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GUNS Magazine Digital April 2011 - Page 54

I MIKE “dUKE” VENtURINO PHOtOS BY YVONNE VENtURINO t is a simple fact of World War II history that the vast bulk of infantrymen involved in combat between 1939 and 1945 carried bolt-action rifles whose basic designs dated from around the turn of the century. none offered a truly significant advantage over one another. Although some of those rifle designs were revamped after hostilities began, mostly the changes involved sights and manufacturing techniques not the rifles’ basic modes of operation. That said, it is also a fact that three semi-auto infantry rifles were fielded in significant numbers. Of course the best known one was the US M1 Garand, named after its chief designer John C. Garand. The US Army officially adopted it as early as 1936 but took until mid1943 before enough were available to arm virtually all frontline American troops. Only in that latter year did Germany even adopt a successful design of semi-auto infantry rifle. At first it was given the designation G43, meaning Gewehr (rifle) 1943. Later that was changed to K43, meaning Karabiner (short rifle or carbine) 1943. The Soviet Union actually had their semi-auto developed prior to Germany’s attack in June 1941. It was named the SVT40, meaning in Russian “samozaryadnaya vintonka Tokareva obrazets 1940.” That translated to English is “Tokarev selfloading rifle Model 1940.” Russian firearms designer F. V. Tokarev was to the SVT40 as Garand was to the US M1. Although all three of the above semi-automatics served in their respective nations’ infantry forces The three semi-auto rifles the USSR, Germany and the United States issued these during World War II included (from top) the Soviet SVT40, German k43, and US M1. 54 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • APRIL 2011

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