Ukrainian or Russian Partisan Modified MP40

Some collectors hunt for firearms which look perfectly new form the factory, and others prefer arms that show lots of evidence of use and history. Well, this is definitely one of the latter type – this 1943 production MP40 submachine gun has a terrible finish, most likely as a result of being buried for a period of time. It also has a crudely fabricated and attached brass-catching bag. The muzzle nut is missing as well – possible just lost, or possible removed to attach a suppressor along with the brass catcher.

There is no way to know for sure, but the evidence all taken together suggests that this is a weapon captured and modified by Soviet or Ukrainian partisans during the latter years of World War Two.

Thanks to the Association of Maltese Arms Collectors and Shooters for providing this unique submachine gun for video!


  1. “Soviet(…)partisans during the latter years of World War Two”
    As side note, during Great Patriotic War, there was special devices developed in Soviet Union:
    for usage by partisans, to convert Patrone 08 into cartridge which could be used in 7,62×25 pattern 1930 [Tokarev] weapons and 7,9×57 Mauser for 7,62×54 R Mosin weapons.
    See drawing: left side shows cartridge before conversion, right after.
    Pistol cartridge could be used without modification, rifle cartridge needs additional alterations to works, as it was rimless, not rimmed as 7,62×54 R, following way:
    Pattern 1891/30 rifle – need tinkering with extractor
    AVT and DP – needs replacing extractor with special one
    Maxim machine gun – could not be used with that cartridge
    Tests showed that all 7,62×54 R-chambered weapons worked poorly after modifications.
    TT automatic pistols show both poor reliability and tendency to throw spent cases into shooter’s face
    PPD and PPSh worked reliably giving less than 1% failures, though due to lower velocity fly lower, though for expected usage (distance less equal or less than 200 m) it was considered acceptable.
    Nonetheless 175 devices were made and delivered to partisans and were actually used, for example comrade KOZLOV reports that his units in June-August 1943 converted 9 mm cartridge to 7,62 mm for PPSh sub-machine gun: 300 000 examples, 7,92 mm rifle cartridge to 7,62 mm cartridge for rifle pattern 1891/30 years: 120 000 examples

  2. I know nothing about reloading cartridges. What are the chances partisans would use spent brass for reloading? Aside from the device Daweo mentions.

    • Well, the partisans might have gunsmith equipment on hand along with some reloading dies. If there is also good access to bullet materials, there is very little need to raid German supply depots for stuff. Remember, if you use the enemy’s guns, you need a way to get his ammunition with the least risk possible. I’m very certain the German forces would notice a random civilian stealing a supply truck (I’m under the impression that most German supply vehicles were requisitioned civilian trucks whose engines were started by hand cranks).

  3. Maybe it was a training SMG for no new partisan’s recruits, for them to have some knowledge of the mass produced SMG of the ennemy and so one would they could use in combat. I never see a device like that for something different that training purpose-

  4. I hereby bet that brass-catcher was installed for purposes of reloading cases rather than any need for stealth, and if anything was screwed onto the muzzle ever it was a flash-hider rather than suppressor. Also possible that an individual stole this gun, hid it away, used it selectively against Germans/Russians/NKVD until caught, or killed by circumstance. I also bet that the gun wound up in a German collection after being captured back by Germans and returned home for cleaning and refurb. I love these guessing games.

  5. I suggest a machine gun used from a civilian vehicle or boat with a brass catcher to keep evidence being left in the vehicle/boat. Germans find spent brass they would kill anyone associated with or nearby said vehicle or boat. Or might have been used in an aircraft. Probably lots of liaison aircraft flying in and out of partisan areas over the expanse of German occupied territory in the East. Brass from reloading seems problematic? If you could find primers you probably could find cartridges.

  6. Generally, “improvised” reloading is extremely dangerous. That doesn’t stop people in extreme conditions (like partizan warfare) from doing it.

    For instance, the most common method of reusing fired primers is to punch them out, use a flat-ended punch and a hammer to tap out the indent, then reload the priming with the light blue tip material of “strike-anywhere” matches. It’s mostly potassium perchlorate, which was the usual alternative to mercury fulminate in percussion caps in the 19th Century. During the American Civil War, most Confederate issue caps were loaded with perchlorate plus antimony sulfate and ground glass- because the “domestic” sources of mercury for fulminate were all in the Northern states. (They did find one “Southern” source- in West Texas. Unfortunately, they found it two weeks before Appomattox.)

    Gunpowder can be obtained in many ways. During WW2, the Philippine resistance obtained a lot of their “smokeless powder” by simply mixing saltpetre (easily processed from guano found in caves inhabited by bats) and sugar (easily obtained from sugar cane). (Technically, it’s “semi-smokeless”, as it’s really a blackpowder mix that just has no sulfur in it as an ignition catalyst.)

    Sometimes they acquired rifle powder by stealing Japanese artillery ammunition. One 75mm howitzer cartridge contained enough smokeless powder to load over 100 rifle cartridges. When the powder sometimes proved too “brisk” for their M1917 Enfield rifles, the resistance “tranquilized” it by mixing it with sawdust, which “stretched” the supply even more.

    An even odder source was movie theaters. Old time nitrate-based celluloid film stock is unstable to begin with, as any film historian will tell you. (Ask the UCLA Film Preservation Department about that one.) When ground up, it made a fairly vicious “flake powder” you’ll never find reloading instructions for in any Hodgdon manual.

    Bullets could be cast from domestically-obtained lead (plumber’s lead), brass (brass cooking utensils), or even copper (mined and refined). No, “monolithic” copper bullets as used by modern long-range target shooters are nothing new.

    None of this is recommended procedure. But if it’s a choice of winning a war or losing it, “recommended” procedures are not always feasible.



      • Even more entertaining (?) was the reloading and cartridge manufacture by the Moros during the Philippine Insurrection of 1899-1912.

        Their hodgepodge of weapons included 1871 and 71/84 Mausers in 11.15 x 60R, Spanish Remington rolling blocks in 11.15 x 58R, Japanese Murata single-shots in 11 x 60R (basically identical to the 11 x 59R Gras), Gras and converted Chassepots in 11 x 58R Gras, and you-name-it.

        The first thing they did was use any of these rounds in any of he rifles interchangeably- never mind that with the exception of the Gras and Murata rounds, they weren’t even supposed to be remotely interchangeable.

        The second thing they did was reload their cartridges with home-made black powder, cast-lead bullets and priming made from- what else?- match heads.

        They also made their own cartridges by typical mid-19th Century methods, like soldering pieces of copper tube to copper discs for case heads, using rolled brass, copper, tin or even thin iron sheet to make cases ala’ the British .577/.450 Martini-Henry system, and even forcing American .45-70 Gatling ammunition into their rifles’ chambers, firing it in combat, and then reloading the “fire-formed” (and seriously abused) .45-70 cases.

        Surviving “Moro” cartridge specimens show weak points, creases, crumples, and every other defect a handloader would discard a case for. The Moros just kept reloading them and blazing away.

        The “Insurrection” officially ended in 1912 for the same reason Chali at Pun of the Mojave Apache surrendered to General Crook in 1873; “Demasiados cartouchos del cobre.” (“You have too many copper cartridges.”) Although in fact, the Moros spent the next century up to the present killing others in the Philippines for the “crime” of not being Muslim, which they had been doing for ten centuries before the Insurrection and will probably still be doing ten centuries from now. People forget, or most likely don’t even know, that we’ve had U.S. troops in he Philippines for that exact reason since 2002. Just a we did a century ago.

        Today, they probably aren’t using 11.15mm Remington rolling blocks (they prefer G3s in 7.62 x 51mm, actually). But don’t bet they aren’t reloading ammunition for whatever they’re using.



    • The curtain rods in Philippine schools were brass and just a little over .308 in diameter. A little work with a file and hacksaw and you had a bullet to load with your remanufactured primer and homemade powder. I have written to several survival blogs about reloading in emergency situations. My post did not get put on the blogs for some reason. Everyone who reloads their own ammo should have a bullet puller. If you have a .308 or .30/06 or .300 mag rifle you can pull the bullets from .30/30 ammo and use that bullet and powder charge for reloading. .308 ammo can be salvaged for use in .30/06 or .300 mag.. 7.62×39 ammo can be used to reload .30/30 shells as long as the bullet diameter is right. Oversize 7.62 bullets might work in .303 cases. Guess you might have to invest in a micrometer as well. All of these loads will be underpowered as the principle involves taking components from a smaller case and using them in a larger case. Don’t try any of this as long as bullets and powder and primers are available. If the time comes when they are not go for it.

      • Reloading shotgun shells is an old custom in the Philippines. Match head tips for priming, firecracker powder for propellant, bits of nail cut up with a hacksaw for shot, cotton balls for wadding, corrugated cardboard for an overshot wad disc, and the crimp sealed with a paper disc held on with cooked rice glue.

        As for the shotguns, Iliff D. Richardson might have gotten all the glory about the “slam-bang” pipe shotgun, but it was apparently invented by some unknown Filipino about ten minutes after the first modern style centerfire shotgun ammunition arrived in the islands;

        It was derived from the even earlier Paliuntod blackpowder muzzle loader, also known as the “cigarette gun” due to its usual ignition method. Basically, it was a classic “hand cannon” made from a bronze wagon wheel spoke(courtesy of the Spanish), with an iron plug pinned in the breech end, a touchhole drilled just ahead of the plug, and the whole thing held to a hand-carved jelutong wood stock by a tight wrapping of abaca fiber.

        The name “Paliuntod”, applied to both this beast and the later “slam bang” 12 gauge, derived from an agricultural tool the things resembled.

        One expert once commented that to fully disarm the people of the Philippines, you’d need to ban even semi-modern plumbing.



        • Phillipines are beside pakistani village Darra, only place today (and in last 40 years or more)
          where artisanal copys of various guns are made on a great scale (employing lot of people).

          In darra they are much more skilled on the details, and from far away guns look like the real thing, but it depends on a manufacturor.

      • Given that standard .308 diameter bullets have routinely been used in barrels bored and rifled for 7.62x54R, 7.62x39mm, 7.7mm Arisaka, and .303 British (all of which use basically the same bore and rifling twist) with acceptable results, you don’t really need the “oversize” bullets for reloading 7.62x39mm, if you’re aiming for “good enough for the infantry” accuracy.

        The M1917 Enfield (.30-06) literally used the same barrel blanks as the P14 Enifeld (.303 British), and reaming out a Type 99 (7.7mm Arisaka, basically a direct clone of .303 British) chamber to shoot .30-06 through the original barrel was commonly done in the US in the 1950s to make deer rifles.

        I’d be curious to gauge the actual dimensions of a .308 Ishapore barrel (SMLE in 7.62x51mm) – be willing to lay the price of a beer down on, “they used the same tooling as when they were cranking out .303 NoI MkIII SMLEs”.

        Sure, you’re unlikely to get match grade accuracy

    • These are all interesting methods, however no major war in last century was won with small arms !
      One artillery piece with rounds is worth a thousand rifles, or more.

      Ok, perhaps maybe Vietnam war, but with great soldier losses (which meant nothing to them in the long run, as now they are more numerous than Germany).

      • The Vietnam War was won against the US with a camera, and the final victory over the RVN was won with an armored force larger than George Patton took into Germany, against a largely demoralized (because they had been betrayed and abandoned… although note, many RVN forces fought like demons to the bitter end) force that was cut off from resupply and down to issuing an average of 30 rounds per infantryman per month, one hand grenade, and field dressings that had been removed from the dead and boiled for reissue.

  7. ‘Gotta say, there is not a single entirely plausible explanation offered for.this item. Eliminate ANY variation of black powder on a blow-back piistol caliber automatic weapon: It’s too low powered and way too filthy to function adequately reliably. A 9mm case couldn’t possibly hold enough black powder to work the action.
    This is a goofy prepper concept of manufacturing one’s own ammo from scratch that just is neither plausible nor practical.
    Maybe good for hunting gators from an air-boat and keeping the manually ejected brass out of the propeller… but then you’d have to deal with a seriously annoyed, very much alive gator. Likely not conducive for generating a happy outcome for anyone involved. Probably wouldn’t do the air-boat much good either.
    On reflection, one can see why this piece was buried.

  8. The only hell knows thr right amount of MP*s have been modified during World War II and later. Most MP*s were just stored at fascists’ strongholds(e.g. “Black Forest” — “Чорний Ліс”, “Schwartzwald” — sub-commandment of fascist forces at a distance from concentration camps and railroads, the storage was discovered near 2000th), according to “krieg” accountments and games “solo-t-urn” or “luftwaffeN”. Weapons and ammo were currency for fascists’ gambling(and that hell continued till summer of 1984, at least at Ukraine).
    Not that rare, MP*s were “secondary table weapons” for Sovet Army soldiers and officers till 1980s — after WWII they were stored and serviced along with other “table list”.
    Talented MP* mods were produced by Underground of Antifascist Movement of Resistance — considered to availability of MP* sources, the MP-based development continued till 1985(“last burning boots”, the final disarmament procedure, when the most of experimental and trophy “table weapons” were discarded).
    Just mentioned an occasion, when k-g-b- officers stuffed me to a tilleburis, hitting me with MP* mods. Now it’s funny: tilleburis(a wooden box with a door) was wide enough to fall asleep inside it(exactly what I’ve done inside) — MP*s were cool, silvery-bright(rapid fire mods — k-g-b-ists would be deaf and sick after a burst in a room). That “silvery” MP*s were melted along with others in 1979-1985…
    The needs and circumstances of Underground of Antifascist Resistance demanded for weapons to be anyways useful, even if the weapons are not “directly appliable” — underground depths and dungeons oftenly are the environments where weapons may degrade, instantly rust or “just don’t shoot”. MP*s and MG*s were modified for use as emergency rock bores, dismounted barrels were used as wheel axles or stress elements for machinery. The propellants were also replaced with something suitable for underground war: the krypton-hydride, the “nitro”(domestic nitro-plastic that is efficient both for overground and top of underground), the “melt”(cheap domestic explosive powders and flammable mixtures, produced and used at depth). Standard bullets were replaced with composite projectiles that can traverse strong magnetic anomalities and highly-ionized zones, the usual for underground depth areas.
    The best of MP* mods, as I know, were “rust-lantane”(made in 1970-1980s, by Ukrainian branch of Antifascist Resistance): barrels were restructurised to conduct directed ionic-magnetic fields, cartridges were replaced with pieso-capsules that emit electro-magnetic impulse on shot — the impact of such shots was significant(something like microwave ray burn and deep electrolytic reducing within a target), though no visible projectile was thrown at all(the reloading was manual — electromotor-driven automatic was planned, but never produced in number or serially).

  9. I was interested to read the information from the Association of Maltese Arms Collectors and Shooters on the stand behind Ian.

    I am pleased they are happy with their 2005 firearms legislation, but I wonder what impact EU legislation will have on them? I believe the EU wants to ban all full auto guns in Europe, following the use of illegally reactivated Kalashnikovs by Islamic terrorists. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but when did most gun laws?

    I hope Maltese collectors can keep their full auto guns, but sadly EU law is superior to national law, so the future of these MP40s may be bleak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.