The Samozaryadnaya Vintovka Tokareva, Obrazets 1940 goda ("Tokarev Self-loading Rifle, Model of 1940", Russian Cyrillic: Самозарядная винтовка Токарева, образец 1940 года) or "SVT-40" is a Soviet semi-automatic battle rifle.
The SVT-40 saw widespread service during and after World War II. Intended to be the new service rifle of the Soviet Red Army production was disrupted by the German invasion in 1941 resulting in a switch back to the older Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle for the duration of WWII. After the war new rifles were adopted by the Soviet, SKS and AK-47.
Developed from the earlier SVT-38, the SVT-40 became available to re-equip some Soviet units just in time for the German invasion.The increased firepower of these formations came as an unpleasant surprise for the invaders. It has been called the "Soviet M1 Garand" because it was to be the new battle rifle for the Soviets to replace the aging Mosin-Nagant as well as the prototypes used primer actuated blowback for its operation. However, the AK-47 and the SKS were developed and used instead.
After the war, SVTs were mostly withdrawn from service and refurbished in arsenals, then stored. In Soviet service, firearms like the SKS and the AK-47 as well as the later SVD made the SVT obsolete, and the rifle was generally out of service by 1955. Only a few SVTs were exported to Soviet allies and clients. Reportedly, some SVTs were used by Cuban revolutionaries in the 1950s. The Finnish Army retired the SVT in 1958, and about 7,500 rifles were sold to the United States civilian market through firearm importer Interarms. This marked the end of SVTs in regular service. In the Soviet Union, SVTs were kept in storage until the 1990s, when many rifles were sold abroad, along with several other Russian surplus military firearms. Currently the SVT is fairly widely available for collectors and historical enthusiasts, and is highly sought. In Russia, limited examples for civilian use have been sold as the ОСК-88 (OSK 88) with some variations in stock, barrel length and optics. The rifle's popularity is due to a combination of the inexpensive nature of its 7.62×54mmR ammunition, favorable aesthetics, historical significance, and pleasant shooting characteristics.
Despite its relatively brief service career, the SVT was a prolific rifle on the Eastern Front during World War II, and it had considerable impact on European battle rifle designs during and immediately after the war. The German G-43 was influenced by the SVT in its design, as was Simonov's experimental carbine during the closing stages of the war (which would later become the SKS). The FN FAL and its ancestor FN-49 employ the same locking mechanism and operating principle as the SVT, although as mentioned above, this is most likely coincidental. As a service rifle, the SVT had its problems, but so did contemporary semi-automatic rifles made by other countries. The main reason for the gradual downfall of SVT usage in combat was not its technical disadvantages; rather, the reason was that, with the immense, continual demand for rifles in the front lines, Soviet factories could produce other, simpler designs in far greater quantities in the same length of time it took to produce the SVT.