Tuesday 19 January 2016

Anti-Tank Rifle Manual

Destroy fascist tanks with the anti-tank rifle!

Anti-tank rifleman! The Soviet people gave you a powerful weapon to destroy fascist tanks: the anti-tank rifle.

In order to complete this task with honour, know your weapon well, act quickly and skilfully, use your terrain, know the enemy's strong and weak points, carry out your orders precisely, and cooperate closely with your comrades.

Fully use the capabilities of your anti-tank rifle in battle!

The rate of fire of the self-loading rifle is 15 RPM, the single shot rifle is 8-10 RPM.
The maximum range of the self-loading rifle (PTRS) is 1500 meters, the single shot (PTRD) is 1000 meters. The best results can be achieved at a range of 300-400 meters or closer
The AP-I bullet can destroy or ignite any enemy tank or armoured car if it hits a weak point.
The mass of the rifles is 20.3 kg for the self-loading and 16 kg for the single shot. Their small size, convenience of transport and concealment, precision and accuracy of fire, this is what gives these rifles good performance in combat.
Save your bullets, use them chiefly against tanks and armoured cars!

Responsibilities and actions of a rifle crew

Before battle, and in lulls during the battle, prepare yourself and your rifle for combat.
  • Dry the bore completely.
  • Wipe away excess grease and dirt from moving parts.
  • Check the gas regulator.
  • Check the bipod and make sure it locks into place.
  • Check the barrel and muzzle brake for dirt, sand, snow, and other debris.
Do not load your rifle with dirty or malfunctioning rounds! Between shooting, regularly lubricate the chamber with a thin layer of rifle grease.
Always keep your rifle loaded in combat, set the safety when moving.

When receiving orders from the commander, make sure you know:
  • The unit's objective.
  • Your role in the unit.
  • Your position and sector of responsibility.
  • Who supports you, and who you support.
  • Signals, both your commander's and those of your neighbours.
Knowing this, proceed with careful setup of main, reserve, and false firing positions.

Skilfully create your firing positions!

Pick and prepare a position such that:
  • You can see and shoot in any direction the enemy may come from at a range of 500-1500 meters.
  • It is hidden from observation from ground and air.
  • It has hidden paths and cover in case of artillery or mortar bombardment.
  • You can see your commander and neighbours.
See fig. 1 for approximate layouts of firing positions.
In the open
At a forest clearing
In a settlement

When making firing positions in the open, set up a reliable dugout with a cover of wooden beams or any other materials, covered with dirt. Make secret passages 15-25 meters long in different directions out of your dugout ("moustaches"). Your firing positions should be circular foxholes with the ability to fire in every direction.
When you are fired upon by mortars and artillery, seek shelter in your dugout. When enemy tanks approach, immediately take up positions and shoot them up.
When setting up in a forest clearing, move your trenches up, hide them with bushes. In your firing sector, mow down the grass and bushes.
In populated areas, set up in hoses, sheds, ruins, and in or around other structures.
Do not take up positions where it will be easy for the enemy to find you.
If you made a firing port in a building wall, hide it with straw, boards, plywood, or other available materials.
If there is no time to make firing positions, use local objects, unevenness in terrain, trenches, moats, bushes, stumps, craters, etc.
If using a hill for cover, do not set up on top of the hill, entrench on the left or right side.
Do not use readily identifiable objects for cover: lone trees, lone buildings, rocks, stumps, etc.
Having taken up your position, constantly observe the battlefield, especially approaches from the enemy's side, as well as signals from your commander and neighbours.

Shoot the enemy tanks precisely!

To shoot without missing, it's important to determine the distance to your target, know the vulnerable spots of tanks and armoured cars, know how to choose the point of aim.
If there is no time to survey the range, estimate the distance. Train yourself to mentally find landmarks 100-200 meters apart.
Let the enemy approach to a close range (50-100 meters).

Weak points of tanks and armoured cars

The most vulnerable parts of tanks and armoured cars are the sides (gas tanks), drive wheel, sights, observation devices, the rear (engine), or the front, for armoured cars.
When shooting at a PzIII, aim like it says in fig. 2.
Aim rifle and machinegun fire at the vision ports
Shoot the gas tanks
Shoot the sides, turret, gas tank, and engine
Shoot the gun

Shooting at moving targets

If the tank is 400 meters away and driving at a speed of 25-30 kph, aim like in fig. 3a. At a range of over 400 meters or higher speeds, increase the lead by 1/4 of a figure for every 100 meters like in fig. 3b. When the tank is closer than 400 meters, decrease the lead in the same way. If the tank is driving at an angle, aim like in fig. 3c.
If the tank is moving right at you, aim somewhat lower than your desired target.
400 meters: Aim 1/2 tank lengths ahead of the center
500 meters: Aim 3/4 tank lengths ahead of the center
400 meters: aim at the front corner

If the tank is driving away from you at a range of less than 400 meters, you don't need to lead the target. At ranges of less than 400 meters, use the "400" setting on your sight. 
If the tank changes speed, increase or decrease your lead appropriately.
If there are multiple targets, pick the most dangerous or important. If there are multiple dangerous targets, pick the closest one. 
As a rule, only open fire when ordered by your commander or at a previously agreed upon time. Open fire by yourself only when the enemy appears suddenly or in emergencies.
When firing on tanks, try to take advantage of the enemy's surprise, lowered speed, turns, and stops.

Actions of the anti-tank squad in battle

On the offensive, study the terrain of the battlefield, move in cover, pick out a firing position in advance.
When reaching a new position, dig in and wait to deflect enemy counterattacks.
Keep track of your neighbours' progress to your left and your right, be ready to provide assistance at any time.
When on the defensive, carefully study the battlefield, carefully create main and secondary firing positions, as well as decoys. Do not reveal yourself until tanks approach to a close range.
When in an ambush, carefully conceal yourself and open fire on the most important target in the column. Having destroyed one target, move onto the next one. Create traffic jams both in the front and the rear.
In the forest, constantly observe any roads or clearings. Hide behind large trees. Clear potential shooting directions of bushes or small trees in advance.
In populated areas, pick firing positions at crossroads, roads, and approaches to the settlement. Set up two or three firing positions in a small area, 30-40 meters apart. Make 3-4 shots from one position, then quickly switch to another.
If enemy tanks suddenly attack a column you are moving in, immediately exit your truck, set up a firing position away from the road, using ditches, bumps, and other natural cover. Open fire on your own initiative. When moving in battle conditions, always keep your weapon ready for battle, and make sure your place in the vehicle or column is convenient for rapid exit and setup to fire.

Maneuvering and cooperation with submachinegunners, grenadiers, and incendiary bottle throwers

The main tactical requirement for anti-tank rifles is mobility in all cases in battle.
The light weight of the rifle, convenience of transportation, simple setup of firing positions, possibility of using natural cover, all this makes the crew of an anti-tank rifle invincible.
Learn and use in practice:
  • Have backup firing positions at all times.
  • Make 5-10 shots from one position, then move.
  • If enemy tanks move in a direction unfavourable to you, occupy a new position and shoot them in the rear.
  • Maneuver on the battlefield, send tanks to places where they are vulnerable to other AT rifle crews.
  • When fighting with other crews and infantry, know your objectives and the objectives of your neighbours.
  • When supporting grenadiers or incendiary bottle throwers, know what direction they are hiding in and do not fire in that direction.
  • If a tank has stopped, knock out its armament first.


  1. Hi. It's not about the subject but do you have info about the number of radio-equiped RKKA tanks over the years ?

    1. Sadly no, all I have are production numbers for some factories for 1940 that record how many tanks of each type were produced with radios. IIRC, about 40% had them.

  2. Armoured cars mentions in this text makes me think, again, this therm was used for APCs.

    1. Not that the Germans had any particular shortage of actual armoured cars ofc. For obvious reasons AT rifles were a cost-effective means of shooing away such comparatively thin-skinned threats.

    2. Turns out you were right, just today I saw a description of an "armoured car with two powered pairs of wheels and two unpowered pairs where the front wheels are normal and the other three pairs are wrapped in a track", which is quite clearly a halftrack.

  3. That's true Kellomies, but its weird to speak about them in an antitank weapon manual and not to say anything about halftracks. I think the Soviets used the name of car to talk about both of them.

  4. Bernhard Kast, on his YouTube channel Military History Visualized, just posted a video today "Soviet Anti-Tank Rifle Tactics of WW2" based on Peter's translation of this manual.