What American gun lover or action movie fan (don't the two go hand in hand?) hasn't
seen this Russian-made submachine gun (SMG) on one or more late-night TV
flicks? The PPSh-41, short for Pistolet-Pulemyot Shpagina machine pistol
was nicknamed the 'burp gun' by American soldiers during World War II, Korea,
and to a lesser extent, Vietnam.
Georgi Shpagin is the Soviet weapon's designer who brought us this efficient and
low-cost, close-quarter SMG. The PPSh-41 was developed in Moscow late in 1941
and produced in significant quantities in 1942 and beyond. The simple design is
an assembly line dream, much like the American M3 'Grease Gun' in .45 ACP and 9x19mm Parabellum and the Soviet
MP40 and the British Sten gun, both in 9x19mm Parabellum.
The PPSh-41 has a blowback, open bolt action. At 33.189 inches (843 mm) long and with a
barrel length of 10.59 inches (269 mm), it weighs in at 8 pounds, unloaded.
Using either a drum or box magazine, this baby is capable of holding 71 or 35 7.62x25mm
Tokarev rounds, respectively (full mags were unpopular with operators as they
were notorious for jamming) and boasts a 900-round-per-minute cycle rate. Due
to the likelihood of jamming, troops popularly loaded drums several rounds shy
Six million or more of these babies were kicked off the Soviet assembly line before the end
of WWII, and since, the PPSh-41 has seen widespread use in wars, police actions
and assorted conflicts (but then, comrade, they are Soviet small arms).
The PPSh-41 is a durable, low-maintenance SMG loved by commie and insurgent operators for
its recoil light, its devastating firepower up close and personal and its
dependability. It has also been cursed for its reloading speed slow to slower,
its propensity to jam and its likelihood to discharge if dropped (after all, it
is an open bolt SMG). In the annals of war, the PPSh-41 holds a memorable footnote in history-treasured and
alternately cursed by its operators envied and hated by its enemies.