Ammoland: On Finland’s New Ranges, Puukko Knives and Sisu

When Soviet Red Army troops poured across the Finnish frontier three months after the outbreak of World War II, Simo Häyhä, a farmer and member of Finland’s Civil Guard, laid down his pitchfork, picked up his M28-30 Mosin Nagant, jammed his Puukko knife in his belt and calmly went out to kill communists.

Häyhä shot more than 540 Red Army troops in just three months – most using iron sights – becoming the most successful sniper in history. Häyhä survived the Winter War, died at the age of 96, and remains one of Finland’s most celebrated national heroes.

Today, Finland maintains a tradition of arms seldom seen outside of the United States. There are approximately 1.5 million registered firearms, but it is estimated there are about the same number of unregistered firearms, which were secretly cached after World War II and the Winter War. The Finns cannot afford to be disarmed, which even their government understands. Their country of 5.6 million people shares an 830-mile border with Russia, which has a population of 143 million, so the Finns can never stop preparing to fight the Russian Bear.

The Puukko is the one piece of “civilian” equipment that members of the Finnish military are allowed to wear/carry. It is such an iconic style, and I would not be the least surprised if there are more than a few being carried today in active service were carried by great-grandparents in the Winter War.


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