Russian Arctic Forces Learn to Drive … Reindeer Sleighs !

Russian Northern fleet mechanized infantry units (also referred to as Arctic forces) have recently held training maneuvers in Murmansk, Russia. Among expected equipment such as skis and snowmobiles, they were also practicing to ride reindeer and dog sleds.

All pictures by TASS news agency

The idea behind those drills is to get familiar with using the sleighs, which are still one of the most used means of transportation in the arctic areas. The soldiers trained both driving and riding in the sleighs and did tactical drills using them combined with modern technology.

During WW2 about ten thousand reindeer were used in the Soviet army. The main use for them was the evacuation of wounded soldiers, logistics, transportation of crashed planes and reconnaissance. They proved to be very effective in the harsh arctic climate back in WW2. So, perhaps Russian armed forces decided to renew the WW2 experience.

Interesting to note that on some of the images weapons are equipped with blank firing muzzle adapters. You can also see blank rounds on the PKM machine gun belt. However, in some images the guns look to be in combat condition. I assume that the training includes both live and blank firing drills.

Another interesting thing is that instead of a camouflage paint, most of the firearms are wrapped in white fabric.

Here are some more pictures from that drills and if you scroll down all the way, you’ll also find a couple of videos.

Hrachya H

Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying design, technology and history of guns and ammunition. His knowledge of Russian allows him to translate and make Russian/Soviet/Combloc small arms related information available for the English speaking audience.
Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at


  • FulMetlJakit

    Tacticold Santas.
    Everybody gets lead.

  • Gus Butts

    I clicked on the article for the fluffy cute huskies.

    • Uniform223

      Don’t ever get them howling

  • Uniform223

    This to me is as cool (no pun intended) as US Army SF training with pack miles and horses.

  • Joe

    We have to close the Reindeer Gap!

  • Bill

    It makes sense: those tactics have worked successfully for centuries. You don’t have to drain the oil from a reindeer overnight so it doesn’t turn to goo, reheat it in the morning and fill them back up. Plus, protein. That goes for the dogs too; there’s a long Arctic history of eating sled dogs when they can’t pull anymore.

    You can’t paint a rifle in those temperatures. The paint wont spray, and liquid paint wont stick. Additionally, cloth wrapping deadens sound, which seems to travel an inordinate distance in arctic. Plus, it reduces the risk of contact frostbite if bare skin touches metal.

  • Giolli Joker

    Cool shots.
    They seem to be enjoying this training.
    I guess I would as well.

    • Anonymoose

      I would not want to get into a snowball fight with these guys.

      • Uniform223

        If they aren’t throwing snowballs than it isn’t a snowball fight.

        • Anonymoose

          Their snowballs are just grenades that they painted white.

  • Major Tom

    The fabric wrapping might also be to protect the firearm and keep it warmer. It doesn’t matter if you have the most reliable weapon on Earth if it freeze welds shut.

    • EdgyTrumpet

      That wouldn’t help since most of the metal is left exposed, and the thin fabric wouldn’t be enough to insulate it anyway.

    • Phillip Cooper

      No, that’s what the gasoline in the oil is for.

      • Major Tom

        I forget, does gasoline even still exist in liquid form at -50C? I know diesel will gel up long before it gets that cold.

        • Phillip Cooper

          Apparently pure gas freezes between -40 and -50C. But that isn’t necessarily true of oil.

          I have read in many places this is one of the things that helped the Soviets beat the Germans in Stalingrad. It may be wrong.

    • iksnilol

      Not really, last thing you want to do with a firearm in the cold is to insulate/heat it.

      • Major Tom

        Why? At those extremes in cold the metal often turns very brittle. Plus then you have freeze welding of parts (usually metal ones) at extremely cold temps.

        • Tom

          Simple put the biggest problem in that sort of environment is that your weapon gets some snow on it which then thaws in the heat then freezes when it gets cold again and jams the whole thing up. This is why when sheltering in igloos the unit will leave most of the weapons outside and those which are brought inside will be well inspected and all sources of snow removed.

          The AK and family are pretty much as ‘winterised’ as your going to get small arms so I would not be too worried about the cold just ice.

        • iksnilol

          Because when you go from warm to cold then problems arise from moisture.

          Keep it cold all the way, or warm all the way.

          • Major Tom

            That’s a little hard to do with live fire exercises in arctic conditions.

            Plus freeze welding doesn’t need moisture spilled onto something, it pulls the moisture right out of the air at temps below -20C. Anything that airborne moisture can bind to will cause it to flash freeze. The most common materials this happens on are glass, stone and yep metal. Even metal that has a protective finish applied.

          • iksnilol

            Hey, I dunno, I am just going with what has worked for the folks in Svalbard and the Arctic troops from Norway.

            Also ask some Canucks, they’ll say the same thing. Keep the rifle outside in the cold.

          • nick

            yes, our Canadian rangers keep the rifles at OAT

          • nick

            my “Truck gun” is in an uninsulated box in my 82 `1suburban , its always at OAT. Its a simple no frills SKS with graphite lube, with a PU scope, the reticle camed for the short 7.62., never seems to mind the cold. I have operated it down to -45 C “out of the box”
            I saw one or two of these set up that way in my “travels” in certain countries with Adriatic beach fronts, and these seemed not to mind the weather too much
            Of course, my Grandfather, from Petsamo, always had his trusty VKT M91 , and it liked the cold better than the short summers there.

          • nick

            although, Grandfather did “adopt” a TT-33 as his side arm, as the Lugers he had, with their superior machining seemed to not like cycling in extreme cold conditions. He mentioned that he often had the knuckle action open, but not return into battery in the very cold ( Army Group North, Finnish Volunteers , winter 1941 , Siege of Leningrad, as a FOO )

  • A Fascist Corgi

    Life goals.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Seems effective. I really hope we never have to fight the Russians in that environment. They do know it inside and out. There is something bad @ss about reindeer pulling a sleigh like a war chariot. I wonder what the reindeer eat and how they transfer their food? Do they carry food with them which would seem bulky or are the reindeer able to forage enough calories when they stop. At least the dogs have calories dense low bulk food options.

    • Tassiebush

      From what I’ve seen on TV they kick up snow and eat a moss that’s called wait for it, reindeer moss! I’d imagine they’d eat grasses the same way if it’s available. One occasional environmental problem is if there’s a partial thaw snow melts then re freezes into ice which they can’t get through as easily. But basically they’re probably easier supplied than anything else in that environment.
      Humans can eat the moss too but you either have to add wood ash to it to change the ph or you can eat it from the stomach of a reindeer.

      • Dougscamo

        You’re on top of your game…. :)…..didn’t expect to learn this on TFB today….

        • Tassiebush

          Haha why thank you! I’m great at learning heaps of things that I’ll never actually use.

          • Dougscamo

            One of my officers used to call me the “Master of Useless Trivia”….but it works in bars!

    • Dougscamo

      The Finns used reindeer in the Winter War against the Soviets quite effectively….
      I got to shoot a Lahti L-39 antitank rifle (20 mm) that still had the skis attached to the chassis to enable it to be pulled by reindeer…it was a hoot!….

    • int19h

      The true masters of these environments aren’t Russians per se, it’s the various local peoples (Chukchi, Nenets, Komi, Sami etc) who live there. Those are the guys who literally live their entire life off reindeer herds and whatever else you can get in that environment.

  • Gary Kirk
  • Jeff Smith
    • KestrelBike

      Taco Tongue!!!

    • TheNotoriousIUD


  • Anonymoose


  • 40mmCattleDog

    Santa’s elves are taking the ISIS threat very seriously this year i see.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Let’s call them Daesh, if you please.

      They freakin’ HATE that.

      • anonymous

        > Let’s call them Daesh, if you please.

        “Now, DAESHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!”

        And something about Rudolph the FLIR nosed reindeer…

  • John

    >Another interesting thing is that instead of a camouflage paint, most of the firearms are wrapped in white fabric.

    Probably helps keep water from getting into the guns when hot and freezing into ice when cold. Useful tip.

  • Bucho4Prez


  • adverse4

    How do you say, “whoaaaaaaaa motherf**ker” in Russian?

  • Uniform223

    So I gotta ask. What’s with that greyish pattern in that environment. I would figure that the traditional winter whites or a pattern like Kryptek Yeti would be better. I can imagine that grayish pattern being used in something like a tundra.

  • Interesting and likely very effective. Even the reindeer in the middle seems to think its fun!

    • Larry Glock

      Hey, it’s “Rudolph, the Infrared Reindeer”!!!!

  • Psychofan Vev game’a

    Santa’s team for special tasks