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SVT Manual
The Soviet Tokarev Rifle is the object of much interest among collectors, shooters and the rapidly growing cadre of historians interested in WWII. This always mysterious, often cantankerous veteran of the Eastern Front of WWII has garnered both praise and damnation from collectors and shooters. Its sensitivity to ammo and gas settings has led to many a shooter to ask ponderously, “how is this thing supposed to work?” To that end Michigan Historical Collectables is marketing a dual copy of the original 1941 Soviet Field Manual for the Soviet Tokarev Rifle.

Victor Thomas, President of MHC, obtained, after five years of searching, an original copy of the very rare original Soviet manual, printed in Moscow in 1941. As many collectors of Soviet era militaria are aware this is possibly the most difficult of the Soviet small arms manuals to find today. Thomas’ bona fides with Tokarev rifles are well known but are worth recounting here. He has arguably the finest collection of Tokarev rifles this side of the Atlantic. His extensive collection has been gathered over fifteen years of research, during which, he is credited with being the individual who revealed the existence of the Korov factory marking. With the foresight that this manual would be a valuable resource Thomas asked noted author, linguist and historian, Terrence Lapin (author of “The Soviet Mosin-Nagant Manual” and “The Mosin Nagant Rifle”), to translate this work. Lapin produced a mirror copy of the manual in English. Mirror copy is an apt phrase as bound into one book is both the original Soviet version of this manual, in Russian, and the new English translation. Never available before to those outside of intelligence circles this English translation is boon to anyone who owns, shoots, collects, or intends to purchase a Soviet Tokarev Rifle. Those interested in Soviet small arms evolution and tactics will find much fascinating information as well.

The Soviet Tokarev Rifle Service Manual covers the construction, firing, field utilization, assembly/disassembly of the SVT 38, SVT 40, AVT 40, and SVT 40 Sniper rifles. Virtually any question a person will have about the use and deployment of these rifles is covered in this manual. There are ten sections to this manual:

1. Military Characteristics and Purpose of the M.1940 Semiautomatic Rifle
2. Principles of Construction and Basic Parts of the Semiautomatic Rifle
3. Disassembly and Assembly of the Rifle
4. Interaction of the Rifle’s Parts and Mechanisms
5. Inspecting the Rifle and Preparing it to Fire
6. Disruption of Normal Functioning of the Rifle’s Mechanisms
7. Maintenance and Care of the Rifle
8. Checking the Sighting of the Rifle and Zeroing it for Normal Use
9. Methods to Fire the Rifle
10. Appendices

The Soviet Tokarev Rifle Service Manual is 237 pages long (141 pages in English and curiously 96 in Russian language) and is a complete, faithful reproduction of the Soviet original featuring the original Soviet illustrations and tables. It is clearly and well illustrated with line drawings that illustrate the adjacent text. The original production of this book was a product of the Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army via the Military Publishing House USSR Peoples Commissariat of Defense in 1941. That said it is obvious that this book’s illustrations are clear enough in concept to be understood by persons who do not read or speak Russian. Although aimed primarily at the shooter there is much here of interest to the collector of SVTs. Illustrations of the bayonet, gas system adjustment tool (regulator tool), the proper oil/solvent bottle, sling, scopes, mount, as well as many cross sectional drawings are included and will prove to be a delight to collectors who have wondered aloud for years what some of these elusive objects looked like. The section on degassing the rifle is fascinating as well as the directions on lubricating and winterizing the SVT. Of particular note is the mixture of lubricants and solvents that was devised to allow the proper function of the gas system under extreme winter conditions. In typical Stalin era Soviet style it “is forbidden” to clean the rifle using improper materials or incorrectly. The phrase “is forbidden” appears with regularity. One is struck by the order to use oakum in the cleaning process in the same way a cleaning patch is used today. Clearly this is a throw back to earlier times and indicative of a Red Army staunch in its ability to change without orders from above on even banal items like this. The section on SVT sniper rifles is worth the price of this manual alone. It is fascinating its technical aspects as well as the pure fact that it shows the emphasis the Red Army placed on battlefield sniping.

The Soviet Tokarev Rifle Service Manual stands as an object of interest to those shooters and collectors of these rifles, as well as a monument to the Red Army of The Great Patriotic War (1941-45). As a piece of primary source research on the Red Army it is superb. The translation, conducted by Terrence Lapin, is thoughtful, precise and well executed. The printing was conducted in such a way as to attempt to reproduce in approximates, the size, and feel of the original manual. The covers are card stock and the paper is heavy. This book is sure to please and its limited printing insures that it will become an instant and hard to obtain classic. All owners of SVTs will find themselves at a loss without a copy of this manual and should find the means to obtain a copy of this superb document.
 
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