US Marines training in Finland

Marines finish

Thanks to Pekka for sending this one over to us.

The US Marines Black Sea Rotational Force is seen training in Finland. Training for cold urban combat. Interesting that they are using the RK-95 and not the standard issued M4.



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • John SjΓΆstrΓΆm

    Those are RK95 and not AK47 =)

    • Nicholas C

      Thanks. Edited and corrected.

  • Crisiara

    it is not just any AK its an Rk 62, one of the best AK variants out there

  • d_grey

    That’s an RK-95..most probably the TP, it’s considered the best AK variant ever made. πŸ™‚

    • R.M.R

      I really dont think the RK95 is the best variant out there, as the ergonomics features are way outdated and the overall construction has some very bad flaws. Still a decent gun though. Good in a fight.

      • iksnilol

        I never really understood the issue with the safety. It is not like you are going to be switching modes rapidly. Put it on “semi” when shooting starts, on “auto” when clearing building and on “safe ” when marching or when nobody is shooting.

        • James

          Not sure where you learn tactics but safety is on until on target even in CQB. When people violate this procedure, friendly get shot in the back during room clearing. Just hope your never on my 6.

          • iksnilol

            I just keep my finger off the trigger in those cases, same tactic worked well for my countrymen 20 years ago.

          • interwebs762

            Exactly.

          • Samir Duran

            I do it like Iksnilol. I learned In a variety of places. Let me count them.

            1. Egypt, where I was conscripted. Older brother went to college; I went to the army. Bet you didn’t know that only sons can’t get conscripted there, huh. On the Maadi, on the range, you’re taught to keep it on safe until you’re on the line for firings. But in the field in combat situations, you keep it safe until it’s time for you to go outside the wire or dismount. It stays on full auto, unless you are advised to use single shots for top precision. We were taught to count shots and control bursts of 5 shots at most; nobody ever needed a BHO or mechanism to help them run their gun.

            2. Iraq, where I got a taste of fighting as part of the Egyptian contingent in Desert Storm. That was the first time I ever saw the M16 in real living. I like your American Marines. Hoorah. Good fighters. They kept their safeties off when shit happened. I fought guy with M16 later. You go around a corner with M16 with safety on. Let your enemy be on other side with AKMS with safety off. How will that fight go? I won that one! He couldn’t even get his gun active. before I shotted him.

            3. Transnistria, where I found myself looking for work after my studies in Russia got screwed by the USSR going bust. πŸ™ I heard there was a market for tough guys in Moldova, and being nearly breaked in a breaked foreign country, I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. Hell, apart from not speaking Romanian/Moldovan/Russian well, I had a ball, until the shooting started. I fighted in the 1992 war, in Bendery. I paid attention to some of the guys, who were Russian airborne vets from Afghanistan. They did it like the way I was taught in Egypt.

            4. Chechnya. Lots of former Soviet soldiers there — ’nuff said.

            5. Zaire, where I went because war started breaking out around ’96. TBH, I was young, reckless, and unemployed. Let’s say no more. I listened to the guys who’d been fighting for a while and knew their stuff.

            6. Sierra Leone. Lots of fighting. Safety off all the time just in case. I got messed up by bullet and haven’t done any fighting since. It’s just life in the South Pacific for me.

            So there’s like 14 years experience of me. What’s your authority?

            You no want to shoot friend in the back? Easy, just don’t pull the trigger!

      • d_grey

        You’d be surprised that the ergonomics and accuracy of this rifle are actually superior than that of the AK series, in fact, the TP variant is noted for improving the original RK 62 and later model 92 immensely. The only problem is that these guns aren’t made anymore and, there are approximately 20,000 in limited use by the Finnish defence force.
        The sad part is, that these guns were never really offered for export…Valmet now works as a paper making company….or at least makes the wood pulp machines used for making paper. :/

        • Juice

          Valmet never manufactured the 95, only early 62’s. All the 95’s and most of the 62’s still in use are made by Sako.

          • d_grey

            Sorry, typo error. Thanks for the correction. πŸ™‚
            But valmet did manufacture the limited run m82 bullpup.

        • R.M.R

          I handle all of the finnish military firearms on a daily basis for a living, i would say i do have an educated assesment on the qualities and performance of these weapons. While the RK95 is an improvement on the RK62, the improvement is so modest that the finnish military declined further orders for the rifle. The weapon itself is very prone to wear down during regular conscript training, significantly more so than the RK62, examples of which are made in the early 1960s and still in daily service throughout the army. Fact of the matter is that while the receiver of the RK95 is made to be thicker and more robust, the other components fail to give any marked improvement, or even difference to the original, and as stated before, come with a distinct decline in durability. I have broken several rifles just by shooting them, and in modest amounts.

          • d_grey

            No arguments there then. πŸ™‚

      • d_grey

        Also, not outdated, the rifle was introduced in the 90’s, with the most recent update bring before 2005. πŸ™‚

      • n0truscotsman

        What construction flaws?

        Mine and others I have handled were exquisitely built.

        Im afraid I agree with the ergonomics either. They’re different than say a AR, but its about training.

        • R.M.R

          At least the military issue RK95 breaks trigger components regularly between a few thousand rounds because the material is tempered too much. My experience is that it would need some work to get right. Dont know about the civilian M92S if its built different.

    • n0truscotsman

      I agree 100%.

      I wish more Valmet AKs were in the states too (they command ridiculous prices these days).

      They are built like a tank and are probably the best infantry rifle for the conditions in Finland that WILL choke other western weapons (which is why norway’s choice was perplexing in my opinion).

      • d_grey

        I agree, still didn’t get why the Norwegians chose the hk416, in the end it’s all about marketing and promotion. The hk416 is an excellent improvement for the AR series, but even then, it’s no where near the AK’s reliability.
        The RK bridged that gap between reliability and accuracy, someone posted a review (forgot where) on the civilian version at having an accuracy of 1.5-2 MOA at 300m….that’s quite impressive.
        What’s the price in States for this rifle?

        • n0truscotsman

          The Norwegians supposedly have had issues with the 416s too in the icy conditions. Not surprising. Im not a genius, but I could have told them that short stroke pistons firing small caliber bullets are *the* worst path to take for a fighting rifle intended for arctic conditions.

          My 223 Valmet is certainly capable comparable accuracy as a AR, thats all I know from experience although I’ve never pushed it as far as my AR platforms (a good idea though as soon as planting season is done). That level of accuracy you’re talking about would be unsurprising in my opinion to be honest. They’re a solidly built rifle.

          price wise? the 223 ones (most common) are 1200-1600 range. The 7.62×39 are more and the folders are double that price. Same 3000-4000 bucks for the M82 bullpup.

          Very expensive due to scarcity. The Galil isn’t particularly cheaper either (unless you want to take a gamble with a Century copy).

          • FourString

            hopefully IWI will take up the U.S. Galil market after their commercial success with the Tavor

          • d_grey

            Well, in that situation one would try something new no? I hear those Tavors sell like hot cakes. πŸ™‚

          • n0truscotsman

            I suppose so…or take a trip online to Palmetto State Armory during a sale πŸ˜€

          • FourString

            yeh, bullpup all the way dude

  • iksnilol

    I will explain this in an easy way. Up north it is really cold and direct impingment guns like to be lubricated liberally. You see the problem? You also don’t want things to freeze, so either keep them cold or keep them hot but don’t switch.

    • Nicholas C

      There is always the FN SCAR 16.

      • iksnilol

        That makes perfect sense. Let us buy something expensive and new that does the same as something cheap and familiar. Also let us buy that new and expensive gun from a country with normal winters.

        In all seriousness if you are looking for something reliable buy something made by people who live in cold areas, really cold areas. Places like Russia, Finnland or Alaska.

      • Stan

        How many SCAR 16’s did the US military buy? I thought it was reported to be less than 1500 two years ago or so. The Marines alone are fielding something like 120,000 troops. Are there huge numbers of unused SCAR’s seating in a warehouse somewhere at one of FN’s factories? If not you might as well be asking for a 40 watt phased plasma rifle.
        Of course, one could always look at the Swedes. They fielded a direct impingment gun (Ag M/42) and it seemed to work. And the last time I looked Sweden was “up north.”
        I’d say the reason the Marines in that video are using Finnish rifles is related to why they also using host country helmets and webgear. Those vests aren’t in coyote brown which is the standard USMC equipment color.

        • iksnilol

          The AG m/42 was in limited use, only 30 000 made. Compare that too 750 000 mausers. That is 25 times more mausers than m42s.

          It also had serious flaws, main one was gas tubes rusting.

          DI is good for clean guns, such as competition use and police-work. Other environments, not so good. I say that as someone who lives in Norway and Bosnia (really cold during winter, really warm during summer, respectively).

          • n0truscotsman

            DI is extremely reliable and mechanically simple.

            The reason why ARs arent the best rifles for arctic conditions is not because of their gas systems, but because of their mechanical characteristics.

            The primary issues of the M4 and M16 in Alaska was the freezing/icing of the fire control group (which turns the rifle into a club) and freezing/icing of the magazine release.

          • iksnilol

            Simple to make? Yes. Simple to foul and gum up? Also (sadly) yes.

            I will disagree with you on the reliability of DI, let’s agree to disagree.

          • Joshua

            My experiences in SOCOM disagree with yours. My issued M4A1 run great in Afghanistan suppressed and dirty.

          • Fegelein

            You were in SOCOM? Really? Prove it. That’s a big claim, and if you never conclusively back it up, nobody will ever believe you again.

          • Joshua

            That’s ok, I am not really worried what people believe. I can say I was probably not a part of SOCOM as you are thinking, and it’s probably not as big of a claim as you are thinking….I certainly wasn’t SFOD or anything like that, but my experiences with the Mk16 should make it fairly obvious as only a few hundred saw those rifles.

        • d_grey

          The IAR springs to mind…..

      • Lance

        Not many CAR Ls where bought only a few they SCAR L was quickly tirned down to the M-4A1 SOPMOD 1 and 2 kits.

      • Shanksbunch

        The Scar 16L would be a great weapon Nicholas C.

        Sure it’s expensive, but there are ton’s of great attributes that negate the rambling of these know-it-all gun guys comments.

        It functions perfectly in cold weather. It’ can eat steel cased ammo like I ate out Stan’s mom last night. It’s full ambidextrous. It runs cleaner than an Ar-15. It has less recoil. And most of all, it has every operating control an Ar-15 has except the reciprocating charging handle. Which they are dealing with in the video anyways…so I’m guess it’s not a problem.

        I would think in the heat of battle these marines might fall back on training habits/muscle memory. Not their fault, it’s just training. Did the USA buy a bunch of SCAR 16s? Nope. can they get some? Hells yeah. Other countries have ordered thousands and received them. We’re just too busy spending our cash and tax dollars on the lower class. FN has been making M4 for the military for…well…ever. If you don’t think they could ramp up production to meet demand, your an idiot on a gun blog thinking he knows something.

        • Joshua

          As someone with first hand experience with the Mk16(I was issued one) I can say they sucked. Broken receivers, broken bolts, broken optics, and poor reliability were all attributed to its demise in SOCOM. We had a ton of issues with them and everyone was happy to get our new M4A1’s kitted ut with the newely acquired SOPMOD II items.

          So sure it ran slightly cleaner than our M4A1’s but when we couln’t keep them running past 5,000 rounds who cares.

          • n0truscotsman

            More than anything, FN was not receptive at all with the recommended course of action for improving the platform once the glaring flaws were revealed.

            I suggested that they gut the entire short stroke system for a long stroke one, go with a alloy receiver and cross trunnion bolts (like LMT does for example), and replace the butt stock with a more rugged one. In other words, “AK47”-ize it.

            Nope. FN “knew” better (fuck heads).

            That and between the time the SCAR was adopted and now (and arguably before then), pretty much everybody in the gun world came to a general consensus about what really makes the M4 reliable. Hopefully after we end these wars, we wont forget lessons learned again.

      • FourString

        Whuuuuuut. The SCAR 16 is a lot newer than the Sako Rk 95 D:>

      • n0truscotsman

        There is not a single rifle that surpasses a AK platform for cold weather.

        The disadvantage of the M4/M16, alongside the SCAR too, is that it contains small parts. Small parts dont like arctic conditions and will freeze. Its a inherent characteristic of all western firearms: small parts.

        Long stroke pistons, being inherently more “violent”, are also far superior in such conditions because they simply cycle the ice and water out of the action in a far superior manner than the Stoner design and especially the short stroke system. The momentum of the combined bolt carrier group and piston has a significant advantage in that regard.

        Many people laud the AK for its performance in sand. The reality, however, is that it was designed to operate in arctic environments and in the conditions of the infamous Russian winter that are well known for choking pretty much anything mechanical. Logically, anything that can be reliable in sub zero temperatures can be multitudes more reliable in any temperate or arid environment.

        Besides the Russians, the Finnish armed forces also know arctic warfare (and probably better in many cases). They also know they dont have the significant material resources of the United States and the nature of highly mobile ski warfare is predicated upon the need for rugged and reliable equipment with a long lifespan.

    • Joshua

      Thats just wrong. Its training plain and simple, we use their guns and they use ours. Just FYI the M4 runs fine in the snow.

  • n0truscotsman

    The rifle that essentially birthed the Galil, then the R4 (and all other variants). Finnish AKs are awesome, a perfect tool for the arctic conditions of the area.

    Finland is probably a bit nervous over Russia’s behavior too, but I doubt they’ll do anything. Scandinavia’s region is NOT ukraine. They can actually fight back and will (and lets be honest, the Finns would find any excuse to tag some Russians. Bad blood goes a long way back).

    • Guest

      Finalnd unlike Ukraine or ex-CIS countries was never a buffer zone, or a useful idiot to either the Russian or Western side. They learned that drinking vodka with the bear is way smarter than being alsmost raped by the bear after WW2.

      • n0truscotsman

        They certainly fared better than other nations on the Soviet Union’s border after the war too. Despite some territorial losses and being forced to sue for peace, their independence is nothing short of a miracle outright.

        The Winter War still provides valuable lessons even today in regards to arctic warfare and the superior mobility of well trained infantry with skis.

        • dp

          I am not aware of “lost territories”, but term “finlandisation” as substitute for appeasement is well known. There is a way to live with stronger neighbour without being quashed. Finland has gained strong reputation as neutral and trusted entity during that period.

        • Guest

          That may have been the case when USSR sent a complete moron of a commander, using completely stupid tactics against a very well prepaired opponent.
          The same exact thing happened in Chechen War nr1 when tanks were let into Grozny without covering any flanks, and once deep enough got ambushed. Every time tactical stupidity meets a moderately good or just well orgnized force, it loses.
          Had it been Zhukov to have attacked Finland at that time, the same skiers would probably end up with their winter equipment in their rear ends.

          • n0truscotsman

            That is merely speculation and I doubt Zhukov would have made the outcome much different given the circumstances of the Continuation War which didn’t end until 44.

            If the entire Soviet Union was focused against Finland, and not Nazi Germany at the time, sure, they would have been utterly victorious.

            How much blood and treasure is the small nation valued at? Even Stalin had the sense to ponder this question. Zhukov, better than anybody, knew what that answer was already (he arguably made more sense than anybody in the Soviet Union at the time and was probably one of the few voices of reason that weren’t snuffed out by Stalin’s lunatic cult of personality)

            Besides, the times are totally different now. Russia no longer is the WW2 Soviet Union under the likes of Stalin, Zhukov, Chuikov, etc.

    • dp

      Actually, Finland and Russia have plenty of common history. Finland was as autonomous Grand Duchy part of Russian Empire between 1809 and December of 1917 (till right after October revolution).
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duchy_of_Finland

      This happened as a result of protracted conflicts between Sweden and Russia during previous centuries. Finland was before 1809 part of Sweden. If you travel to F. you find lots of reminder to that period including Russian orthodox churches. Than it received full independence. Due to peculiar meddling (sounds familiar?) with Finnish affairs and in support of like-minded political trend in Finland of the time, Soviet Union had in 1939 intervened. That was the unfortunate part.

      However, soon after end of WWI, both CCCP and Finland enjoyed long term of peace and cooperation. Some testimony to it is part of Finnish military equipment. Existence of Finland has been so far best served as independent and non-aligned country. Finns themselves have to decide what’s best for them. They are small nation in large territory. It is said that many Finns were actually born in sauna (no kidding). I hope this adds to general knowledge.

      • dp

        There is bit of typo…. after the end of WWII, not one, of course. Anyway for those who do not know, it may be surprising that Finns and Hungarians have same roots. Also their language is similar. Take a peek at map of Europe, how far they are apart, yet they are ethnic relatives!

        • J. Puotila

          Ehm… Finns and Hungarians do not share the same roots genetically, culturally or historically. The languages are related, albeit VERY distantly. So distantly that the linguistic distance between Finnish and Hungarian is about as great as the distance between Swedish and Bulgarian, two languages that share the same Indo-European roots with each other.

          As for Finland’s role in the Cold War, it was an era of brown-nosing, censorship and Soviet meddling in Finland’s affairs. If you want to know what I mean, look up meaning of the term “finlandization”. As a Finn, I’m more than glad that it’s a thing of the past!

      • n0truscotsman

        Indeed they do. Finland got along with pretty much everybody during the Cold War simply out of necessity. Their military has only recently began to phase away from using Soviet equipment.

        I heard that in addition to being born in a sauna, their idea of a “gentleman’s quarrel” is with a set of hunting knives. (stereotypes aside… πŸ˜‰

  • Tyler John Richards

    Gorgeous rifles haha wish I could have something similar in Canukistan that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like the Valmets here do.

    • iksnilol

      What about a VZ58? Pair it with Tech-Sights and you should have something good.

      • FourString

        a VZ58 with modern furniture is a thing of beauty

      • d_grey

        Vz58 is an amazing weapon, but it’s still not there yet, another definitely better alternative to the AR series.

  • Guest

    In those conditions, you want to run the AK family. That is one of the few times I would NOT prefer the M4 or M16.

    Things have improved substantially in this 21st century age of synthetic oils and grease, which is a far cry from the shit used 50 years ago.

    • Nicholas C

      Don’t the marines have access to the SCAR 16?

      • Stan

        No. Why would they?

      • d_grey

        An improvement no doubt, but still not close to the needed “reliability” the AK offers.

      • Lance

        No only SOCOM personnel used SCAR Ls and only the SCAR H is being used much at all now.

      • FourString

        In Finland it makes sense that there are more Rk. 95’s than SCAR 16’s on hand lol..

      • Joshua

        No one uses the Mk16, at best you will see conversion kits being issued for training where the 7.62 does’t work well. The Mk16 went away for a number of reliability issues, something no one misses. Even the Mk17 can become a bolt action rifle if the carrier raila get to much gunk on them.

  • Giolli Joker

    Last winter didn’t give enough chances to train in cold weather on US soil. πŸ™‚

  • not a fun

    So, does that mean US was preparing to take over Ukraine/Crimea since 2010 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_Rotational_Force

  • dp

    Little bit out of date, but still interesting: http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/8885-us-marine-corps-undertaking-winter-warfare-training-in-finland.html
    As far as Finns capability to defend their country on their own, there need not be any doubts. Besides, in case of its neighbour Russia, the relations had been cordial for many decades by now. No need to fear; this is not Ukraine.

  • dp

    Reading about RK-95: http://guns.connect.fi/gow/M95.html right from the country of origin (Gunwriters). This is apparently well designed and made rifle suited to needs of Finnish defence force. One notable detail is adaptability to grenade launching and sound suppressor capability. This is thru facility of rather clever muzzle adaptor – more like ‘birdcage’ than usual slot type.
    Overall, this looks like definite upgrade over previous generation od rather ‘spartan’ looking rifle.

  • Lance

    They have there M-16A4s and some with M-4s the pics are Marines at a Finnish shooting range using the weapons of there host nation. Good to the RK-63 still kicking.

  • Lance

    As for Russia Finland has always been worried by its massive neighbor to the east. The US is trying to shore up support for Estonia and Poland now as well as good will tours to Finland like these pics show. Overall Ukraine is Russian territory and is to our problem in many was only a strong defense posture in NATO nation is the only practical thing to do. Ukraine is not worth starting WW3 over.

    • Peace in our time

      Said Prime Minister Chamberlain.

  • Mako_Dragoon

    Marines often swap firearms with other units when cross training. I fired an Egyptian Army AK-47 in Operation Brightstar immediately preceding deployment to Afghanistan… with my M16/203.

    And for the record, it was plenty cold in Afghanistan with no weapons issues.

    • Joshua

      Especially when you get up in some of the mountains out there…..Shudder just thinking about it.

  • Holdfast_II

    Our C-7s worked just fine at -40 (that’s C and F), you just use graphite instead of CLP.

  • LCON

    It’s Common Practice For Us forces to try out The weapons of a Host nation during joint exercises, There were photos posted a few weeks back of Army troops carrying Miles fitted L85A2’s in Joints with the British, there are photo’s of American Marines trying Chinese Marines rifles a few years back.

  • interwebs762

    Surprised no one has gotten up in arms about the magazine hold.

  • Joshua

    We did this all the time. It’s to get accustomed to different weapons. We would use their rifles and they would use ours.

  • The USMC routinely cross-trains on the weapons of its host country when abroad. Here’s a US Marine firing an FAL during Desert Shield:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/L1A1_DM-ST-91-12005.jpg

    Here’s another Marine firing a PKM:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/USMC-100714-M-4150N-536.jpg

    Bonus, here’s USN Admiral Gary Roughead firing a Type 95:

    http://image2.sina.com.cn/jc/p/2006-11-17/U1220P27T1D412731F3DT20061117084107.jpg