The M/39, nicknamed the Ukko-Pekka ("Old Man Pekka" in Finnish) after former Finnish president Pehr "Ukko-Pekka" Svinhufvud, was a complex modification of the Soviet Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle, and the standard rifle of the Finnish Army during the Continuation War.


At first glance, the M/39 is nearly identical to the Mosin-Nagant. This is not a coincidence. Captured Soviet ammunition was plentiful, more so than Finland's own manufactured cartridges. In order take advantage of this surplus, the rifle was designed around the Mosin-Nagant's main body and receiver. That is where the similarities end. The barrel, stock, grip, sight, sling mount, hand guard, and sometimes even the wood itself were completely reworked.

Unlike the Soviet rifle, the stock of the M/39 was not straight. A pistol-like hand grip protruded down from the main body in most models, although early-war Mosin-Nagant-like examples exist in small numbers. The area in front of the receiver was removed just like the stock, and a larger, heavier barrel was put in place for better accuracy. The two new components were made from birch wood covered in baked wax and pine-tar, making them much more sturdy than their Russian and German contemporaries. The rear sight was Finnish in origin, recycled from the older M/28-30 rifle used in the Winter War. The front sight consisted of two soldered on "ears", as opposed to the common "hood".[3]

Essentially, the M/39 was a high-quality upgrade of the Mosin-Nagant. It retained the main systems of the weapon, while improving all that could be done under Finland's budget.


Mosin-Nagant 1891-30 Rifle

M91 Mosin-Nagant: Note the straight stock, thin barrel, and wood finish,


M/39: Note the pistol-grip, larger stock, thicker barrel, larger sight, and waxy coating.

The M/39 was commissioned in 1939 in order to standardize the Finnish Army's arsenal, which had previously consisted of numerous variants and versions of different weapons. However, the Winter War put most factories into emergency service, forcing them to produce the older Finnish service rifles (M28, M/28-30, M91/28, etc.). Only ten were completed by the end of the Winter War, but about 10,000 weapons were finished when the Continuation War began. Over the course of World War II, the Finnish Army received roughly 60,000 M/39's.


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