Shooting World War II war trophies

Shooting World War II war trophies

Marco Vorobiev was a member of the elite Soviet Spetsnaz in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He's a U.S. citizen now and conducts training courses that draw on his special forces training. He'll have a new installment every Wednesday.

"To the Victor belong the spoils". Isn't how the saying goes. Well, the amount of captured German weapons during and at the end of World War II by the Allies is staggering. Obviously the Soviet Union got the lion's share of it. Growing up in the Soviet Union, I could only dream of actually touching or handling any war trophy guns. The only time when you could see one was when you were in the museum or on TV or movie screen watching a war movie. One can wonder where it all went. We all know that Russians don't throw away anything.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and with Russia adapting some form of democracy and market economy, some of the captured guns started to pop up to the surface here and there. Trust me, you can't just buy a plane ticket, fly to Moscow and ask someone where to find war trophy firearms. You have to know someone or know where to look. Luckily for us we knew someone and even knew where to look. During my recent trip to Russia I actually got not just handle, but to shoot some the iconic German World War II guns.

You may disagree with me, but in my opinion there is no other gun that symbolizes Nazi Germany like the legendary MP40 submachine gun. Well built in the best German tradition, it fires the 9x19 mm Parabellum cartridge at 700 rounds per minute. It produced automatic fire chatter that was unmistakable. Often mislabeled as the "Schmeisser," the MP40 was actually design by arms designer Vollmer and produced by German Erma Werke company. 1.2 million were produced during World War II. One of these infamous guns was made available to us to play with.


I have fired many different machine pistols and submachine guns chambered in pistol cartridge in the years past. It is expected from the weapon firing low impulse cartridge to have reduced recoil. However, the recoil is still there and often affects the accuracy and controllability of such gun especially on full-auto.


The MP40 we fired had virtually no recoil. It was very easy to control the gun in any position even offhand unsupported. Its folding stock that incidentally served as a model for the future AK-47S stock was well-suited for the MP and provided proper support and cheek weld. As a result it was almost not a challenge to knock bricks over at roughly 100 yards distance.

Though there are modified semi-auto versions of the MP38 and MP40 already certified for the European civilian market, they unfortunately are not importable. But things have a tendency to change. Who knows, maybe some day these guns in one form or the other may make it stateside. It would be a shame to lose a true piece of history.

During and at the end of WWII the Soviets captured a lion's share of Wehrmacht's weapons including oceans of firearms. Many of them went into war reserve.


Among the captured firearms were truly iconic models that symbolized the Third Reich and its once dominating rule over Europe. Note the FG42 in this photo.


Few firearms represent Nazi Germany during World War II like the German MP40 machine pistol. More than a million served all over the European Theater.

The MP40 shoots from an open bolt, it has relatively slow rate of automatic fire resulting in exceptional controllability and unmistakable chatter like sound.

Vorobiev could not resist and tried to fire our MP from the hip just like in every Hollywood War movie. It's fun, but not the most accurate way to fire.

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