Fun with Semi-Automatic Sub Guns

The TNW gun I tried was built using an as-new stock and other parts. It is finished with a gray Parkerizing.

I fired two 30-round magazines through it.  The rifle worked OK using Winchester and Finnish SAKO-made surplus ball ammo. One stovepipe jam and a couple failures to fire old ammo were the only issues. I was just plinking and did not have formal targets beyond a few old cans. Accuracy was to area of aim at my 25-yard range. Both I and the new owner of this gun thought it a bit heavy.

Three weeks after I sold the Suomi, another customer ordered a PPSh-41 rifle, also made by TNW but purchased from another source.  This was when I decided these guns might be a good topic for a column.

The Russians used the PPSh model 1941 submachine gun during WWII. More than five million were made from 1941 to 1947.  It was chambered for the 7.62x25mm cartridge also used in the Tokarev TT-33 pistol.  The Russians sometimes called their PPSh a pa-pa-sha. It fired from an open bolt, has a 10.3-inch barrel and uses 35-round stick or 71-round drum magazines.

The TNW version was built with a Polish marked stock and other original parts. The barrel, barrel shroud and receiver are all new manufacture.  It is finished with gray Parkerizing.  The gun was shipped with a single stick magazine. I had to find some of the drums. They are what make this model neat. I ordered the drum on line and when it arrived I took the gun out back to try.  Yes, my customer had been informed I would be testing his gun. The PPSh-41 currently retails in the $900 to $1000 range.

First, I gotta say this gun is heavy.  It weighed in at 12 pounds 7 ounces with a loaded 71-round drum on my shipping scale. I would not want to have to carry this one all day. I wonder if they could make the barrel shroud from thinner steel, to lighten it up a bit?  Function was spotty but I will attribute most of it to the ammo I used.

I did not happen to have much of the cheap surplus 7.62×25 on hand to try.  My first drum was filled with 25 rounds of 1950s-era Czech surplus and 45 rounds of Norinco 1980s vintage steel-cased commercial ammo.  The Czech ammo had hard primers and there were more than a dozen failures to fire in the first 25 rounds, as well as a few jams and failures to eject. Subsequent sessions used other mixed 7.62x25mm surplus I found in my stash.  Bulgarian, Selior & Belot, and unknown manufacture.

Several more failures to fire. The most shots I got in one string was about 25 with the Norinco ammo. I am thinking this gun is a bit ammo sensitive. Some surplus ammo will have primers too hard for reliable operation. The factory manual suggests using new production ammo and warns of the poor reliability of surplus ammunition.

The final model I tried was the PPS-43 pistol. I bought this one at a gun show last weekend.  The PPS 1943 was adopted in Russia in 1943. It was a re-design of the PPSh-41 made from sheet steel stampings. It used the same 35-round stick magazines. The drums will not fit the stamped magazine housing.

The new pistol is imported to the U.S. by Inter Ordnance http://www.ioinc.us. These currently retail for $450 to $550. It is made in Radom, Poland by Pioneer. This is an all-new gun. The folding metal stock is welded in the closed position. It has a 10-inch barrel and the weight is about 7.5 pounds. Finally, a sub-machine gun look-alike that looks like the real thing.  I can grip the magazine and spray from the hip, just like the war movies! My initial range session was satisfactory. It fired 35 rounds of the Norinco commercial ammunition with only two stove pipe stoppages.  Now, I’m out of 7.62×25 ammo, so I really need to find some more.

Whether you are a military history buff or just enjoy the look and feel of old submachine guns, these three are fine examples of what’s available for you.

This article appeared in the January 3, 2011 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine. Click here to learn more.


Resources for Military Gun Collectors

Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 6th EditionThe Standard Catalog of Military Firearms

The Greatest Guns of Gun Digest

Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values

Gun Digest 1944 – 2009 3-DVD Set

Gun Digest the Magazine

Gun Digest 2011

One thought on “Fun with Semi-Automatic Sub Guns

  1. theken101

    I don’t think I would call three firearms plagued by malfunctions, even with new ammo, “fine examples of what’s available”. Even if I only use the guns for casual plinking, the jams would become quite frustrating…

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