Transition 91/30 Questions...

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by polishshooter, Jun 11, 2006.

  1. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Hey RussianRifle, help me out!

    With all this talk about our "strange" 91/30s, I checked out my "1920" Izzy today, it's been a while since I handled it.

    Actually, I spent the last couple of days since I reminded YOU about the tang date, trying to remember what IT'S tang date was so I finally gave in to my "partsheimers" and took it apart...

    ...and NOW I remember! There IS no tang date on it! Somebody at some time took a file or grinder to it, and poorly defaced it. You can BARELY make out the bow and arrow, but what is FUNNY, there is a "3" stamped on there OVER the file marks, in the same font and size from where one of the serial numbers appears to be restamped.

    SO I looked at the the receiver/barrel markings AGAIN under a glass, and here is what I have.

    On the very FRONT of the barrel ring is a hammer and sickle in wreath post-1928 Izzy mark, a LITTLE offset to the left. Right BELOW it is the RUSSIAN Tsarist(NOT Soviet!) Cyrillic three words meaning "Izhevsk Arsenal." THAT is distinct, and you can destinctly read the last three letters of the big word, which are different from the same early Soviet lettering used on 91s from 1918-to like 1922. The last of the smaller two words underneath the larger one also has the distinct extra letter that looks like a "b" at the end, that the SOVIETS dropped for some reason.

    Now here is where it gets tricky. PART of the barrel ring, towards the right, has been filed roughly. It LOOKS like it's where the file or grinder accidently touched it when filing or grinding something ELSE...I'll get to that later!

    THAT side of the date, and the serial number is faint, and partially obscured, and some of the numbers look overstamped.

    The FIRST two numbers of the date are distinct, "19." but in the type of old looking font similar to what you usually see on older Russian 91s. THAT much I'm sure of, and I looked closely, to MAKE SURE the 9 was not an 8.

    BECAUSE the THIRD number looks overstamped! IT LOOKS like the TOP of a "9" superimposed EXACTLY on the BOTTOM of a "2" in exactly the same font style as the first two numbers! But the LAST number, looks like it was lost completely to the file, and a clear "0" is stamped in a DIFFERENT style font where the last number would be. It was SOLD to me by SOG as a "1920" on their paperwork, FYI.

    Now the SERIAL number looks partially overstamped as well, but with matching font style. The first numbers on the undamaged left side look spaced normally, but OVER the "filing" the OTHER numbers are in the SAME font as the first two, but are kind of hapahazardly done and spaced. It's a five digit number.

    This is where it gets interesting. On the very TOP of the Hex receiver immediately behind the barrel ring, is evidence of MORE filing, but polished out a little better. And on top of THIS filing is ANOTHER "hammer and sickle in wreath" post 1928 Izzy mark, not done very well, in fact looking like it was stamped TOO hard, (possibly with a broken stamp? Or the stamp BROKE when stamping this too hard???) because part of the wreath and the sickle are kind of "washed" together.

    My questions are, WAS there an imperial crest on 91 recievers where the "heavy" Izzy mark is now? I KNOW they ground them off on many 91s after the revolution, but I've never owned any with the crests intact. But THIS would account for the grind marks on the BARREL, if the grinder slipped grinding off the crest.

    I WISH it had a tang date, but have you ever heard of them grinding a tang date off ALSO when they converted them? WHY? Especially when they didn't get the pre-28 Izzy marking completely off! And WHY overstamp just a "3" after getting done filing or grinding it? And not CENTERED either, actualy right towards an edge. I could see "3-0" if it was converted in 30, maybe, but just a "3???"

    The stock is a typical EARLY 91/30 stock, with the 91 style screws holding in the escutcheons, but not any different from my 31 Tula that I can tell.

    And the RUSSIAN not SOVIET writing is strange...if it WAS made in 1920, it SHOULD have had the SOVIET style markings, NOT RUSSIAN, and there would NOT be any imperial crest to grind off then EITHER, right? I BELIEVE they still stamped them with the cyrillic like this from like 1918 to like 1922 or so, BUT in the SOVIET spelling...and obviously no CREST after 1917, 1918 at the latest....

    I'm wondering if this is actually an EARLIER 91 rifle cut to make a transition, probably at LEAST pre-1918??? And MAYBE the crest and everything else was ground off in 1920? Maybe the workman screwed up and restamped it before anybody noticed and he got shot or sent to a gulag????

    The barrel is exactly 1/2" LONGER than my other "real" 91/30s, and it matched in length the 1929 transition I had exactly.

    Any ideas?
  2. RussianRifle

    RussianRifle New Member

    Jan 19, 2006

    The "b" looking character is a "soft sign" in Cyrillic. It doesn't have a sound of it's own, but softens the pronunciation of the preceeding consonant; in this case the D.

    If your transition 91/30 has the three-line Izhevsk logo with the last word (zavod) ending with this soft sign, I believe it MUST have been put there before the Communists took control of what got stamped on the rifles. As you said, you see the soft sign on the M91s and not on the post-revolution dated rifles.

    Another noticable change in the letters involves changing a letter that looks much our I to one that looks like a backwards N. These changes to the Cyrillic alphabet came about just after the Communist Revolution. This is a link to a snapshot of a standard Izhevsk M91 receiver showing the three-line logo and with a clear (if small) Tsarist eagle with the PK mark below it. Refurbishment of these rifles would have had the wreath stamped over the eagles on both the barrel and the one (if there is one) on the receiver. Or the eagles could be pinged.

    I will take a closer look at my transition 91/30 tonight. There is a wreath stamped on the receiver and an eagle under the wreath. The wreath was hastily or drunkenly stamed quite a bit offset. I know there is a wreath on the barrel, but I don't rember if any of a eagle is visible underneath. I'm pretty sure the lettering on the barrel is Soviet, though.

    Why someone would scrub the tang, I have no idea. There were no refs to the Tsar or the Romanovs, stamped on the tangs that I'm aware of. It would be a waste of manpower and time to take the effort to scrub the tang.

  3. RussianRifle

    RussianRifle New Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    O.K. I took a good long look at the barrel and receiver of mine again and except for the overstampings of the SN yours has, ours are VERY similar.

    Like yours, mine has the crest/wreath at the top. Mine is more or less centered, and I cannot tell what was there before, if anything. Given that both our rifles have barrel dates and "bow-and-arrow" marks that seem to predate the crest, it should be safe to assume that the crest was added at some later date; perhaps during refurbishment.

    Like yours, mine has the three line logo, with the capital "I" in IZHEVSKIJ as opposed to the Cyrillic "I" (looking like the backwards N), and the soft sign after the D in ZAVOD. As I stated before, the spelling rule that would have changed this lettering did not take place until 1918. So, either both our barrels were marked before 1918, or the enactment/enforcement of the spelling rule change did not reach the assembly line at the Izhevsk until sometime after 1921 (based on the date of my rifle). Either is possible, and I have no definitive information that would eliminate either scenario. Although the fact that mine has a tang date of 1914 MAY mean that the logo was on that barrel since at least that time.

    The date stamped on mine is 1921, and does not show anything unusual in that it does not look like it was stamped any deeper or was not overstamped. The edges of the numbers seem to show about the same amount of wear as the three-line logo above it.

    Mine also has a five-digit serial number, stamped interestingly enough with the numbers at a slight cant to the right, and somewhat deeper than the other markings. No explanation.

    Like yours, beneath the sn on the barrel is the "bow-and-arrow" mark. This would make sense with the 1921 date. Again, it is in apparent contrast with the post 1928 crest at the top.

    Like yours, mine has a crest stamped on the receiver. As I described earlier, this was most likely done as a way to obliterate the small Romanov eagle that is still pretty clear on my rifle, since the crest on mine missed most of the eagle.

    Since the crests were added later, and were not used to overstamp or obliterate the older "bow-and-arrow" mark, they were probably put there just to deface the imperial eagles. If so, why did they wait until after 1928 to do this? Did it take that long for the Soviets to get to all these older rifles? It's entirely possible, but I really don't know.

    In any case, this is a fascinating bit of study (to me at least), that is hampered by my lack of knowledge of the general procedures for making and reworking these rifles. I would love to know the overall process involved. The references to the spelling/lettering came out of my 21 years experience as a Russian linguist in the military, which clearly contributed to my interest in these rifles.

    These rifles probably have very storied histories, possibly being used by a poor peasant soldier in the brief Russian involvement in WWI, by either the Whites or the Reds in the Revolution, then somewhere in WWII, and probably storage after that. But also they contain clues to the changes in the politics and policies of the people in charge of Russia from a period of time during which Nicholas II ruled, through the taking of power by the Communists, and reflecting the Soviet doctrine that arose from that.

    All in the letters and nubmers stamped on rifles. It's amazing.

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