Return of the "Elephant Gun"

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

In Return of the “Elephant Gun”, Eric Daniel notes that many modern militaries are fielding big-bore rifles again — but first he looks back at the good old days:

I was introduced to big bore anti-tank (anti-material) rifles back in the 80’s when I became an ardent follower of the board game Advanced Squad Leader (ASL was originally produced by the Avalon Hill Game Company, which was purchased by Hasbro, who discontinued production of the game. ASL is now published by MLB pitcher Curt Schilling and his Multi-Man Publishing company.) For those of you unfamiliar with the game, ASL was arguably the most accurate and detailed squad level tactical board game ever developed, with counters representing individual squads, leaders, tanks and support weapons.

Anyway, the one support weapon that caught my eye was the L-39 Lahti 20mm AT rifle. In game terms the Lahti was heavy (5 portage points) and it fired off of the AVF kill table under the “20L” column (the only squad portable weapon capable of doing so.) In real life terms the L-39 was heavy, (109 pounds, necessatating its transport by reindeer) and possessed such savage recoil (its cartridge, the 20 mm x 138 mm Solothurn Long, was the largest ever fired by a shoulder fired weapon in the war) that the Finns dubbed it the “Norsupyssy” (“Elephant Gun”), but it was also capable of reaching out 1,000m and penetrating 10mm of armor plate. Rendered obsolete by advanced Soviet tank designs by 1941, the incrediable accuracy of the L-39 enabled it to remain in service as a long range sniper rifle.

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