AVS-36 Rifle, without magazine
Light machine gun
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Number built||33,000 - 34,5001|
|Weight||4.3 kg (9.5 lb)|
|Length||1.23 m (48 in)|
|Barrel length||612 mm (24 in)|
|Action||Gas-operated, tilting bolt|
|Rate of fire||800 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||840 m/s (2,756 ft/s)|
|Feed system||15-round magazine|
The AVS-36 (from Avtomaticheskaya Vintovka Simonova 1936 model; Russian: Автоматическая винтовка Симонова образца 1936 года) was a Soviet automatic rifle which saw service in the early years of World War II. It was among the early select-fire infantry rifles (capable of both single and full-automatic fire) formally adopted for military service.
The designer, Sergei Simonov, began his work with a gas-operated self-loading rifle in 1930. The first prototype was ready in 1931 and appeared promising, and three years later a trial batch of an improved design was made. Next year, a competition between Simonov's design and a rifle made by Fedor Tokarev was held. The Simonov rifle emerged as a winner and was accepted into service as the AVS-36. The AVS-36 was a gas-operated rifle with a short piston stroke and vertical sliding locking block. It was capable of both automatic and semi-automatic fire. The barrel was equipped with a large muzzle brake to reduce recoil. Ammunition was in a detachable magazine holding 15 rounds. A knife bayonet was issued with the rifle. A sniper version was produced in small amounts with a PE scope. The AVS-36 was first seen in public in the October Revolution Day 1938 parade in Moscow.
Once in service, it quickly became apparent that the AVS was not a satisfactory design; the operating mechanism was overly complicated, and the problem was made worse by the rifle's construction which let dirt get inside the weapon. The rifle was also particular about ammunition quality. The muzzle brake design proved to be a failure — the rifle was nearly uncontrollable in automatic fire. Some of the problems were traced to the magazine, which was deemed too long. Production of the AVS-36 was terminated in 1938, and a new design competition was held to which Simonov and Tokarev submitted their improved designs. Simonov's rifle was lighter and contained fewer parts, while Tokarev's rifle was considered sturdier. This time, the Tokarev design won (reportedly in part because of Joseph Stalin's interference in favour of Tokarev) and went on to become the SVT-38. Simonov would later design an anti-tank rifle, the PTRS-41, and the SKS carbine, which employed simpler tilting bolt operation.
Overall, about 65,800 AVS-36s were manufactured (although some sources place the number lower than that). The rifle first saw service in the Battle of Halhin Gol, and later in the Winter War, but did not perform well. Some of the problems were caused by incorrect maintenance; many rifles went into combat without having been cleaned of their storage grease, which then "froze" solid. SVT-38s and LS-26s used on the Finnish side suffered from similar problems. Finnish forces captured several hundred of these rifles and put them to use, though after a large amount of the more serviceable SVTs were captured, they were largely withdrawn from service. In the Soviet Union, the AVS was quickly marginalized and apparently withdrawn from service during 1941, though it saw brief service during World War II. Some reports claim that remaining AVSs were mostly scrapped. Today, the AVS-36 is a rare collectors item; most of the remaining rifles in existence are in Finland.
- Jager Platoon website. A single source claims that production continued until 1940 and that 65,800 rifles were made in total, but other sources disagree.
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