Updated: Nov 20
At some point in the future, our publishing company is planning to release a new book. The Soviet Infantry Weapons of the Afghan War book will be focused on Soviet small arms and handheld grenade launchers used by the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The book will take a long time to produce, as we want to make it a really good guide for those, who are interested in the topic.
It is yet unclear what exactly weapons will be featured in the book and to what depth they will be investigated.
Here is the complete list of all the weapons, including knives and explosives, which were issued and used by the Soviet army during the Soviet-Afghan war.
All weapons presented in this list are the ones that were spotted in documental photos, which can be identified as related to the Soviet-Afghan war. Mythological weapons, such as SVT rifles and early iterations of AKs were not included for that reason. We have also excluded mounted weapons, such as SG-43 machine guns.
Bayonets and knives
The bayonets and knives saw limited use during the Soviet-Afghan war. The reasons are quite obvious - soldiers rarely get into hand combat when fighting in mountain terrain. However, every AK rifle was supplied with a bayonet, and they were often carried on operations. They were also quite useful for everyday tasks, like an opening. Given that most soldiers did not have any other knives, they would use bayonets for such tasks.
It is well known that pistols were rarely used in actual combat in Afghanistan. The reasons are similar to why knives were not popular - there was not much close combat fighting, and on the occasions, the AK would do a better job, than a PM. However, pistols were still issued and carried by some officers. Spetsnaz troops even used them in actual combat on regular bases.
This category of weapons was the most narrow one. The reason for it is the abandonment of sniping by the Soviet Army after the Second World War. It was believed, that Snipers will have limited to no use in the next big conflict, as all the armies were getting increasingly mechanized and the firepower was increasing at yet unknown scale. As usual, these predictions did not turn out to be true and the SVD sniper rifle was widely used during the Soviet-Afghan war.
Assault rifles were the most common type of weapon during the Soviet-Afghan war. Pretty much every soldier and officer had some AK variant assigned to him and a big chunk of these servicemen had to actually use it from time to time. Luckily for modern-day historians, collectors, and reenactors, the Soviet assault rifle arsenal was only represented by Kalashnikovs. However, there were some variations, so you need to collect them all!
Machine guns were among the most important weapons during the Soviet-Afghan War. Big distances in the mountains called for a high-range weapon with heavy firepower. And Soviet machine guns could deliver that in the finest way! PK and PKM machine guns were the most popular options among ground troops, but RPK was also used quite often, as it could provide better range than a regular assault rifle.
These weapons are not exactly hand held and we are yet to decide if they should be in the book or not. However, these tripod-operated guns saw extensive use during the Soviet-Afghan war. They were either hand carried by the infantry or airborne units or placed stationary on the outposts. Sometimes they were even mounted on trucks and armored vehicles.
Traditionally, hand grenades were extremely popular in the Soviet army. War in Afghanistan was not an exception - soldiers would carry a lot of them on operations. They were called "pocket artillery" and every soldier would carry at least half of a dozen of them on an operation. They proved to be extremely useful in mountain and built-up areas. RPG-18 and 22 are also included in this category, as they stand for "Handheld anti-tank grenade". Since they were disposable, they were not considered launchers.
Grenade launchers were issued very widely in the Soviet Army - every section had at least one. Afghan mujahadeen did not have any tanks, so the use of the anti-tank launchers was limited to destroying improvised fortifications.
These types of weapons were used in limited numbers and usually by specialized troops, assigned to so-called "chemical" units. It is also unclear if the "Lynx" reactive flamethrower was actually used in Afghanistan or just for training purposes in pre-deployment camps.