14.5 mm AT rifle – Soviet Army
about 5000 built.

Design and history :

By 1940 the Russian Army possessed no AT rifle whatsoever. When meeting the Polish armed with the wz.35, a simple lengthened 7.9mm rifle, they found a weapon that had capabilities against their armored cars and thinly armored tanks. Many were captured, and Soviet engineer Vasily Degtyaryov developed a custom-built rifle copying its lock and bolt-action mechanism, as well as some featured of the German Panzerbüchse 38. When the war broke off with Germany in July 1941, he was ordered to produce thousands of them in a record time. The design was even more simplified for the task, and an unknown quantity was delivered to the Red Army. What is certain is this weapon was the most current Soviet antitank weapon in service.

The design was simple indeed, it was strictly utilitarian and made with few pieces in order to be cheap and fast to produce with few skills. A single, 1.35 m (6.4 in) barrel tube recoiled within the stock itself, opened the breech and ejected the cartridge on the move. Then the user introduced a new cartridge, and secure the lock by pushing the bolt, like in any standard rifle. There was no magazine. The user handled the rifle through two pistol grip and the recoil was absorbed partially by a simple muzzle brake and the shoulder stock. There was also a carrying handle for transport, placed on the balance point -the gun weighted 17 kgs (38 lbs). It was held in place by two folded legs.

The PTRD fired a 14.5mm x 14mm round, either steel or tungsten. The practical range was 550 yards, but due to the poor quality of the sightings (front post and rear notch) and the lack of training, this was much reduced in practice. Performances were good, however, with a 3300 ft/sec muzzle velocity. The PTRD-41 could punch through a slightly sloped 35mm armor at 100 m and even 40mm with the tungsten core ammo.

The PTRD-41 was found effective against many German tanks (namely the Panzer I, II, and Panzer 35(t) and Panzer 38(t)) and all armored cars in 1941-42. But it was completely ineffective against Panzer III and IV and later models. As a tactical change, users were ordered to fire on vision slits, but it required extreme accuracy and a lot of luck. Plus the blast created a lot of smoke, troubling the vision for the next shot, as well as revealing the position of the user.

The gun was withdrawn from service in 1943 but found use in partisan warfare (fighting against second-grade or captured armored vehicles) and house-to-house combat as it could pierce a wall. In the meantime, the PTRS-41 designed by Simonov replaced the PTRD, as it was less complicated and had better performances. Germans captured and reused also scores of them as the Panzerzbwehrbuchse 783(r). The PTRD managed to survive and was taken into action by North Korean and Chinese forces in Korea. It is probably still in the inventory or many armies today.

PTRD 41
The standard PTRD-41, with its legs unfolded.A German Soldier loading a captured PTRD

Technical data :

  • Weight & Dimensions: Weight unloaded 17.3 kg; Length 2020 mm (Barrel 1350mm)
  • Performances : Muzzle Velocity : 1114 m/s (3655 ft/s) Penetration 25mm/500m; Practical range 3000m, max range 10 000m. Rate of Fire : 5-6 rpm
  • Ammo : Caliber 14.5mm x 140mm; Hardened steel or Tungsten core. No magazine.
Ordance QF 2 Pounder
3.7 cm PaK 36
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3 Responses to PTRD-41

  1. Woozle says:

    Information in in the last two paragraphs is incorrect, PTRD could pierce early models of Panzer III and could pierce all models of both of them in the side armor, and the PTRD replaced the PTRS, not the other way around.

  2. Col Beausabre says:

    That is correct, as the PTRD was less complicated to make and use (bolt action vs semi-auto) it replaced the PTRS. Note that the 14.5mm PTRD/PTRS round survives as the ammunition for the KPV heavy machinegun, Also, I understand that after it was replaced in the AT role, it was retained as a sniper weapon (as the Good Book says, there ‘s nothing new under the sun – today we’d call it an Anti-Material Rifle)

  3. RexinMN says:

    The Soviets may have made around 1.5 MILLION PTRD and PTRS antitank rifles in time for the battle of Kursk in 1943. Please check out an article by Robert Cashner, “WW2 Weapons: The PTRS and PTRD Russian Antitank Rifles,” “Warfare History Net,” November, 2016. To paraphrase Mr. Cashner: The Soviets typically had about three antitank rifles in every Rifle Company. Each Soviet Army Rifle Battalion had a platoon of 9 antitank rifles. Each Soviet Rifle Regiment had a company of 27 antitank rifles and approximately 70 men. The Soviet Army organized an independent antitank rifle battalion of three companies with about 60 antitank rifles in total to reinforce battlefield trouble spots as at Kursk.

    It is important to think in terms of teams of antitank rifles firing together on a single target because it required numerous hits to disable a German tank. The antitank riflemen teams would move frequently after eight or ten shots to a secondary position. The German tank commanders had to button up at long ranges of 500 meters plus from these antitank rifle bullets. This action made it easier for Soviet antitank gunners to disable the German tank due to reduced visibility of the German tank crew. The Soviet antitank rifle teams tried to coax a German tank into a kill zone with an antitank gun and antitank minefields.

    At Stalingrad, General Chuikov created urban teams of Soviet infantry assault teams with 80 to 100 men mostly armed with submachine guns and grenades along with demolitions teams and several crew served machine guns. But these assault teams had several antitank rifles with them to silence German snipers or machine guns, hit enemy troops hiding behind walls of buildings, and silence crew served weapons in trenches or bunkers. So the PTRD was heavily used in the Soviet Army in most battlefields including partisans. The Soviet partisans loved the PTRD to attack German locomotives or the light armored vehicles of the German rear area security forces. The Chinese and North Koreans used the PTRD for sniping and antimaterial roles in the Korean war of 1950-53.

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