PPSH 41 submachine gun (5/6)
The creek has cut a small valley into the ground and of course I was not merely searching the riverbed but also the banks and the slopes of the valley which were 5 to 10 m high. It was on such a slope when I swung the coil high above my head when the detector produced a sound. As usual I used the all metal mode. “Probably some junk” I thought because this was usually the reason for larger metal objects near the top of the small slope. But when I looked up I was greeted by this lovely sight.
At first, I did not trust my eyes. Could it be? Before I touched the item I made the picture above. Then I removed this relic very gently from the ground.
I was speechless. What a find! A Russian machine pistol PPSH 41 in wonderful condition. No bolt, no magazine, no wood, no front sight guard, no trigger mechanism, but otherwise complete.
This weapon was typical for the Russian soldier in the years 43-45. Unlike the German high command in 41 the Russians placed great emphasis on such a weapon and produced them in very large quantities (some 5-6 millions), in particular after 43 when their war industry was up to speed. In close range combat e.g. in woods or in buildings, this was the perfect weapon. In the battle of Stalingrad, which took place in Winter 42/43 and marked the turning point of the war, the characteristic form of fighting was exactly this close range combat. The German MP 40 was inferior to the PPSH41. The Germans tried to copy the PPSH 41 or to adapt them for the German 9 mm ammunition but in vain.
Maybe because of this experience the Germans introduced in 43 and 44 a new sort of rapid fire weapon – the assault rifle. While the early German models were not very reliable this sort of weapon became later extremely successful throughout the world. Its best known form is the AK 47 – the famous Kalashnikov- which was inspired by the German Sturmgewehr 44.
Maybe the easiest way to distinguish machine pistols from assault rifles is the calibre. The length of assault rifles (typically 7.62 x 39 mm) is placed between the short pistol or machine pistol cartridge (e.g. 7.62 x 25 mm Tokarev as used by the PPSH 41) and the long rifle calibre (e.g. 8x57 mm of the German K98k carbine).
After WW 2 the machine pistols lost their importance in favour of the assault rifle. During WW 2, however, machine pistols were used so frequently by the Russians that the found PPSH41 can be regarded as a symbol of Russian infantry warfare. So much for the role of this find in warfare and firearm history.
The divisions strength report given above shows that pistols and machine pistols in particular were much more rare than rifles. For people hunting for firearms all finds of that kind are great but machine pistols are among the most desirable finds. Apparently I had found one of the division’s 574 machine pistols.
If you look closely you can see that the weapon is slightly bend upwards. The front part is not exactly in line with the top rear part. That is why it is not possible to close the weapon entirely. There is always a gap between the rear parts as shown in the picture above. Maybe someone tried to damage the weapon.
The front section.
The rear section.
Next some views from various angles.
Views 2. The left picture shows the remains of a serial number near its lower end.
Views 3. Note the stamp “20” on the rear sight in the lower left picture.
The weapon was disabled by a certified gunsmith after the pictures above were taken. He drilled several holes into the barrel, wielded a hardened steel bolt into the barrel and made several more modifications.
(C) Thorsten Straub www.metal-detecting.de 2006-2011.