|This is a side-by-side
comparison of a 1945 Izhevsk M44 and a 1946 Izhevsk M44. Both rifles appear
to have been rebuilt based on the fact that the condition of the metal,
stock and bore is excellent on both examples. The '45 was finished in a
flat clear varnish and the '46 seems to have been done in a gloss spar
1945 was in effect the third year of production for the M44 if you consider that fact that several thousand pre-production test rifles were fielded in 1943 on a trials basis. The Great Patriotic War was in it's closing stages in '45 and production was running slightly below that of 1944. The '45 production numbers were 3,472,245 just below the 3,620,00 produced in '44. The 1946 production numbers dropped to 189,027 reportedly to make way for the production of the newly designed SKS. At this stage of the war, every effort was made to speed up production and conserve material and these two examples demonstrate that quite clearly.
The first area to examine where materials were conserved is the receiver. This came as kind of a surprise to me as I never considered this with the M44 but the 1945 has a high walled receiver much like many of the war years M91/30's. The difference is in the milling. The high walled 91/30's almost all have very rough milling whereas the M44 is smooth.
The 1945 is at the top and the 1946 below.
Both rifles appear almost identical
in their markings. Both have the Izhevsk wreath with hammer and sickle
as well as the triangle with the arrow inside. Both carry the final acceptance
proof ( y in a circle ) as well as various other armorer's stamps.
Note that the receiver of the 1945
is just as smooth as the 1946. Another big difference between the early
model and the later models is the bayonet locking catch. The early models
used a single catch while the double catch first appeared on the 1946.
The front site assemblies of both rifles differ as well. The 1945 utilizes a narrow sight and base while the '46 has a wider sight and base.
The rear sights are basically the same
with the only difference being a lack of bluing on the '45 site leaf.
The 1945 rear sight assembly shows a poorer fit and finish.
Another area where materials were conserved was the sling slots on the fore stock and butt stock.
The top shows the 1945 rear slot sans the metal sleeve seen on the 1946 on the bottom.
The fore stock slots also demonstrate savings of material. It has been said that later rebuilds also featured the removal of the metal sleeves so I can't say for sure that this is typical of the 1945 production M44's.
Hopefully this article has served to illustrate the differences in features between a M44 produced during WWII and one produced after it ended.