Origins: Darra’s PPSh-41 Franken-Builds

Updated: 1 day ago

There have been a few images circulating on social media depicting several PPSh-41-patterned submachine guns modified with blasphemous ‘tacticool’ configurations. Locally, these submachine guns are called the ‘Papusha‘ and are chambered in the same 7.62×25mm pistol cartridge as the original guns. The 7.62×25mm round is locally known as .30 bore. Almost all of these images can be traced back to Pakistan, specifically Darra Adamkhel, where dealers have them displayed in their shopfronts and also on their social media pages.

It’s no surprise to learn that these are from Darra Adamkhel, a town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is renowned for its gunsmiths and unique offerings. What really needs answering is whether the gunsmiths are defiling original PPSh-41s or if they producing copies domestically and modifying them as such from scratch. From our research it appears that the answer is – both are the case. Although original unmolested arms go for higher prices in some cases genuine PPSh-41 type submachine guns are modified. However, it appears that the vast majority of these modified guns are local builds.

Fig.1.1. Left Face: An untouched genuine PPSh-41 for sale in Darra (Source: Local Dealer via Khyber Armoury Database)

Fig.1.2. Right Face: An untouched genuine PPSh-41 for sale in Darra (Source: Local Dealer via Khyber Armoury Database)

The most common modification is the removal of the buttstock and the addition of a side-folding wire stock. The wire stock frequently seen is similar to that seen on East German MPi-AKS-74NKs (see Fig. 1.3.) Sometimes Picatinny accessory mounting rails are also added at both the 12 and 6 o’clock positions of the barrel shroud. If this wasn’t enough, some even add on forward grips or gripod-type bipod grips. Scopes, flashlights and lasers are common accessories. Some are modified even further with the changes made to the magazine well to allow the use of Tokarev TT30/33 type pistol magazines which are much more easily available in the region. As seen in the photograph below new ergonomic polymer pistol grips are added and longer barrels with modern muzzle devices are added. They truly do bring the weapons into the modern age… What is interesting, is that a small section of traditional wood is left covering the trigger group, to complete a truly ‘tacticool’ look a new metal or polymer housing could be introduced. Perhaps the wood remains as a nod to the past.

Fig.1.3. Right Face: a pair of PPSh-41 submachine guns in heavily modified form, note the various modifications and accessories referenced above (Source: Local Dealer via Khyber Armoury Database)

Fig.1.4. The pair of heavily modified PPSh-41 submachine guns (Source: Local Dealer via Khyber Armoury Database)

Fig.1.4. Right Face: PSSH-41 a shortened barrel and barrel shroud and a new vertical foregrip (Source: Local Dealer via Khyber Armoury Database)

Fig.1.5. Left side of the shortened, modified PSSh-41, with drum magazine and folding stock with a side folding stock copied from the Egyptian AKM rifle folding buttstock variant – Darra (Source: Local Dealer via Khyber Armoury Database)

Something to note is the shortening of the barrel in some cases, this is due to the use of original barrel sections in other builds or to make them more compact and concealable. According to some the shortening of the barrel on some original examples is also done to use those sections in other 30 Bore builds, thus maximising profits from an individual weapon further. A bog-standard local build will run as low as Rs5,000 and up to Rs10,000 depending on the quality of material and finishing. If the build is done using original 7.62 barrels/barrel-sections, the cost would increase by at least Rs10-15,000 more.

Although not the prettiest sight and relatively obsolete due to many more modern and popular designs, these still find buyers who are perhaps a little bit nostalgic for the old days but want something a little different or fancy.