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PPSh 41

PPSh41 Cutaway


Type Submachine Gun 
Weight 3.56kg 
Length 840mm 
Barrel Length 269.24mm 
Rifling 4 grooves, RH 
Magazine Capacity 71 rounds (drum), 34 rounds (box) 
Caliber 7.62 x 25mm M1930 
Cyclic Rate 900 rounds/minute
Muzzle Velocity 488 meters/seconds
Effective Range 120m
In Production 1941-1947 
Country of Origin Soviet Union

Made from 1941-1947, the Pistolet-Polemyot Shpagina obr 1941G or PPSh41 (left), was the standard submachine gun of the Soviet—and later, the Communist Chinese—Army. It was crude, cheap, ugly and incredible effective.

The Soviet Army had a great enthusiasm for submachine guns, and for a good reason. In the Winter War (1939-1940) with Finland, the Finns used submachine guns to annihilate large numbers of Russian troops during close combat in the forest. When the Germans invaded in 1941, the Soviets lost huge numbers of small arms and much production capacity. The Soviet Union needed mass quantities of infantry weapons and they needed the cheap and fast. There was no time to train troops in the niceties of marksmanship; the Soviets just had to put millions of troops in the field with a uniform and a submachine gun. The PPSh41 was just the gun for that assignment.

Designed by Georgei Shpagin, the PPSh41 (illustration on left) was a roughly finished blowback weapon that fired from an open bolt. Even with its cyclic rate of 900 rounds/minute, it was a surprisingly accurate weapon. It featured a chrome-plated bore, and a fire-selector lever ahead of the trigger inside the trigger guard. The lever was probably rarely used. The Soviets equipped battalions—some reports say whole regiments—with the PPSh41, and the volume of fire from those troops devastated entire German armies.

The cartridge used in the PPSh41 was the Soviet 7.62 x 25mm M1930, a direct copy of the round used in the .30 Mauser 'Bolo' pistol, a great favorite in both pre- and post-revolutionary Russia. The drum-magazine, copied directly from the Finnish Suomi, held 71 rounds. Although the rate of fire was high, the guns eight pound weight and rudimentary compensator helped keep the muzzle climb down to a manageable level.

Did You Know?
Soviet Arms factories tuned out more than five million PPSh41 submachine guns during and immediately after World War II. The People's Republic of China manufactured millions more, many of which found their way to 'client countries' such as North Korea and Vietnam.