The Firearms of 2017 Moscow Victory Day Parade

The Victory Day Parade is a military parade annually held in Red Square of Moscow in celebration of victory in the Second World War. The parade takes place on 9th of May, which is the day when Nazi Germany signed the instrument of surrender in 1945. Let’s take a look what firearms were spotted during the parade.

As in many other occasions, SKS rifles are seen in ceremonial use. You can see in the images below SKS rifles with light tan color stocks and red flags attached to the bayonets.

The most interesting guns were in the hands of paratroopers which you can see in the following four images.

SVDS rifles. This version of SVD rifle features a folding stock, shorter but thicker profile barrel and a different muzzle device.

AS VAL integrally suppressed rifles chambered in 9x39mm.

AK-74M rifles with under-barrel grenade launchers and what look to be Valdai red dot sights.

These rifles are most likely the later versions of AK-12, which are basically highly modified AK-74 rifles.

The mechanized infantry units were marching with AKMS rifles. You can see the underfolder stocks and PBS suppressors attached.

The rest of the parade participants were carrying AK-74M rifles. Despite all kinds of developed “future weapons”, the AK-74 still remains the main weapon of Russian armed forces. None of the recently developed firearms offers anything significantly superior and/or cost effective compared to AK-74 to replace it in full scale.

Last but not least, ORSIS T-5000 rifles were spotted not in the parade itself but providing the security of the event.





Hrachya H

I was born and currently live in Armenia, where I work in a family business of leather goods manufacturing. Being a retired sergeant of my country’s armed forces and a lifelong firearms enthusiast, I always enjoy studying firearms design, technology and history. Also my knowledge of Russian allows me to translate and make Russian/Soviet/Combloc small arms related information available for the English speaking audience.
Should you need to contact me, feel free to shoot me a message at TFBHrachyaH@gmail.com


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  • AZgunner

    Why do most of the soldiers pictured have cartoonishly goofy looks on their faces?

    • Gregor

      to amuse Putin. If Putin isn’t happy, he is sad. If he is sad, someone gets fed to his pet bears.

    • Major Tom

      They are drunk comrade.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Because they were ordered to be happy. And probably provided plenty of Vodka to ensure that.

    • Marc

      Their faces must be killing them after the parade holding those forced smiles. It’s better than being sent to the gulag though.

    • int19h

      They’re happy because Trump got elected, duh.

    • I’m just interested if anyone can ever think of a single joke about Russians that doesn’t revolve around gulag, firing squads, random murders, and vodka.

      The smiles look sincere enough, considering they would have to arrive there at like 5AM (after days of drills, rehearsals and little sleep) and spend most of the waiting time till 10AM standing up, regardless of weather. This is not to say it wasn’t official instruction though, because it can’t not have been (imagine soldiers randomly grinning and being sombre in the same box).

  • Major Tom

    “Despite all kinds of developed “future weapons”, the AK-74 still remains
    the main weapon of Russian armed forces. None of the recently developed
    firearms offers anything significantly superior and/or cost effective
    compared to AK-74 to replace it in full scale.”

    I’ve heard it’s more institutional inertia and “Change bad!” than any failing or cost of potential replacements is why. Kinda like why the M4/M16 refuses to leave in the West. Nothing inherently innovative or superior in design compared to the replacement candidates but institutional conservatism ensures the original will never leave unless forced.

    • The Dude

      False.

    • Alexandru Ianu

      They’re the same gun overall, so it isn’t so much institutional inertia as it’s resource management. The original AK-12 was laid out better than the current half assed* upgrade, but with sanctions and such they couldn’t have afforded it without disabling another procurement program.

      *Half assed because the current rail system is less reliable than a side rail (for heavier optics) and they failed to introduce an ambi safety solution (I can think of 2 really cheap ways to do it).

    • crackedlenses

      “Nothing inherently innovative or superior in design compared to the replacement candidates”

      “None of the recently developed firearms offers anything significantly superior and/or cost effective compared to AK-74”

      Great. So why do they need to replace the AK-74 again?

      • Major Tom

        Like the M16 it’s an old design in need of replacement and modernizing. Like the M16/M4 it’s trying to fight and find the war it’s built for. A war that never came. A war that never will come.

        • crackedlenses

          So the M4A1 and the AK-74M are not modernized enough to suit your tastes? Why spend money to get something new that won’t be a significant improvement?

          LSAT has come farther than the M16 replacement programs before it; it’s a good bet that it will pan out to some extent. Why do you insist we (or the Russians for that matter) adopt something new for the sake of newness when an actual technological breakthrough is coming?

          • Major Tom

            LSAT is one of those things I’m talking about.

          • crackedlenses

            In which case we can afford to wait until LSAT matures and becomes viable. In the meantime, the M16/M4 works; trying to replace it with the M27 or other such measures would ultimately be a waste of money.

          • Uniform223

            “trying to replace it with the M27 or other such measures would ultimately be a waste of money.”

            https://cdn.meme.am/cache/instances/folder997/62904997.jpg

      • 8166PC1

        My understanding is that there always want something left to be desired on the fully automatic performance of the AK-74, they wanted something more accurate in fully automatic.

    • James Young

      What should the AK or AR be changed to? Upgrading the weapons seems to be the best solution, not using one of the flawed new platforms (Tavor, SCAR, Bren, etc). There are obvious improvements that could make existing weapon systems better

      • Blake

        6mm Lee Navy?

    • Max Glazer

      They are still running the final trials with military units regarding the A545/A762 and AK-12/AK-103-4 and decision is expected late this year. But only god and Izhmash knows what exactly is going on with the AK-12/AK-15 clusterfunk.

      Back in the day if military wanted a new weapon system they issued a technical requirement for a weapon system that would include all the characteristics they are after and design bureaus would submit their designs/proposals for trials. Today the procurement is weird when Serdyukov sent a wrecking ball through military that was basically rusted solid when it came to actually figuring out just WTF they want.

  • “Vladimir! I have excellent idea! Let us equip our paratroopers with very effective digital woodland camouflage, and also blue and white undershirt which can be seen from Kansas!”

    • LCON

      The Striped Shirt is a Marker for an Elite in the Russian military. It’s an old tradition imported from the time of Peter the Great from the French.

      • Kulibin762

        Soviet airborne started wearing striped shirts in late sixties. Russian sailors started wearing them only in mid/late 1800s as a fashion statement. As these shirts were called “Dutch shirts” I suspect Dutch sailors were at fault 🙂

    • tony

      They are marines in russia

      • Tom

        While the blue and white might appear very nautical the blue and white striped shirt is worn by paratroopers as well as Naval Infantry.

      • Anonymoose

        There are different colors which denote paratroopers, marines, and other branches

        • LCON

          Black and White for Russian Naval infantry ( Marines)
          Dark Blue and White for Russian Navy
          Light Blue and White for Russian Airborne and GRU Speznats Commandos
          Maroon and white for OMON national Riot Police
          Red and White for National Guard
          Orange and white for Civil Defence and Emergency response
          Green and White for Border patrol.
          The Regular Russian Army don’t get one. the Shirt is a functional piece to a well made one can will keep the wearer warm down to 40 degrees.

    • int19h

      They can always button up when they don’t want it to be seen.

      However, more often than not, they *do* want it to be seen, so that the enemy knows that they are fighting VDV specifically, and not the Army (similar attitude to USMC, I guess).

      • Widgt

        Oh please. Stop with the USMC propaganda speak. History, true history tells a different story.

        • int19h

          There’s no “USMC propaganda speak” here. I merely pointed out that part of USMC culture is a strongly ingrained feeling of superiority, and Marines feel strongly enough about it that they want to be visibly different (as exhibited by e.g. a distinct camo pattern). This has obvious parallels to VDV and their telnyashka shirt, as a visible symbol of them being different (and implied better) than regular army troops. Whether USMC and VDV actually *are* better is a completely separate question, and I haven’t said anything to that effect.

        • dfb

          One day speaking with one friend i asked why some people blame USMC, answer more or less.
          “USMC are better than regular forces like US ARMY infantry for one simple reasson,USMC is a shock force. After only the few spec ops recons and AA system been striked, Marines arrive to enemy territory where enemy armies are still un disrupted and operating to fight face to face US forces (marines).When spec ops, air supremacy and marines take the first control of devastated enemy terrotory, US ARMY regular trops arrive to secure the occupied area and build effective military infraestructures net. Thats the reason because marines need to have strong pride and high motivation.Something that many civilians dont understand is that marines operations theater is different than regular troops, marines destroys those all APCs that regular troops see in the ditches yet destroyed when they arrives.
          If somebody blame USMC is for political reassons, not fot technical reasons.”

          Is he correct?

          • Widgt

            Oh my…Sounds like your friend gets all his military knowledge from a Marine recruiter or YouTube videos.

            Take a look at the two battles of Fallujah involving coalition forces. Regardless of the perceived outcome, these are very good examples of a joint ground effort between the Army and the Marines. Both services fought equally hard and side by side.

            The main purpose of the Marine Corp is as a sea borne ground force. They excel in that capacity! The Navy can park a task force off any coast with a full contingent of Marines and air power and remain there almost indefinitely. God bless them, it is not a job that I would want, being cooped up in the bowels of a ship bobbing around the ocean sounds like a slice of hell to me.

            By the way, any of you young studs out there thinking about joining the military please keep one thing in mind. All recruiters are like used car salesmen, they have something to sell. They will tell you what you want to hear to get you to sign. Make them work for you, ask questions and do not let them coerce you into a decision.

    • joe tusgadaro

      There is an old but very much used tradition of, if these guys strip down to their shirts they fight to the death…

      • Well, taking off all your combat gear before a fight would certainly help with that.

    • Kulibin762

      The Commander of post-war Soviet Airborne Forces was in charge of skiing regiment of Naval Infantry during WW2. He took some naval traditions to heart and spearheaded the adoption of a striped shirt by his beloved airborne. Not without some hefty opposition. The original idea behind the shirt was to make a sailor more visible (against the background of white sales) so it’s a pretty crappy camouflaging proposition. It is however very symbolic, you can quickly ID a paratrooper, hence it is exposed for parade. BTW this year is the first time some units are wearing camo, usually it’s all dress uniform. During the Soviet war in Afghanistan the entire 40-th Army was issued VDV shirts to confuse the enemy as to both threat level and target value. It is also one of the reasons some Spetsnaz units wear the same shirt: if captured the treatment could be quite different if you’re discovered to be a GRU operator vs. “just a” paratrooper.

    • It’s their point of pride and sacred symbol of the branch, so they display it prominently on parade. In day-to-day life, the telnyashka is no more visible than what it is – a warm long-sleeve t-shirt or a wifebeater in summer (i. e. it can be buttoned over).

  • James Young

    They all look so…happy?

    • LCON

      That’s what the suppressed ORSIS T-5000 rifles are for…. That Komrad not smiling… Target down, clean up team on route.

      • James Young

        I bet he’s smiling under that mask. Wouldn’t you if you had a ORSIS T-5000?

    • wetcorps

      They smile because they have AS VALs and we don’t.

      • James Young

        Agreed

    • Peter Nissen

      They have been botox’ed to within an inch of their lives.

    • fvb

      This year somebody give they the command of “smile”, in other year they hadnt this forced smile.

  • USSR

    “Mhhh… lets just simply name our slightly better basicly Ak74, still like the overhyped original Ak12.”

    – extremly practical propaganda move and it works incredible well, like 90% of people still think its the original Ak12 (that most less educated ultra pro russians think is somehow made out of fairy dust).

    • NukeItFromOrbit

      What’s the difference between the “new” AK-12 and “old” AK-12?

      • Chris22lr

        “New” AK-12 (model year 2016) is a regular AK-74M receiver with Universal Upgrade Kit stock and pistol grip, rigid top cover with rails (also similiar to UUK), and a new front end with a gas block/front sight base combo and new flash-hider. Probably barrel and gas tube are free floated from the handguards, there may also be a gas regulator. Additional variants are AK-15 (same thing but in 7.62x39mm) and RPK-16 (stronger RPK receiver, longer handguards, quick detachable barrel, comes with short barrel and regular telescoping AK-12 stock, and also long barrel and fixed stock).

        “Old” AK-12 featured a different receiver with ambidextrous safety/fire mode selector lever, switchable side of ejection and charging handle, and different way of attaching the railed top cover.

        I’ll link some pictures in the next comment, to illustrate the differences.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Nice blue striped uniforms, dude.
    Perfect if a war breaks out at an Easter egg hunt.

    • tony

      Russian marines, I believe

      • Dmitriy Kopylov

        no, paratroopers also use it.

      • pbla4024

        Marines would have black stripes.

  • .45

    AS VAL? “I have some information that might well be of use to you, Stalker.”

    (I just didn’t want to go with the more.popular “Get out of here Stalker.”)

    • Vic

      papali suki

  • Chris22lr

    The “AK-12” in the picture is simply an AK-74 with Universal Upgrade Kit. Front sight base at the muzzle is the most daring evidence. New AK-12 (model year 2016) has a front sight/gas block combo, also handguards on it are different (AK-74 UUK lower handguard is overlaping the upper one, this is not the case with AK-12).

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      Correct. AK-74MR?

      • Chris22lr

        Actually it seems like there’s no new official designation for upgraded AK-74s. Probably because upgraded rifles are mostly old fixed-stock AK-74s (as seen on Larry Vickers photos) and AKS-74s (variant with skeleton folding stock). AK-74MR designation was widely used in western gun media, but when checking Russian sources I never encountered this name (apart from few instances when they were quoting western journalists).

  • Ratcraft

    The headlines about this have been so over the top. From “Putin flexes his muscle” to “Putin vows to repel any enemy”. All for a parade they have had for decades. I actually enjoy it. Stalin ordered all color film be rounded up to film the 1st one in color. It’s pretty cool watching it. The soldiers march by and throw Nazi flags and such at his feet. Almost surreal.

  • Lance

    I agree with you. AK-74s are numerous and still a great weapon Russia will use 74s for regular infantry, while special units use 74s and AK-12s. Seems to be the case in victory day 2017. Still cool to see SKS and AKM in use still too.

  • JoelC

    Could someone explain the idea of the mechanized units all being equipped with suppressors? I get that the AKMS offers a good solution to repurpose older firearms in a compact package… but then why would you go and lengthen them again?

    • MSG1000

      Do Russians have APC’s or IFV’s with firing ports in them? Maybe it’s to save their ear drums in case of having to shoot from inside?

      • Tom

        I believe the BMP series does have firing ports in the side and rear but the usual caveat regarding accuracy of weapons fired from them applies as with any other IFV.

        • MSG1000

          Fair enough, I’m just trying to guess since longer guns are even harder to maneuver inside a vehicle. I guess accuracy may not be as much of a concern as being able to hear. Then again I’m still certain people would simply be less deaf with a suppressor.

          • Tom

            In general I think fire ports are more to dissuade people from running up to an IFV with a magnetic bomb etc. so accuracy is not such an issue.

            As to why these particular troops have suppressors who knows but its common in these sorts of events to see whole groups of troops with weaponry that they would not normally employ, for example who often does every rifleman in a platoon have an under barrel grenade launcher? Only during parades.

          • me

            Isn’t that why BMP is made from aluminum?

          • bojan

            Only BMP-3 is, 1/2 are steel construction.
            BMD series used aluminium hull however. Turret is steel on BMD-1/2/3 and aluminium on BMD-4/4M.

          • Tom

            I think aluminium is used more to reduce the weight rather than for its non ferrous nature.

            Soviet military vehicles were made much lighter than western equivalents in order to be able to use a the smaller/weaker bridges encountered in Russia and Eastern Europe.

    • махатма ганди

      All AKMS are equipped with suppressors ONLY for the parade.

      • MSG1000

        Dang, forgot to account for the show off factor. Is there any other configuration mentioned in the article that’s a parade only thing?

        • махатма ганди

          By tradition, all soldiers in the “box” should have the same type of weapon. In reality, there are no military units fully armed with silent “Val” assault rifles, SVD rifles, under-barrel grenade launchers.

      • Kulibin762

        I seriously doubt there was a single 7.62 x 39 AK issued in Russia without a suppressor in the last twenty years except, perhaps, for ceremonial purposes. Suppressed guns however are widely issued and used and will be in foreseeable future.

    • Kulibin762

      First of all I think these are “tank” guys in the pic, not “mechanized infantry” guys. Regardless, AKMS is still issued and only with suppressor. It should come in AKMSB flavor that has rear sight with two ranging scales, for regular and subsonic ammo. The reason is you can’t effectively suppress AK-74. Either mechanized infantry or tank division has recon companies within its regiments and also a detached recon battalion. The nature of recon business is the reason why such a division would have PBS-ed AKMBs/AKMSBs in its active inventory.

  • Garrett

    FYI, the grenade launcher in the picture is a GP-25.

  • Blake

    These are great, thanks.

  • CavScout

    Pic #6 looks like that meme of the little black kid in Africa making that skeptical face.