WTO Membership Could Open Floodgate Of Russian Guns & Ammo

Last December Russian finally obtained WTO membership. A reader of TFB explains how this could open the floodgate for Russian arms imports into the USA …

First a short backgrounder on why some russian guns and ammo are sold in the US and others are not. Back in 1998 the US and Russia signed a Voluntary Restraint Agreement which said only certain firearms and ammunitions could be imported for commercial purposes. The Voluntary Restraint Agreement doesn’t expire and was mutually agreed by both the US and Russia. It’s why you don’t see huge amounts of russian parts kits, true russian surplus ammunition (the stuff marked russia comes from Ukraine), or even Russian SKSes (which are also banned from import but were previously allowed prior to 1998, but you do see saigas, VEPRs, some models of Mosins, commercial 5.45, 7.62×39, and 7.62x54R. Russia still has a tremendous stockpile of soviet era ammunition and firearms. Not surprisingly they had nearly 10 times as much compared to many of the satellite states.

Now recently I remember seeing that despite how for several years there has been impasse Russia finally got approval to join the World Trade Organization in December of 2011 after lots of wrangling between them and Georgia, who was already a member. I didn’t think much of it then but it turns out the WTO requires the nullification of all voluntary export restraints (which includes the US-russian Voluntary Restraint Agreement) but allows each member country one exemption in a given industrial sector. It is unlikely that Russia will choose firearms/defense as their industry exemption because they can already create restrictions on it utilizing the state’s national security infrastructure, much like how we do the same thing in the US with ITAR. It’s more likely they’ll put trade restrictions on things like energy, chemicals, steel, heavy industry that kind of thing. The very reason why the WTO is such a big deal is because it allows foreign corporations to sell goods and services within Russia without the previous barriers to entry.

All of this is to say that depending on who “owns” the old soviet era stockpiles of guns and ammunition we could very well see a flood of Russian milsurp ammo and parts kits that will make Yugoslavia and Romania’s import of ammo and kits back in the early 2000s look minuscule. It’s likely that Saigas and VEPRs would still be imported but at the same time I suspect Izmash Legion will leverage old gun stockpiles and get into the parts kit business, importing kits for every gun they sell and working with K-var or other US companies to make 922r compliant non-sporting rifles.

Now I would suspect if any of this does happen it will be 3+ years out, but none the less it will have significant impacts on the AK and AK ammunition markets, surplus 5.45, 7.62×39, and 7.62x54r will all go down considerably, perhaps even back to the era in the late 90s when you could buy tins for a little more than a nickel a round.

[ Many thanks to Daskrolator for the explantion. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Mark

    We can only hope and pray this happens…

    • Other Steve

      You hoping for some change?

      Yea, I don’t know. I certainly am not holding my breath for a REX or anything. It’s an election year, best to hope for is more of the same.

      • WoodenPlank

        Too bad the REX never went into serious production. Would be interesting to see if it was revived due to removed trade restrictions. It sure would make all the CoD fanboys happy…

  • Iziah the great

    Does this mean that now i can get my Russian SKS and Tokarev and Makarov???

  • Anonymous synonomous

    This is fairly cool. Will this mean SVD/Tigrs and SVTs can begin to be imported, or if they join the WTO they will continue to be restricted for export or import to the US?

  • DanTheViking


  • H.L. Fahnestock

    I like the sound of this.. hopefully it comes to pass.

  • W

    I remain skeptical, though I like the idea of more russian ammunition/firearms imports into the united states.

  • Erik

    I have a list…. a very long list…..

    SVD being top of that list…

  • DERP

    SVTs? My body is ready.

  • Rog

    Why didn’t China’s entrance into the WTO in 2001 invalidate the Clinton era ban on importation of ammo and “non-sporting” firearms from China?

    • somebody

      it’s not a ban on chinese guns, it’s a ban on anything made by norinco because they decided to bring 2000 full auto type 56s illegally into the US to sell to gangs, then offered them anti aircraft missiles, rockets, and tanks, then went on to sell centrifuges for enriching uranium to iran. also that ban happened under bush, not clinton

      • ragnarok220

        Then why can’t I get polytech ???

  • John

    Not holding my breath. The current administration turned around 1 million of our own Garands and M1 Carbines on loan. Why would it allow Russian weapons to come in out a higher rate?

  • odocoileus virginianus

    my body is ready

  • Tommy

    Don’t count on it, if Obama is elected, he will use an executive order to halt the imports.

    • John Doe

      I’m not getting the Obama hate. During his term, I haven’t lost any of my rights to bear arms, and no one that I know has lost their rights either. The AWB has failed to be passed, and any new weird laws haven’t flown by either.

      California can suffer in silence.

      • blacklotus

        What about the illegal long arms registration for 8500 dealers in the suothern states?

        What about his attempt at mandating that all empty military brass cases be shredded?

        What about Fast and Furious?

        What about the appointment of two anti 2A Supreme court judges?

        Should I keep going? Alot has been going on, maybe you haven’t been paying attention…

      • Cubby

        Last I heard, he did stop rifles from being reimported back home from Korea. So, yeah, executive order on imports.

        Even if there is no legislation passed, their are the pesky little things like executive orders to take up any slack……

  • BFG

    Not related to text: text on that box of ammo is in Serbian (Ammo factory PPU) 🙂

  • Theodoric

    It always fascinates me how North America (and heck, Africa) are full of Russian and Eastern European weapons while Western Europe’s completely devoid of them. Bloody gun laws.

    • Caseless

      You can buy the VEPR-12. We can’t in the U.S.

    • Pete

      @Theodoric –

      I think six-eight U.S. brigades of troops also contributed to keep the Russians out of western Europe too. If it wasn’t for NATO, there might be a lot more Soviet-era arms on the street corners, held in the hands of the KGB and their lackeys.

      Legal guns might limited in western Europe, but illegal guns still sound avaiulable. My understanding is that there is still a pretty serious illict arms trafficking network in western Europe. I recall the Swedish biker gangs that used LAW rockets and imported hand grenades to settle turf disputes – http://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/03/world/sweden-s-courteous-police-spoil-a-hell-s-angels-clubhouse-party.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

  • Link Back here with some more commentary: http://ak47talk.blogspot.com/2012/03/russian-joining-wto-could-loosen.html

    I’d like to know if the current Russian surplus 7.62x54R and 5.45×39 is imported through Ukraine then.

    Also I don’t know how much steel core 7.62×39 is left there but the BATFE banned that in the 90’s as the first 7.62×39 pistols were made (why there should be no 5.45×39 pistols!). Also I believe the later versions of 5.45×39 after 7N6 are banned as another form of armor piercing. Not to say it can’t change the market but you have those hurdles plus potentially the same administration that already likes to limit imports on the South Korean M1 Garands and Carbines.

    • Bryan S.

      No, blaming the market and inventors for making a product is not the answer. Blaming and rejecting / repealing laws made by unelected bureaucrats under a loose interpretation of the law is the answer.

      The law states that the bullet can not totally consist of a certain material, those rounds had a steel core,and should not have fallen under that law. I bet if we followed the money, there would be some political link to an importer or ammo shop.

      Besides there have already been 5.45×45 pistols made.

      • I agree with you that it is not the manufactures fault, I do think it the ATF’s fault. But if you want cheap 5.45×39 then you have to play by the rules and not publicly build 5.45 pistols. That’s why when you go to almost every AK board discussion of built 5.45×39 pistols is banned. I’m not naive enough to think that there are no 5.45×39 pistols out there but last time all it took was a few prototypes by Olympic to get steel core 7.62×39 banned. There is no major conspiracy here, just that the ATF likes to wield power.

        It was John Magaw ruling over his fiefdom in the 90s when gun control was hot. He was badly interpreting the law, as they are apt to do, to get good press, and he got away with it because we were weak. I don’t know if the same thing could happen today. I’d like to think not, but there is still a lot of apathetic gun owners out there, especially if it is just those silly AK guys and a few AR guys that ought a weird upper. There was also an ammo company that was raided for monolithic 5.56 bullets, so it is still on the ATF’s radar.

        I think just about every gun control law is stupid: CCW permits, NFA, 922R, but that doesn’t me I’m not going to follow them. I’m going to continue to work to get rid of them. But that’s not going to happen overnight, and until then like my 7N6 cheap and available please.

      • W

        Bryan, exactly right.

        Ive dreamt of a time to be able to purchase armor piercing +P+ 9mm ammunition.

  • dranor44

    will this mean i can finally get an ak in cali for Under $1,000??
    ya know,.. if it passes.

    • Greg

      You can get an AK in California for well under $1000 right now – just walk into most any Turners and you can get a WASR for $529.

  • Lance

    Please Please some AK ammo that actually cheap and if its 90s vintage none corrosive. YES!!. Arsenal INC must be happy to get this news.

    • Bob

      They wont be happy when they have to sell an AK variant for less than $800.

    • W

      50-60 bucks for 1,000 rounds of 7.62×39…yeah, you can say im a dreamer…

      • mosinman

        … and your not the only one ;D

      • My thoughts exactly. $60 for 1,000 = heaven.

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    Personally, I’d like to see if the Russians are going to sell off any more of those captured K98k’s, Lugers, p-38’s, maybe even the odd Radom or Hi-Power….ah, daydreams…

    • W

      i wonder how many lend-lease thompsons are still in russian storage…

  • W

    i think since russia has a overstock problem with excess AKMs, AK74s, and ammunition, produced for yesteryear’s war that never materialized, they should create such a overstock problem in the United States 😉

    I own a arsenal AK74 copy. It is a stupendously high quality gun that is built like a iron bar. Of course, its accuracy is slightly worse than some AR15s, though not that much worse (about 2-4 MOA give or take) to have any effect within 400 meters. People complain about the “sharp edges” and ergonomics; in the words of Sonny Puzikas, “toughen up”. The cheap and effective 5.45 ammo is a plus also. It is a blast to shoot.

    The cool thing about this is that perhaps more dragunovs will come to the united states. I hope its a biblical flood LOL

  • Caboose762

    I think I might scream like a little girl if we can get Tigrs.

    Also, I’ve seen several posts aboot the m1 garands from South Korea, that situation has changed. They’re just not allowing the SUPER DUPER SCURRY M1 CARBINE AMERICAN BABBY KILLING ASSULT SNIPER GUNS now, but the Garands have been cleared.


  • El Duderino

    Don’t hold your breath folks.

    2012 Obama reelected.
    2013 AWB (Enhanced) made law via executive order. Not only are all the AWB rules in place, all compliant guns are to be registered and all non compliant guns are to be destroyed.

    (takes off Karnac hat)

    • Jay

      Are you suffering from a brain injury?

    • ryan

      pretty good prediction my friend

  • John Doe

    I say bring the SVDs and AKs. America needs some cheap ammo in these economic times too.

  • Jake

    If only we could get rid of that pesky 922r, now…
    I would bathe myself in Kalashnikovs.

  • mosinman

    if this happens i will feast on 7.62x54r

  • berylak47

    Does that mean $99 SVT-40’s and SKS’s again? WOO-HOO!

  • Little mike

    I always liked Russia… Now if we can get our mitts on some Tula hard wear … I would like them a whole lot more…… If Obama doesnt find a way to mess it up.

    • Sam Suggs

      he will

    • WV Cycling

      The irony…

  • Dashi

    Guys I think you might be damn bloody wrong. The actual text of the VRA only lists a single category of unimportable ammunition from Russia to the United States and that’s 7.62X25mm caliber (also known as 7.63X25 mm caliber or.30 Mauser)


  • Sam Suggs

    gonna get me a dragonov svd poor collectors. Obama wont let this happen he didnt let a bunch of american m1 carbines through I mean realy dont get your hops up the media will twist this push the right buttons and boom

  • Sam Suggs

    we live in a world where a news station got away with doctoring footage of a man who particpated in self defense in order to frame him for murser without conseqences I am reafering to geaorge zimmermin. dont get your hopes up

  • Cartridges in the title are not Russian, but Yugoslavian. Kinda ironic.