Destroying Guns to Create Jobs

The Russian Ministry of Defense is destroying stockpiles of weapons to create jobs for the Soviet-era gun manufacturers. Marco Vorobiev reports

The Russian Ministry of Defense intends to utilize (read destroy and melt down) 4 million older model guns by the year 2015. These will be pulled from the stockpiles of estimated 16 million guns that are no longer in service with Russian Armed Forces. Roughly 6.45 million of these guns are no longer serviceable.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is planning to send these guns to the factories where they were produced for disposal. Apparently this would keep in business plants like Molot and create 240 jobs. Meanwhile, Russia’s biggest arsenal Izhmash, had to suspend its destruction program after misplacing approximately 80 AKM rifles.

Any number of local companies must want to get their hands on those guns in order to break them down to parts kits and export them to collectors. It is sad they are being melted down to create jobs for one floundering industry, at the expense of jobs at other Russian companies and collectors worldwide.

[ Many thanks to Jeff for emailing us the link. ]

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.


  • DurgaMDK

    ;( that all I can express…

  • Komrad

    Russia should just sell me (and other people I guess) more cheap, reliable guns instead.

  • Nathaniel

    Naturally, images of perfectly serviceable M14s being demilled leaps to the American mind.

    But if you think about what “no longer in service” means to the Russian armed forces, we are probably talking about more heaps of scrap than we are stockpiles of priceless SVTs.

    This is the military that kept Berdan rifles in active service past the end of The Great Patriotic War, after all.

    If these weapons are decommissioned, they may be literally unusable.

  • That is the saddest thing I have ever seen. Especially that Mosin bolt body I could put to good use.

  • michael

    russia does realize that they would make alot more money by exporting these guns to other countries and using the money to bail out their bankrupt companies (like Izhmash)?

    • charles222

      They’ll make money until Izhmash gets its pants sued off for selling non-serviceable firearms.

  • Reverend Clint

    Probably junker rifles

  • Burst

    I actually have no problem with this.

    Even with the 10 million ‘still-serviceable’ weapons in that figure, I’d imagine most are less than immaculate. Destroying weapons like that is far more humane than allowing malfunctions to injure and kill.

    While it would be nice if they could be sold, most of these are from military stockpiles and thus distinctly non-sporting. It’s not the Russians’ fault that the (legal) US market isn’t there.

    • Sian

      This right here. Remember that the Russian military probably has much broader definition of ‘serviceable’ than we do.

  • Trev

    This falls into politics. Not Firearms. IMO.

    • Slim

      The only thing remotely regarding politics is “Russian Ministry of Defense” which is merely referred to. If you are taking any political implications out of this then you must see it in everything on the internet or TV, not to mention every article on this blog! IMO. This is no different than an article regarding the Dept. of Defense selecting a new weapon or banning the use of specific equipment. This article is important heads up in understanding gun manufacturing and the changes we can expect.

      As for this article, I did kringe at the thought of guns getting scrapped when they could be sold over here. However from the looks of the picture, I would agree with previous post, this is mostly junk that may be hard to salvage. Still I would not mind digging through those piles to see what I could work with.

  • Scott

    I’ll pay shipping…..

  • Tom – UK

    This is my take on things.

    The Russians are not stupid, they know that several million firearms that can be sold to foreign markets cheaply or even at regular prices is far more beneficial to the economy than simply hiring people to scrap them.

    240 jobs created vs 4 million firearms, the economics can only be favourable towards destroying the guns if they are worthless, lets imagine those 4 million guns are worth $50 each that is $20’000’000 worth of sales, the average wage in Russia is $11’378. The value of selling the guns at $50 each would be the equivalent of over 11’500 people’s combined wages, we know that is going to be far more beneficial to an economy than the scrap metal value of the guns and the 240 wages which are created from scrapping them.

    Given that a Mosin Nagant on Aimsurplus goes for $89.95, an SKS for $279.95 on J&G and a WASR 10 for $491.33 on cheaper than dirt we know for a fact that these weapons would sell for well over $50 if they were usable. Hence the condition of these guns must be that they are completely unusable or that because of foreign restriction on their sale they cannot be sold profitably, this I see as being unlikely as the weapons could still be sold very cheaply to the US market alone and still turn a very good profit, as the costs of stripping, melting etc do not occur.

    Utilize could also mean taking good condition parts out of the weapons and refurbishing or building working weapons out of these parts.

    I am no bothered about this at all 6.45 million of the 16 million in stock are unusable, the gov’t is only destroying 4 million, so 4 million broken guns are being recycled I don’t see the big deal. Especially when it leaves 9.55 million working guns still in stock and 2.45 million more for spares and other uses such as scrap.

  • charles222

    Can’t say I’m shedding too many tears about this. When the Russians declare something to be junk, they’re not kidding. These guys still have T-55s produced in the 1950s sitting around in warehouses in case they need them again. Not to mention the generally low QA standards of most things produced under the USSR; anyone else remember the entire MiG-29 fleet being found to have severe corrosion problems on the horizontal stabilators last year?

    • Esh325

      I have no idea, about the USSR’s other products, but their firearms were quite high quality. I don’t know anything about military Jets, but every country from time to time issues low quality or poorly designed equipment. Do you remember when the humvees issued to the US military did not have the proper armor plating at first?

      • charles222


        BS on Russians building “high-quality firearms”. We had a captured RPK on my MTT team in Baghdad in 2005; the first time we fired it on full auto (thankfully at the range) fucking screws fell out. ***** SCREWS. At least when you fire a SAW the damn thing doesn’t fall apart. Most of the PKMs I saw over there didn’t function, either.

        Your Humvee point doesn’t really count. The Humvee, like the Jeep before it, was designed as a light utility vehicle that could be used in a scout/recon role. It works very well in that role. It was never designed/intended to be used as an urban patrol vehicle absorbing massive explosions on a daily basis.

        W: You’re welcome. 😉

        Zermoid: Who is “they”? I’m not sure you really want Russian politicians involved in US domestic politics, but that seems to be what you’re suggesting. :p

        • I don’t think they use screws on an RPK. You probably were not using something actually made by one of the russian factories, but something reassembled… and poorly.

      • W

        The USSR produced high quality weaponry and equipment. Every piece has inherent flaws, to include sacred cow US combat vehicles and aircraft. Sticking with the facts and putting aside the bullshit, the BTR can dust a Stryker and the BMP can crush a Bradley and LAV (I pray US Bradleys never have to fight toe-to-toe with a BMP3). The M1 Abrams has yet to go toe to toe with a truly modernized, equivalent T72 and T90. The Tunguska and S400 surface to air missile systems have yet to have their mettle tested against US aircraft.

        The Russians value stuff that can function in arctic conditions and while being used by conscripts. BTR, BMP, and T-series of battle tanks are well renowned for their ruggedness and reliability (though are not perfect).

        Russian small arms are notoriously robust and simple. Like their vehicles, they are designed to function in rugged conditions and climates and when used by less than adequately trained conscripts.

        Charles, I dont think you are being fair in your comparison. A RPD, AK, and PKM (or any other weapon) captured in Iraq is typically grossly neglected and less than reliable. You can bet your ass that a newly produced Russian firearm is going to be more reliable and rugged than a equivalent western firearm.

    • Well, the worlds car buyers are not lining up at dealerships to get on waiting lists for Russian cars. I’ve never heard anything good about them.

      I would like an SKS bolt to modify, so I can insert and remove detachable magazines without locking the bolt open, and I wouldn’t mind another AK-74 variant.

  • Mike Knox

    One thing I don’t like about this is they’re doing this partly because china just wants some steel..

    • Tom – UK

      oh come on stop implying its some how sinister or bad that millions of guns are being recycled and used by China to produce goods which people across the world use. Not to mention the steel and chrome could go to many other places in the world.

      • W

        If guns are no longer servicable to the Russian Army, then they must be utterly destroyed. I would like to see a “unservicable” weapon no longer in the Russian Army arsenal just for amusement.

        “Meanwhile, Russia’s biggest arsenal Izhmash, had to suspend its destruction program after misplacing approximately 80 AKM rifles.”

        ok anybody else find this hilarious? Im sure original AKMs and even AK47s are awesome collectors items 😀

      • Mike Knox

        It’s not just sinister, it’s just a waste of Steel. Metal products from china are always at the low end of product quality. Those metals are better off going to Western Europe, South Africa or even South America. Anywhere else but china..

  • Brandon

    It’s probably too much effort to separate what’s salvageable for collectors from the rest of the unserviceable crap

  • Mark

    Am I alone in assuming that many of the serviceable firearms collected in this effort will just wind up in the black market? I mean, it’s not being conducted by the least corruptible government in the world exactly.

  • Lance

    Thats one Russian job I like to se put out of work. Im sure at least for parts these weapons could have been useful. I notice SKS-45 trigger groups in the pics. It’ll be a crying shame to see alot of good firearms scrapped with unserviceable ones in the name of Gun Control in Russia.

    • charles222

      Gun control is probably the least of Russia’s liberty problems, IMO. Let’s work on votes actually counting and reporters not getting murdered for reporting on endemic corruption first; baby steps are the key!

      • Zermoid

        I’d like to see them fix those problems here first…….

  • JG

    What does unservicable actually mean though? Does it mean obsolete (no longer in service) or broken?
    Because the article says a huge number of AKMs are being destroyed. And they state that the AKs are in the original box still covered in grease

    • JG

      “Vorobev says both fairly new historic arms will be destroyed to preserve jobs at arms plants.”

    • charles222

      Unserviceable, in US Army parlance, means it’s broken. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean ‘broken to the point of being unable to repair it’; that’s what we have TMs and 5988E forms for; diagnosing problems and requesting that it get fixed.

      Now, looking at the picture, those guns appear more or less OK. But 1) the Russians don’t issue the AKM anymore and 2) exporting them probably isn’t a likelihood as they’re presumably full auto, which as we all know is banned from import in most countries with people actually able to buy guns. We’re also looking at 1 crate out of 6.4 million weapons, so it’s not necessarily representative. I’d bet there’s also a cost-cutting measure here; keeping the weapons housed obviously costs money, and the Russians are probably finally asking themselves “why are we keeping around 70-year-old firearms we don’t use and can’t sell?”

      • W

        “5988E forms”

        charles, all i can say is damn you for even mentioning 5988E forms… 😀

        When I go to hell, itll be 5988’s for a eternal motorpool of Abrams tanks…

  • Charlie

    I’m with Scott, I’ll pay the shipping. It may be politics which can translate to corruption. Perhaps some of these will lose their way, be refurbished and shipped to the US, I hope. After all, it’s an easy fix to make a fully automatic AK into a semi-automatic AK.

  • jaekelopterus

    This is the socialist version of planned obsolescence. In a capitalist system, we insure continuous work for government-subsidized weapons contractors by making sure our weapons have dozens of flimsy parts that need to be replaced intermittently (ar-15 magazines, gas tubes, gaskets, ect.) A Kalashnikov or Mosin don’t need that kind of constant spending to keep it operating and the selling off of the massive Soviet arms stockpile would ruin the market for new Russian rifles. The destruction of former Soviet weapons caches is probably part of the Russian government’s bailout of Izhmash.

  • Beau Birkholz

    Better than selling them to third world war zones… Or is it cover in selling them to third world war zones?

  • Esh325

    Cool story bro.

  • Esh325

    Good post W, but you can’t explain that to a Russophobe

  • Cut them up into parts kits and ship them over. If my russian was better I’d e-mail them myself.

    • Sancman

      Here’s your translation…..

      сократить их на частей подборки и судов над ними.

  • That’s a shrewd answer to a tricky qeutsoin