How to buy an Armoured Personnel Carrier

This is a little off topic, but we often discuss international arms deals on TFB and, like me, many of you readers are big fans of the movie Lord of War (2005) which has been also discussed on TFB a number of times. If you have ever wondered how international arms deals go down, wonder no more. A Russia blogger has documented all the steps it took him to purchase a BRDM-2 amphibious armored vehicle from that wonderful emporium of all things Soviet, the Republic of Belarus. Turns out it is as easy as logging into a Belarus government website, add a tank/plane/apc to your shopping cart and then heading to Belarus with a wad of cash money (equivalent to $9500 USD). Remarkably simple. Тима wrote

I had to write this blog entry, since many still cannot believe I managed to purchase a BRDM-2 (Combat Reconnaissance/Patrol Vehicle). Yes, I really did buy it, and brought it to Russia myself.

Belarus overall and it’s Defence Ministry in particular do sell a tremendous amount of various combat and non-combat items. Recently they created a moderately easy-to-use website, which contains information on all items up for sale.

They sell everything, from teapots to speedboats, armored personnel carriers and planes. I heard that soon they are going to make it a fully-fledged online store with a shopping basket and delivery services. “Your basket contains 1 item: a T-64B tank. Do you want to continue shopping?”. Fricking amazing! At times the catalogue contains photos of the items, but it’s best to view things like that for yourself. Unfortunately, foreign nationals (including russians) have to book a visit two weeks in advance with the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus (KGB RB for short), otherwise you won’t be able to enter the military bases.


The driver had a nice sense of humor and at the first three police stops he was like:
Police: What’s this?
Driver: That’s for our guys on the South-East.
Police: Okay, carry on.

Now before you go on a Belarus spending spree, make sure there are no sanctions or embargoes  preventing the import and export of military equipment to your own country (and all the countries you would need to have the equipment pass through before it gets to you).

It is also worth pointing out that the other way of buying a armored vehicle is to get yourself elected to a school district board.

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.


  • Darren Hruska

    Heh, an armored car for only $9,500? I have to say that’s pretty freakin’ sweet! One has to love how cheap old, Soviet military hardware can be. I’d like a BRDM-2. . . :>

  • Stompy

    Wonder if they have a PKM package deal to go with that.

  • Renegade

    Buying a military vehicle really is not hard. It’s about knowing the right people (importers, a lawyer) and having a bit of patience.

    • ein volk ein reich ein fuhrer

      I’m looking for a low-mileage Konigstiger if you know of any.

    • Tom Stone

      Dude, I became a volunteer crossing guard at the local HS and automatically became a member of the school district PD.
      $5K for shipping and fillingout a few forms for the 1033 program,the DoD sent me a brand new MRAP. I stuck a couple of small solar panels on top and welded on an “EV” symbol and I can now use the HOA lanes otherwise reserved for the folks in a chevy volt!

    • Renegade

      I just realized how shady my comment sounded.

      I used to work for a rather large military vehicle museum. If you really want a military vehicle, it’s amazing how much stuff there is currently in the country. Getting something from out-of-country takes a long bloody time and most of the time the vehicles aren’t quite… as advertised.

      Obviously something that is more historically significant (Shermans, DUKWs, T-series, etc) is more expensive. Lesser-known vehicles, especially if designed in a country other than the U.S., the UK, or Russia, can be had for significantly less. Back in July a large part of the Littlefield Collection was auctioned off. You can view the results on the Auctions America website.

      I highly recommend not buying an old English/Commonwealth vehicle.

    • n0truscotsman

      drug smuggling and laundering money is no different…governments and drug cartels do it everyday with impunity.

      “all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

  • USMC03Vet

    Dear Santa…

  • John Bear Ross

    I want a Saxon APC, and I only have to go to Oklahoma to get it…


  • ein volk ein reich ein fuhrer

    For some reason this story really made my day. Ironically many of the former Communist countries display more of the traits of true capitalism than the West any more as the West tilts more and more towards “centrally planned” police-state Communism.

    • Eddie_Baby

      Just day to day living is much freer there. There are teeter totters in the playgrounds, sugar in soft drinks, peanuts served on their airlines, and a gazillion other things that have been regulated out of existence in the US. When I go to Russia, I see things all the time that make me think, “that would never be allowed in the US.”

      • SM

        I’ve always wanted to go to Russia just to say I’ve been (that and there are zillions of barrels of oil and I’m a geology major).

        I here this all the time from people that have been there. They say that coming back to the US is almost “confining” with the sheer number of things that get regulated to oblivion.

        • Eddie_Baby

          Go with someone who speaks Russian. It’s not like Western Europe, where every other person speaks English.

      • Grindstone50k

        It’s also a hell hole run by an oligarchy.

        • ein volk ein reich ein fuhrer

          The US is well on its way

        • guest

          In contrast oligarchs exist in the US as well, the infamous 1% that believes that simply because it has most of the money it can/could/should rule everyone else. Or did you forget the infamous Citibank memo?
          Both countries have extreme divides between the rich and the poor, the only difference being that this became a reality in USA only gradually, over hundreds of years, while russians had to arrange this powergrab from 1990 until today, hence more extreme condistions.
          In almost all respects the “level of free market capitalism” are identical in both countries. As for “hell hole” look to Detroit, most of north-western USA etc vs “good places” like Frisco or Dallas.

        • VTR1
        • Eddie_Baby

          We live in a tyranny of the do-gooder. They never rest. At least in a robber-baron tyranny, the ruling class is satiated at some point and leaves the average person alone.

          • Hank Seiter

            Yep, here in AmeriKa we live in a soft tyranny run by bureaucratic fascism. We seem to have forgotten that man wasn’t made for laws but laws were made for (bad) men. Both RINOs and Democratic Prog/socialists are in effect neo-Marxists who seek to keep the masses under their bureaucratic thumbs while feathering their own nests (and those living on their electoral plantation which keeps them in power). “Necessity” is ALWAYS the language of tyrants and tin-plated despots. Obama is exhibit A with regard to this reality.

        • TBW

          You refer to Amerika?

    • billyoblivion

      Selling everything you can get your hands on while insisting the state provide you services is not “capitalism”.

      • dan citizen

        It’s my definition.

        • toms

          True that one can have almost anything for the money over there. The ability to do what you want has more to do with corruption than freedom. I do agree that western civ is moving in a negative direction with regards to control over the populace. However; Russia is definitely not the bastion of freedom that Russians believe it is. There you are free to think and act in any way you want so long as it supports the dictators policies. Try questioning the official version of anything and see where you end up. For example start looking into the deaths of Russian servicemen in Ukraine. Make sure your insurance policy is up to date, you do not own any substantial business or properties, and have generous quantities of vaseline ready before you do. Also freedom is defined for me by the ability to own weapons. Russia has very restrictive gun laws, unless of course you are an enforcer of the regime, in that case you can have some cool toys. BTW you can purchase a BMDR and have it shipped here if you wish, I almost did, but the shipping is mucha dinero.

          • dan citizen

            I’ve worked for Russian companies, used to have a business visa back when they were hard to get…

            It’s a mixed bag in my eyes. in some ways they can do more, in many ways more restricted. Russia’s pastures aren’t greener enough for me to live there.

            What I really want is a BMP, but I don’t have that kind of cheddar 🙁

          • ein volk ein reich ein fuhrer

            Sounds like the US of A. At least here you can delude yourself into believing you are free- but don’t pay your taxes and see what happens- Phil’s buddies will come and take your house.

    • One people–one reich–one fuhrer? That’s from a speech at Nuremberg Hitler made during the second Nuremberg rally. Not exactly an appropriate name to go by on TFB.

      • John Bear Ross

        Thanks for pointing that out. I glossed right over it. Yuck.


        • ein volk ein reich ein fuhrer

          “Yuck”- what are you-3?

      • ein volk ein reich ein fuhrer

        Don’t hate on the 1st Amendment- bro.

      • One um people, one um country, one um president…sounds like an Obama speech.

      • Marcus Toroian

        I was HOPING this was some witty, yet super mega non-PC analogy (my favorite kind) in reference to our current Presid… er… Commander in Ch…. er, dude occupying The Oval Office between golf outings. Regardless, it’s in poor taste. If I’m right, you’d be more smarter-er to give it some context. You know, like “ein volk ein reich ein POTUS”.

        If I am wrong, please make your way to the exit. Blatant white supremacy and/or neo-nazism have no place on TFB, or in the “above board” firearms enthusiast community at all, for that matter.

        Yours truly,
        Marcus, the lowly reader of many years with absolutely no authority to be saying these sorts of things.

        EDIT- I was speaking to the “ein volkswagen” guy, not Phil W. No offense meant.

      • MRHapla

        I read a study a while back,,,German’s standard of living under the Nazis fared better then Russian’s SOL ever did under the Commies. How’s that for a fun, weird factoid? I take it as a proof that Socialism/Communism has no worse alternative. Except, of course, the PCDemocrat’s nanny state.

        • Don’t forget that Germany’s economy, although in poor shape at the time, had much stronger foundations. So, once fixed, it was able to perform better. Plus, all the oligarchs were pure capitalists who exploited the Nazis as much as the Nazis tried to exploit them.

          (I recall reading somewhere that when the Red Army invaded Germany, many of the recruits were so amazed by the taps with running water that they ripped them right off the walls to take home, not realised that the rest of the plumbing was required too. 😉

          The commies, on the other hand, had a serf economy in Russia to start with. And, you could say they also ended with one. China was the same. It was only when Deng said “to be rich is glorious” that their really economic growth started.

  • echelon

    That was a fun read. I love how he had to get a crane and a garbage truck to help him get the thing home. Incredible! Now I want one, just for the experience of buying it!

  • Bill

    For a couple years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they were selling everything, and probably stuff they shouldn’t have like fissile material to dubious characters. There was no money for fuel, so guys were renting out tanks and planes for parties, joyrides, etc. a number got sold.

    It’s hard enough adapting a US mil vehicle to civilian life, I can’t imagine handling a Combloc one: 37 volt electrical system, 14 speed non-synchromesh transmission, open exhaust, labels in Cyrillic, and fasteners that are probably both metric and SAE, like a T22 14mm and 1/16 Torx bolt. And they probably require high-sulfur diesel.

    • guest

      “…and probably stuff they shouldn’t have like fissile
      material to dubious characters.”

      I highely doubt that. Posessing that is not only like waving a pot of honey in front of a bear, it’s like smearing yourself with honey and giving the bear a lapdance. Too many agencies from around the world would be interested in that… ASAP and until everything and everyone involved is “fixed”. And for those couple of years after the collapse all the basic structure (army, KGB, MVD etc) was pretty much intact. The “wild nineties” did not happen until mid-90’s.

  • So . . . where’s the link to the Belorussian War Emporium?

    • Hey look! I figure out myself! Well done self-tovarich!

      • Holy smokes. $150 NVGs.

        • Yojimbo556

          You’ll put your eyes out

        • n0truscotsman

          you dont want those LOL. If you want NVGs you would be better off going to gander mountain.

          • iksnilol

            What’s so bad about them? Are Eastern Bloc optics bad now?

            + I won’t go to Gander Mountain due to their shadiness.

          • Zachary marrs

            “Gander godd×mn mountain! “

          • n0truscotsman

            The problem I have with Gen I optical sights is the fact that many are disproportionately dependent on IR splash to obtain the desired amplification of existing light, which paints a surefire-like highlight in front of you that I will be able to see miles away with my optics (or a potential advesary that wants to kill you). Im no expert on night vision technology either, although there is a world’s difference between Gen I and III systems.
            In my honest opinion, you are better off NOT buying them at all (many on countless forums say “any is better than one”, but from my experience, this is a load of bull), and just saving your money for Gen IIIs. Thats not even getting into the power issues (spare batteries?) or spare tubes…or that they’re ridiculously bulky.
            So, not all of their optics are bad, and I imagine that, like american optics, russian ones have improved substantially since the 60s.
            I hear ya on gander mountain. it was just a rough example. I hate to go down this route, but you are better off spending the money on PVS-14 monoculars.

          • iksnilol

            1) of course, gen 1 and 2 is just bad. IR lightning is also bad

            2) shouldn’t amplification of light be the same in the same generation?

            3) how often do you change out parts in NV optics? What is battery life for average Night Vision optics? Aren’t batteries proprietary in all NV or are there models that take common stuff (AA and the like).

            I don’t have experience with night-vision though I am interested due to night hunting being legal in Norway (though artificial light is illegal).

          • n0truscotsman

            to address two points

            The amplification of light varies per generation, as does the clarity, depending on the manufacturer

            Secondly, for PVS14s, I have never replaced parts on mine. For the others, I have no idea.

        • Link to the products?

  • Not long after September 11, 2001 a guy northwest of Atlanta got the attention of a lot of people flying his surplus MiG 21 too low over a suburb community.

    There were not a lot of general aviation planes flying at the time, so anything in the air was a bit of an oddity. As it streaked overhead, I remember blurting out “That’s a damn MiG!”

    It seems he purchased a number of eastern bloc airplanes in the 90’s. It must have been a pain to get parts.

    • Ken

      Here’s an example of a MiG-21 someone bought from Poland. Apparently the CIA confiscated the attack radar.

    • Blake

      As far as combloc jets go, the deal of the century is the Aero L-39:

      It’s a trainer so it’s very forgiving to fly and easy to push hard (plus you can take along a passenger or co-pilot). They’re Czech so the proverbial brick latrine clichés apply. You can pick up one in the US these days for about a quarter million, which is not a lot for a jet (according to the wiki more then 250 of them have been certified for US operation).

      I had the pleasure of seeing the Breitling aerobatic team perform this summer; they use 7 of them, which is a lot for such stunts and opens up possibilities for formations & maneuvers not feasible for other teams with fewer planes. The (relatively) low operating/maintenance cost of the L-39 enables them to field more of them.

    • I’ve seen one in silver with black and white trim. Is that the one you saw?

      • I don’t recall the colors exactly. I was on a traffic stop on US 41 near McCollum airfield when I heard the jet coming. I looked and had that bizarre moment of thinking (1) that jet is too low and (2) holy crap – that’s a MiG.

        Considering the country had just been attacked and all of the military bases in the area were crawling with guys in full combat gear, it was a very surreal thing to see a Sov military jet streaking by. Very Red Dawn.

    • Marc Middleton

      My county airport had 2 migs parked at if for the longest time, couple doctors/lawyers owned them

  • Ken


    “Turns out, during the summer, the prices for all combat armored vehicles
    in Russia rise rapidly, and the only affordable ones are severely beat
    up or suspicious models without any documentation.”

    Does he mean during all summers, or during this one particular summer? Are any seen driving straight into Ukraine?

  • n0truscotsman

    This would be sweet where I live. lightly armored, amphibious, and very mobile. and no doubt reliable in the cold.

    But I wonder. Spare parts? Id probably rip the combloc power plant out and put in a western diesel like a Deutz or Cummins.

  • billyoblivion

    From someone who’s imported a vehicle from overseas before:

    1) You WILL NEED an import broker. There are certain forms that are almost impossible for a non-broker to file as they need to be done electronically and you won’t have the software. It’s not exactly *cheap*, but it’s not bad.

    2) Get copies of *everything* and just fed-ex them to the broker. They will (might?) tell you they have all they need, but that seems to mean “we have all we need right now, we’ll tell you 3.6 seconds before we need the next piece of paper.

    2.1) Do not put the title in the glove box. 3 months later (when the vehicle gets off the boat) you won’t remember where you put it, and they won’t look in the glove box for it.

    3) After 25 years you do not have to worry about NHSTA issues, and after 10 years you don’t have to worry about *federal* emissions. However states do as they damn well please. Anyone know how to get a 30 year old naturally aspirated diesel to pass emissions…

    I really like the truck I brought home, but some days…

  • Grindstone50k

    I know a of a guy in Missouri who bought a British armored car, I believe it was called a “Ferret”.

  • Grindstone50k

    Today I learned a BRDM is cheaper than my shitty car.

    • Juice

      And a lot more fun to commute to work with!

  • iksnilol

    Stupid question: what is the gas mileage? What APC is best if you want something amphibious that is (relatively) gas efficent?

    Also, are they gonna make an English version of their site? Reading Cyrillic in a language I don’t understand much gets tiring fast.

    • whodywei

      The fuel capacity of the vehicle is about 77 gal, the Operational range the vehicle is about 470 miles. The gas mileage is somewhere around 6 miles/gal. Not very fuel efficient compare to my Prius.

      • Blake

        not very fuel efficient compared to an ’80s Chevy Suburban…

        One could probably lighten her up a lot by removing the armor plating though.

        • gunslinger

          but then, what’s the point?

        • Phil Hsueh

          I’m not sure that you can remove the armor without basically stripping the vehicle down to the bare chassis. I don’t think that armored vehicles are built with a thin skin and then have armor bolted or welded on top, I think that they’re built like a regular except that instead of thin sheet metal you have armor plate.

  • J-

    I have a better idea:
    Step 1) Dummy up some Sheriff Dept Letter Head
    Step 2) Ask the Federal Govt for an MRAP
    Step 3) Put on some 5:11 pants and and a skin tight polo shirt and collect!

    • Phil Hsueh

      Or letter head from the LAUSD/LAUSD PD.

  • ghost

    Glad this is not a political site. Need to change that header.

  • steveday72

    I always liked the look of the M113 APC myself. It must have a much lower center of gravity than an MRAP.

    • Phil Hsueh

      They’d be great for a zombie apocaplypse. They’re reasonably fast, (reasonably) bullet proof, can carry several passengers or lots of stuff, should be too heavy to be pushed over by zombies.

  • phuzz

    There’s companies that specialise in importing ex-military vehicles and dealing with all the paperwork etc.
    For example there’s a restored BDRM-2 for sale here:
    They even translate all the Cyrillic into English, and from the look of it’s it’s even road legal for the UK (no mean feat).
    Mind you, they don’t post a price, so I’m guessing it’s quite a lot.

  • gunslinger

    i’ll take a type 64

  • jeff

    no big deal in the us. you can buy a Abrams tank and Apache helicopter if you have the money. heck if you fork out enough cash we will even fly you into space!!!

  • Diver6106

    Join the club and buy your own tank….

  • Travis

    You know, I’ve always wanted a T-72…

  • lupus
  • Garry Taylor

    no big deal, you can buy in the uk no problem tanks and APC from MOD clearance…i remeber 2 years ago you could get landrover snatch ( armored Ulster spec) for 800 quid on the auction part of the MOD clearance site…that was before they were all bought by local police because of the london riots…..also you can buy tanks on no problem…and if you have a firearms licence, you can even buy a firing tank….