Yesterday I went to one of the local gun shops to consign a rifle I didn't need in my collection anymore. It was a Universal M1 Carbine (which is commercial, not GI) that was a "hole filler" until I got a GI Carbine. Now that I have a couple of those I felt it was time to let the Universal find a new home. While I was at the shop, I spotted a couple of Mosin Nagants on the used gun rack. One was a 91/30 sniper, the other a Carbine. I took a quick look at the carbine and saw it was an M38, and when I saw the $110 price tag I decided I'm going home with that carbine. It's a 1943 Izhevsk Arsenal example:
Once I got it home I discovered a few things about it. Though it had gone through the arsenal refurbishment process, it was still all original. It appears they never even disassembled the rifle, as the rifle is all matching. The bolt shows no sign of having the original serial scrubbed and a new serial struck (what is referred to as "force matching"). The trigger guard and butt plate also have matching numbers. Also, all parts have the Izhevsk markings. When the stock had the orange varnish applied (during the arsenal refurbishment), they got it all over a number of the metal parts, plus the black paint they used to touch up the metal tip on the handguard ran down one side of the stock. All things point to it never having been stripped, and this being a completely original (save for the wood's finish) M38.