Now enough whining and on to my review of the 91/30 PU sniper rifle.
The rifle arrived this morning and I finally have a chance to report and comment on what I received first hand. My "PU" sniper rifle was a 1943 Izhvesk made rifle.
It was in VG+ to excellent condition. There are no visible blemishes on the stock and some minor scrapes found on the handguard most likely from the shipping crate cradles that the guns are housed in. Bonus on the barrel bands. Both front and rear are "button bands" from the early transitional time frame of the solid to split bands in the 1930-1932 time frame. Both keepers for another gun of that time but not correct for this 1943 version.
The interior inspection showed a pristine bore that was not counterbored. The was as was the case of the other rifles I received, had virtually no cosmoline present on the guns or in the bore but for a light layer of oil/grease. This gun was no exception and was very clean. I ran one patch down the bore and it was nearly clean after just two passes. The clean bore was shiny showing nice rifling. It was not as sharp as the plain jane 91/30 but the rifling was definitely very strong through out the length of the bore. There was no corrosion present to my muzzle and breech visual inspection. The rifle was delivered in the usual manner of a double box and the interior support which centered the rifle well. The optics were very well wrapped in bubble paper and presented in a separate box. The rifle was a surprise to me upon pulling it from the box as the stock was a laminated version. I did not request this as a specific as I did not request any specifics on the rifles. This may lead to the conspiracy theory but if that is the case...tough. I'm really happy with this stock. It was a nice surprise regardless. Overall the rifle was as with the others in nearly 100% blue, no black paint present and a new factory crown was applied which was sharp and non damaged. My initial inspection of the rifle showed that the buttplate and magazine well were electric penciled much to my dismay. The bolt was stamped matching to the rifle but it was renumbered as the style of the numbering was a different font and the placement was off center.
Well you can't win them all. The mount affixed to the rifle was a definite post war manufacture and in a black oxide finish. The wood relief for the mount was sharp and provided adequate relief albeit some what generous in its gap. This did not bother me as I have several rifles that are very tight in this fit and some that are looser like this one. The retention screws appeared to be fixed with black locktite. That was a first for me on Russian snipers and not ordinary. The screws and pins were seated properly and showed no binding on the bolt. The mount was numbered to the gun in stamped fashion of the rifles serial number. The mount was also of post war manufacture and was devoid of any proof markings as to maker or inspector and shared the same black oxide textured finish. The rough windage pads appeared to be slightly ground for target alignment prior to the finish being applied. The rough elevation screws appeared to be set upon the first look through.
Ahhhh now you say when do you get to the scope grasshopper...well now I guess. I was happy to finally see one of these optics in person. Well it technically was not the first time but this version is a first for me. I was aware of reproduction scopes and mounts being offered in Europe from the optical manufactures in Russia. The same makers that produced some of the WW2 optics used on the PU and PE snipers. In fact upon my trip to Germany last November I made a specific trip to inspect some for these scopes with a large wholesaler in the country. The scopes that I examined where of the PU and SVT styles. They were excellently made and looked wonderful. They were however devoid of any makers marks and had just a simple serial number on the tube. Here in lies the difference between the two. The scopes on these IO snipers bear the optical factory markings of the LOMO optical works. The same maker of the scopes during the wartime period and beyond for the Russian military. As those of you who have the guns and the scope can see, they are clearly dated and marked with the optical makers marking and those dates are of WW2 vintage. The scope is of excellent construction and finish. The operation of the dials was perfect, but the scope is not of WW2 vintage. At first I thought that the scope was remanufactured from the existing tubes of WW2 scopes or parts. But upon a close examination and measurements the scopes are of different dimensions. The overall length is correct but the front and rear tube length and rear ocular dimension differs from that of a true WW2 vintage scope. This was disappointment to me on this gun, My scope was a SVT scope and dated 1942. Upon review of several other SVT scopes in my collection and on SVT snipers dated 1941 and 1942 in my collection as these are, I also find a discrepancy in the serial numbering of date blocks. It is my opinion that these scopes are current production like those I viewed in Germany, but marked with the vintage markings of the optical factory from the wartime period. These scopes are close enough to fool a seasoned collector upon a cursory glance but closer examination reveals its secrets.
I report that the optics were perfectly clear and the rear lens was coated with a filter of yellowish hue on my scope resulting in a crystal clear and sharp image. This is not unusual at all on PU scopes that have been rebuilt in the later years mind you. Well now I moved on to the examination of the scope mount and its alignment while fit to the rifle. I placed the rifle in my bench vice and sighted upon a target approximately 100m distance. The rifle was adjusted so that the object was visible through the bore of the rifle with the bolt removed from the breech end. I secured the mount the to gun and checked the alignment of the optical package in relation to the bore sight picture. It was nearly accurate. The rough elevation screws had been set as I had thought previously as the sight picture through the scope showed a near perfect rough elevation setting at the tip of the center post. The windage setting was off though to the right. I checked the dials to be sure I was set at 100m and O degree windage. Correction of the windage was done easily on the dial showing a 4 degree error in the mounting alignment of the mount to the base. I removed the mount and proceeded to lightly stone the rear windage adjustment pads on the mount as pictured in the photo I took of the adjusted pads.
http://old.gunboards.com/uploaded/Vic/2004113233111_IO 9130PU scope mount%
This resulted in the mount seating slightly more in line with the bore and presenting a correction of about 2 degrees still in error to the right. It is a good thing to be in error to the right as that indicates the pads must be shortened slightly to bring the scope in alignment with the bore to the left. If it is in error to the left then the mount has to be shimmed and that is a pain, so the corrections were in spec as they should be. I continued this process until I had the proper sight picture on my target when the mount was seated securely with a screw driver tight turn on the locking screw. The rough elevation screws were then checked again for sight picture and I found the results of the scope and bore alignment to be right on. I then indexed my elevation screws to show the proper placement for future reference if they should loosen. Any further adjustment would be done on the scope itself and should be very slight.
My analysis is that this rifle will make a fine shooter and I plan to shoot it as soon as possible maybe this weekend and will report on the findings.
Upon my cursory examination of the gun, it is apparent that it is obviously a WW2 vintage rifle fit with a later PU style mount and scope. Is the gun an original sniper? I can not tell you that with a definitive answer as this gun could have been used as sniper in the 50's or 60's just as easily as the 1940's. I can not say with any definite conviction that is the case. I can say with definite conviction the scope is a current production model made with vintage WW2 markings. The guns from all reports are of the correct vintage to be PU snipers. Both Tula and Izhevsk production have been reported. From my personal conversation with Uli at IO today I am confident that IO bought these rifles as WW2 vintage snipers. As I posted prior these guns had some serious thought put into them by the Russians with the scope production. This is not uncommon at all in Russia and dealing with them in the past. It also is apparent to me that these scopes were not just churned out by some knock off but by the original maker of the optics during the wartime. The manufacture is of excellent quality and from other information that I have gathered in researching these it has been confirmed that is the case. The original maker of the scopes in the wartime period for the military of the Soviet Union has indeed started to remanufacture these current scopes in the wartime style. The rifle was packed with its accessories as the other two guns were. It included the ammo pouch for 30 rds of 7.62x54R ammo, a tool kit and an oiler. The sling was also included and all were in excellent shape.
In conclusion it is my opinion that the guns providence used to build these rifles are indeed of WW2 vintage. The scope mount a post war manufacture and the scope is of a definite current production. Were these guns manufactured for storage and the optics added later because of damage or loss? I don't know and it really does not matter. The guns are what they are. Rifles bearing reproduction scopes that are in excellent condition throughout. The rifles were represented to the Inter Ordnance company as WW2 snipers and to an untrained eye they appear to be just that. Original refurbished WW2 dated rifles with WW2 dated optics....but to the trained eye the reality is apparent. The guns were clearly misrepresented to IO by the broker or unscrupulous arsenal dealer as being 100% original and they are in fact not. What they are in my opinion are some really really nice shooters or guns for the budget minded collector or re enactor that does not wish to add another 200.00 to 250.00 to get
a rifle that is 100% original. The cost on this gun was right for what it is. 450.00 is a very reasonable price when one breaks the sum of the parts down. The rifle in excellent condition is approximately 100.00. The cost of the scope mount and base plus the gunsmithing to affix it properly is another 100.00 to 125.00. The price of the scope is approximately 170.00 based upon the examples I viewed in Europe and the cost they were selling for there-add another 50.00 for a true wartime production here if you find one. Add in the proper bolt for the PU and that is another 60.00 to 100.00 depending on the source. The accessories are free but lets say bought outside of the gun another 35.00. So in the sum of the parts the approximate value is 500.00+ That is more than these are selling for.
My recommendation is as it was prior now that I have examined first hand one of theses guns. If you are looking for a budget minded PU style sniper then this is the gun for you. Excellent condition and new optics that feature coated lens's and will function flawlessly. There may be a choice for laminated stocked versions but I can not confirm that or for maker choice. I can recommend the gun as a really good choice for the shooter of WW2 snipers or for those who wish to save some dollars over an original. Condition rating A. Authenticity rating a disappointing D. Service rating, price and overall satisfaction B+/A-. Final grade C+/B-. I can not recommend the gun at all if you are looking for a PU sniper that is 100% original... but I can recommend the gun as an economically priced PU sniper shooter that looks great and hopefully will shoot even better. I'll report back on that later when I get the chance. Anybody in SE MI want to go shooting?
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