At the Big Sandy Shoot in March of 2021, Battlefield Vegas brought a Russian 122mm D-30 howitzer. It shook the ground and rattled spectators' teeth, much to their liking.


Russian d-30 122mm howitzer battlefield vegas big sandy bphilippi
 The muzzle brake on the D-30 produced about twice the overpressure in the area around the gun that is acceptable to Western armies. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The caliber, 122mm, was a traditional one for the Russians and the Soviets throughout the 20th century. They used it extensively in World War II. However, after the war, battlegrounds were changing. There was the need for a gun that could not only lob shells many miles away but also engage enemy targets directly.


Russian d-30 122mm howitzer battlefield vegas big sandy bphilippi
The firing lever on Battlefield Vegas's D-30 is exactly what you would expect it to be – a skull head. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

According to Dimitri Trofimenko, one of the technicians from Battlefield Vegas on hand at the shoot to operate the D-30, the development of traditional tube artillery in Russia in the 1950s was not a priority.

“This was the boom of rocketry in the Soviet Union, and most of the country’s resources in that area were going towards the development of rockets and missiles,” said Trofimenko.


Russian d-30 122mm howitzer battlefield vegas big sandy bphilippi
Projectiles and shell casings with charges are loaded separately into the D-30. This makes it possible to quickly adjust velocity and applications. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Despite this, when the D-30 hit the scene in 1963, it was regarded as both an excellent design and a very capable platform. First off, it was simple. All repairs could be done with a wrench and a large hammer. Its combat weight was fairly light – at least as far as field artillery goes – at a meager 7,080 pounds. This made it easy to tow, which was done with a hitch on the barrel, unlike most big guns that are towed from the rear.

Some of the solid metal shells Battlefield Vegas fired from the D-30 at the Big Sandy Shoot. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

With a well-trained crew, it could be set up in a matter of minutes, rotated 360 degrees, and was sighted to fire directly. New shells were developed for this type of engagement. One of the most effective was the HEAT round. It stood for high-explosive anti-tank warhead. The Russian version was capable of penetrating 460mm of steel armor plate.

Russian d-30 122mm howitzer battlefield vegas big sandy bphilippi
The blast from the D-30 is tremendous. You don't want to be standing behind the slanted openings of the muzzle brake. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

The D-30 could also lob high-explosive shells up to 10 miles away. This range could be extended with rocket-assisted projectiles to 13.6 miles. Muzzle velocity was approximately 2,427 feet per second.

Another interesting feature of the D-30 is that the projectile and shell casing with charge were loaded separately. This allowed crews to quickly modify velocity and warheads for a variety of targets and applications.


Russian d-30 122mm howitzer battlefield vegas big sandy bphilippi
The Russian D-30 is still in use today, which is a testament to its impressive design and capabilities. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

As a testament to the D-30’s design and capability, it is still in use today with militaries around the world.

Battlefield Vegas is lucky to own one. If you’d like to shoot it, you can do so at their outdoor facility.


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