ppd 40

Soviet Thunder: The PPSh-41 - 7.62 Tokarev

Back to the war heroes, we come to the PPSh-41. This was one of the Soviet’s most common weapons. The Soviet’s primary SMG, the PPSh-41 is an icon of the WWII-era USSR soldier and is probably one of the most common submachine guns in the former 2nd World and the 3rd World.

The story of the PPSh-41 dates to the 1920′s. The Russian military was trying to get off of a shitload of non-Russian guns and calibers they obtained during WWI and the Russian Civil War. So while they were causing famines and purging everything, they began organizing a number of different designs to get the Red Army on Russian weapons.

These included the Korovin Pistol, the Maxim-Tokarev LMG, and also around 4 different submachinegun designs. These were narrowed down to the Tokarev 1927 submachine gun and the PPD-34. The PPD won and was modified into the later PPD-40 following the fighting in the Winter War.

However, the PPD-40 was seen as too costly as the Germans began invading, so it was simplified into the PPSh-41 we know today and was made in the millions.

The PPSh’s high production numbers made it an icon of the combat of the Eastern Front. It was heavily used by the Russian Army, usually to assist mobile wave attacks. It’s high rate of fire, large 71 round drum magazines and reasonably controllable recoil made it a force to be reckoned with, especially against German troops. Many German soldiers actually tended to steal PPSh’s from captured or killed Russian soldiers and used them. It became so common that the Wehrmacht adopted two models. One modified for 9mm Parabellum as the  MP41® and unmodified ones in 7.62 Tokarev and 7.63 Mauser as the MP717®. 

Also made was the PPS-43. This was an even more simplified version made by the Red Army in Leningrad and was noted for a folding stock and modified for 35 round stick mags. Actually many Russian soldiers preferred the stick mag over the drum, as the drum tended to misfeed more and were a lot heavier.

Following WWII, the PPSh-41 series still served as the standard SMG for the Russians until the 1960′s. From there, it was used heavily by the Combloc. East German guards at the Berlin Wall were armed with PPSh-41′s until the 1970′s, North Korean and Chinese soldiers used them during the Korean War, the Vietcong used them heavily in Vietnam. Afghanistan used them, Yugoslavia used them, Guinea-Bissau used them, Siad Barre’s regime in Somalia used them. Even around 60 years later, the PPSh-41 is still showing up in modern conflicts like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and more. Around 6 million PPSh series guns have been made, and are still being used.

With their heavy usage by the 2nd and 3rd World, the PPSh is an icon of the Russian soldier, more so than the AK. WIth such a status, any movie showing off the Red Army, the Vietcong or the 3rd World have a PPSh.

With it’s long use by the USSR, the Combloc and a number of insurgencies across the globe makes the PPSh-41 a common movie gun. WWII films made in or about the USSR heavily feature the gun. And for movies, it was a perfect gun, as it’s high rate of fire combined with hot loaded blanks can lead to a giant muzzle flash and from the East Germans of Bridge Of Spies to the Vietcong of The Green Berets, the PPSh is a common sight.

And just like it’s appearance in movies, it’s heavy usage by pretty much every insurgent force as well as the Combloc has made it a common sight in video games. A lot of WWII games tend to include a Russian campaign, and the PPSh is commonly used as the USSR’s submachinegun of choice. Most games recreating the Vietnam War have the PPSh as the VC/NVA’s standard SMG and a small amount of modern combat games even include the gun for it’s militia factions. It’s big, loud and lethal.

And that is the PPSh-41, the submachinegun of the 3rd World. It’s a war time design that’s seen great success ever since. It’s an icon of the Russian soldier and from the Hungarian Revolution to the modern insurgencies, it’s a common sight. It’s big, it’s easy to make and use, and it’s a revolutionary’s best friend.