It is often said in various media and newspapers that Russia manufactures low quality defense products:

What do they mean by the phrase "poor quality"?

Coz, we saw that

Is this just a Western propaganda narrative or actual truth?

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    These headlines aren't necessarily mutually-exclusive. Russia can have missiles that are capable of shooting down Israeli jets but are still inferior to American missiles. (I'm not saying that's the case, it's just an example.) – F1Krazy Sep 27 '18 at 11:29
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    Plus 'poor quality' can mean a lot of things. A missile that is extremely unreliable will still shoot down a target occasionally. – DJClayworth Sep 27 '18 at 12:31
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    Your first source actually makes the argument that Russian weapons are in fact not poor in quality. The second one mainly makes the argument that it can´t sustain a war with a vastly more populous and wealthier coalition. The other two are mainly talking about economics also. So I don´t think your sources support that anyone claims Russian weapons are poor in quality at all! – Daniel Sep 27 '18 at 13:01
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    You may want to pull some quotes from those articles that claim that Russian weapons are poor quality. Three of your first four articles seem to say that Russian weapons are currently on par with other nations, and only the second article briefly mentions Russian equipment being outdated until recently, so where is this claim actually coming from? – Giter Sep 27 '18 at 13:50
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    To add to the discussion on diferent designs even it their weapons fails more but are a lot cheaper they can be still a lot more cost-effective – jean Sep 27 '18 at 17:57

As the quotes below shows sometimes when forget about the philosophy behind Russian weapons design. We compare the western's weapons elegancy with the simple designs of Russian ones and forget that those weapon are not the same, they have different purposes or intended to operate in different environments.


This pattern can be summarized by its most outstanding features: simplicity in equipment; common use of subsystems, components, and parts; incremental growth; and limited performance and mission capabilities

The Soviet Union’s Philosophy Of Weapons Design

The convenience of the driver matters nothing at all. Simplicity, reliability, and the ability to accomplish the task at hand under duress were the controlling principles

Atypical example is the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov It is much smaller than the american ones, but there is a design reason for that

The design of Admiral Kuznetsov-class implies a mission different from that of the United States Navy's carriers. The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ships is tyazholyy avianesushchiy kreyser (TAVKR) – "heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser" – intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and naval missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian Navy.

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It really depends on your definition of "quality" when it comes to weapons. You also will get mixed results, depending on what kind of weapons you're referring to, is it firearms, planes, land vehicles, naval vessels, etc.? Also, who are you comparing them to? I'm assuming you're comparing them to either the United States or the West in general.

The AK-47, Russia's most famed weapon of all time, is notoriously reliable, but also relatively inaccurate and low-range compared to direct competitors like the M16, I'm not including the M4 in this comparison because it's highly advanced compared to an AK-47 and would be more appropriate to compare to an AK-74 or Russian special forces weapons. For the record, Russia now issues AK-74 more en masse than they used to, but the AK 47 is easily the most prevalent automatic firearm in the world.

Here is a great resource on comparing the two rifles:


As far as vehicles of any kind and missiles are concerned, those are difficult to compare, and are rarely battle-tested against one another, so a lot of it is really just speculation, other than the fact that Russian weapons tend to be based upon technology that wouldn't be considered "current" in the West.

I can say that when I lived in Russia, one thing I noticed is that military bases and equipment were very poorly kept up compared to what I've seen in the United States, that's of course anecdotal, but I have been a lot of places around Russia and rarely have ever seen a well-maintained base. One major reason for why Russia may struggle in a conflict is their lack of a modernized Navy for transport (not submarines), and the fact that a lot of their technology is Soviet-era and outdated.


Hopefully, we'll never have to find out how Russian weapons match up in large-scale compared to that of the Western World.

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  • There's a fundamental difference in attitude about military tech. Old Soviet weapons were designed to be made en masse in one big 'collectivised' factory.. stamped from inexpensive parts. US weapons... Designed such that standardised parts could be put out to tender. Compare the AK to an AR for example. The Russians have a different focus generally to the US. Russia has always been keen on EW and Counter EW. And it's land vehicles are cheaper.. and more effective than others. Where Russia lags.. is in diversity... Not really in technology. – Richard Oct 2 '18 at 0:07

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