The PPS submachine gun was designed by Leningrad engineer A. I. Sudayev in 1942. Leningrad was encircled by the might of the German Army to the south and the German-allied Finns to the north. Since Leningrad represented an industrial region for the Soviet Union, the city - with many thousands dying to starvation - was still producing its Red Army tanks and guns in their factories across the city.
The PPS-42 was developed with cost-effectiveness in mind, utilizing sheet metal stampings wherever possible. The resulting weapon proved simple to use and operate and became a staple submachine gun for the Red Army up through the end of the war (its use still continues in some form today). More importantly, the weapon was quick to produce and get to the frontlines, so much so in fact, that many-a-tank and infantry weapon were shipped straight from the factories into the hands of Soviet soldiers. The PPS was produced in two major variants - as the PPS-42 and PPS-43 - both detailed below.
The PPS-42 was born out of need during the siege. The designation reflected the initial year of production for the weapon (1942). Specifications for the PPS-42 stated a weight of 6.5lbs. The submachine gun featured an overall length of 35.7 inches with the stock extended and a length of 25.2 inches with the stock folded. The weapon was fitted with a barrel (right-hand, 4-grooved) length of 10.7 inches. Over 45,000 PPS-42 systems were produced before eventual replacement by the more economic and improved PPS-43 series. An effective rate-of-fire of 100 rounds-per-minute was possible along with a cyclic rate-of-fire of 600 rounds-per-minute. The weapon held an effective range out to 492 feet with a maximum range out to 656 feet.
The PPS-43 represented an improved and cheaper-to-produce form of the base PPS-42. As success always dictated production in a time of war, the PPS-42 was forged into the equally successful PPS-43. Mass production began in the middle of 1943 and the PPS-43 became a standard Soviet Army weapon throughout the rest of World War 2. Cost-cutting methods included the use of less machine operations in the production process, bringing the overall production cost of the weapon down substantially. Other major modifications included the shortening of the barrel and folding stock.
Specifications for the PPS-43 reflected a weight of 6.7lbs. The submachine gun features an overall length of 32.3 inches with the stock extended and a length of 24.2 inches with the stock folded. The weapon has a barrel (right-hand, 4-grooved) length of 9.6 inches. Like the PPS-42, the PPS-43 had an effective rate-of-fire of 100 rounds-per-minute was possible along with a cyclic rate-of-fire of 600 rounds-per-minute. The weapon held an effective range out to 492 feet with a maximum range out to 656 feet.
Both weapons fired the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge - the same cartridge used in the Tokarev TT-30 (M1930) pistol. Fire operation was accomplished through automatic blowback with an open bolt. Both weapons also fired from the same curved 35-round detachable box magazine. Despite their similarities with the PPSh-41, neither of the PPS submachine guns were designed to accept the PPSh-41 magazines including its ammunition drum forms. The PPS-42 and PPS-43 models both featured a folding metal stock, which sat over the receiver and brought the overall length of the weapon down to a more compact manageable size. The magazine well was also extended from the body of the weapon to act as a makeshift foregrip for two-handed control. A distinct design feature of both PPS models was the forward position of the magazine, sitting a good distance away from the pistol grip and trigger group. A muzzle break and perforated heat shield were part of the integrated body components as were a pair of iron sights. The sights consisted of a forward-mounted fixed blade and a rear-fitted flip sight.
As can be expected with Soviet equipment achieving any level of success, the PPS series was produced in quantity throughout the Warsaw Pact as well as allied nations of the Soviet Union. The submachine gun was produced in China as the Type 54 and in Finland as the M/44. The M/44 served as the basis for the Spanish DUX-53 and DUX-59 submachine guns used in West Germany. Vietnam produced the submachine gun as the K-50M based on the Chinese Type 54. Poland produced the PPS-43 under license and also offered a modified form of the submachine gun as the PPS wz.43/52.