The Soviet PTRD-41 was pretty basic in concept: a giant rifle meant to poke holes in enemy armored vehicles with a 1,000-grain bullet.
Ian McCollum with Forgotten Weapons takes a look at the 14.5x114mm-caliber beast that was Vasily Degtyaryov’s ostensibly man-portable anti-tank rifle from the early days of WWII. The PTRD-41 was rushed into production and nearly a half-million were fielded in the Great Patriotic War against the “Fascist invader.” Part of the secret, McCollum explained, was the gun’s straightforward and uncomplicated layout.
“Almost everything on this gun can be made on a lathe or is a very simple pressing or milling operation,” he said, pointing out it was developed in just 22 days as German tanks were rapidly overrunning the country.
The single shot PTRD and follow-on five-round PTRS were popular in the days of thin-walled tanks such as the PzKpfw I which had just 13mm of armor at its thickest point (the 14.5mm round could zip through 40mm of steel at 100 meters), but as tanks got meaner the guns were basically used to snipe trucks and thin-skinned vehicles at ranges out past 1 km.
And as a bonus, here are some PTRD bloopers.
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