Soviet Military - Weapons and Equipment

Weapons and Equipment

The Soviet Union established an indigenous arms industry as part of Stalin's industrialization program in the 1920s and 1930s. The five round, magazine-fed, bolt action Mosin-Nagant rifle remained the primary shoulder firearm of the Red Army through World War II. Over 17 million model 91/30 Mosin-Nagant rifles were manufactured from 1930 to 1945 by various Soviet arsenals. In 1943 design started on the M44, designed to replace the M91/30. Full production began in 1944, and remained in production until 1948, when it was replaced by the SKS semiautomatic rifle.

The Red Army suffered from a shortage of adequate machine guns and semiautomatic firearms throughout World War II. The semiautomatic Tokarev SVT Model 38 and Model 40, chambered for the same 7.62x54R cartridge used by the Mosin-Nagants. The rifle, though of sound design, was never manufactured in the same numbers as the Mosin-Nagants and did not replace them. Soviet experimentation with small-arms began during the Second World War. In 1945 the Red Army adopted the Siminov SKS, a semi-automatic 7.62x39mm carbine. In 1949 production of the 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle began: planners envisaged troops using it in conjunction with the SKS, but it soon replaced the SKS completely. In 1978 the 5.45x39mm AK-74 assault rifle replaced the AK-47: it utilized no less than 51% of the AK-47's parts. Designers put together the new weapon as a counterpart to the American 5.56x45mm cartridge used in the M-16 assault rifle, and the Russian army continues to use it today.

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