Ukranian-Rebel Vintage Open Carry

Arto Pulkki, Eastern Europe military expert and writer at Suomen Sotilas, emailed us the above photo of Igor ”Strelkov” Girkin, the infamous leader of the Donbass People’s Militia which occupy two of Ukraine’s eastern provinces.

Girkin’s choice of gun is interesting. It is the 1950s full-auto Stechkin APS machine pistol. Its bulky holster is made of wood and doubles as a stock. The pistol is chambered in either 9x19mm Luger/Parabellum or 9x18mm Makarov and the magazine holds 20 rounds. Relative to other machine pistols, it has a modest rate of fire of just 750 rounds per minutes. As someone who has fired the Glock 18C, which cycles at 1100-1200 rounds per minute, I can only think that a decreased rate of fire is a good thing.

Vitaly V. Kuzmin

Stechkin APS © Vitaly V. Kuzmin

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.


  • iksnilol

    APS’ are a good choice. Hard to get though, usually only commanders, tank/helicopter operators had them. Though that was in the old days.

  • Kovacs Jeno

    There are some mistakes in the article.

    1. the stock-holster is NOT made of wood, but some fenoplastic polymer resin (ugly reddis-brown)

    2. the APS-9 never made in substatnital quantities in other calibers than 9×18 Makarov

    The APS is not uncommon in former Soviet states, the Chechen rebels especially loved them.

    I’ve shot full auto Stechkins and they are surprisingly controllable.

    • 1leggeddog


  • Nick

    Please, don’t use Ukrainian regarding these Russian terrorists. Since when Russian Federation’s spec-ops, Chechen mercenaries and all sorts of criminal scum armed with various russian weapons smuggled across the boarder are called “Ukrainian-Rebel”? There’s no rebellion, only black ops creating turmoil in region.

    • Zugunder

      If it was “Russian Federation’s spec-ops” Ukrainian army would have much worse time fighting them. Stop repeating this nonsense.

      • Steve Truffer

        I think its more a sense of disowning them, like mass murders in many countries. But yes, if there were Specops in any great quantity, The beautiful country would be screwed.

        • Nick

          Those 2 regions are screwed cause Russia uses very dirty tactics (their specops are meat-shielding with civilians, unrestricted smuggling of weapons under surveillance of Russian border guards , creating a lot of disinformation via government owned mass-media and official speeches), civilians get robbed, their apartments and cars seized in the name of “People’s republics”. Rebuilding them will be hard. But that doesn’t mean our forces are incapable of eradicating enemies who are on our territory and with limited vehicle/artillery/no air support. The biggest issue is civilians who might get hurt. It’s our people, we can’t let them die – terrorists abuse this fact all the time.

          • guest

            “The biggest issue is civilians who might get hurt. It’s our people, we
            can’t let them die – terrorists abuse this fact all the time.”

            You live in your own bubble of imagination, yes? Or have yu completely missed the fact that ukr army has rolled out *every* piece of artillery they have, including heavy 205mm howitzers and 300mm MLRS and shelled virtually *all* civilian areas for the last what… 2 months?
            Yatzenyuk called those people “untermenshen”, and the ukr govt already has a plan on forcefully relocating whoever survives this. This is official, no-bs policy, posted on ukr govt websites. And you have the audacity to go on with this bs, “nick”?

      • Tom

        There are a fair number of “retired” Russian spec ops, Chechen pro-regime militias, and very many, possibly even a majority of Russian citizens fighting there. The russian state has convinced a large percentage of Russian citizens that the Ukrainians are real fascist nazis. Less than half of the “separatists” are locals. The only reason that the separatists are not doing so well is because there are really not that many of them. The Ukrainian military is starting to get its act together even if they are poorly equipped. The majority of the Ukrainian combat forces are now blooded, and volunteers vs the few conscripts and paid off commanders they had in the beginning. If the Ukrainians had any real outside help, intel, armed drones, ect. this whole fiasco would be over rather quickly.

        • махатма ганди

          CJ CHIVERS and NOAH SNEIDER of NYT been in Slovyansk claim that government troops are fighting the locals.

          • Tom

            I lived there for many years dude, I have two houses and family there, I know whats going on in Ukraine. In the first few weeks when there was a much smaller insurgency most were Ukrainians with a few Russian Spec ops and defector militia running things. Now the vast majority of people joining the rebels are Russian/Chechen ect recruited in Russia, former military, and paid to fight. There is not much popular support for the insurgents even in strongholds like Donetsk. I know whats going on there more so than many Russians watching state Tv. If it was a popular uprising the week Ukrainian military would not have been able to stop it. Those two journalists were “handled very well” and who but a person who lived there for many years can tell the difference between Russian and Ukrainians, an American journalist who never stepped foot in the country before? Come on man. There are many many journalists who witnessed examples of the cover ups, paid actors traveling from one end of country to another crying about a fascists, Russian GRU agents buying off Ukrainian army and SBU officers ect ect. Who to believe? Russian side says Ukraine is over run with pro european Nazis. Ukraine says Russia wants back an Empire. Never saw any of the people Russian Gov propaganda says are running the show ie fascists in Ukraine. They just want Russia to leave them alone. They are definitely not anti Russian, at least weren’t until the Russian starting killing them. Now I would hate Russians too if I were them.

    • guest

      I love it when zombified vicims of fox-news come on and like clockwork start babbling the same nonsense they got fed on the 9-o-clock news.
      The same people who were lied to about Iraq, were lied to about Libya, were lied to about AQ, were lied to about NSA and what not… literally every major event in their life, once they understand the falsehood of the last event they as if rebooted like a computer – don’t remember anything, and swallow up the next load of BS that will only leave their craniums after some years. And not just – but aggressively spread the lie.
      And history repeats itself, over and over.

    • Aleks Koval

      Invented himself? Or the Bible read?? russian ucrainec

  • Lance

    Dont think APS-9 never went to 9mm NATO stayed and still is used in 9×18 Makarov.

    • tom

      they made some in TOK too. Very cool gun and quiet practical.

      • Thiago Kurovski

        Isn’t that too powerful?

  • El Duderino

    From the pic I was hoping for a Bolo. A Stechkin? These were still in front line service what, 25 years ago? Neat pistols but hardly ancient.

  • Michael

    If only they would/could sell them to us.
    How about a semi auto version?

  • Vhyrus

    When I first read the article I thought it said ‘Dumbass People’s Militia’.

  • Tom

    The guys is also a former Russian GRU officer, not Ukrainian in any way. Ukrainian police do have some of these in storage here and there. My guess is that if he was carrying around a Bison it may raise questions about his supplier. this way it looks like he pilfered a local armory. Hes probably got a vyntorez or pp2000 behind the counter. Its like the pictures in vietnam of CIA guys carrying around swedish-K’s.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Is the guy taking a knee wearing ATACS-FG?

  • Two errors in this article:
    1) Your info is outdated, he’s Minister of Defence of Lugansk, militia transformed into army. 2) He’s quite opposite to infamous.

  • Ivan Night Terrible

    1. 9×18 Makarov less powerful than 9×19 Luger but with the same stopping power.
    Big weight, soft descent, quality holster (practical fiberglass – not any wood) – as a consequence of effective automatic shooting. Short Gun does not so throw up as other automatic pistols.
    “Weight is a sign of reliability. If it doesn’t work, you can always hit him with it!” Boris the Blade :))
    2. About Strelkov. He is like Che Guevara, Garibaldi and Simon Bolivar – in one person. Hero. White Knight without fear and reproach. No one(sic!) word of a lie in the history of the conflict, nor about own losses, no about losses on the enemy.

  • RealityCheck

    It’s been one of those days, for me. I needed a laugh. You just can’t make up stuff like this.

    “…the Dombass People’s Militia” ….