This is a list which I wanted to do for a long time and have only came to it now, when the process of creating a book on the same topic has officially starter. Nevertheless, the book is to be published only in late 2024, so this list will be needed both for practical use during the publishing process and as a reference for future.
The 1950s were a turning point for the Soviet small arms design and manufacturing. The end of the Second World War left the unprecedented amount of small arms in the armed forces. But the small arms technological advancement has already moved forward and new solutions were required. Thus, this period has brought us very interesting but criminally understudied examples of weapons, which were designed with the big war in mind.
In this article we will list all the weapons used by the Soviet army from the early post-war period and until the "new era", which is symbolized by the adoption of M69 uniform and AK-74 rifle. Each section will have a general comment, but to discover each particular weapon you will need to click on the appropriate weapon. This article will be updated on the go, as we will be adding more and more articles on different weapon systems.
Soviet early Cold War Knifes
The Red, or, now, after the Second World War, the Soviet Army, had interesting relations with knifes. Before 1940s, when the primary weapon was the rifle, there were no issued knifes - everyone had a pike bayonet. This starter to change rapidly as country was getting closed to the Big War. Self loading rifles, such as AVS-36 and SVT-40 both had knife shaped bayonets, which could be used for multiple purposes. The very real knife, which could not be attached to any weapon was NR-40. Loosely based on Finnish pukko knifes, which were captured after the Winter War, this became one of the symbols of the Red Infantry of the Second World War. At the same time these knifes became symbols of criminal elements.
In the 1950s situation started to change, slightly. Bayonets were introduced to AK rifles and even the first iteration of those could be used as knifes. The blade design was further modified for AKM, yet, has lost its fighting properties.
Soviet early Cold War Pistols
The Soviet Army always had love-hate relations with the handguns. And I mean the Soviet Army. Its predecessor, the Red Army, had a very different approach towards pocket guns. They were popular, to say the least. Officers and some soldiers were armed with Nagant Revolvers, as well as with TT-30 and TT-33 pistols. During the Second World War, the number of pistols increased in geometrical proportion, both Soviet made and captured. This, in turn, gave a big rise to the firepower of the criminal gangs.
After the war, a lot of effort was put into getting pistols of the streets - from former soldiers, who were now demobilized. But a real big decision was to change the main pistol caliber from 7.62x25mm to a brand new 9x18mm. This was done to make sure that criminal elements would not try to get pistol rounds from Armed Forces and Police units.
PM and APS became the most used used pistols of the Soviet Army in the first decades of the Cold War. Leftovers, such as TT-33 were still in used until late 1950s, before the rearmament process has finished.
Unlike many other armies, who kept using full cartridge manual or self-loading rifles well after the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union forced the industry to make sure that everyone was getting an assault rifle. However, in the early stages of the post-War developments, before the AK platform became a big thing, Soviet Army was mainly armed with carbines. There were only two of them, both being the ingenuity of the late years of the war.
Mosin M44 Carbine
As many of you know, Soviet school of sniping has declined by a lot straight after the end of the Second World War. The reason was simple - new doctrine, which did not favor any stalemate fighting, but instead favored high speed maneuvers. Why would snipers be irrelevant during the maneuver warfare? Well, I don't know. This question still haunts every post-Soviet Army, who have lost around 50 years of experience and technical development in this field. But, there were two rifles which were designated as sniper rifles, and they are mentioned in this list.
Submachine guns is not something that immediately associates with Soviet Army of the Cold War. This intuitive association is mostly correct - the Soviet Army rapidly dropped old era weapons in savor for the AK-SKS-RPD triptych. However, until the mid to late 50s, WW2 style submachine guns were in use, and even my late grandfather, who served from 1955 to 1958 had PPSh-41 as his main weapon signed in his military passport.
Again, just like with the sniper rifles, the submachine guns were dropped by the Soviets completely in late 50s. This created the vacuum, which still holds strong until today. All those servicemen, who could have been armed with submachine guns, are getting AKS-74U.
The assault rifles became a big trend for the Soviet military at the end of the Second World War. While Soviets were not the first to adapt assault rifles as a concept, they were definitely in front of everyone in terms of numbers.
The famous AK platform became the main weapon of the Soviet infantry by the end of the 1950s. However, the adoption and mass manufacturing process were not smooth. Unlike SKS carbine and RPD-44 machine gun, it tool quite a lot of time to get the process running properly. But it did pay off - the AK rifles became the main symbol of the Cold War, thanks to the numbers produced and amount of conflicts they participated in.
Now, the early Cold War machine guns is, perhaps, the most amusing topic from in this list. There are many unresolved questions and straight up myths associated with these infantry support weapons. We will try our best to solve these mysteries in the separate articles dedicated to each Soviet machine gun of the era.
Just like almost any other Soviet designed weapon system, the grenade launchers of the early days of the Cold War were the direct offspring of the German technologies. The famous Faustpatron disposable antitank weapons were the foundation of the hand-held grenade launchers, produced in the USSR. In this list we will only be talking about three of them, but maybe in the future we will also cover the experimental weapons, which never made it to full scale production.
Flamethrowers in their classical form is a weapon from the First World War. Improved versions were used later on in the 20th century, both in WW2 and in the numerous conflicts of the Cold War. And the Soviet military was not an exception. One final iteration of flamethrowers was developed and adopted for service.