Shooting the 20mm Lahti L-39 Anti-Tank Rifle

The Lahti L-39 is a wonderfully interesting 20mm Anti-Tank Rifle (ATR). Developed by the famous Finnish designer Aimo Lahti in 1939, this over-sized rifle soon earned the nickname the “Elephant Gun”. Developed as a tank buster, it first saw combat during the Winter War of 1940. A gas operated semi-automatic design; it features a piston beneath the barrel. Feed is from a huge top mounted magazine which holds ten of the large 20x138mmB cartridges. Ejection is out the bottom. The iron sights are offset to the left side of the rifle and a large muzzle brake is fitted to reduce recoil. One interesting feature is the wooden barrel jacket, which allows a member of the gun crew to grab onto it when moving the gun after the barrel has grown hot from firing. Muzzle velocity of the 20x138mmB cartridge is approximately 2,600 fps.

Everything about the L-39 is big. The gun is big, the cartridges are big, the magazine is big, and the charging handle is big. Recoil though, is not nearly as bad as one would think. While attention getting, due to the blast, it’s actually a fun rifle to shoot. I had the chance to fire the Lahti L-39 seen here while filming the 2018 season of Guns&AmmoTV. We were filming on location in Uvalde, Texas at DriveTanks.com which is an exceptional living history museum. What makes it unique? Not only can you see and touch historical small arms, armored vehicles and anti-tank guns, but you can actually shoot many of them, like this incredible 20mm Anti-Tank Rifle. If you’d like the opportunity to handle and fire an L-39, take a look at DriveTanks.com.

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