When comparing Soviet small arms to those made in the West, one cannot help but notice a distinct difference between the two. In a nutshell, Soviet arms are Spartan - anything but fancy. On the other side of the ledger, Western small arms tend to be prettier and pricier, especially U.S. versions.

And often, weapons manufactured in the West tend toward the complex - and breakable.

But then, frills are not restricted to small arms. Take a peek at U.S. jet fighters, heck, any of the host of weapons in Western arsenals versus those found in Soviet arsenals - from tanks to aircraft.

American combat aircraft, tanks and ships are ergonomically designed to better 'fit' their operators and have a tendency to be way computerized. Soviet aircraft, tanks and ships are less so, infinitely more manual in nature. Is it that Comrade Boris is less interested in his soldiers', naval personnel, air crews' and marines' health and welfare? Perhaps. But Boris isn't stupid. He knows that computers can go haywire, and although it may be more physically demanding for crews to operate manually, it may be wiser in the long run - say, if Mikhail's jet fighter's computer systems go down.

Comrade Boris is old school, a proponent of the KISS principle: "Keep it simple, stupid..." Or, the Kremlin's unique version, KISCS: "Keep it simple, Comrade Stupid." Generally speaking, the weapons of the Soviet Union are no frills and functional - take the AK-47, perhaps the assault rifle of all time - or the GP-25 and GP-30 grenade launchers. They may not be pretty, but they work!

Similar in design to the M203 in U.S. arsenals, the grenade launcher mounted beneath the M16 battle rifle, the GP-25 is a 3.3-pound (unloaded) Soviet grenade launcher affixed to the underbelly of the 7.62mm AKM or the 5.45mm AK-74 Kalashnikov assault rifle. The GP designation is Russian for Granatomyot Podstvolnyj - under-barrel, grenade launcher. This baby is styling - it has a recoil pad!

Adopted by the Soviet army, the GP-25 was developed by Mikhail and the boys in the mid- to late-1970s. The GP-30 is a fiscally more responsible version that weighs less and is less complex.

Like the U.S. M203, the GP-25 and its progeny, the GP-30 fire 40mm rounds, specifically the VOG-25 and the VOG-25P caseless, fragmentation grenades. No case, no need to pull a spent round.

Of note, the VOG-25P has a nasty built-in feature: When it hits, it bounces and explodes three feet off the ground - about midway up a man's frame. Way nasty. Shades of the Bouncin' Betty mine.

Grenades are loaded from the front; the sights are located on the left side of the gun.

A difference between the GP-25 and the GP-30, other than size: the GP-30s sights are on the right side of the launcher, making it easier for us right-eye-dominant shooters. So much for you lefties.

Oh, and the GP-25 and GP-30 is effective to about 500 feet (150 meters).