Guns in Ukraine

Most of the guns showing up in the Ukrainian hostilities right now are various flavors of AK – but there are some other less common things coming out of the woodwork as well. I did some poking around, and found photos of a wide variety of firearms (although AKs are definitely the vast majority)…

A .22LR training rifle (not sure of the specific model)
A .22LR training rifle (not sure of the specific model)
Mosin Nagant - appears to be a 91/30 in an M38 or M44 stock (Bubba lives in Russia, too...)
Mosin Nagant – appears to be a 91/30 in an M38 or M44 stock (Bubba lives in Russia, too…)
Fairly common, an AKSU-74. I think this guy is Russia's version of "I'm from the Internet and I'm here to help"...
Fairly common, an AKSU-74. I think this guy is Russia’s version of “I’m from the Internet and I’m here to help”…
This is actually a Chinese air rifle styled to look sort of like an AK – I know because I bought one myself.
A Russian M1910 Maxim mounted in a truck bed. If may of may not be functional; the rivets on the sideplate are definitely not original.
Another pellet rifle
Another pellet rifle
Someone lost a 10mm Colt Delta Elite
Also fairly common; this guy has a pair of SVD Dragunovs.
Also fairly common; this guy has a pair of SVD Dragunovs.
Here's something different - a WW2-era PTRS 14.5mm AT rifle (thanks to John for sending me this photo). It probably still works pretty well on APCs... (also note the SKS held by the guy in the foreground)
Here’s something different – a WW2-era PTRS 14.5mm AT rifle (thanks to John for sending me this photo). It probably still works pretty well on APCs… (also note the SKS held by the guy in the foreground)
Another PTRS, and judging from the dent in the rist of the stock, it's not the same rifle as the previous photo.
Another PTRS, and judging from the dent in the wrist of the stock, it’s not the same rifle as the previous photo.



  1. Awesome pics again Ian

    Please keep posting these Ukraine conflict pictures — really interesting to see what they can get their hands on

  2. Interesting photos. Not certain about the Colt Delta…the spur style hammer and the external extractor point to airsoft clone rather than a genuine artifact.

    • The external extractor could indicate a Peters/Stahl slide group. IIRC, it’s a bit heavier than the standard DE slide, and thus reduces slide velocity, giving more reliable feeding and reducing frame stress.

      As for the spur hammer, that’s standard on the variant 4 and 5 versions of the DE made after 2009. They also have the standard 1911-type bushing instead of the bull-barrel “bushingless” front-end setup used on earlier DEs.

      If not an airsoft, very likely somebody’s customized recent-production DE.



      • That’s not the right profile for a Peters Stahl slide. Beside the external extractor, the sights and slide markings are also wrong for a factory Delta Elite. I agree with the other posters that this is a replica (toy, airsoft, blank-firing, or tear gas gun) wearing Delta Elite grips.

        FWIW: Neither early or late Delta Elites are factory equipped with bushingless barrels. There was talk back in 2008 that the reintroduced Delta Elite might use such a barrel, but it looks like Colt declined to make the change.

        • Slide markings are wrong for a Delta Elite as well, at least from what I can make out in the photo. Can’t imagine the variety of weapons that would show up if something like that happened around here. Still, that PTRS rocks!

          • Not to mention that pistols are heavily restricted in Ukraine, so most you’ll see are either replicas and ‘traumatic’ variants firing rubber balls/irritant cartridges.

          • I doubt any of those full-auto AK variants are legal in Ukraine, either. If I remember correctly, only shotguns and bolt-action rifles can be easily obtained a permit for hunting purposes. So, I suspect there are actually plenty of Soviet era Makarovs, TTs and Nagant revolvers around, but we don’t see them in the pictures, because they are either left home for self defense of family members or tucked away somewhere where we can’t see them.

            On the other hand, non-Soviet handguns are probably quite rare, so the Delta Elite is likely a replica of some kind.

        • Yep you can definitely buy AKs in Ukraine.
          I have no idea about the law but I’ve seen them for sale in many places including at a local market where there are low security stalls. ANything from $100 for a really dented one, upwards. That one I saw a couple of kids about 10 years old eating ice-cream looking at it through the glass. (Nikolaev)
          I saw one for 1500 Grv at a small shop in a shopping mall with trinkets and a few sporting goods.
          THen I also know a guy who bought one from a guy in the army who gives out guns to military. $300USD cash paid for a brand new one. That was in Donetsk region.

          I saw some young guys swapping a handgun in a park in Nikolaev for something. I thought I captured it with my old spy cam but no luck.

    • In addition to the extractor, the grip safety appears to be non-functional and the top of the slide is glossy whereas Colts have a matte finish on the top of slide. The older one’s (given the sights on the gun) had arched mainspring housings as well.

      If it isn’t an air soft gun then my guess would be that the grips off a Colt Delta Elite got put onto a different gun.

    • It’s not airsoft, the finish is completely wrong for airsoft versions (which are, IIRC, three in total, two of which cheap). Someone might have nicked the grips off an airsoft version and slap them on an 8mm low-velocity rubber bullet-firing ‘traumatic’ pistol.

  3. That Mosin in the second picture is probably in an M38 stock, Unless my eyes fail me, I do not see a cutout for the bayonet.

  4. The PTRS antitank rifle will presumably be pretty awesome against armoured humans too, given that it can penetrate 60mm of armour plate at 100m. No one could wear enough protection to be safe from it. Come to think of it, there is almost nothing in the average street or house that would be reliable “cover” against such a weapon.

    • I may be wrong, but I saw one show up in a news report (really appreciate the photos cause I spotted the PTRS but wasn’t able to confirm they were being used till now), when Ukraine started aerial attacks, so they might also be being used for improvised anti-air.

      • Air defence is definitely a problem for the “down trodden Serf” or whatnot these days, with Jet fighters etc isn’t it.

        Even Ptrs’s aren’t much use…

        Perhaps an attempt to attack from above, might be more practical. Essentially you would launch a balloon, which would hold a glider, the glider in turn would hold a dart with steerable fins.

        Idea being, the balloon goes to a high altitude above an area of a certain radius, the glider detaches and flies around and around said area “slowly decreasing in altitude, and radius” then the dart releases and lands on top of the chopper etc when required.

        Obviously one would need to tweak the notion, somewhat.

      • According to Wikipedia, the Ukrainian military has lost 1 Mi-8 and 3 Mi-24 helicopters as a result of the current Ukrainian conflict.

        Presumably by guided missiles, unless someone got lucky with a Ptrs or is a really, really good shot with one.

        Got me wondering about the practicality of single, semi auto “shots” for engaging aircraft specifically helicopters within a certain altitude. With all this new digital technology, it’s a wonder there’s not an app for it. So you can mount the weapon, and have it engage the target from a electronic tripod using frickin laser sights working in conjunction with said app to aim off “technologically” and possibly achieve a hit or two more than luck will allow.

        • Interesting idea, but it would require a tripod with a special mounting for the smartphone and the gun, a continuously measuring laser rangefinder and some way to automatically feed data from the rangefinder to the phone. I also wonder if the attitude (gravity and acceleration) sensors of a smartphone would be accurate enough for such a use.

          • Hinds and Hips typically fly at speed during operations. The Hind’s wing especially makes it difficult to hover. So engaging with a single shot rifle would be very difficult. Our AH-64s and Kiowa Warriors tend to hover in place and fire hellfires. Long ago as OPFOR, we use to get “kills” on US helicopters with our tanks because the Kiowas would hover in place for so long. Our Hind at JRTC would always fly fast with an armed Hip flying behind it.

    • I was thinking “Where do you get ammo” for a PTRS. Then it struck me – from a KPV machine gun, dummy. One nice thing for the good guys is that they can use any ammo they capture.

      Minor factoid, in Western Pennsylvania (I’m a Penn Stater who dated a Ukrainian-American girl for a while in college) a wheelbarrow is called a “Blue Uke”. &diety knows why.

  5. “.22LR training rifle” – TOZ-8
    “Colt Delta Elite” – IMO it’s a turkish non-letal pistol, for tear gas cartridges. They were imported in mid 1990-s.

  6. 5.18 Minutes into a report by Vice News ( link below) what I believe is a DMS 34 (Mauser 98k trainer) appears in the hands of a donbass battalion member guarding a checkpoint.

    As the subject is Ukraine and guns the below letter I just sent to Mr McCollum like 10 hours ago might be food for thought.

    According to the below article a militia man guarding an arms depot in Donetsk said  “the warehouses were left over from Soviet times and have in storage only outdated weaponry, such as Mauser, Colt, Degtyarev machine guns, PCA submachine guns (that is the PPSH41) but in great amounts”

    Sounds like there is a good supply of affordable guns for the US market in the peoples republic’s of Donetsk and most probable Lugansk to.

    The links are quite informative regarding NATO and the USA’s efforts to disarm Ukraine at the same time as preventing the flow of affordable arms and ammunition into the US private market.

    • I think they’d be better of keeping most or all of those arms for themselves instead of sending them here. Maybe some of the bolt actions or any Winchester 1895’s selling might be ok. They’d be wise to arm establish a universal militia if they want to be a free country.

      Never have figured out a good reason that any of Eastern Europe got rid of their arms. I can only think of bad reasons for them to do so.

  7. Note that Maxim gun has smooth water jacket and no big hole to fill jacket with water or snow, so it was manufactured before WW2. Note also brass or copper plate on the left side of receiver near the shield. I suspect that may be Maxim Model 1905 not Model 1910 “borrowed” from museum.

    • I suspect it’s a model made out of cardboard or something, borrowed from a theatre group who used it as a stage prop in Dr Zhivago personally.

  8. Reminds me of an article in an old Combat and survival magazine I read about Albania before that Kosovo lark I think, the government had collapsed or something.

    Everyone was well chuffed at getting hold of free guns, which is fair enough.

    Firing into the air etc, party time.

    If this lot start firing them at each other though on mass, it will be less fun as you would imagine most folk on these photographs would probably be dead quite quick.

  9. @PDB, thats the sad reality of situation down there – what started as sort of exciting adventure for lots of young men( and some older ones too)is now turning to bloodbath. Vice news videos are quite informative on the subject of weaponry – separatists are not only motley crew down there: members of self proclaimed proukrainian “Donbass Battalion” were carrying o/u shotguns and DP-28 machinegun along with ubiquitous AK-74/AKSU. On the other hand few DPR chechen “volunteers” shown in recent dispatch were quite uniformly armed with AK-74 with GP launchers and PK machineguns.
    As for PTRS, well, it may be effective when employed on static barricade, but constantly changing firing positions due to enemy answering you with automatic weapons must sure suck big time!

    • Yes, but if they could find a way to mount some decent optics (like the 10x Leupold on my Barret M82) on that PTRS, they would have some serious stand-off range.

  10. I know we all have our preferences, but those photos show that when things get ugly, you fight with whatever you can get your hands on. Hell, a Brown Bess full of BBs would be better than nothing.

    • The Brown Bess was good enough to win the Battle of Waterloo. And it only takes one shot, as long as it hits.

      For that matter, BBs + piece of waterpipe + match-heads + match = you take out an enemy and get a “real” gun in exchange.

      It’s happened more often than you might think in the last century or so.

      Speaking of guerrilla weapons, either stolen, modified, or improvised, former British officer and counter-terrorist fighter T.R.W. Young insists there is only one criterion to consider about a combat weapon— be it a handheld, fuse-fired muzzle-loading pipe or a fully-automatic M-16, “… its ability to kill other men. If it does, employ it, regardless of what it looks like.

      – Truby, J. David, with John Minnery. Improvised Modified Firearms. Boulder, CO; Paladin Press, 1975. Chapter 6, “Resistance, Anarchy, & Freedom”, p.95.



    • Thanks for StG44 link, the MP44/StG44 have a knack for showing up in at least every second war since WW2. They were used by fretilin in East Timor as well.

      I wonder where the owners get 7.92×33 from as I don’t think they are loading it themselves, that is providing they acutely use them for something other than show.

  11. The 22″s on the line reminds me of the AIM stand off at Pine Ridge I was watching with a friend of mine Don C Cole ( where is he now I’ve lost track of him) . We saw an interview with Russel Means who was holding a bolr action 22. Don went to the phone and called him and told him to at least find a 30-30 when on camera to be taken seriously . The next time I saw Mr Means on TV he had a 30-30.

  12. If civil war breaks out here in the USA I hope that truckloads of antique weapons just appear like they seem to every where else. Oh, your from a country that hasn’t had legal gun ownership in half a century but still you manage to lay your hands on a machinegun within a few hours of the fighting breaking out. I often wonder with all the fighting that has gone on in Europe over the years just how many cool weapons manage to find their way into grandpas attic and are still floating around.

  13. @what guns
    As a matter of fact civilian gun ownership was never completely banned even in stalinist Russia, let alone last 50 years – hunting was always popular pastime for relatively well off citizenry down there (as was poaching too for lower classes). There is sizeable number of hunting weapons both smoothbore and rifles in hands of the population, handguns are also obtainable after getting permit. The outlines of firearms legislation are similar to what most other European countries have: police licenses, relatively easier access to long guns (hunting and sporting) than to handguns, difficulties in getting concealed carry permit. Really nothing especially hoplophobic – by european standards.
    Local police and some of the military were often easily disarmed by various groups. I suspect the “disarming” was sometimes really just voluntary handing over the equipment to groups whose political agenda was shared with the local officials – on lots of coverage can see that some policemen are quite friendly with separatists.
    Then you have all kind of obsolete hardware that can be looted from territorial defense depots.

    • Ouch… now you crashed the Legend. You know the one which says: “…they disarmed the people first, then ruled over them with iron fist (and gulags)”. I know it is a bull, but many if not all believe it.

      • The people in most of Europe haven’t truly been armed in years. A few people with a few gun doesn’t make for an armed people.

        It doesn’t matter if it has been 1 month, 1 year or 100 years after the people were disarmed before a tyrant takes over. It’s all the same, the people were 1st disarmed.

        • I think you can trace the breakpoint to time when citizens stopped to be soldiers in call of necessity. When-ever citizen-soldier was replaced by armed body serving particular doctrine or political direction, the citizen-soldier became unnecessary and undesired.

          • In most of Continental Europe the citizens were disarmed in the 1500-1650 year range. Before that most were required to have arms and were part of what we now call a militia. Here in the US the collective knowledge of this never died and has been passed along.



            As far as being needed or desired, it depends on one’s world view. Freedom of action by those in power or by the people. Central army gives it to one and universal militia gives it to the other.

            With any of the pictures of the type put here beside the verity of weapons used, I like seeing the verity of ‘uniforms’ worn and the age of these people.

          • Well, no as such. Medieval states in general did not have actual militia: they had peasants which could be armed with cheap weapons if necessary to fight for the aristocracy, or during late middle ages when states became more centralized, the king (who was practically the same as state). The English yeoman archers were a notable exception to the rule, but they were just that, an exception.

            There was no actual disarming of people during the early modern period you suggest, because ordinary peasants never had any more than hunting weapons such as light crossbows and perhaps spears to deal with large predators where they were not yet extinct. Swords were expensive and most peasants could not afford a sword unless it was a family heirloom from some previous war. Self defense was done with daggers (if you were lucky), axes, sickles and other agricultural tools. Firearms were very expensive up to second half of the 18th century and even then they remained prohibitively expensive for a significant portion of people until late 19th century.

        • Well, that leaves us to the conclusion that only period of european history when “the people” were universally armed and formed “militia” were early ancient times concerning mostly loose celtic, germanic and slavic tribes, without any serious central authority and partly peoples of Greece, Italy and Iberia. What was left after that to this very day, are almost exclusively mercenaries and more or less professional soldiers that are anything but the arm of “common people”. Then you have French Revolution and nominal political inclusion of the masses, but with industrialization of war the “citizen soldier” is but a name from recruitment leaflets. The soldiers are subjected to extensive training, strict discipline, and all kind of moral conditioning (all that “esprit de corps” thingy) that detaches them from rest of the population. And that makes army an army – an effective, cohesive and determined force that is ultimately capable of disregard for any rights and reasons in order to achieve its goals. Sadly the “armed people” lack all these things, and material means to gain them, so popular revolutions are rarely succesful, if they dont transform eventually in the military coups. In my opinion, nowadays in most, if not countries of european cultural origins, “the armed people” are more like “armed individuals”, regardles their number being high or low. They differ from each other in political, economical and religious views, social status, they often inhabit huge anonymous cities or develop gated communities: diversity is the sign and blessing of democracy, but armed force needs one agenda to be effective, or else it devolves into rabble or splints into sectarian groups.
          Individuals and sectarian religious or political factions, being indisputably very cool with their guns, tend to suck at war – even a civil one, as you can see in Syria. So, imho, the tyranny does not depend as much in disarming the people, as in posessing professional armed forces highly detached from “common citizenry” and, at the same time, dividing population along social and political lines, and ultimately devising some internal or external foes that need to be battle with. Divide et impera, as long as you do it slowly and in the name of freedom and fraternity, eternal salvation, economical growth, or whatever nice promise you can come up with. That being said, I agree that disarming the citizenry is one step more toward absolute government, but it is only one tool in much greater arsenal of tyrants. And I beg forgiveness for offtopicking.

  14. I’m in Ukraine. If anyone’s interested, I can post more photos of various small caliber weapons used by various sides since the conflict began.

  15. Two Dragunov SVDs. And because of the moronic import restrictions it would cost more than my car to get just ONE here in the US.

  16. Very interesting information, Ian — thank you! The huge disparity in types of weapons being used would seem to indicate a “catch-as-catch-can” situation, whereby the protagonists are taking up arms with whatever is available at a given moment ( for example, the previous posts by Doc, JB and Eon will bear this out ). This would also reflect the chaotic and often desperate situations at ground level that seem to elude any real understanding by the rest of the world in its more sweeping judgements. The fact that this also gives the lie to the propaganda being spread by both sides, and by supposedly disinterested third parties ( such as the many Eastern and Western European countries that have expressed a real interest in the matter, not to mention the United States and Russia ), speaks volumes for itself.

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