Military-Grade Awesome

A Lotta Gun

I’m slowly realizing I have a thing for Nordic weapons. The Krag-Jørgensen is atop my list of weapons to acquire for the upcoming zombie apocalypse my future gun collection. Last night while watching Sons of Guns on Discovery (horribly contrived, but a guilty pleasure nonetheless), I learned of another Nordic gun that would help repel hordes of the undead look good in my den. This one measures 88 inches long, hails from Finland, and was responsible for killing off Soviet tanks during the Winter and Continuation Wars.

On November 30, 1939 while the world was distracted by a madman in Berlin, the Soviet Union invaded Finland. Outmatched and outgunned, the Finns proved to be a formidable foe. They held off the invading Commies far longer than anyone anticipated, and took far fewer casualties. In March of 1940 they came to a temporary peace, one that would be broken in June 1941 when Finland took part in the German offensive on the Soviet Union to recapture its territory it had ceded to the Soviets at the end of the Winter War.

The Lahti L-39 was designed in 1939. Aimo Lahti was skeptical of the planned 13.2mm anti-tank weapon currently being worked on. He set about building a 20mm weapon. By the time the Winter War rolled around, both guns were pressed into service, albeit in very limited numbers. The Lahti L-39 proved to be the more destructive of the two, a trait sought after in the gun world. VKT (Valtion Kivääritehdas, or “State Rifle Factory”, which is the modern day Patria) began churning them out. By the end of WW2, 1900 L-39s would be produced.

During the Continuation War, the L-39 was not as effective at piercing the newer Soviet tank’s armor. However, they were still very useful as sniper rifles, anti-bunker rifles, and even as an anti-aircraft gun. But the Finns are cunning, and they found several weak spots in Soviet tanks that were still susceptible to the heavy bullet from their big gun.

The Lahti is a unique looking gun. The operator is braced by a curved shoulder piece. The magazine, which weighs more than the Suomi M-31 machine gun used by Finnish infantry at the time, attached to the top of the receiver. To support the gun, a pair of skis were affixed to it. This is Finland, after all.

With a 20mm round, the Lahti is legally a “destructive device” according to US laws. Basically, in the eyes of the Feds it’s not a gun it’s artillery. It has other drawbacks, too. For instance, at over 7 feet long and weighing almost 110 lb., the Lahti is not easy to move. It would often be towed by horses, mounted to vehicles, or dragged by a crew of at least two. Many times they would just be abandoned.

After WW2, many Lahtis were de-militarized and sold off to gun collectors. They are very rare, and working examples are even more rare.

[Image Credit: militaryfactory.com]

  • P161911

    A little on the ling side, but here is a video of one being fired.[youtube m7EfR4K17G8&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7EfR4K17G8&feature=related youtube]

    A contemporary of the L-39 was the Solothurn S-18/1000
    Back in the 1950s-early 1960s you could pick one up for only $189.50
    <img src="http://operatorchan.org/k/arch/src/k51631_German%20WW2%20Panzerbuchse%20Solothurn%20S18-1000-%2010%20mag.gif"width=500&gt;

    • The Professor

      How wonderful! I had no idea that someone made a 20mm rifle. I'd love to have one of the German models. With ammo at a buck a pop, you could go out and shoot all day, or until your shoulder fell off. Good stuff!

      • BlackIce_GTS

        There's a few;
        Anzio Ironworks 20mm, and the zany looking RT-20 come to mind.
        Oh, and wikipedia has a list, so I don't have to think anymore. Thanks, wikipedia!

        • The Professor

          Cool stuff! The RT-20 looks kinda goofy, but I'd like to fire one to see how the anti-recoil setup works. Thanks for the links. Now, find me a 30mm rifle…

          • BlackIce_GTS

            Found a video, looks like the answer is far from flawlessly (skip to 17 seconds, or watch him sit there for a long time and tense your shoulder sympathetically).
            My second thought (after 'check the wiki page for 30mm cartridges') was maybe there was a recoilless rifle in 30mm? I couldn't find a crew-served example. 30mm seems to be kind of small for a recoilless rifle, anyway. Then I remembered all those old gigantic safari rifles, but 30mm works out to 1.180 calibre, and the biggest one of those I know is .700 (and here's what that looks like. Ow.) There's also the more recent 950 JDJ, still not too much enough. But wait, there's also 4 bore, which works out to 25mm, and finally; 2 bore, which is 34mm. It's slightly too large I give up.

          • The Professor

            Did you see this video of a bunch of mooks firing a .700? It's pretty funny. http://youtu.be/SRY9Gpqpmbo

          • The Professor

            Thanks for your hard work. It was a lot of fun.
            I want to see someone fire that .950 JDJ. Maybe I'll get lucky on YouTube…

          • BlackIce_GTS

            Pshaw, t'was fun.
            Most versions of that people falling down video are cut to look more racist.
            Imagine if it was a pistol.
            It would be like this, only .100 more.
            All the 950 videos I could find were slideshows. Anzio has a video on their page, it looks much more manageable (and quiet!).

          • The Professor

            Hmmm, I guess I need to pay more attention to that sort of thing, because that video (the link I posted) didn't seem overtly racist to me. I mean everybody looked like an idiot except for two or three guys. The music is lousy in all of those things though.
            And I did see the .600 nitro pistol vid – that guy really smacked himself good. I wasn't impressed by his gun – he had to slam it closed 3 or 4 times before it latched. Not very confidence building, that. If it had been the group from the rifle vid….
            I saw that other .600 pistol, the one like an oversized revolver, also. That one looked relatively safe to fire.

          • BlackIce_GTS

            By 'edited', I meant it only showed the brown guys getting knocked on their ass and the titles are along the lines of 'lol arabs suck'.
            I think the .600 pistol I posted was a Thompson Center Arms Contender, which seems like it's just a grip with a trigger, and you can stick whatever size bullet tube you want on the front, so that part could have been cottage industried up.

    • The Professor

      Also, thanks for the video. That thing makes a wonderful sound, but don't you think that the operator is a little shy of it?

  • P161911

    A few years back you could have picked up a de-activated Lahti CHEAP.
    <img src="http://operatorchan.org/k/arch/src/k237315_Finnish%20WW2%20Lahti%20M-39%2020x138mm%20anti-tank%20rifle%20ad.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    This is from 1983.
    Here's one for sale for today ONLY $8889.00 http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?It

    I think they were re-activating one of these on the TV show.

    The Soluthurn above was from 1957.

  • The Professor

    Great article engineered!

  • Mr_Biggles

    "a trait sought after in the gun world." That gave me a good laugh.

    The skis cause me to see Nordic soldiers out on their cross country skis towing their Lahti o'er hill and dale.

    • The Professor

      Yeah, at 110 pounds, you wouldn't want to schlep one on your shoulder.

  • Want. I have room to shot that and could take junk cars out to the compound for target practice. We have been pushing our luck out there though. Waiting for a one of the alphabet organizations to visit.

    • This would probably help guarantee their arrival.

    • The Professor

      You just need to make a suppressor to take the edge off the report is all. The completed weapon should be interesting looking.

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