Stechkin APS: The Soviet Machine Pistol

The APS is a machine pistol developed by Igor Stechkin in the late 1940s and adopted by the Soviet Union in 1951, basically at the same time as the Makarov pistol. The Stechkin and Makarov share many characteristics – both are double action, both fire the 9x18mm cartridge, both have decocking mechanisms, both have heel magazine releases, and both are simple blowback actions with fixed barrels. The Stechkin, however, is capable of both semiautomatic and fully automatic fire, and is paired with a detachable combination shoulder stock and holster. The Stechkin is also a substantially larger gun, with a 20-round double stack/double feed magazine and a rate reducing mechanism in the grip.

In practice the Stechkin was not particularly successful, as is a difficult weapon to shoot accurately. It was intended as a personal defense weapon for personnel like drivers, vehicle crews, and the like – men who needed a weapon of some sort, but did not have the need for an infantry rifle. In the US military at the time, this role was performed by the M1/M2 carbine. In the 1970s the Stechkins were pulled out of service and replaced by short-barreled AK rifles – but they did see a limited resurgence of use by the Spetznaz in Afghanistan, where they were used with suppressors for special operations.

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. Carjacking a Russian supply truck would probably end with a spray of bullets from the driver and… “Say hello to my little friend!”

    • Coincidentally, sharp spike of banditry in Russia after break up of S.U. has seen fair amount of use of this weapon. It was partly by police and partly by henchmen hired by oligarchs. Russian security services received precious lessons during those years (lasting practically till Putin’s arrival to power).

  2. “adopted by the Soviet Union in 1951”
    As it was customary, it was chosen after competition against M.T.Kalashnikov’s entrant, see photos:

    “Igor Stechkin in the late 1940s”
    APS was not first work of, he earlier created ТС see 1st photo from top:
    blow-back operated automatic pistol for 7,65 mm Browning [.32 Auto] cartridge. Nonetheless I want to note that while APS was adopted 1951 I.Ya.Stechkin was still relatively young (born 1922), despite he created many various fire-arms also later, none matched success of APS.

    “used with suppressors for special”
    APS modified for usage of suppressor got designation APB and also wire stock rather than wooden:

    • As side note: I.Ya.Stechkin also participated in development of anti-tank missiles: Фагот (NATO parlance: AT-4 Spigot) and Конкурс (AT-5 Spandrel) which (combined) are more often encountered in recent conflicts than APS. Interestingly N.F.Makarov also participated in development of last anti-tank missile.

    • Rearding ТС note that one of peculiar features was that hammer was mounted to slide rather than frame, which allowed low barrel axis placement above hand (see 1st photo from bottom) and thus less felt recoil.

  3. Any chance of examining one of the Huot prototypes next time you’re in Canada? Looks like a couple are held in regimental museums.

  4. Interestingly APS (with selector at SINGLE) might be considered “Wonder Nine” if we allow 9×18 Makarov cartridge instead of 9×19 Parabellum, as it has high-capacity magazine and double-action.

    I want also point that APS had NATO Doppelganger, also available in 1950s, namely select-fire variant of Beretta 951:
    Note that despite it is heavier than APS it has much smaller magazine (10), while they use different cartridge, these cartridges are not so much different dimensions-wise.

  5. Wire stocks…it always seemed to me that big, rigid, stock-holsters undid most gains in portability for PDWs. A wire stock; folding, or perhaps built into a leather holster, would seem much more practical.

    On some Makarov forum, years back, I read a statement from an ex-policeman who had carried a Stechkin for quite a few years. Without having to deal with the stock, or the full auto option, he found it a great sidearm with a lot of confidence inspired by the high capacity.

  6. One sees these holstered on the belts of Cuban MININT officials every now and then… No sign of the wooden stock. There’s a photo of Ernesto Ché Guevara firing one on the range.

  7. 1) My understanding from readings is that this is a single-double action pistol. The safety catch acting as a hammer drop is a signal as well; usually only seen in DA firearms starting with Walther PP in 1920s.

    2) Except for the belt-clip, that stock-holster is pure Mauser Broomhandle. Still fascinating to me how much foreign influence from German trade (pre-WWII) and capture (post-)affected Russian and Soviet weaponry. The Bolshevik government imported short-barreled Mauser Broomhandles from Weimar Germany, and 7.63 Mauser gave birth to 7.62 Tokarev, which survived its parent for many generations.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. SayUncle » Gun Porn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.