Friday, November 13, 2009

The Suomi KP/-31

The story of Finland in World War II is an amazing tale of survival against seemingly insurmountable odds. Initially decreed to be within the Soviet sphere of influence in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Finland survived a Soviet invasion during the Winter War, though lost territory. Other nations like Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were simply gobbled up wholesale by the Soviet Union. When Germany invaded the USSR, Finland joined them attempting to regain territory lost during the Winter War kicking off the Continuation War. With these war aims achieved, the Finnish front was largely static until 1944, when the Soviets attempted to bring Finland back to heel. Finland survived the massive Soviet attack and was able to negotiate a peace with the Soviet Union. One of the conditions of that peace was Finland was required to expel Germany from Finnish territory. This ultimatum resulted in the Lapland War in which Germany used a scorched earth policy during their retreat from Finland.

Part of the reason Finland was able to remain independent during this time was the fact they had a strong indigenous armaments industry. Finnish Mosin Nagant rifles are generally far superior to their Russian counterparts. Finland was also able to repair, recondition, and remanufacture Soviet tanks captured in action and these were in turn used against their former owners. One of the more interesting firearms used by Finland during World War II was their indigenous sub-machinegun, the KP/-31. First fielded in 1931, the weapon was designed by Aimo Lahti and chambered for the 9mm cartridge. The KP/-31 was in many ways similar to the various early sub-machine guns of the era like the PPSh, Lanchester, and Beretta. Several modifications were made to the firearm during its service life including the addition of a muzzle brake. I'm certain this sort of weapon also scares the heck out of Carolyn McCarthy as it has a shoulder thing that goes up, errr, a barrel shroud.

Kits for the KP/-31 have been available for some time, but there have been no BATFE approved semi-automatics on the market until this year. I recently picked up a semi-auto KP/-31 from Ryan Judy Sporting Goods (pictured above). Astute observers will notice that the barrel is slightly lengthened through the permanent attachment of the muzzle brake. Esthetically I think they’ve done as good a job as possible capturing the original as the additional length isn’t as obtrusive as NFA compliant PPSh semi-autos. I have a couple of the 36-round magazines and two of the 71-round drums for it. All of these are marked with the appropriate Finnish “SA” markings. I haven’t gotten to test fire the weapon yet, but the fit and finish are pretty good. One thing I can say about the weapon – it’s HEAVY! There is also no provision for a forward grip, so you’ll need to have one hand on the magazine / drum or use the sling to steady the weapon. I’m looking forward to getting this little beauty out – it should be a fun plinker, and as it runs on 9mm ammunition, it shouldn’t be too expensive to feed either.

Until next time!!!

No comments: