PTRD 41: The Simple Soviet Antitank Rifle of WWII

PTRD 41: The Simple Soviet Antitank Rifle of WWII


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum and today we’re gonna take a look at this Soviet PTRD-41 anti-tank rifle. There were actually two different designs of 14.5mm anti-tank rifles that the Soviet Union developed, adopted, and produced and used in large numbers during World War Two. And this is the simple one, the other was the PTRS, by Simonov. That was the more complicated one and in fact, that’s kind of like a scaled up SKS, or rather it became an SKS when it was scaled down to 7.62×39. But, that’s outside of the scope of today’s video. What we have here is Degtyarev’s anti-tank gun. Now this had its Genesis not surprisingly, in Operation Barbarossa. The Soviets actually had developed an earlier anti-tank rifle, but they kind of just took it out of service and scrapped the idea, on the assumption that, well, if they ever use these things in combat, they’re not going to be against tanks that are actually vulnerable to an anti-tank rifle of this sort, so it wasn’t really a priority. Then when the Germans invaded, turns out the Germans invaded with a lot – a remarkable number of light and medium tanks; Panzer Is, IIs, and IIIs, that were actually quite susceptible to an anti-tank rifle like this. Now, the development program really kind of kicked off in 1938, so a little earlier, when the Soviet Artillery Directorate put out a request or a, basically, a statement on anti-tank rifles that they wanted an infantry portable anti-tank rifle – something light enough to be carried and operated by a crew of two men, because they had this concern that the infantry would inevitably, in combat, they would get separated from their anti-tank artillery support, so, proper, you know, large crew-served 37, 45mm and larger anti-tank guns, inevitably would not be able to keep up with the infantry during combat. And they didn’t want the infantry to be stranded, assaulted by tanks, and unable to defend themselves, short of Molotov cocktails and improvised weapons. So, that was the idea behind having anti-tank rifles, and that’s what set the parameters for the gun – has to be portable and operable by two men. Now the PTRS actually has a detachable barrel which made it easier to transport than this thing, because this is what you get – you can’t take this apart, or make it smaller in any practical way. It’s two meters long, it’s a little over 6 1/2 feet long. It is a little over 17 kilos, that’s like 38 pounds. This is really kind of a beast of a gun, and it’s chambered for this 14.5x114mm cartridge. I’ve got it here next to a .50 BMG cartridge just for comparison. The projectile in use there was actually developed in the late 30s, and it was a hybrid metal ceramic core with some explosive, so it was an armor-piercing incendiary or armor-piercing explosive projectile and the development that went into that projectile and the cartridge as well is really what made this gun as effective as it was. Contrary to, well, when I first started reading up on these, contrary to my expectation, these guns are actually remarkably effective on armor, more so than pretty much any of the other anti-tank rifles that were being used at the time, including larger ones like the 20mm Lahtis and Solothurns. What the 14.5 does is it combines a very well designed armor-piercing projectile with a very high velocity cartridge. So this thing’s firing a 988 grain bullet at 3,320 feet per second. It’s a very high velocity cartridge for something this huge. And with that velocity and that bullet design this thing was able to perforate about 35 millimetres of vertical armor out to 300 yards – this is remarkable, this is a lot more than you get with a Boys anti-tank rifle, or a Solothurn or Lahti, or any of the German guns. The Germans used an 8mm, a much smaller bullet, didn’t have the armor-piercing performance that these did. So up until about the middle of 1943, these guns were actually capable of defeating most of the German armored vehicles that were being encountered. Now you might not be able to defeat the very front armor, but the sides and the rear and the tracks were all vulnerable to these guns, so that explains why the Soviets put them into production and used them as heavily as they did. Now from the very beginning, they understood that this wouldn’t just be a weapon for use against tanks. It was also a good weapon for emplacements, or strong points, for attacking machine-gun nests, or enemy anti-tank guns, y’know, you hit anything with a thou, basically a thousand grain armor-piercing projectile, and you’re gonna mess it up pretty good, so, they knew that going in, and this was a multi-purpose weapon. So even after this, even after the Germans were using tanks that weren’t really all that vulnerable to these – Panthers and Tigers – they were still deployed and used extensively for shooting at other things – light armored vehicles, trucks, posit – y’know, emplacements, that sort of thing. So one of the other really impressive elements, maybe even the most impressive element about this gun, is just how quickly it was put into, well, went from concept, to production, to field use. In nine – in August of 1941, Stalin personally ordered the development of anti-tank rifles. They wanted something to get out there. The Soviet Army didn’t really have anything in substantial use, and “Wow, y’know, the Germans have invaded, and they’re actually using tanks that we could be destroying with a gun firing something like this. So, I want guns NOW.” And, I suppose, Stalin was the sort of guy you took seriously when he said something like that. So two different designers were both put to work on this, Degtyarev and Simonov. Degtyarev came up with this very simple, lighter, but – has less firepower. It’s a single-shot rifle. Simonov came up with a gun that had more firepower, it could be disassembled, you take the barrel off, so it was easier to transport in the field despite being overall a little bit heavier, but it was also much more complicated to manufacture, and what the Soviet Union decided to do was put both guns into production simultaneously. This, they were able to tool up really quickly – almost everything on this gun can be made on a lathe, or is a very simple pressing, or milling operation sort of production. And by the end, I should say August, development is ordered, the end of August, they actually have these things in trials. So, best source I can find says the development timeframe on this gun was 22 days which is almost inconceivable, I mean this thing was put onto paper and then into production faster than the Sten gun was. And by November of ’41 these things were actually in the field in substantial numbers being used. By the end of 1941 they had produced 17,688 of these guns and, to help, they also had 77 of the Simonov, the PTRS-41 rifles. By the end of 1942, that number had gone up to over a hundred and, almost 185,000 of these guns, and a little over 63,000 of the PTRSs, and by 1943, basically the T, O, and E of the Soviet Army was fulfilled. Every unit had its crates, y’know, allocated number of anti-tank rifles, and they didn’t have to have this breakneck production any longer, because they actually made enough to equip the army, which is kind of amazing by itself as well. The guns did stay in service to the end the war, although of course, by late in World War Two the newer modern tanks were not vulnerable nearly to the same degree to these rifles. Anyway, let’s take a look at how this operates, because it’s actually sort of a half semi-automatic rifle despite being single-shot. We’ll start with some markings here. This is on the receiver of the gun, we have the arsenal mark, we then have date of production, ’42, and a serial number. That’s it. Y’know, these were produced very quickly and under some, some substantial duress, so they didn’t bother putting any other fancy markings on it. The bolt also has a serial number, as do some of the other parts, which may or may not always match today. For sights, we have a very simple U-notch flip, so this is the 400-meter setting, and, flip it up to the 600-meter setting. And with a muzzle velocity of 3,300 feet per second, you have quite a long mean point-blank distance – so, and especially, let’s, let’s remember you’re shooting at a tank, so we’re not talking minute-of-angles sort of accuracy being required here. The front sight is a, just a very, very simple square blade with a reinforcing sort of girder there holding it in place. You will notice of course it is offset to the left side of the gun, this is done because the gun actually is recoil operated, so let me show you that. So here’s the cheek rest. That’s what you actually put your face on to get lined up with the sights. Then we have really, a pretty basic bolt-action system here. If you want to unload it or load it you open the bolt, pull it back, there’s this nice contoured bit in the receiver there to allow you to drop a cartridge in. So, if I take – this is a dummy cartridge, if I take that, and just set it on there, that contour acts kinda like a feed ramp, and allows me to just slide that cartridge right into the chamber. Then close the bolt, it’s cock-on-closing there. This is connected to the firing pin, and it does act as the safety so you can pull this back and rotate it up, and that disables or disconnects the trigger entirely, and that’s, that’s your safe position. This also allows you to re-cock the gun, should it misfire for some reason. And then when you pull the trigger, the firing pin drops, and it fires. And then, the interesting stuff happens. So what’s going to happen is when you fire this, you’re gonna get a massive amount of recoil out of this cartridge, and the entire assembly from here forward is going to recoil backwards. What I’m holding on to, this grip frame, is actually attached to a pair of rails, basically, right here, and the whole upper assembly is going to slide back, as my assistant will help me demonstrate. *sound of physical effort* There we go! When that happens, you can see, the bolt is going to hit this angled surface, and that’s going to cause it to come up, and then it’s gonna cycle open, under residual pressure in the chamber from firing. And that is going to automatically eject the casing – downward, in this case. Your face is offset to the side so that you don’t get your face crushed in by this thing when it opens, but that’s there too, for two reasons. It’s partially to increase the rate of fire, because you don’t have to do the first step of reloading – it automatically opens by itself – It’s also there to absorb some of the recoil, so that you don’t have to have quite as heavy of a gun in order to tame down the recoil from this thing to not, like, physically injure the shooter. All right, we’re gonna try one more here. We have an empty case in it, so in theory, hopefully we should see the case eject downward when this thing cycles. You ready? All right, go. *sounds of physical exertion* It’s kinda hard. You can see the amount of recoil that’s required to actually do this for real. All right, looking at the controls, there aren’t very many. This is a very simple gun. Trigger, makes it go bang, and this is the bolt release button, right there. So if I push that button, I can pull the bolt out. There’s the bolt. It’s, it’s actually kind of like a Tankgewehr bolt, although it only has locking lugs in the front. It’s got two really huge locking lugs in the front, and then of course we have an extractor, plunger ejector, and that’s it. There’s our striker at the back. It’s got a very simple sear that it works upon, and when it’s fired, it goes down into that position. Firing pin is exposed, and it fires. So, that’s it, that’s how you do a firearm that is quick and dirty and out in the field to be used as quickly as possible. So people often ask to see a shot of what it looks like actually shouldering a firearm, and well, here’s what this thing looks like. This thing’s a bit of a behemoth, actually. It’s interesting, you’ve got this cheek rest on the side, and normally you think about putting your cheek on top, or your chin on top of a cheek pad like this. In this case, no. This is to set your head off to the side so that it lines up with the iron sights there, and it actually does really well. And then I’m holding the pistol grip that I’m holding, and the butt plate that’s in my shoulder, those pieces aren’t going to move, but this whole everything above here, this whole assembly, is gonna come slamming back when you fire. Which is a good thing, because otherwise it’d, like, break your arm off from the recoil. Interestingly, you actually still see these things in combat today. If you look at the footage from Middle East and North Africa, as well as the ongoing fighting in the Ukraine, you will find Soviet anti-tank rifles both PTRDs and PTRSs. Sometimes in use in their stop configuration, sometimes guns have been modified, I’ve seen pictures of guys in North Africa who have these things with scope mounts putted on them. And of course the 14.5mm cartridge, went on to be used extensively in machine guns, the KPV machine guns used this cartridge. It was a vehicle gun, it was an anti-aircraft gun. It’s still extensively used today. So, there was a long history, or a uh, this gun didn’t just go away after World War Two. They’re still out there, and the cartridge in particular is still heavily used. Now, I know people are going to ask, “Why didn’t they make these sniper rifles?” Well the answer is, this thing is way more powerful than you would actually want for a sniper rifle. Barrel life on these is about 500 rounds before you start seeing problems, even before that they’ll start losing a little bit of their velocity, and the thing kicks too much…if you want a sniper rifle, you’re better off with something a lot smaller, that’s a lot more manageable, that doesn’t have the firing signature that you can imagine this thing has coming out of that muzzle brake. So, an optical sight probably would have been helpful in these guns because they were effective out to like 300 meters, but, look at the construction, adding an optical sight to this probably would have tripled the production time and cost, and the Soviet Union didn’t have the luxury of doing that when they were producing these guns, so. Hopefully, another day, we will have a chance to actually take one of these out and do some shooting with it, I look forward to trying it. I’d love to get some slow motion of the whole cycling action working. But, for the time being we have a chance to take a look at one, and I didn’t want to miss out on that, so if you enjoy this sort of thing on the Internet, I would hope you might consider taking a look at my Patreon page, it’s support from you guys right over there that makes it possible for me to travel, find these guns, and bring them to you. But either way, thanks for watching 🙂

100 Comments on "PTRD 41: The Simple Soviet Antitank Rifle of WWII"


  1. But soviets actually put some PU scopes on both PTRS and PTRD, but trials have shown that recoil was screwing up whole scope settings and sights was becoming offset pretty quickly

    Reply

  2. DAAYUMN!! For a “shoulder fired” weapon, that’s a MONSTER!! I would LOVE to see some footage of this being fired, and see the effectiveness on armor plate!

    Reply

  3. So interesting . I saw In a Russian movie one shot down a German plane . Do you think this could or did happen. ?

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  4. А ещё из таких ружей на Донбассе в 2014-2015 годах много украинских бтр и бмп ополченцы подбили. До сих пор работает. Достаешь из ящика, очищаешь от консервирующей смазки и бьешь фашистов. Преемственность поколений!

    Reply

  5. These are being used in the Ukraine conflict. As far as I can tell, they are using them to shoot at people. EDIT I see the Russian guy below me already said the same thing. But confirmed they were used on armored vehicles. Every time I saw them used, it was some guy in trench taking potshots across the lines.

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  6. If you wanna see this gun in work..take look on Donbass Ukraine video..resistanse used thos rifle against ukranian army..
    Very effective..one problem mounting optics.

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  7. My GrandDa shoot nazi beasts with this one in second half of the War. I'd say, Thanks! Great video, as always!

    Reply

  8. Сепаратист винтовка this is sniper rifle, Just copy and search, you are welcome

    Reply

  9. Remember comrades, if the PTRD is damaged to the point that it can no longer fire, the bolt can be used as a mace

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  10. Спросите немецких танкистов. Они хорошо знакомы с этим оружием.

    Reply

  11. My grandfather told that they used it that they sit in the trenches and when a tank goes above them they shot the tanks from under that took out the tanks engine and some of the crew instantly then they grabbed ther ppsh s and shot the remained crew

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  12. Противотанковое ружьё Дегтярёва. I was born in the town where Degtyarev used to work.

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  13. ptrd, ptrds were also used against Nazi Germany aircraft,
    used quite successfully
    https://zen.yandex.ru/media/historicalfacts/iz-snaiperskoi-vintovki-po-nemeckim-samoletam-5aa2d2183dceb7f288cebbff

    Reply

  14. It lets you do this really co trick where you can actually clap with your shoulder blades. Neat piece of history.

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  15. Only now, order it with a great discount at Amazon. This thing really helps to protect your home from the impudent police and intrusive debt-collectors. 100% proved! AK-47 with 10 packs of armor-piercing cartridges as a gift!

    Reply

  16. Meanwhile in Canada…
    "Hi, I wanna buy this pistol"
    "You got the proper paperwork and licensing?"
    "Uhh, on second thought, how about this cannon instead?"
    "Sure, here you go. Oh, and here's your receipt."

    Reply

  17. 13:15 maybe the pistol grip WILL be moved back by recoil? It seems that you may be missing that point, especially at the second time trying to move it with your assistant.

    Reply

  18. If I am poor and at war, I would love to have this gun. I would shoot tanks, helicopters, airplanes and may be submarines… No people!

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  19. I was watching journalist interviews yesterday and a pro-Russian Ukranian separatist displayed his ww2 20mm anti-tank rifle. I was quite amazed because it had a wooden stock. My understanding was that these rifles held a very heavy kick.

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  20. Also a good weapon for emplacements, strongpoints, or enemy machinegun nests.. or individual infantry units😂

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  21. Germany made a good and expensive Panzer… But Soviet design this cheap anti-tank rifle in 22 days and blow up the Panzer….. Low cost & effective , Soviet Style

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  22. Circa 09:23 — Ian's got the "smoooooth operator" thing goin’, let that bolt weight do the draw-back work for ya! 🙂

    Reply

  23. The rifle is still in use, and it is still dangerous to lighter armored vehicles and nests!
    https://youtu.be/r3Rlsaz3jvY
    Donbass (East Ukraine), at the end of the clip.
    This weapons were still in the Weapon caches in the Former Soviet Republics, and after the Ukraine Army started the attack on the east, they got the weapons out of this caches, but it works!

    Reply

  24. One question,,what do you think aboutnthe show Lords of war the weapon sellers and why don't you pay them a visit!!

    Reply

  25. In Russia gun shoots you
    #youtoo
    In English : when you shoot this, it launches you like it would if you were the bullet .

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  26. Long barrel – short life, as soldiers operating these rifles.
    These rifles were a temporary and urgent answer to huge losses of "normal" anti-tank cannons (45 mm battalion cannon). Thier only advantage was that they were cheap and easy to produce. 35 mm at 300 m – it is at 90° which never happened in practice

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  27. for a historian you are poorly informed and mislead people
    = the Russians never invented anything new, and they stole or copied everything … like a PPSz submachine gun from the Finnish Suomi

    in the case of PTRD-41 it is a failed copy of the Polish Rifle Wz.35 UR ….. after the occupation of Poland in 1939, many of these rifles fell into the hands of the Russians
    the effectiveness of this weapon was confirmed by the losses of the German army in the September 1939 campaign = 40% of lost tanks and armored cars

    why the copy was unsuccessful?
    Russians – like the rest of the world = insisted on piercing the armor !!! therefore, shells with a steel jacket or hard nucleus
    in 1941 this concept was outdated and ineffective against new German tanks
    while the Russians did not copy the most important Polish invention – which was the main idea of ​​this weapon! that is, the classic mausser rifle bullet was used – lead alone without sheath

    little explanation for the ignorant
    fired projectile from the wz.35 rifle had no chance to penetrate the armor = instead it had a huge kinetic force, which at the moment of hitting the armor turned into thermal energy – the lead evaporated and the steel armor of the tank was burned … hot fragments the armor broke off, massaging the tank crew
    we have many described events when a hit German tank continued to drive – because it was undamaged – but with a dead crew inside

    here a link to more material on this topic
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuVKrK3nKCI&t=112s

    Reply

  28. well…, man really need to have guts to stand in a trench, aiming a vulnerable spots in attacking tanks armour and waiting them to come closer, into an effective killing range.

    Reply

  29. это тарахтушка я их не успиваю понимать

    Reply

  30. 11:35. Soviet guns not only fight Nazis, but their operators as well. Communism is all about struggle!

    Reply

  31. Единственный минус этого ружжа на тот момент было то, что оно было нескладное. Неудобно транспортировать.

    Reply

  32. This anti-tank rifle can penetrate the Abrams from the side. Abrams strange tank the grenade launcher 50's his explodes, then the old antitank rifle punches, not was lucky Abrams…

    Reply

  33. That's such a cool reload design! 😀
    Do any current rifles use the action so cycle a hand action bot?
    (I don't know a ton about guns hope that makes sense)

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  34. I agree with the docdadchik completely. And what will the head of the transport shop say?
    I'm hunting a bear with a bear like that. His name is Panda, and he's like that, my beer's coming out of the fridge. And I've got it, and more than once, take a beer, take it. Nr the fridge door close behind you. He doesn't pay the light bill. And there it seats all the time. I'll catch him with a gun on his back.

    Reply

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