Nordic Cooperation: The Swedish M96 in Finnish Service

One of the significant foreign rifles in Finnish service during the Winter War and Continuation War was the Swedish M96 Mauser. These rifles began arriving in Finland even before Finland’s independence, and in 1919 the Civil Guard was given ownership of 1,390 of them. The numbers increased slowly through individual purchases by Finnish sport shooters and Civil Guardsmen in the 1920s, but it was in 1940 that Finland arrange the purchase of a large number. In total, 77,000 more M96 rifles were bought from Sweden during the Winter War, plus about 8,000 more brought and left in Finland by men of the Swedish Volunteer Corps.

About 30,000 of these rifles were returned to Sweden in mid 1940, with the remainder staying in Finnish inventory until the early 1950s. In both the Winter War and Continuation War they saw significant combat service, with the Swedish volunteers, with Finnish forces in northern Finland, and with Costal Infantry and Coastal Artillery units fighting in the south. When they were finally surplussed by Finland in the 50s, they were repurchased by Sweden, overhauled, and put back into service. The Finnish examples found today on the US collector market can be identified by their “SA” Finnish property stamps and (usually) Swedish single-screw stock disks.

9 Hole Reviews Taking the M96 to the 1000-Yard Range:

C&Rsenal History of the Swedish M94 Carbine:

C&Rsenal History of the Swedish M96 Rifle:


    • Finland was too small, poor, and lacking in population to contemplate a switch to anything that used cartridges other than 7.62x54mmR (7.62x53mm in Finnish parlance). So reworked Mosin-Nagants it was… If the victorious white faction in the civil war had had their druthers, Finland would be a constitutional monarch like the other Nordic nations, and the army would have used a German Mauser shoulder rifle. Neither happened for specific historic reasons.

      I own lots of Mosin-Nagant rifles of different makes and models. I do not own a Swedish Mauser. That said, in almost any practical and pragmatic use of a repeating rifle you’d care to name, I’d greatly prefer a 6.5mm Mauser. Truly a “no brainer” as you say…

      Where things get truly odd is when the nascent Soviet Union had no recourse but to opt for the continuation of the old 1908 7.62x54mmR cartridge, and attempt to develop any and all new small-arms: LMGs, self-loading rifles, belt-fed machineguns around it. The Bolsheviks inherited the bold experimentation in 6.5mm cartridges and weapons designed to employed them, but in the end were basically forced into much the same conundrum as physically large but sparsely populated Finland!

      France managed to be on the winning side of WWI (short a whole generation of young men…) with the 8x50mmR cartridge, the Lebel and Berthier rifles (3-shots!), the Mle. 1907 St.-Etienne machinegun (used alongside the much better Hotchkiss Mle. 1914, particularly after 1916…) and the CSRG Fusil mitrailleur Mle. 1915 Chauchat!

      • Sorry for being pedantic, but 7.62x54R and 7.62x53R are Finnish designations for two different cartridges.
        7.62x54R refers to the Russian original, which uses bullets of a larger diameter (7.9 mm or .311″) than Western 7.62 mm calibers (comparable diameter to .303 British and 7.65×53 Mauser). It was used by the Finnish military.
        7.62x53R is the Finnish variation using bullets of Western diameter (7.8 mm or .308″). It was made commercially, particularly for hunters and competition.
        Lapua made the well known D46 bullet for decades in both diameters.

        • Ah-I see. Thanks! I know that the typical Finnish Mosin barrel was .395″ while the M/39 was .310″ Some Civil Guard and target barrels were U.S. style .308s instead of the Russian-style .310-.311.

          Kiitos! Tack tack. Thanks.

  1. Swedish versus Russian? I have dated examples of both and as the song goes, “Love the one you’re with”. I am sure the Finnish soldiers felt that way about their personal weapon.

  2. A fun detail, Finnish regulations say that the Swedish 6.5 mm is too wimpy for hunting moose although thousands of moose are killed every year in Sweden using it. Are Finnish moose so much tougher compared to the Swedish ones that at least 7.62 is required to hunt moose in Finland ??

    • No, the elk are pretty much the same across northern Europe. The law was probably written thinking of the Mosin-Nagant rifles, that were very common in Finland. Lawmakers are often getting details wrong writing laws creating headaches later for the people that have to live with the laws.

  3. Moose is easy to shoot with 22LR.
    But to reduce the number of lost wounded animals, you really need something no less than 7,62×53.
    Better yet, 9,3×53.
    I have heard that this cartridge was designed specifically for shooting moose, since 7,62×53 is on the verge of sufficient, and often below.

  4. 9.3×53 was used in Finland because gunsmiths did bore up worn out Mosin barrels since it was a cheap way to create hunting rifles. A terrible miniature cannon, you do need suspenders using it ….

    • You are confused with the USSR.
      This Russian cartridge 9x53R was developed for use in Mosin conversion carbines. And it is noticeably weaker than the Finnish 9.3×53.
      Although their geometry is very close and they are (theoretically) interchangeable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.