Russia (or the USSR, for these purposes) had an early self-loading rifle in the 1916 Federov, but it was not a satisfactory combat weapons, for several reasons. The Soviet military held a number of trials for a new automatic rifle in the late 1920s and 1930s, and the winner was the Automaticheskaya Vintovka Simonova obraztsa 1936 goda, or Simonov Automatic Rifle, model of 1936. The weapon was adopted as the AVS-36, and put into production. However, it was quickly realized that the design was not a particularly good one. It was complex and expensive to manufacture and prone to malfunctioning in the field. Another trial was held in 1938 between an updated version of the AVS, a rifle designed by Tokarev, and one by a designer named Rukavishnikov. In this trial (and probably with the help of some political intrigue), the Tokarev design won out, and was adopted as the SVT-38.

Simonov AVS-36 automatic rifle
Simonov AVS-36 automatic rifle

The AVS-36 was made in relatively small numbers (35,000-65,000, depending on which source you want to believe) and saw use primarily in the Winter War between Finland and the USSR. At the end of that conflict, most of the rifles were collected up and warehoused, to be destroyed by 1943/44. A decent number were captured by Finnish forces and survived that way. The Finnish military was not particularly impressed with the design, but it was popular with some Finnish soldiers.

Functionally, the AVS-36 is a short-stroke gas operated action, with a locking block that slides vertically up and down in the receiver to lock and unlock. The gas system is very similar to the SVT-38/40, but the locking is quite different.

The AVS-36 is most easily recognized by its large and distinctive muzzle brake, which was actually not all that effective. It used a 15-round magazine, and could fire in either semi or full automatic mode. In full auto, it ran at about 800 rounds/minute and was basically uncontrollable (it is not coincidental that it replacement, the SVT-38, was made in semiauto only). A small number of sniper variants of the AVS-36 were made, using a scope mounted off to the left of the bore (to not interfere with the design’s clip loading and upward ejection).

AVS-36 sniper variant
AVS-36 sniper variant


AVS-36 sniper variant
AVS-36 sniper variant


Photos of an AVS-36 (click to download in high resolution):

Photos of an AVS-36 magazine (click to download in high resolution):


You can find an excellent series of photos showing disassembly of an AVS-36 in this thread at


  1. Jeez, that’s one crazy compensator. Shame it didn’t work effectively, it looks like if the structure was changed a bit to help direct the gases more it would be extremely effective.

  2. Actually the Avs 36 mag and the Svt 40 are not interchangeable.
    I own both. The magazine follower runs down a track (can be seen on exterior of the mag)
    The svt is centered the avs is off set. It prevents the mags from locking in place.

  3. I really wanted this rifle and see how it performed through the Soviet hands, test some other stuffs with this rifle but i really can’t find one, i wish i could even in rock island auction house

  4. The most famous user of the AVS-36 sniper rifle was Lyudmila Pavlichenko’s travel companion to the United States, Hero of the Soviet Union Lt. Vladimir Pchelintsev (both were offsprings of NKVD parents and were considered reliable and unlikely to defect). The two snipers visited the West as “students” to raise support for the Soviet Union and encourage the opening of a second front. Pavlichenko fought in Odessa and later Sevastopol and her memoirs has been published as Lady Death. There is also a Russian movie on U-toob depicting her life. Unlike Pavlichenko who was withdrawn from frontline service by Stalin to serve a sniping instructor, Pchelintsev returned to fighting where his score eventually exceeded Pavlichenko’s 309 kills. After the AVS-36 were withdrawn from service, Pchelintsev used a scoped SVT-40.

    Gary Yee
    author of Snipers (1939-1945): The Men, Their Guns, Their Story

  5. i have a de-activated solid gun , but the mag was misplaced. avs-36. any luck finding a magazine????

  6. I have a trials parts kit variant. I have been lucky enough to find multiple magazines and more parts for it. My goal is to try and get it working again as a semi auto rifle only. One day.

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