SBR PPS-43C Review

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Why I bought it

The She-Shepherd and I were looking for a good firearm that would fit her 5′ 2″ petite frame. She’d run a few rifle classes with my full-sized AK47 rifles, but by the end of the day the weight (and more importantly, balance) was getting to be  too much for her short arms.

Gabe Suarez wrote an article about shooting a PPS-43C and that grabbed my interest. Gabe wrote a second article (I can’t find it now) but he mentioned how his family was all able to run the PPS-43C and how manageable the recoil was. The She-Shepherd’s ex doesn’t like the idea of the kids learning about guns, but I figured this might find its way into their hands as a home defense rifle someday.

We bought one for $349 before shipping and transfer fee.

Four years later, I finally got all of my NFA paperwork square and converted this semi-automatic pistol to a short barrel rifle.

Overview

The PPS-43C is a World War II era weapon. It was designed during the siege of Leningrad and according to legend the open-bolt SMG went right from the assembly line to the front line. I don’t believe there is a single threaded attachment anywhere on the weapon, and everything is stamped steel.

The PPS-43C was made available again by Pioneer Arms of Radom, Poland. It was imported as a “pistol,” which meant that the stock was fixed shut. In earlier versions the stock was held in place by two spot welds. Current versions (including mine) did not have a wide enough hole drilled in the upper to allow the pin to travel through and release the stock. Additionally, new models lack a spring and the release pin is peened into the crossbar so it can’t move.

Measuring 32″ long (with the stock extended) and weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces, the PPS-43C is 8 inches longer and 6 ounces heavier than my AR15 .300 Blackout pistol. The PPS-43C fires the 7.62x25mm cartridge, which is also used by the Tokarev TT-33 and the CZ-52 pistols.

The 7.62×25 round is pretty potent, and was very inexpensive when I bought my TT-33 pistols and eventually my PPS-43C. It was easy to find 1260 round cases for less than $90 before shipping. In retrospect, I wish I bought more and now only modern manufactured ammunition is available at $20/50 rounds. If you can find it.

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The PPS-43C double stack magazines hold 35 rounds and are curved. Again, I bought my firearm and accessories at a different time, but I was able to get spare magazines for $9.99 each. Magazines fit in any magazine pouch designed for MP5 mags but they are too tall for fabric-topped enclosures. I run my MP5 three-cell pouch on a chest rig with the tops open.

If you’re used to the AK platform the PPS-43C will be pretty familiar to you. The magazine release is behind the magazine just like on an AK. The charging handle is on the right hand side of the weapon, which is awesome if you’ve practiced reaching under your arm on an AK. That movement may be difficult for giant burlymen.

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My biggest gripe about the PPS-43C is the absolutely terrible safety. It’s a flat piece of metal in front of the trigger guard. Pull it back to engage it, push it forward to disengage it. The terrible design feature is that the safety can rattle towards the “on” position after repeated rapid firing. This happened to Krunk during our partner tactics run together and he thought the PPS-43C had suffered a catastrophic jam. Turns out the safety found its way on.

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The sights are similar to other Russian / Soviet-era weapons: horrible. The front sight is a black post, and the rear is a stamped metal “L” flip up sight. The notch is too small at the 100 yard setting, and is hard for my nearly 40 eyes to see at the 200 yard setting. I never used the rear sight at the 25 – 40 feet distance during my drills.

SBR Conversion

I bought my PPS-43C in May of 2011. I applied for my stamp in June of 2012 and received it in January of 2013. I had some other priorities come up, but the biggest reason I waited another 14 months to properly SBR the PPS-43C was the difficulty in getting the stock to work.

It wasn’t until last week that my machinist friend and assistant firearms instructor “Krunk” was able to make a substitute pin and get my stock reactivated.

He wanted to do a tutorial on how to convert the stock, but I was reluctant to post the instructions online. I had contacted three different people (two gunsmiths, one SOT) about how they converted their PPS-43C and everyone was slightly nervous about providing a tutorial. I even had problems getting people to answer questions about the length of the spring I should use.

I bought a parts kit last year, hoping that I could just remove the stock from the parts kit, drill the hole in the PPS-43C pistol to accomodate the pin’s full travel length, and be in business. Not so. Luckily I was able to provide these pieces to Krunk and he made sense of it all.

Shooting

The PPS-43C isn’t as sexy or lightweight as modern SMG designs but hoooooooooooooooooooly shit is it easy to shoot. Nearly seven pounds of solid steel soaks up almost all of the 7.62×25’s recoil. Follow up shots are incredibly easy at short distances. I was unable to run the PPS on the rifle range but getting hits past 100 yards shouldn’t be a problem — even with the crappy sights.

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At most self-defense distances, especially inside the home, all you will need to do is put the sight hood on the target and press the trigger.

We did encounter two malfunctions while shooting the PPS-43C, and I attribute that to the surplus ammunition I have. The newest ammo is almost 30 years old, and we shot some ammunition manufactured in the 1950s. One round jammed pretty badly in the chamber and I had to brace the stock against my hip and hammer the charging handle while holding the rifle down range. I think that the PPS would do just fine with modern ammunition, and I am putting in an order for 7.62×25 dies and some projectiles.

The concept of the She-Shepherd’s kids shooting the PPS-43C seem far off, but I am completely confident that any boy or girl over 12 could shoot this firearm without any problems. Folks who are slight of build or have concerns with upper body strength / mobility would find the recoil very manageable if they could handle the 43C’s weight.

Conclusion

For $349 + $200 for a stamp the PPS-43C is the least expensive SBR I own. Unfortunately it was also the biggest hassle to convert and finding a pre-made stock release pin is impossible unless you are a machinist or know one.

While I love shooting it there isn’t a huge need for this weapon now that we have other firearms available. The She-Shepherd is quite comfortable with her SBR AR15 rifle and of course the PPS-43C is too long for my bag carry purposes.

I had considered making the PPS-43C a “car gun,” but I’m not a big fan of the car gun concept, especially with an NFA registered item that can’t leave state lines without a note from my mommy and daddy. I mean, the ATF.

Should you buy a PPS-43C? Up to you. If you are considering it, I recommend jumping up to the 9mm version. You can still use the same 7.62x25mm mags, but you will hold around 31 instead of 35 and the 9mm will sit a little bit shorter back.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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15 Comments on "SBR PPS-43C Review"

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  1. David says:

    I agree that car guns should not be NFA. Too easy to accidentally wander across state lines. I think many people consider the Sub-2k to be something of an ideal trunk gun – uses common magazines, folds up small, and it’s absolutely safe when folded. Plus it’s all polymer, so fewer places to rust.

    I do wish 7.62×25 were still plentiful and cheap, though… it was a nice little round that filled some roles that 9×19 wasn’t so hot at.

  2. edelweiss says:

    FIRST that’s a Sweet SBR. I do sympathize with you on the huge jump in prices of ammo and changes in design of stock assembly. It made what should have been a great SBR a hassle.

    On the plus side 762×25 is a great SMG round. Its actually more of an intermediate cartridge than a pistol round, especially when fired from a longer barrel. Its the 1940s version of 5.7mm and a damn shame the prices have jumped; but at least you can reload.

    The PPS43 is sleek and trim. Yep its a little longer than many newer SMG options; but I think it makes up for it by being flat and it packs well too because its so thin.

    It should serve you “Shepherds” well as a good Personal Defense Weapon

    Best

  3. James says:

    Excellent review. Shot my PPS for first time today and it performed flawlessly (used modern ammo). The recoil and shooting experience was as you described it. This is a very pleasant firearm to shoot and I see it becoming a favorite to use because it is so easy to pack it and go. Now just need to stock up on ammo.

  4. brian flate says:

    I want one of these but IO Inc has a horrible reputation. I mean deep, deep cellar reputation.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      I believe IO only imports them. They are manufactured and assembled in Poland.

      • brian flate says:

        So it’s your position they don’t put their incompetent hands on them in any significant fashion?

        • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

          As far as I know! Please note that older PPS43 firearms were imported as kits and do not have a great reputation.

          • brian flate says:

            Ok, now it gets more interesting. So you’re saying that ideally I want a recent vintage PPS? Does that maybe mean if I go with the recent new 9mm version that that is the best chance of getting a better unit? In my reading, my impression is that the 9mm’s may indeed have less issues. It seems as though the 7.62 versions are more likely to hand grenade. I cant say I recall reading about a 9mm that went boom out of battery.

            • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

              The latest ones (since 2012, I believe) are built in Poland, not assembled by IO, and are just imported by IO. I can’t guarantee you’ll have a problem free blaster, but at least the IO guys won’t be responsible.

  5. john mosby says:

    i wish they would make one in .45 acp ,i would buy two of them

  6. Makoi says:

    Just had a round go off out battery in my PPS 43C in 9mm.
    First time I shoot the weapon, First magazine I noticed the sights where way way off, so I forgot the sight tool and moved on to the Glock Ect. Well I had one more stick loaded already for the PPS, 3rd round goes off in side the chamber 9mm shrapnel cuts up my left hand, thought i lost a finger from all the blood.
    So I call classic arms, they send me to I.O inc, they tell me to send it back for warranty repair,Then had someone from Poland call me and said it was the owner of pionner arms poland he apologized for my injury and promised a refund if I like or pretty much what ever I would like to do, but he goes to tell me if I had a felt looking pad on the back buffer spring, which I did,he stated the problem is he all ready knows was the felt material is coming off in small peaces and getting in the spring loaded firing pin,keeping it out when the round is loaded it could fire that round off out of battery, So I pull the bolt out of the rifle “pistol” and sure enough the firing pin is stuck out with that black felt all in the gun and bolt making it stick when I pushed it. He said there going to do a recall now.I had no problems so far with classic arms, I.O inc and for the owner to call me from where it came from in poland was pretty amazing gesture on there part, but if he allready new about the problem before my injury, why was it not fixed before? If you get the ones with felt behind the buffer spring be careful please.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Holy shit.

      I am sorry about your injury.

      The buffer pad on mine is leather, do you have a picture of your felt one or did you have to send it back?

      • JC says:

        I just purchased a PPS-43C chambered in 9mm from Classic Firearms which arrived last week, 10/23. Haven’t had a chance to shoot it yet, but I did tear it apart to check the buffer. The one that came in mine is leather so possibly this has now been corrected with more recent arrivals.

  7. James Rice says:

    One additionsl advantage to keeping it as a pistol instead of SBR is that as a pistol it qualifies in my state for CCW carry. With a sling you can carry it under a heavy coat. Not often you’d need that much firepower but it’s an option. Sling also gives the pistol verison much better accuracy that with a 2 hand hold.

  8. Bobby Hays says:

    This is some slightly old information but Red Army Standard is making
    non-corrosive steel cased 7.62×25 ammunition.

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