An m/91-24 with a lot of history

Discussion in 'Pre-WW2 Sako military rifles and variations' started by icebear, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    Here is one of the more interesting items in my Finn military collection. The m/91-24 was a very early Finnish-built military rifle. It was built for the Civil Guard (Suojeluskunta). Sako was founded as an arms factory for the Suojeluskunta; Sako is an acronym for Suojeluskuntain Ase- ja Kone- paja (Civil Guard Arms and Machine Works). The m/91-24 was adopted, as one would guess from the name, in 1924. The rifles were Russian m/91 rifles rebuilt with heavier barrels, which were obtained from Switzerland and Germany. This example has a German Bohler-Stahl barrel. Note that the barrel is stepped at the muzzle. This is to allow the use of the bayonet.

    If you look carefully at the second photo, you will see, from left, the SA inside a rectangle marking of the Finnish Army (applied in the early 1940's), the S in a shield emblem of the Suojeluskunta, and a rather muddled marking on the upper flat of the action. If you look very closely at this mark, you will see that the original marking is a Russian imperial eagle with two Cyrillic letters below. This has been overstamped with a hammer and sickle inside a wreath, showing that it was stamped after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. This rare marking means that the original m/91 must have been captured in the Finnish Civil War, when Finnish Communists, assisted by the Soviets, attempted to reverse Lenin's order granting Finland its independence. There is no other way that such a gun could have fallen into Finnish hands before 1924. The Finns inherited thousands of m/91 rifles that were in Russian arsenals when Finland became independent, but these could not have had the Communist overstamp.

    This particular weapon has obviously been refurbished, post-1924, in a Finnish arsenal. It has a later style Finnish stock with Finnish-type metal sling hangers as opposed to the leather loops of the original m/91. Finnish-built stocks are made in two pieces with a finger joint in the middle; the original Russian stocks were made in one piece. The metal is arsenal refinished.

    This rifle encapsulates the history of Russian-Finnish relations in the 20th century. It is one of the most interesting I have ever seen, let alone owned. The Suojeluskunta provides a sidebar. It was a network of local militias with a central high command that provided training and weapons. In the early days of the Winter War, the militia took much of the impact of the Russian invasion. The Russians were impressed with the fighting qualities of the Suojeluskunta, to the point where the peace treaty ending the Continuation War required that the Suojeluskunta be disbanded and Sako should be sold to a civilian entity (The Finnish Red Cross acquired Sako, which may be the only time in history that the Red Cross owned an arms factory).

    Here are the pictures.

    M24 #1-1.JPG M24 #1-2.JPG
    ricksengines likes this.

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