With a design forged from the battlefields of World War II’s ferocious Eastern Front, the PPS-43 is certainly a rugged weapon. But ask any German soldier who faced it in the hands of the Red Army, and he’ll attest to its combat effectiveness.

When looking at the I.O. Polish PPS-43C Pistol, I obviously started thinking about the PPS-43 SMG upon which this pistol is based. For me, the most interesting aspect of the PPS-43 was its original field-testing. The forerunner of the PPS-43, the PPS-42 SMG, was being produced in Leningrad during the German World War II siege and PPS-42s were coming directly off of the production line and into the hands of Soviet troops—feedback was immediate.

Friend and author T. J. Mullin, who has written a series of books testing 20th century infantry weapons, rates the PPS-43 among the best submachineguns ever produced. Based on my own experiences with the weapon, I would agree. Developed to offer a less expensively produced version of the PPSh-41 with a lower cyclic rate, the PPS-43 required only 2.7 hours of machining to complete; plus there were savings of up to 50% on the amount of steel needed to produce the SMG. By late in World War II, the Soviets were producing 350,000 PPS-43s per month.

The PPS-43 fires from an open bolt and is chambered for the 7.62x25mm round used in the Tokarev pistol and the PPSh-41 SMG. Feed devices are 35-round curved detachable box magazines. It can only be fired on full-auto, but the 600 rounds per minute cyclic rate makes it relatively controllable. It has a rudimentary muzzle brake that deflects gases to the side and rear, which helps dampen recoil. My experience with the PPS-43 has always been that it is loud. Along with the distinctive muzzle brake, the PPS-43 has a perforated handguard around the barrel. Note that this handguard gets very hot when rounds are fired rapidly. It employs a top-folding stock and has a pistol grip. A safety, which protrudes inside the triggerguard when on safe much as does an M1 Garand safety, works quite well. Sights are a front post protected by two ears and a pair of rear L-shaped flip-up sights marked for 100 and 200 meters. Although the 7.62x25mm round is fairly flat shooting, 200 meters is optimistically the maximum effective range for the gun.

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With a design forged from the battlefields of World War II’s ferocious Eastern Front,…