There is not really a good reference book available on Communist Bloc pistols – or at least there wasn’t until now. George Layman has just released this overview of Cold War handguns from the USSR, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, North Korea, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. At 157 pages total, however, the level of detail on each individual firearm is necessarily brief. While the work is a pretty nice overview for the idly curious, it does not include much information that isn’t pretty easily found online (including a number of misconceptions).
That said, it’s not a bad book. The illustration is well done, and it is very nice as a single-stop reference on the basic handguns of the period. In particular, I found this to be true for the Tokarev pistols, as they were manufactured by a bunch of different countries with each national variation being a but different in some way. Layman’s book is a nice handy reference for understanding what those differences are. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go into much more detail on things like rare variations, production totals, or any details about development of the various pistols. There are many personal anecdotes about the author’s experiences with various examples of the guns over the course of a long military career, but unfortunately little formal research.
At a cover price of $39.95 I think the book is priced a bit high for its contents, but for folks specifically interested in the Cold War period there are not many other books available to choose from.
Communist Bloc Handguns is available direct from the publisher or through Amazon.
“The illustration is well done, and it is very nice as a single-stop reference on the basic handguns of the period. In particular, I found this to be true for the Tokarev pistols, as they were manufactured by a bunch of different countries with each national variation being a but different in some way. Layman’s book is a nice handy reference for understanding what those differences are. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go into much more detail on things like rare variations, production totals, or any details about development of the various pistols”
I must note here work of A.B.Zhuk, which is similar in that it have sparse description of each model, but is much wider in scope, I found it is even available as English version for free here: https://pl.scribd.com/doc/161032927/The-Illustrated-Encyclopedia-of-Handguns-AB-Zhuk-1995
At same time I must say I do NOT assess quality of translation, so use it on your own risk. With clear drawings it should be right choice if you need to identify automatic pistol or which variant it is. Also, author (which served in Red Army) is less prone to craft misconception about weapons made in Soviet Union.
Agree on the Zhuk book. I used to reference it regularly. Still use it occasionally.
Another good reference book, though now dated, is “The New World of Russian Small Arms & Ammo” by Charlie Cutshaw. It is only 152 pages but pretty good in it’s variety. Has chapters on rifles, pistols and revolvers, suvmachine guns, tactical shotguns, grenade launchers and ammunition.
This book is about military, paramilitary and some law enforcement weapons. There are some quite interesting items including bullpups suppressed weapons and underwater weapons.
[loosely related to topic so ignore if you wish]
Some time one Great Patriotic War-era Soviet experimental sub-machine gun was bring back from oblivion, designed by Rukavishnikov, tested in 1942, it was more compact than the default Shpagin’s sub-machine gun but abandoned as requiring too much labor to produce:
Indeed it looks, at least from me, elegant and finished (with labor) in comparison to say STEN Mk III.
Rukavishnikov himself design many fire-arms, but only his 14,5-mm AT rifle was destined to mass production, but proved to be hard to made (only few were actually produced) and also unreliable, although formally adopted it was soon withdrawn (formally) from service (26 August 1940) as Soviet except Germans to field heavy against which 14,5-mm AT rifles (and even 45-mm AT guns) would be useless.
Rukavishnikov also made an assault rifle prototype, the AR-46. Well, there were actually two prototypes, one with a conventional butt-stock and the other with a collapsible stock. Both rifles had pistol fore-grips and had gas tubes below the barrel. I wonder why the AR-46 was rejected…
Photos can be seen here: http://arsenal-info.ru/b/book/2240698102/8
(12th and 13th photo from top)
“AR-46 was rejected”
Despite after promises this design shown during drawing/blueprint stage, “in metal” it showed poor performance and was rejected, together with Korobov, and so final 3 remained in competition: Bulkin, Dementiev and Kalashnikov, but it must be noted that conclusion was none full-fill tactical-technical requirement right now and all should be further improved.
Zhuk’s encyclopedia contains all scaled drawings as well. That is, one can compare the size of the guns through simply looking at them, very much like their side by side photos.
Nice, because if you ask me, I only know that “Walther PPK” styled Russian pistol, and the Nagant Revolvers or something.