soviet guns

Lyudmila Pavlichenko aka Lady Death was a Soviet sniper during World War II. Credited with 309 kills, the most successful female sniper in history, 1940s.

PPSh-41 submachine gun

Designed by Georgi Shpagin in the USSR c.1941 and manufactured in large quantities well into the 1960′s.
7,62x25mm Tokarev 71-round drum magazine or 35-round stick magazine, blowback select fire with selector switch located in front of the trigger.

With 6 million guns rolling out during WW2, the PPSh-41 smg was one of the work horses of the Soviet Union infantry.


The soviet GUV-8700 Gun Pod (9A624), which packs two GShG-7.62 gatling machine guns, and a Yak-B 12.7mm gatling heavy machine gun.

Such configuration is possible as both types of machine guns are gas operated, rather than the more usual electric motor, which makes them far more lighter and compact. 

For helicopter use, both attack and transport. 


The Taubina AG-2 Automatic Grenade Launcher,

An interesting weapon lost to history, the Taubina Automatic Grenade Launcher was the creation of Soviet weapons designer Yakov Taubin. First developed in 1931 and perfected in 1937-1939, the Taubina Automatic Grenade Launcher was a weapon that was several generations ahead of its time.  Invented at a time when most grenade launchers were single shot affairs, typically rifle grenades, the Taubina was the first of it’s kind and it’s concept would become a staple of modern militaries today.  The Taubina Grenade Launcher was designed to fire 40.8mm grenades in either semi automatic or fully automatic modes. Recoil operated, most models utilized a magazine resulting in a rate of fire of 50-60 rounds a minute, however later prototypes utilized a belt feed system which resulted in a rate of 400-450 rounds a minute. It’s maximum range was around 1,200 meters  The launcher could be used in both direct fire and indirect fire modes. It was typically mounted on a light wheeled carriage.

The Taubina was first tested in Soviet trials in 1938, where it performed admirably but had some flaws.  First it had a weak extractor and extraction springs, resulting in a 7% failure rate.  Secondly it was inaccurate at longer ranges.  Taubin went to work fixing these problems, developing improved models which saw limited use during the Winter War against Finland in 1939. Despite rave reports on the Taubina’s performance and the potential whoopass the weapon offered the Red Army, the weapon was doomed by Soviet bureaucracy. Most Soviet officials did not see the need for automatic grenade launchers which could rain hundreds of rounds of high explosives on an enemy position. A shame considering that World War II was just around the corner. Much of the opposition to the weapon came from Chief of Main Artillery Directorate Grigory Kulik, who preferred more traditional light infantry mortars and saw no need for the weapon. In 1939 the Taubina project was ended. 

Yakov Taubin abandoned the Taubina Grenade Launcher and began work on aircraft machine gun and cannon designs.  In 1940 he developed a prototype for an aircraft cannon meant to be used on the IL-2 Sturmovik airplane. However he design was turned down in favor of a competing design, the VYa-23. Shortly afterward, on May 15th, 1941, shortly before the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Taubin was arrested by the NKVD on charges of “preserving samples of unfinished weapons and egregiously plotting production of technically unfinished and unsatisfactory weapons systems”. On October 17th, as German forces raced across the Soviet Union, he was executed and buried in a mass grave. The automatic grenade launcher wouldn’t be re-invented until 1966.


Nagant M1895 revolver with Bramit device

Designed by Emile Nagant c.1895 and manufactured c.1930′s in the USSR.
7,62x38mmR seven-shot cylinder, double action, gas seal achieved by the cylinder moving in contact with the barrel’s rear end, with the cartridge’s neck bridging the final gap, soviet Bramit-type suppressor, side loading gate and extended spring-loaded ejector rod.
That’s what high-tech looked like in the early 20th century, damn good.


The Soviet capture K98k Mauser,

The Soviet Union by far was the largest player in World War II, taking the largest brunt of the German military and playing the largest role in ensuring that the Third Reich crumbled into ashes and rubble.  The Eastern Front alone was a war of epic proportions.  In the Western Front, the total number of men from both sides that were engaged in military operations (United States, Germany, Britain, Free France, Free Poland, Italy) from 1944 to 1945 amounted to around 7 million men.  Around that same time the Soviet Red Army alone comprised of 7 million men engaged in active combat.

To the victor goes the spoils, for the Soviet Union, such spoils typically consisted of arms, of which they would receive the lion’s share.  The main arm of the German Wehrmacht, the famed K98k Mauser was the most extensive weapon captured by Soviet forces.  After massive battles such as Stalingrad, Leningrad, Kursk, Konigsberg, and Berlin, the Soviets found themselves in possession of untold millions of K98k rifles.  I, peashooter, would go far as to say that by 1945, the Soviet Union was in possession of more K98k rifles than the German Army itself!

Soviet captured K98’s are little different than other K98k Mauser rifles except for one thing: serial numbers.  Rather than store the rifles whole the Soviets found that it was much easier to store them disassembled, the parts coated in cosmoline (grease used to prevent rust) and piled in large crates.  When taken out of storage, they were were unconcerned with matching parts, after all they did not care about future collector’s value decades down the road.  Thus all Soviet capture K98’s have mismatched parts.  The only added markings that identifies them as Soviet capture is an “X” crudely electropenciled “X” on the receiver above the serial number.

 Soviet capture K98’s also have other typical features.  The cleaning rod, sight hood, and locking screws are often missing, considered unnecessary by Soviet ordnance officials and thus removed and melted down as scrap metal.  When re-arsenalled the bolt was commonly blued with a dull, thick black compound.  

After World War II, the Soviets used their vast stocks of K98’s to arm their pro-communist buddies, either communist regimes in Eastern Europe or Asia, or pro-communist guerrillas in Africa or Latin America.  Thus, many have turned up in the Korean War and Vietnam War.  The lack of Soviet markings allowed the Soviet government to claim plausible deniability when questioned on the origin of such weapons.  Believe it or not, many of these rifles are showing up in modern day conflicts, most notably in the strife currently occurring the Ukraine.  


Avtomaticheskiy Pistolet Stechkina

Designed by Igor Stechkin c.1949-51, manufactured c.1954 in the USSR.
9x18mm Makarov 20-round removable box magazine, blowback select fire, removable holster stock.

The creation of the AK line of assault rifles made PPSh and PPS submachine guns obsolete in only a few years, which prompted Soviet tank, artillery and mortar crews to be issued instead with this new generation of pistol-caliber automatic firearms.


The Soviet PTRD-41 anti-tank rifle,

At the beginning of World War II the Soviet Union lacked one weapon that almost everyone had, a good anti-tank rifle.  Being obvious that the war with Germany would involve a great deal of tank warfare, the Soviet Union scrambled to put together a simple yet effective anti-tank weapon.  In 1941 the PTRD-41 was introduced.  Designed by Vasily Degtyaryov, the PTRD-41 was in part based on other Polish and German designs.  It was a single shot bolt action that fired 14.5X114mm round with a maximum range of around 10,000 meters.  Technically its effective range was around 3,000 meters, however to knockout most tanks it need to be within 100 meters or less.  Sometimes, the PTRD-41 needed to be within point blank range in order to effective.

As the war raged on, anti-tank rifle became ineffective as tank armor evolved to be thicker and able to stop larger and larger rounds.  During the war, Soviet gunners were trained to only fire at the sides and rear of tanks.  When side and rear armor became even thicker, they were then trained to aim for weak points such as portholes.  However the crude sight and lack of telescopic sights made such shooting exceedingly difficult.  One effective strategy was developed in the urban fighting of battles such as Stalingrad and Leningrad.  Anti-tank rifle crews would position themselves at the top of buildings, high enough that German tank guns could not elevate sufficiently to return fire.  From their high vantage point, they could then fire on the top of the tanks, where the armor was thin enough for the PTRD’s 14.5mm round to penetrate

Regardless of tactics, the PTRD-41 was obsolete by mid war, and was relegated to anti-material use and use against lightly armored vehicles such as armored cars, half tracks, and trucks.  Production continued up to 1950, and many were used in the Chinese Civil War and Korean War. Today, a number have been noted being used by militia forces in the current conflict in Ukraine. 

WWII Firearms in Iraq Part 2

Part 1 // Part 3

In the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation by American forces, history wormed its way into the hands of insurgents, who used whatever weapons they could lay hands on to fight the invaders. It was not uncommon to find firearms better suited for the museum than the battlefield.

PPSh-41. The Soviet Union’s primary submachine gun of World War II. With a rate of fire up to 1000 rpm, the PPSh gave Soviet soldiers volumes of firepower that German soldiers couldn’t compete with. Some six million PPSh’s were manufactured by the USSR between 1941-1947, and China made several million more, making the PPSh one of the world’s most produced firearms. No wonder it can be found in most conflicts.


With 1000 rpm, you can really saturate a room.


StG-44. The world’s first assault rifle, the Stg-44 was the pinnacle of German firearms technology at the time. The StG-44 had a rocky start, firearms designers forced to call it a submachine gun in order to thwart Hitler, who did not care for the kurz bullet concept and only wanted more SMGs. However, when Hitler finally saw the StG-44 in action (under the guise of MP44) he gave his consent for its full manufacture and christened it the “Sturmgewehr:” storm rifle. Although the StG-44 could not turn the tide of battle, it was the basis for every combat rifle today.

This could be in 1991 or 2003. 

Photographic quality was kind of in a nebulous area around those time periods.

MG42. A true general purpose machine gun, the MG42 was one of the outstanding weapons of the war, with proven reliability, durability, simplicity and ease of manufacture. To this day the MG42 sees service as the MG3, and is virtually unchanged.

MG42 with a M1919, RPK, SG-43 and PPSh.

MP40. Of course.

Wz. 35. If I’m not mistaken, this is THE Wz. 35; a Polish anti-tank rifle that was so secret that until mobilization in 1939, the combat-ready rifles were held in closed crates enigmatically marked: “Do not open! Surveillance equipment!” Unlike other anti-materiel rifles of the time, the Wz. 35 did not use an armor-piercing bullet with a hard core, but rather a lead core, full metal jacket bullet. Due to the high muzzle velocity this was effective even under shallow angles, as instead of ricocheting, the bullet would “stick” to the armor and punch a roughly 20 mm diameter hole.

Less than 10 examples of the Wz. 35 still exist, making this an extremely rare and valuable firearm to both collectors and museums.