About the Film
People & Places
Timelines & Maps
Education Resources
Finnish Small Arms

Rifles | Semi Automatic and Automatic Rifles | Sniper Rifles
Handguns | Machine Guns and Light Machine Guns

Rifles - Bolt Action Rifles

Finland captured large amounts of Mosin Nagant Model 1891 Rifles in their Independence War and due to this it was decided Mosin Nagant line of rifle would be the standard for the newly formed Finnish Army and Civil Guard. Finland began its own development of the Mosin Nagant in the 1920s, as the Finns improved upon the Russian designed rifle. This work was undertaken by both the Finnish Army and the Civil Guard at separate production-repair depots. There are a number of Finnish designed models that saw service, but all models were five shot and 7.62X54R in caliber. While Finnish Mosin Nagant production was successful in creating a well designed, well made, and accurate rifle, the Finns were not able to produce the various domestic versions of the Mosin Nagant in large enough numbers to equip their mobilized forces in the Winter and Continuation wars. The Finns were forced to rely on the older Russian version of M1891 in great numbers. The Finns also made use of the Soviet M1891/1930 rifle, the Model 1938 Carbine, and other Soviet-Russian arms captured during the fighting.

Top: Finnish Produced M1891
Bottom: Russian Produced M1891
Brent Snodgrass Collection

Finnish Civil Guard Model 1924 Rifle
Vic Thomas Collection

Finnish Army Model 1927 Rifle
Vic Thomas Collection

Finnish Army Cavarly Carbine
Vic Thomas Collection

Top: Finnish Civil Guard Model 1928 Rifle

Bottom: Finnish Civil Guard Model 1928/1930 Rifle
Vic Thomas Collection

Top: Captured Russian M1891 Cossack Rifle and Re-Issued in Finland

Bottom: Captured Soviet M1891/1930 Rifle and Re-Issued in Finland
Mosin-Nagant Dot Net Collection

Swedish Mauser Model 1896 Rifle
Vic Thomas Collection

During the Winter War 77,000 Swedish Mausers were purchased by the Finns. These accurate 6.5x55mm rifles saw active service with both Finnish Army and Civil Guard soldiers.

Semi Automatic and Automatic Rifles

The Finns had no production of automatic and semi-automatic rifles at the time of the Winter War. They did however capture large numbers of Soviet SVT38's and AVS36's which the Finns turned on their former owners.

Sniper Rifles

The Finns produced a small number of sniper rifles but these were very rare. Most Finns that acted as snipers used either open sights or made use of captured Soviet PE or PEM sniper rifles.


The German made Luger Pistol was the most commonly encountered pistol in the Finnish military. The Finnish members of Prussian Jaeger Battalion 27, which fought for the Germans in World War I, were the first Finns make use of the Luger pistol in a combat situation. The input of these soldiers was an important factor when Finland was debating the pistol of the newly formed Finnish Army. The Lugers in Finland were designated the M/23 and were in 7.65 caliber, and many of the pistols were also equipped with a shoulder stock. Finnish soldiers also made use of captured Soviet pistols such as the M95 Nagant Revolver and the TT33. The Spanish made Ruby pistol also saw issue in Finland, as did the Mauser M1896 pistol. Many Finnish officers owned their own personal pistols as well, and these various handguns did see use in the field; however, the Luger was the standard until the end of the Second World War.

Brent Snodgrass Collection

Brent Snodgrass Collection

The Lahti Model 1935 (L35) was the first Finnish production handgun. It was in 9X19mm and had an eight- round magazine. Production of the L35 was limited as the handgun was very costly to make. Due to this the Lahti saw only limited issue and use. It was a dependable pistol even with difficult and harsh field use.

The L35 as designed by Aimo Lahti and produced by VKT.
Vic Thomas Collection

Submachine Guns, Light Machine Guns and Machine Guns

The Model 1931 submachine gun was developed by Finnish gun designer Aimo Lahti. The submachine gun is more commonly known as the Suomi - which translates to Finland. Perhaps no other weapon is more associated with a war than the linkage of the Suomi to the Winter War. These submachine guns became synonymous with the Finnish soldiers the Red Army referred to as the White Death. The submachine guns were in 9X19mm caliber and equipped originally with a 20-round box magazine and a 40-round drum. The 40-round drums were replaced in 1937 as a 70-round drum became standard.

RLC Collection

The Lahti/Saloranta (LS/26) Light Machine Gun was one of the first light machine guns in the world and was chambered in the standard 7.62X54R round with a 20-round magazine. While well made the design proved to be flawed during use in the Winter War, as the parts were too fine and often caused the machine gun to jam or lock up. During the Winter War, the Finns found the Soviet-made light machine guns to be much more suitable for combat. The key light machine gun for the was the Soviet Degtyarev or DP-27. By the end of the Winter War, Finland made use of over 3,000 captured DP-27s .

Soviet DP27 Light Machine Gun
Jaeger Platoon Website

The standard heavy machine gun in Finnish service was the Maxim. There were a number of models of Maxim in Finland, two of Russian origin. There were two Finn modified versions known as the 09/21 and 32/33, and there were also limited numbers of German 08 Maxims serving in Finland. All were belt fed, and all but the 8mm German Maxims were in 7.62X54 caliber. The Maxim was a very tough machine gun.

Finnish 09/21 serving in a bunker position.
Brent Snodgrass Collection

Finnish 09/21
Brent Snodgrass Collection

A Russian M1910 Maxim that Finnish forces fitted for snow-ice use.
Mala Collection