Shooting the Stechkin: How Does It Measure Up?

I have been curious to try shooting a Stechkin machine pistol for a while, and now thanks to Movie Armaments Group in Toronto, I have a chance to!

I hate to be a downer, but my takeaway from this experience is that the Stechkin is little more than a range toy, at least in fully automatic. With the sights reciprocating back and forth on the slide, I found it impossible to maintain any sort of sight picture while firing. In semiauto it was fine, and nicely accurate as one would expect form a stocked pistol. But the automatic mode is really something for experts only – exactly the opposite of the men who were issued the Stechkin.

That said…it is still pretty fun.

Thanks to Movie Armaments Group for sharing their Stechkins with me for this video – check out MAG on Instagram for all sorts of neat firearms.


  1. Hmm… now I’m wondering how controllable a select-fire FN FiveSeven with a shoulder stock would be! Probably way too fast cyclic rate. But what if it had rate reducer too, like the Stechkin?

  2. Well, the only time you’d want full-auto is if the other team was nearly on top of you. It’s basically screaming “GET YOUR MITTS OFF ME!!” Dual-wielding the APS? I wonder who you really needed to kill (must be one of those dreaded plywood fiends that Kirk mentioned last week).

  3. As Jeff Cooper said of the Star Model M, a selective-fire 1911 clone in .45, the APS makes a perfectly reasonable service sidearm when left on single-shot and without using the shoulder stock. The full-auto option should be reserved for when you want to attract a lot of attention.

    As for the 9 x 18 cartridge, it has roughly the same muzzle energy as the standard .38 Special 158 grain RNL “police” load. And that one has killed enough people in the last century that it has to be considered a reasonably effective “manstopper”, “Theories of Stopping Power” notwithstanding. The same should hold true of the Makarov round.

    And with the APS, you have sufficient magazine capacity to shoot the miscreant as many times as necessary to get your point across.



    • Well, the issue would then be “Stop it, STOP! He’s dead already!” I’ve heard one excessive force case where lots of crack was involved. The cops, who were all badly injured by a crack-user ambushing them from behind with a shovel, emptied their weapons into the dude and didn’t stop until they were out of magazines. The attacker’s face was reduced to mincemeat by the time they were done (and one of the cops vomited afterwards from the shock of seeing his own handiwork).

      • There are three basic reasons for a high-capacity magazine in a sidearm;

        1. “One-shot stops” are extremely rare, irrespective of projectile kinetic energy. Especially so if the target is chemically “enhanced”, which is much less noticeable than “frenzy”, which can be faked. As Cooper said, “all is not shockproof that shrieks”.

        2. In light of (1), the “cease fire” signal is when the goblin is on the ground and no longer trying to continue whatever he was doing that caused you to conclude he needed to be shot to begin with.

        3. In light of (2), said goblin might have brought one or more friends along. If they intended to continue the IA, they are unlikely to give you a “time out” to reload. It’s more sensible to have enough rounds in the magazine to begin with to deal with the entire tactical problem.


        By the same token, never carry just one gun or one reload. In multiple-opponent situations, it is entirely possible to expend the magazine of even a high-capacity sidearm only to find that you are still confronted with opponents, who by this point are no doubt in a very bad mood re you.

        In such a situation, the fastest “reload” is a second fully-loaded sidearm.

        At times like that, you can find yourself in a situation like the towboat captain under the low bridge on the river. When, as the old saying goes, the music can be playing faster than you can dance to.



        • “never carry just one gun or one reload”

          I usually carry a reload with my EDC, but rarely more- I think I’ve only carried two guns once or twice.

          I’m walking my dog in the city, not walking a beat. Nor am I raiding a crackhouse.

          Police have different jobs than a civilian whose dealing with a mugger or two-
          One reliable gun with a reload should be fine for most situations.

          If things are really sketchy- you should probably get a shotgun/rifle out- with a pistol back-up.

  4. Having followed Forgotten Weapons for a few years, I have now seen photos of Ian dual-wielding a pair of Gabbett-Fairfax Mars pistols, and now video of him dual-firing a pair of full-auto Stechkin machine pistols. That has to make him one of the coolest men on the face of the earth.

    • “That has to make him one of the coolest men on the face of the earth.”
      That is what I meant by my remark above: “way too cool for me”.

  5. Spetznaz modified the Stechkin by using a single strut detachable stock, a better holster design, and hung a silencer on the front. I don’t know how much Spetznaz used this lash-up, but in that role it was similar to the Ingram M-11 machine pistol, only lighter in weight.

    What’s the mission? Can you stash a PPS-43 in your greatcoat and infiltrate a building with two or three others, then burst into a conference room and wipe out the people around the table before making your getaway? How about conducting border checkpoint activities–is the Stechkin more effective than the Markarov for the border officer on the desk or working with a dog at the vehicle inspection point?

    Ian commented that he was hitting everything but the target at 50 but even with a real submachine gun such as a STEN gun in ‘average soldier’ hands, full auto at 50 is regarded as throwing away ammo–if the gun does semi at that distance, go semiauto.

    I’m going to state that the Stechkin failed on three counts–it’s expensive compared against other options for most missions, there’s institutional military bias against “popgun” pistols (and even the Bolo Mauser pistol was a popgun compared to a light machine gun, rifle, submachine gun or Kalashnikov assault rifle), and there’s a political bias against giving the common soldier an “invisible” weapon that the disgruntled foot soldier might smuggle into headquarters and use to settle personal grudges against the brass.

    Full-auto pistols with shoulder stocks were used by Germany during the Great War for trench raids until something “better” came along–and the machine pistol was used by some American bank robbers. During the same period some police forces were still armed with sabers–more often, just a short little wooden club. In the United States law enforcement for the first quarter of the 20th Century the .32 revolver was giving way to the .38 revolver and more than a few cops carried the new semiautomatic pistol–with limited pistol marksmanship training being the standard (and with many street cops and county mounties having no formal training). A full-auto “machine gun” spewing half a dozen rounds at pursuing police might be enough to break contact and allow the bank robber to get away. A bank guard armed with just a revolver and typically only five cartridges looking down the barrel of such a “machine gun” would be at a severe psychological disadvantage. On the other hand, it was cheaper to cut down a shotgun and spray buckshot at those attempting to thwart bank robbery. Cost didn’t matter when the weapon was stolen from police or military armories instead of being bought (another strike against the Stechkin–could be pilfered). Having a miniature “machine gun” in a pistol-size envelope might be useful in limited conditions, but “might be” isn’t enough to justify the logistical burden and the greater political impact.

    The Browning High Power pistol, especially when equipped with extended magazines and possibly a shoulder stock, was used by some bodyguards up through the Seventies–specifically as a compact “break contact” weapon. H&K’s VP-70 select-fire pistol didn’t really have a mission but was developed as a potential guerrilla gun. Utah’s governor’s office reportedly has a number of Glock 18 select-fire pistols arming the protection detail. As Ian’s video suggests, these machine pistols versus someone with a hunting rifle at 100 yards would be futility in motion–or even against a buckshot-loaded double barrel 20 gauge at 25 yards. How well any machine pistol would fare against a charging Moro warrior or against the Franz Ferdinand assassins or the Operation Arachnid team in Czechoslovakia is up for question with the suggestion that “conventional pistols” might be just as effective–yet the US Secret Service did get caught with an AR-15 (back when they were select-fire) at the JFK assassination scene and a modified Uzi at the Reagan assassination attempt.

    Aircraft pilots and armored fighting vehicle crew continue to be issued pistols because it’s very difficult to wear even a purpose-built PDW such as the MP7 or P90 in these cramped self-propelled weapons. When in counter-insurgency or “green zone” security operations the one-hand gun is a better weapon system than lugging around a shotgun or submachine gun or assault rifle–though I’ve seen enough police in foreign nations hauling around this heavy artillery on foot patrol or standing static posts with them. Limiting ammunition supply (typically five rounds) permits the image for deterrence effect but also denies rewarding those who could possibly clobber the armed guard and steal the weapon–plus there’s a great amount of distrust of the guard by those employing the guard. “Effective enough” versus superior fire power limits the incentive to develop better weapons. Never forget that hardware is only part of the equation. Skill set and the wisdom to properly employ the weapon count. Off the battlefield, collateral damage inflicted by security personnel is far more counter-productive than “letting the bad guys get away with murder.”

    Those are reasons the service revolver soldiered on for so long in American law enforcement–often loaded with just five cartridges, too! Service revolvers are harder to fix than semiautomatic pistols and far harder to fix than simple open-bolt submachine guns–and then there’s performance on the firing range to consider. Buckshot dogma has changed from the mid 20th Century–now the expectation is that every projectile can stay on target–if not all .33 caliber #00 buckshot pellets sliding through the same 0.25″ diameter hole, seeking out a specific organ in the suspect’s body, and travelling exactly how far the projectiles need to go in order to make the aggressive action cease regardless of having to penetrate an automobile body and body armor or hitting a hand and stopping in that appendage. Weapon specifications seem like fantasies.

    Compare the Stechkin to FN’s P90–another failure. What does the FN P90 do that can’t be done better by the M4 carbine? Weight? The M4 is slightly heavier. Size? The M4 is slightly larger. In some applications for some users this is enough to offset expense and training requirements and other logistical factors. On the other hand, expecting the M4 carbine to perform as if it were a water-cooled heavy machine gun is ludicrous. Expectations made the US Carbine M1 a derided weapon–the M1 carbine isn’t going to lay down fire to rival the M1919A4 light machine gun (tripod mount or vehicle mounted), the M1 carbine won’t be a 500 yard sniper rifle, won’t even fill in when you need to launch anti-tank munitions. The M1 carbine got used for all of these things, and even became the select-fire M2 carbine because users wanted full-auto fire–and a bayonet, too. More M1 carbines were manufactured and issued during World War Two than were M1 rifles and that’s because modern war had a lot of people on the battlefield with primary missions other than rifleman.

    The Stechkin seems to be as big and as heavy as the Beretta M9 pistol. Compared to the smaller Makarov, the Stechkin offers little improvement over the littler gun firing the same cartridge. That’s especially true when the magazines of both are given only a token ammunition supply of between five and ten rounds–yes the Makarov magazine holds only eight (and most agencies still like empty chambers when in the holster) but that makes little difference in most gunfights. The Stechkin has marginally greater capability but the old Soviet dogma was to use a real gun if there was fighting and not some popgun pistol–in the other roles, especially minus the synthetic experience of realistic combat pistol training to a standard of performance, a Makarov with one loaded magazine was about as good as the Stechkin.

    Besides, most non-combatants find even a small, lightweight pistol to be an uncomfortable burden, one that gets left behind in automobile trunks and glove boxes, in desk drawers and lockers and brief cases.

    Just ask Ian–would he rather wear a Makarov or a Stechkin daily? How much ammo?

  6. Well, not to be out done by all the theoretical internet commandos and flat range gun blog experts but I actually carried a Stechkin in 2004 on my first two contracts in Iraq. Back then we had our scrounge weapons and since I didn’t know what I’d find I packed three different Eagle Industries thigh holsters, the largest was for an HK .45 Tactical. Initially I snagged a P-35 but came across an APS owned by retired SF 18B who was an armorer at a JSOTF down the road. I gave him $85.00 and he gave me the pistol with one mag and no ammo. I was able to get five more mags mailed to me and and obtained 200 rounds of ammo. The Stechkin fit perfectly in the HK holster and I carried it and all the magson my gun belt. And no, I never thought twice about getting a shoulder stock for it. After all, you can’t draw a handgun fast from any pistol stock holster (yeah, I’ve owe c96’s and stocked P-35’s).

    I loved the gun-absolutely loved it. It was an extremely well made pistol, accurate, reliable, and a joy to shoot, I’d carry it hammer down with a round in the chamber selector on full. It was easy to rap out three and four round controllable bursts. If I needed to shoot single shots I could easily flick the selector like a safety to semi-auto. Occasionally when we’d go into a particular Iraqi venue we’d have leave to our long guns in the vehicles and it was comforting to know I had 120 rounds of full-auto on tap resting on my hip to use in close quarters at short ranges. I always knew that if the Iraqis tried anything hinky they’d be in for one big fat f*cking surprise if they thought I was merely carrying a standard handgun. I’ve carried 1911’s, P-35’s, Glock 19’s, and M-9’s in harms way but none of them were as good as an APS. My only complaint was the heel release magazine and the fact 9×18 ammo in Iraq was difficult to get.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.