In 1941 rifles made up 96.6% of Soviet light arms, submachine guns 1.2%, and light machine guns 2.1%. This would transition in 1945 to 29.7% of Soviet light arms being submachine guns and light machine guns 3.5%. Submachine guns were becoming more of the standard issue. Not only were the percentages changing but the overall quantities were rising as well. Total quantity of available light arms in 1941 was 8,010,400 and would rise 12,058,100 in 1944.
Note 1: Availability does not equal number produced during the year. How to calculate: Number available on Jan1 of a given year = number available on Jan 1 of the preceding year + number received in the preceding year – number loss in the preceding year. See ‘Soviet Light Arms Availability 1941-45 Data” download below for actual data.
Note 2: 1941 availability numbers are as of the eve of the German invasion, June 22, 1941. All other availability numbers were as of January 1 of each of the following years.
Table of Contents
Selected Light Arms
The primary Soviet rifle was the Mosin-Nagant 91/30. It was a bolt-action rifle that held 5 rounds and was effective to 500m. Over 17 million were produced from 1930-45.
The PPSh-41 submachine gun was a key weapon for Soviet infantry and vehicle crews. It was mass-produced and effective at close ranges, firing 900rpm. Over 6 million were made during the war.
The Degtyaryov DP light machine gun could fire full-auto at up 750rpm. It was used as a squad support weapon, mounted on vehicles, and in aircraft. Millions were produced from 1927-45.
The Tokarev TT-33 pistol was the standard Soviet sidearm. Over 1.5 million were made from 1933-51. It fired 8-round magazines of the 7.62x25mm pistol cartridge, effective to 100m.
Soviet infantry made heavy use of grenades, including fragmentation and anti-tank grenades. Millions of grenades were produced and they were integral to Soviet small-unit tactics.
Light Arms Production
Soviet small arms were relatively simple, hard-hitting, and cheaply mass-produced. While less advanced than German weapons, their sheer numbers contributed greatly to Soviet victories against the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. There were several factors that contributed to this:
Simplicity of Design
Soviet light arms were designed to be simple and easy to manufacture. This allowed for mass production and reduced the cost of production.
Use of Standardized Parts
Soviet light arms often used standardized parts, which reduced the need for specialized tools and equipment. This made it easier and less expensive to manufacture and repair weapons.
Use of Low-Grade Materials
The Soviet Union often used lower-grade materials, such as stamped steel, to produce light arms. This reduced the cost of production, but also resulted in weapons that were less durable and less accurate than their Western counterparts. Whereas the German light arms manufacturing industry used higher-grade materials in the production of weapons, which resulted in weapons that were more durable and accurate than their Soviet counterparts but were more expensive and time consuming to produce.
The Soviet Union had a highly centralized system of production, which allowed for greater efficiency and coordination in the manufacturing process. This helped to reduce costs and increase production rates.
Overall, the Soviet Union’s light arms manufacturing industry was effective in producing large quantities of weapons quickly and efficiently. While the weapons produced were often less durable and accurate than their Western counterparts, they played an important role in the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II.
Soviet Light Arms Availability 1941-45 Chart Data
The above graph can be downloaded as an image.
To download the data shown below from which the graph was developed click on the icon below corresponding to you desired format. Note: to ensure all data is downloaded choose the ‘All’ selection in the Show Entries dropdown list. Otherwise only the data visible on the screen will download.
Source: Soviet Causalities and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century Greenhill Books, London, Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania, 1997, Table 95 Section I – Small Arms (Selected data only) Pages 246-247, Edited by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev
Soviet Light Arms Availability 1941-45 Data
This includes all the data needed to calculate the availability quantities.
Source: Soviet Causalities and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century Greenhill Books, London, Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania, 1997, Table 95 Section I – Small Arms Pages 246-247, Edited by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev
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