front as quickly as possible. Many rifles were being sent back from the depots in a mix match of parts. This is evident in m/28’s wearing m/27, m28-30 fit into m/27 stock furniture and vice versa. The use of the m/91-30 stock was a last ditch effort. The depots apparently used what stocks they had on hand to repair damaged m/27 rifles. The m/91-30 stock will not with out heavy modification to the barrel channel, accept a thicker m/27 barrel. The barrel channels were specifically deepened and widened to fit the m/27. The handguards of the m/91-30 were also used but again adjusted in the front to sit down farther on the heavy barrel. Front and rear m/91-30 bands were used to retain the handguard but many of the stocks I have seen have been fit with two rear barrel bands. This 91-30 stocked m/27 is not commonly found and is a prize find if original. There could technically be a seventh variant but the stock of the m/27rv is not interchangeable with a standard m/27 and vice versa so it is actually a stock unto itself and can not be thought of as a variant in standard production.
A Close Up Of The So-Called "Ski Version" Of The M27 Rifle
When production of the m/27 was resumed in the later half of 1935, all were to be made utilizing the new standards outlined by Army. In addition a program was set up to retrofit older existing guns, totaling approximately 49,000 to 50,000 guns made prior to 1935, to the new specifications. The work was seriously begun in widespread depot level repairs by 1937. In lieu of the problems with the m/27, AV1 was ordered to begin work on a new prototype weapon incorporating some of the design submissions for the improvement and repair of the m/27. These submissions were made in the fall of 1937 and AV1 was ordered to work up 300 rifles. This rifle was designated the m/35 for the year of submission to the bureau. After only a few rifles were completed however the project was halted. A further review of this prototype design, the m/35, will be discussed in it’s own section as it had design characteristics that influenced later Finnish production of a battle rifle. This whole time frame-1935 thru 1937, and it's resulting slow down and stoppage of production with the subsequent retrofitting of existing rifles, had a serious detrimental effect new rifle production. From 1935 to 1937 only a few thousand new rifles were produced. 1936 having the distinction of being the rarest year in terms of numbers actually made. There are no firm production numbers quoted for this year bit an extrapolated guess by known examples in my data base and the known numbers of guns produced prior and after the year of 1936 reveals that approximately 250 or fewer rifles were assembled that year.This gives 1936 the honor of the rarest year of production on the m/27 series of rifles. The growing tensions with the Soviet Union in 1938 resulted in a renewed effort to meet the production deficiencies. The results of this and the proposal of a new service rifle, the m/39 based upon some of the earlier m/35 designs, resulted in very few rifles being produced in 1938 and 1939. The outbreak of the Winter War in November of 1939 saw the m/27 forced into another year of production that was not planned-1940. The proposed m/39 was to have begun production by then but was not ready until the spring of 1940. Production of the m/27 during the Winter War was slowed to a crawl and eventually ceased with 4 months worth of production completed before the adoption of the m/39 at the wars end. There are a few years of m/27’s which are considered the rarest of the production schedule. Virtually no new m/27’s were made in 1929 and again in 1936. Very few came out of the depots again in 1937 and 1938. 1939 saw a slight increase with a renewed effort in place for the war as well as the final year of 1940 which was only 4 months of production. The final two years of m/27 production only saw approximately 2800 rifles produced. Approximately 1500 in 1939 and 1300 in 1940. The m/27 continued to be the Army’s basic weapon through out the early years of the Continuation War (1941-1944) along side the older m/91 which was put into emergency production again from 1940 thru 1943 by Tikka and 1940 to1942 by VKT. It was eventually superceded by the m/39 in 1942-1943. During the Continuation War some quantities of m/27’s were produced at AV3 in a sub-contracting role to AV2. These rifles were assembled from existing parts left over from AV2’s earlier production runs. Barrels were obtained from stores of spares at Tikkakoski and stocks were used that were left in storage at Kupio-AV3. These stocks tend to be of a reddish-brown color and are made of a wood the Finn’s called "nut wood". This was a Hickory wood and is not a native tree to Finland. These stock blanks were obtained from Germany in 1932 as part of a preliminary order for spares to meet the lagging production. Remember that another order had been placed for stocks with a Lithuanian firm in 1931 as well. These stocks of Hickory wood have the depot number and weapons serial number stamped in a rectangular box on the right side of the buttstock. 952 new rifles were manufactured in this manner and 4,000 more were repaired in this manner during the Continuation War. (1941-1944) Most rifles made during this time frame do not exhibit the same features of the earlier models due to the urgency of the wartime situation. Most predominantly is the omission of the nose cap plate or use of the earlier nose cap with later parts like stocks and bands.
The m/27 rifle was considered for a specialty role as well. In the early 1930’s the use of telescopically sighted rifles for use by marksman or snipers was being explored. Many of the participants of the First World War used these special rifles to devastating effect. The Finnish Army knew that the Soviets had begun a widespread production of an optically
sighted rifle for the Red Army so it was decided that a Finnish service rifle should be manufactured to readily accept an optical sight and mount. Examples of optical sights were obtained from outside sources, most notably Germany, who had considerable experience in the manufacture and use of optical sights for both civilian and military applications. Some of the telescopes that were obtained for testing included German makes from Hensoldt and Söhne, Dialytan from Ziess and versions from Gerard Landlicht and the C. P. Goerz company. Hensoldt, Ziess, as well as Goerz all had military contracts with the German Army and were well-respected optical manufactures. The experimentation and implementation with optically sighted rifles was painfully slow though. Some models of the long m/91 were fit with specially designed mounts and tested. The Civil Guard was the first to seriously undertake the project and by 1933 had tested and fit both the m/28 and m/28-30 with sights and mounts of various makes and models and put them to use with troops. The Army was seriously lagging behind. It was not until 1937 that a decision was made to fit the m/27 with a sight bracket on of the left rear side of the receiver. The firm of Oy Physica Ab. was approached and a contract signed on December 31, 1937 for 250 units to be produced of a sight suitable for use on both the rifle and machine guns in service. Trials were undertaken with different styles of mounting bases, primarily a high and low mounted version. It was finally decided that a low mounted version of the delicate box style scope was better suited to sight acquisition and was adopted in the later half of 1937. The production of the scope never met demand however and only 150 rifles were ever produced before the end of the Winter War. The bulk of these between 1937 and 1940. This rifle was initially referred to as the m/27 PH but was later termed the m/37 sniper rifle from the year of adoption into service. The remaining 100 scopes were completed after the Winter War and were to be used on machine guns. But with the onset of the Continuation War the Finnish Army again found themselves with a dire need for optically sighted rifles and the remaining scopes were fit to the new m/39 rifle creating the m/39 PH sniper rifle. This rifle is discussed in the m/39 section in more detail. The accessories for the rifle are often more difficult to obtain than the rifle itself. A cleaning kit was issued for each rifle and seldom encountered. It consisted of an oiler; often times two, one for solvent and the other for oil-a bore brush made of horse hair bristles, a rod collar to cover the cleaning rod head and a small bar to insert through the rod collar's hole and through the cleaning rod hole. This acted as a "T" handle when inserted and gave the handle some rigidity in conjunction with the rod collar. Two brass extension rods were also included. One for extending the rod approximately 4 inches and the other was an additional extension that is contoured like a jag tip to retain the cleaning patch which was often a strip of flannel. The screwdriver combination tool rounded out the kit. The screwdriver has two parts to it- the blade and handle. The blade was a two-part tool. One side was designed with large screwdriver size to remove the larger screws found on the rifle like the magazine/triggerguard assembly and the buttplate screws. The other end was designed with a smaller flat screwdriver head to remove the small screws utilized in the construction of the m/27 such as the barrel bands and sight plate screws. A large wooden muzzle cover rod guide was the last part of the kit. It was an enlarged version of the type used on the m/1891 rifle and was adopted to fit around the protective sight ears of the m/27. It was fit to the muzzle then twisted to the left to lock it around the base of the front sight. In this manner the rod could be inserted through the brass lined hole in the cap to protect the muzzle crown from damage during cleaning. All of these tools were fit into a small drawstring bag and carried in the soldier’s interior tunic pocket or in his rucksack.
A bayonet was issued with the m/27 in two distinct versions and makers. The two companies chosen to fabricate the army’s new knife style bayonet were Fiskars and Hackman & Co.; two long manufactures of knives and blades in Finland. The first was the true m/27 bayonet that exhibited a rounded point and single ground edge that fit into a ribbed scabbard. This version of the bayonet had riveted grip panels and exhibited a polished blade and a blued
locking mechanism. This bayonet is very rare in an unaltered form as the bayonet was altered slightly during production the following year in 1929. Many were also later modified to the m/35 pattern. This improvement in the standard m/27bayonet that took place during the second year of bayonet production in 1929 did not really alter anything other than the way the bayonet blade was attached to the handle and the ricasso. This subtle change in the bayonet allowed for damaged blades to be easily replaced. This change becaome sort of a sub variant in production and got it's own designation as a m/29 bayonet. The diffaculty though is that these changes pr "upgrade" can not be observed unless the rivets retaining the grip panels are ground off and the grips removed. For this reason the article will refer to the bayonets as two types-the m/27 and the later m/35. Between Fiskars Oy and Hackman &Co, only 39,000 bayonets were manufactured in the m/27 style up the 1935. This production was not even enough bayonets to equip each m/27 rifle produced with it's own bayonet. An updated and redesigned blade was developed for the gun after 1934 was valled the m/35 bayonet for it's year of adoption. It was an updated version of the earlier m/27-29 differing in the grip panel retention method, shape of the blade and the addition of an oil hole for lubricating the locking mechanism. It was also issued with a new smooth scabbard that retained the frog with a round button instead of the earlier teardrop shaped catch of the ribbed scabbard. This bayonet was much more deadly in function and appearance. It had a double ground edge and the shape was changed to be much more like a spear point in shape. Some other minor variances can be found in the bayonets. This bayonet was manufactured again by Fiskars and Hackman &Co. from 1936 to 1938. The m/35 accounted for an additional 18,500 bayonets. In total 57,600 bayonets were produced for the m/27 rifle from 1928 to 1938, still not enough to equip each rifle produced. These bayonets will be discussed in the Finnish bayonet section in more detail as well as scabbards and frog types and makers.
The m/27 was issued with a variety of slings. The initial sling was simply a copy of the Civil Guards leather sling that was brown leather and fit with an oval steel buckle that was riveted to the strap. This was quickly changed to a brown leather sling using multiple pieces-either two or three connected by a square round wire ring. The buckles on these new slings were round wire as well and used a roller attachment fit over the wire to ease in adjustment and to prevent the chaffing of the leather that was prevalent on the earlier buckle due to the sharp edges. This sling was used in the early to mid 1930’s. It was followed by a simplified version that did away with the multiple pieces of the sling instead using a single strap of brown leather. It furthur simplified the sling by now using only one double sided wire roller buckle. The late 1930’s and through the Winter War saw the most common m/27 sling come into use. It was a simple brown leather strap fit with a square steel buckle that was zinc coated. Two rivets also retained this buckle to the sling. The army’s slings were [SA] stamped just as the others preceding it were but the slings began to have an additional stamping added. A large "T" marking stamped beneath the boxed SA of the army. The "T" on Finnish equipment stood for "Taisteluvälinehallinto" or in English "Ordnance Department". This sling was used for the bulk of the m/27’s service life. During the Continuation War (1941-1945) some canvas and leather slings found their way onto the m/27. These slings made of a canvas or web strap and having leather reinforced attachment points and zinc coated steel buckle, were issued instead of the leather slings due to wartime shortages. These slings were to be a general issue sling for the m/27, m/91 and m/39 rifles. A variety of buckles can be found on these slings as well as it
is apparent that what ever was available was used. These slings were also developed to be used with either the metal sling hangars found on Finnish rifles or with the small leather straps; sling straps or "dog collars" as many American collectors like to refer to these small straps. Cartridge pouches were not issued in any distinct variety to the m/27 rifle. A separate section on these will cover the use of this accessory on it’s own. I hope you enjoyed this section as the m/27 is one of my favorite Finnish rifles along with it’s accessories. As always this article is an attempt to be a comprehensive essay on the Finnish m/27 rifle for the collector or historian. I believe that this section now covers the m/27 rifle and its variants in greater depth and detail than any other resource available to the collector of the Finnish Mosin Nagant printed in English. It owes a great deal to the data contained in the outstanding Finnish reference book "Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918-1988" by Marrku Palokangas and to some notes of private conversations with Mr. Palokangas and Mr. Heikki and Pekka Pohjolainen as well as other collectors of the m/27. I have also relied upon first hand observations from Finnish war veterans who were issued and fought with the m/27 as well as my own notes and a detailed recording of pertinent information on these guns over the past 18 years. The most valuable resource though is to be able to physically examine these rifles by each year and subvariant produced, to observe the little nuances found in yearly production. I am lucky to have that ability within my own collection of the m/27 that spans all years of production from 1927-1940 as well as the m/37 sniper variant and the cavalry carbines issued to the cavalry regiments and the NCO school. Without these fantastic resources, references and friends, this article would not be possible. Even with those sources it more than likely contains some inaccuracies or errors. No one reference can be said to be completely free of errors. As I always like to say "as soon as you state there are none--at least three will show up!" Vic Thomas Mosin-Nagant.net Gunboards.com
The m/27 was designed to replace the older m/91 as the standard infantry rifle of the Finnish Army. This picture is of a young Finnish soldier modeling the new uniform model of 1927 and it's accompanying equipment. The rifle is a preproduction version of the m/27 rifle made prior to serial production.
First year m/27 built at the close of 1927. Notice the early nosecap bayonet lug features and the guns one piece stock made from a modified m/1891 stock. This proved to be the guns achilles heel 8 years later. It is extremely rare to find a m/27 in it's original configuration since almost all went through renovation from 1935 to 1937.
This is the first year production configuration of the m/27's forend. Notice the 1st pattern nosecap assembly and thinner forearm wood as well as the thin 1st variation rear barrel band assembly.
The first m/27's utilized an improved bolt guide system milled into the rear of the receivers. These small slots corresponded to small wings on the bolt connecting bar on the bolt. This feature was found on the initial models through 1933 when it was discontinued.
The small guide wings as found on the m/27 bolts connecting bar from 1927 to 1933. The arrow indicates the wings. The bolt on the right does not have this feature. This slot/wing set up was discontinued due to the difficulty in closing the bolt if the slots became fouled.
The three barrel markings found on the m/27 series of rifles. The first marking on the left was the primary arsenal mark used by Tikkakoski from 1927 to 1938. The top right marking is the later Tikkakoksi arsenal marking used on weapons from 1938 to 1943. The lower markings are that of the State Rifle Factory or VKT. These were used on a small run of m/27's made in 1932 and again in 1935.
In 1935 it was determined that the nosecap of the m/27 was poorly designed and was in need of an upgrade if the rifle was to continue in production. Here you can see the rifles early 2 piece noscap on the left. It's separate plate can be seen in front that protected the tip of the stock and provided support for the cleaning rod. The nosecap/bayonet lug housing is the other piece of the set. It is without any support but for the cross bolt/retaining screw. The noscap on the right is the improved model of 1935. It utilized two longitudinal reinforcement bars on each side and a solid one piece design with a hole for the cleaning rod to pass through. It was a vast improvement as it added rigidity to the stock and bayonet lug.
Around the same time of the noscap redesign it was determined that a heavier stock was needed as well. This meant that the rear barrel bands would have to be enlarged and strengthened as well. Here you can see the early thin 1st variation band on the lefty and the later replacement for the heavier stock of the improved m/27 on the right. The larger size is clearly evident.\
Here is a close up of three different m/27 noscap variations. The top is the original version 1st pattern nosecap. The middle is a 2nd pattern improved noscap design. The bottom rifle is a 1939 dated weapon that is in an improved stock but more than likely was built with parts on hand at a weapons depot due to the time constraints the Winter War had put on production. It is unusual to see the stock relief for the reinforcement bars cut but an early nosecap installed.
Here is a full length shot a m/27 built in 1936 that still features the early one piece m/1891 modified stock but sports the newly approved 2nd variation nosecap. This gun was built in this configuration as the order was given that all new production after 1935 was to be with the new nosecap. The heavier stock retrofitting did not get under way until the following year. The gun also still retains it's rare brass unit stock disc. This particular gun served with the White Guards Regiment.
A close up of the disc in the 1936 rifle. The disc reads that the gun was assigned to a machine gun unit- KKK serving in the White Guards Regiment-SVK and was rifle number 12 in that regiment. These discs were ordered removed after the Winter war to avoid identifying the units involved in an area if the weapons were captured. It is quite rare to find one intact today.
Here you can see very clearly how much larger the body of the m/27 stock was made after the 1935 redesigns.
Here is a top view of the early 1st variation stock and the later improved heavy version post 1935.
Here you can see the full length shot of the late m/27 produced in 1937.
The m/27 used 4 different stock variations in regard to the swivel set up and design of the rear portion of the buttstock. 7 full variations can be identified. Here you can see the major variants.
The m/27 used 4 different stock variations in regard to the swivel set up and design of the rear portion of the buttstock. 7 full variations can be identified. Here you can see the major variants.
The forened of the stock for a ski/bicycle troop rifle and it's sling swivel.
Another odd variant in regard to stocks is the wartime emergency use of heavily modified 91-30 stocks on the m/27. Here is an example of that rare rifle.
The rear sights of the m/27 were based upon the Russian Konovalov sight system. The graduations were initially done in arshin's-a Russian imperial measurement based upon the length of the Czar's stride . These sights were modified to meters by milling off the arshin markings and replacing them with markings for meters. The battle sight range was also changed to 200m and new step was created for that.
Close up of the markings modified or removed and restamped. The arshin markings on the sight base was removed and the base then polished smooth and remarked. Another technique was quicker and more efficient but is not commonly seen. This method was creating a "window" by milling out the old arshin markings and the new range markings stamped inside.
The Finn's also modified the rear sight aperture. On most m/27's the rear sight was milled flat and an improved aperture sighting plate was installed with two screws. This improved the sight picture for the new heavier Finnish front sight and also provided the correct height for the closer battle sight distance of 200m.
The m/27 was also used in a telescopically sighted version. A machine gun scope made by Physica Oy. and designed for the Maxim m/21 machine gun was adopted to the m/27 rifle after long trials. It was not a great success as the scope was not especially well suited for this task and the reticule was very complex to use
A view through the scope of the m/27PH. One can see how difficult this reticule would be to use under combat conditions.
A close up of the extremely rare m/27PH. Later on the designation of the rifle was changed to the m/37. This scope was fit to less than 150 rifles and is one of the rarest snipers ever made be it Finnish or other.
Top view of the m/37 sniper rifle with the scope mounted. Two versions of the mount were made. A low mount and a high mount. The high mount was the accepted version. Neither mount provided a comfortable sighting position as your cheek was not supported on the rifles comb. This was later rectified with the Physica's use on the m/39 as a cheek piece was added.
Another odd variant is this one of a kind conversion to a trench type magazine that held 20 cartridges. This was an attempt to increase the riflemen's firepower while in a static defensive position.
This m/27 cavalry carbine or m/27rv is truly one of the rarest of Finnish serial production. With less than 3000 being produced and less than 300 surviving the war to remain in inventory as serviceable it is rarely if ever encountered today. This rifle served with great distinction with Finnish Cavalry regiments that served as an elite rapid deployment force.
The buttstock of the rifle was patterned after the Kar98a that it replaced. The brass unit disc identifies this rifle as belonging to the Häme cavalry regiment and was rifle number 85.
The m/27rv used a unique stock found only on the cavalry carbine. It's handguard and rear barrel band pictured here was fashioned just for use on this weapon.
In another trait that can be traced back to the Kar98a, the bolt was bent down on the carbine and a recess cut into the stock to accommodate this. The underside of the bolt was checkered just as the Kar98a bolt.
The five slings issued to the m/27. From top to bottom: The initial sling issued was brown leather with an oval buckle. The second pattern sling was meant to eliminate the leather chaffing problem of the oval shape and a square wire roller buckle sling of three pieces was adopted (the sling is actually third from the top in the photo). To simplify the production the sling was modified to a single strap and a single wire roller buckle (2nd from top). The sling was again changed to a more even more simplified model in the late 1930's with a square steel buckle that was zinc coated and a simple brown leather strap. The final version was made during the Continuation War and was meant to be an all purpose sling for the army's weapons. It is a canvas web sling with the zinc coated buckle again and leather reinforcement points for the metal wire sling hangars if used.
Two markings found on the slings of the m/27. The Finnish property stamp of [SA] and the capitol T found beneath indicating the Finnish word- Taisteluvälinehallinto, which translates to Ordnance Dept. The marking on the right is a maker mark of the sling. It is the mark of the Friitala Nahkatedas Oy. leather works.
The m/27 was issued three bayonet types. The initial m/27 bayonet with riveted grip panels and a rounded point. It was fit into a ribbed scabbard and retained on the belt by a frog with a hilt cross strap as seen on the far left. The next type was made as a correction to simplify the replacement of a damaged blade. It is exteriorly the same as the m/27 bayonet but differs internally as to how the blade is attached to the handle. It is the second from left and is called the m/29. The third from the left is the m/35, an improved bayonet in shape and the ability to oil the locking
mechanism. Some m/27-29 bayonets were modified to this type later on. The last bayonet on the far right is a m/35 in the new pattern smooth scabbard issued from 1936 to 1938.
The bayonets removed from their scabbards. A m/27, m/29 and m/35 all made by Fiskars Oy
The two makers of the bayonets-Fiskars and Hackman &Co. made blades with slightly different shapes. The top bayonet is the Fiskars and the bottom the Hackman &Co.
The two maker markings of bayonets for the m/27
A m/35 bayonet mounted on the m/27 rifle
The m/27 bayonet had the rifles serial number stamped onto the top of the blade handle between the grip panels
Two makers marks from the bayonet frogs. The left from the Kupio Depot (AV3) made in 1937 and the right is a frog made by Oy. Veljekset Aströmin Valjastehtaat located in Oulu. This is a fairly rare maker of bayonet frogs as they only produced some 3000 units
The cleaning kit for the rifle was issued in a small drawstring bag. The kit consisted of a screwdriver with a large and small head for disassembly and adjustment of the rifle. The cleaning rod extension and jag tip both in brass, the bore brush and the rod collar. The rods "T" handle bar was also included and some felt strips for cleaning. The kit was issued with either one or two oil bottles. One for solvent and the other for oil. The wooden muzzle cover rod guide was
the final accessory in the kit. A complete cleaning kit is seldom seen as most parts have been scattered or used later on the m/39 rifle. The wooden covers were either lost, broken or destroyed.
The rod with rod collar and handle inserted through the muzzle cover guide. The cleaning jag is in the background attached to the rod extension. The metal oil bottles were produced by either Oy. E.M. Nordquist, Ab. K.V. Karlsson Konethdas or Oy. G.W. Sohlberg Ab.
The ammo for the m/27 rifle. Finnish produced at Viipuri in 1928. The ammo pouch held three stripper clips of 5 rounds each per compartment for a total of 45 rounds
A page from the squad leaders handbook on the new m/27 rifle and it's care and operation.
A solitary Finnish guard stands watch over the front at the close of the Winter War in 1940-the last year of production for the m/27 rifle. Some of the m/27's features would live on in the rifle that replaced it: the m/39. For more info on that rifle and others see the m/39 section at mosin-nagant.net under "Finnish weapons".