Book Review: M91/30 Rifles and M38/M44 Carbines in 1941-1945

M91/30 Rifles and M38/M44 Carbines in 1941-1945The full title is actually (deep breath) M91/30 Rifles and M38/M44 Carbines in 1941-1945: Accessories and Devices – History of Production, Development, and Maintenance, by Alexander Yuschenko and translated into English by Ryan Elliot. I saw this book mentioned a few weeks ago on a firearms discussion board, and figured I ought to get a copy, simply because there isn’t all that much English-language published information on the Mosin Nagant in any real depth. I didn’t really know what to expect, and what I got really blew me away.

Collecting Mosins in the US has long been rather like having a group of people exploring in the dark – where original production records on guns like the 1903 Springfield or M1 Garand are readily available to us, such data on the Mosin has been completely lacking thanks to minor political issues like the Cold War. We can only make inferences based on what we can see imported into this country, and those inferences are easily skewed by all sorts of factors. What Alexander Yuschenko has done is actually take original wartime archival documentation and distill it down into a compact and strikingly information-dense account of Mosin-Nagant development and production.

This is not just a series of tables, it is information put into context. For example, Yuschenko explains the process of Mosin production being replaced by semiauto rifle production (the AVS-36, SVT-38, and SVT-40), and then the about-face required when the SVT-40 failed to meet expectations. Not just that, but great juicy details on why the SVT-40 failed, and how troops felt about it and the Mosin comparatively. What were the causes behind inoperative rifles of both types? What were the costs of each to the Soviet government, compared to each other and the other weapons being produced? What was the distribution of the different weapons within typical Red Army units?

The main section book is organized chronologically, looking at events one year at a time. This really shows the reader how the Soviet Union’s situation changed over time, from its optimistic leap to self-loading rifles in 1940 to its desperate relocation of factory infrastructure in 1941 and 42 to its turn toward submachine guns in 1944 and 45. The development of the folding bayonet for the M44 carbine is discussed, including experimental models of M1945 Carbine. The short-lived use of socket blade bayonets is covered. Suppressors and rifle grenades launchers are covered. The entire second chapter is about accessories, like slings, ammunition pouches, and cleaning gear – this allows us to actually see such items in their full context instead of trying to guess at the provenance of random examples that happen to have been imported at one time or another.

Here are just a couple facts that I had not known:

  • In 1941 alone, the Soviet Union lose a staggering 5.5 million rifles and carbines destroyed, captured and otherwise unusable. That is 59% of all they had in inventory as of June of 1941.
  • The standard PU scope mount can actually also be used to mount a PE/PEM optic.
  • A mine detector was developed and used which mounted to the muzzle of a 91/30 rifle, using it as the handle.
  • What all those many little arsenal refurbishment marks actually indicate!

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in WWII. Whether you are actual a Mosin collector yourself or just want to see a fuller picture of Soviet military history in the Great Patriotic War, Yuschenko’s work is a gold mine of information previously unknown in the English-speaking world.

Unfortunately, it appears that only one printing will be done, and at the time I am writing this the author’s web site indicates that the book is already 75% sold out. It is not available on Amazon, and must be ordered directly through the author’s website, If you want a copy, I urge you to order one ASAP as I can guarantee they will not last much longer. The price is $30 plus $12 shipping for one copy of $19 shipping for two copies – and expect them to take 3 weeks or so to arrive, as they ship from Ukraine.

Update: the book is sold out – sorry!

I hope that the author will run a second printing when this inevitably sells out, and that he will consider writing more on the subject of Soviet WWII armaments. I would love to see a similar work for any of the other weapons of the USSR!


    • Yes Max, that’s definitely the best single reference on the Tokarev rifles currently available. Maybe some English-language publisher will get interested…

  1. “costs of each to the Soviet government, compared to each other and the other weapons being produced”
    Columns from left to right, prices in rubles:

    FACTORY No. – NAME – PRICE 1938 – PRICE 1939
    74 – 7,62 mm rifle modernized, pattern 1891/30 years, with spare parts – 126 – 166
    66,314 – 7,62 mm rifle modernized, pattern 1891/30 years, with spare parts – 126 – 166
    173 – Self-loading rifle “SV” [probably Tokarev] – none – 2000
    74 – Automatic rifle “Simonov” – 1260 – 900
    2 – Machine-gun 7,62mm “DP” with spare parts – 1000 – 1150
    2 – Machine-gun 7,62mm “DT” with spare parts – 1667,7 – 1400
    74 – Machine gun “ShKAS”* turret – 2000 – 1650
    74 – Machine gun “ShKAS”* wing – 2000 – 1650
    74 – Machine gun “ShKAS”* synchronous – 5500 – 3100

    * – it is mistyped in cited document, I corrected it
    Notice that, for 1939, price of SVT was bigger than ShKAS turret(!).
    However, you have to remember that 1930s Soviet industry concept differs principally from 1930s US concept of industry, long story short: in Soviet Union government dictated prices.

  2. “costs of each to the Soviet government, compared to each other and the other weapons being produced”
    Prices in rubles for 1938 and 1938, columns from left to right (in Russian):
    h t t p : / / w w w . r k k a . r u / h a n d b o o k / v o o r / n k v . h t m
    (I added space, because normally link don’t allow posting)
    (ЗИП mean spare parts set)
    Notice that (all 1939 prices) Самозарядная винтовка “СВ” which probably mean SVT price is 2000 i.e. bigger than DP with spare parts (1150) and even ShKAS-wing (1650), when Simonov automatic rifle price is 900, which accidentally is equal with PPD-34/38 with spare parts price.
    However remember than 1930s Soviet concept of industry and 1930s US differs vastly, speaking shortly, Soviet government dictated prices.

    • Above link is for prices of weapon and equipment in 1938 and 1939
      (sorry for spaces, it didn’t work when I pasted it normally)
      Columns from left to right, prices in rubles:
      Factory No. – Weapon – Price (1938) – Price (1939)
      ЗИП mean spare parts set, cartridge prices for 1000 examples, all other for 1 example.
      Notice that (in 1939) prices SVT (mistyped as SV) was more expensive (2000) than DP with spare parts (1150) and even ShKAS-turret (1650), and Simonov rifle costly less than half (900) which is equal to PPD-34/38 with spare parts (900).
      Notice that 1930s Soviet concept of industry, differs from 1930s US concept of industry, so listed prices might not be good indicators of real work required to make each weapon.

  3. From what I see of that book, if anyone would make a similar on Soviet submachineguns – I’ll take it sight unseen.

  4. Payment page is not functioning. When you get to the SMS password you do not receive a text.

  5. Hello, gentelmen!
    I’m very appreciate such high evaluation of my book by Ian and want to say thank you.
    I just closed possibility of the automatic payments at I must say that I was not ready for such big quantity of one time orders. Small quantity of books remained, and I want to avoid situation when more books are paid than available. All paid orders will be processed tomorrow, currently I’m in the business trip. After this I will write updated information.
    Best regards, Alexander Yuschenko

    • If you can, Alexander, please get more copies published as I am reasonably sure that they will sell quite well among the many Mosin-Nagant enthusiasts here in the U.S. and elsewhere. This would be the perfect companion volume in great depth to Terence Lapin’s “The Mosin-Nagant Rifle”, which has up to this time been the definitive general reference book for all things Mosin-Nagant.

      Many thanks for your hard work and for adding so much to the knowledge bank about this iconic rifle!

  6. Man, I just got home from work, read this, went to order a copy, and they are all gone!! Hope he prints more!!

  7. Some quantity of books (near 40) will be definitely available. I simply can’t count remaining quantity today with mobile device – some paid orders are for two books.
    Updated information will be posted tomorrow

  8. Ordered a book. The LIQPAY does not work, never get the SMS. I submitted order via Paypal, as much as I hate to give them any money.

  9. After processing of paid orders 50 books were left. If anybody still need a book, please write request to email, I will send all invoices and provide all details about shipping/payment individually.
    Everybody who paid yesterday, already must have email from me with details of shipping. If message is absent, please check Spam folder. If it is not there, please contact me via email that is provided at the website

  10. The pricing data make sense actually. In 1939 the Mosin was a mature product. The plant to make it was fully amortized, the workers trained and experienced, material suppliers familiar with what was needed. There had been almost fifty years of cost cutting.

    The new rifles were complete unknowns in series production. Those first years included paying and setting up all aspects of the plant- tooling, machinery, power sources, suppliers, hiring, training the workers, receiving, shipping…

    And all those things, and the product itself, would be full of unpredicted hitches. A broken forge or a slipped track on the new incoming rail siding could shut down much of the operation for a week- and all the electricity and wages for that week were unproductive costs. Finding out at the assembly station that the next few bolts were a tenth of a millimeter too wide didn’t just waste the bolts, but required gauging them all, plus tracing back to find out where and how the error happened and adjusting for that.

    Design is very much only a part of production with any product.The first ten thousand might well cost ten times per unit what the next million do.

  11. Great tip, great book.I ordered, paid, and just received it in the mail (in the Netherlands). How wonderful when things work.

  12. Just received my copy carefully packed in a padded envelope. Many thanks to Alexander for the fine service and for Ian for the tip.

    Now, for some good reading.

    Please Alexander, more volumes covering more years!

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