Q&A 31: Russian and Soviet Arms w/ Max Popenker

We are joined today by Max Popenker to answer your questions about Soviet and Russian firearms:

00:32 – Russian-contract Colt 1911 pistols
01:33 – Clarification on SVD accuracy standards
02:57 – Is the PSO-1 BDC calibrated for LPS ball or 7N1?
03:57 – What was the purpose of the IR detection in the PSO-1?
04:58 – Did Izhmash AK quality drop during Perestroika?
06:20 – Was the Soviet 5.45mm development influenced by US 5.56mm?
08:07 – Why no English books on Soviet arms?
10:58 – Russian reports on the vz58?
12:32 – How common was Soviet SMG issue during the latter half of WW2?
14:05 – Good source for detailed SKS history?
15:01 – Soviet arms trials seem more realistic than American ones – it this true?
16:31 – Why did Czechoslovakia not use the AK?
17:41 – Thoughts on AK-12 and AK-15?
19:04 – Purpose of Groza, VSS, and SR-3 (9x39mm rifles)?
20:54 – Koborov delayed-blowback rifles
22:38 – Russian development of helical AK mags?
23:32 – What happened to PPSh-41 SMGs after the PPS-43 was introduced?
25:30 – Why did it take so long for Russia to use aperture sights?
26:27 – Was Soviet small arms procurement as hampered by bureaucracy as American?
28:00 – Was the SKS used in the Battle of Berlin?
29:20 – Naval Infantry use of the SVT-40
30:36 – Why was 9×18 adopted to replace 7.62×25?
32:14 – Will 9×39 continue to see service in the future?
33:25 – What small arms elements did the USSR copy from Finland besides the Suomi SMG drum?
34:13 – Russian preconceptions about western or American guns
35:49 – If the SVD was a designated marksman’s rifle, what was the sniper rifle?
37:27 – The 12.7x55mm cartridge
39:12 – Why has Russia not replaced the 7.62x54R with a rimless round?


  1. Max at it again… good to hear and to see!
    What naturally interests me is Soviet “acceptance” of Czech designed weapons (and it was well beyond small arms). I want to be neutral and refrain from “because they were better” statement.

    A special relationship existed between Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia which extended beyond official political relationship – it reached into people to people relationship and lasted till tragic intervention in 1968. Russians had a worm spot for Czechs and vice-versa. This was one part of reason. The second I believe, Soviets were keen on preservation of Czech armaments industry since they used it as their own point of reference. As far as I know in concrete case of vz.58 rifle, the designer went with samples of his rifle for “consultation” which ended up with few remarks Soviets had and he later allegedly reflected on them. What they were I do not know. That was in fact stamp of approval and lead to speedy introduction as general issue into CSLA.

  2. “20:54 – Koborov delayed-blowback rifles”

    Very interesting. So the Koborov TKB-517 was more accurate (“less dispersion”), easy to disassemble and service, and cheaper to manufacture, but was ammunition sensitive. Too much fouling if the delayed blowback opened too rapidly. Worked better with steel cased ammunition like the French FAMAS. Probably/possibly required a fluted chamber?

    This is a case where the language barrier and lack of translation is hindering a proper evaluation and analysis of Soviet and Russian small arms developments. We read a superficial account in our more accessible-to-us language that a) more accurate, b) cheaper, c) rejected because the Kalashnikov had been put into production, and so there was no desire to re-tool… Perhaps a bit like the explanation of M. Popenker that the Shpagin SMG/PPSh41 was already in production and “good enough” so that the Sudayev PPS43 merely augmented it rather than replaced it? I would think that separate development of SMGs by besieged areas like Leningrad–early Sudayev prototypes–and Tula workers’ militia gun when that city and its factories became a salient during “Typhoon”–must also have militated against additional SMG development? In the former case, the gun went on to be the Sudayev SMG–more compact than the Shpagin–and in the latter, abandoned altogether in favor of the “standard” design.

    Interesting discussion there on “skype.” spacibo/thanks!

  3. Spacibo for the corrective on German A-vitch Korobov’s name. There is no “edit” feature for the error, unfortunately.

    The complexities of the bureaucratic infighting are doubtless interesting, but again, lack of translation and my inability to read Russian, let alone Ukrainian or Serbian or Bulgarian hinder my abilities to understand the discussion at the posted link. Thank you though. Interesting pictures! 😉

  4. I’m still trying to glean details from the über-wonky and gibberish “Google translation [sic]” of the Großfuß 7,92x33mm kurzpatrone “last ditch” rifle seized by the Soviets that you posted a while back… For now, it looks from photos like the Zaytsev PP or SMG is a Sovietized STEN gun, no? Some of the metal stamping looks inspired and a further way of cheapening production, but nothing like the sheet-metal template formed around a mandrel like the unloved and unlovely Sten Mk.III by Triang toy company, or for that matter, the relative handful of “Volksmaschinepistole” MP.3008 Gerät Neumünster Sten copies where the sheet metal template was formed and sealed between the ejection ports and bolt handle raceway with pieces of welded metal… “Move over seamless receiver tubing… Now there’s something cheaper, albeit rather disposable looking.” Again, thanks!

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