Random Thoughts on Finland’s New Gun Ranges, Puuko Knives, and Sisu Attitude

Finland rifleman

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. 

Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä is credited with killing more than 540 Soviet troops during the Winter War of 1939-1940.

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. 

Tensions escalated last year after Finland joined NATO. Russian saw this as a threat and vowed to retaliate. The government in Helsinki took this very seriously. Unlike the Biden-Harris administration, which views law-abiding American gun owners as a threat, Finland incorporates armed civilians into its national defense strategy, so they decided to boost civilian firearm training to help counter the latest Russian threat. 

According to The Guardian, the Finnish Defense Forces started by building 300 additional shooting ranges to “encourage more citizens to take up the hobby in the interest of national defense.”

“The present government aims to increase the amount of shooting ranges in Finland from roughly 600-700 up to 1,000. This is because of our defense model, which benefits from people having and developing their shooting skills on their own,” Jukka Kopra, a Minister of Parliament who chairs the country’s defense committee told the British newspaper. A government spokesman added that the new construction will include “rifle” and “tactical” ranges. 


There was a time when our government valued American riflemen and built ranges for civilian use. Sadly, this is a tradition maintained by only a handful of states. 

Nowadays, the Biden-Harris administration sees lawfully armed Americans as the enemy, and they are doing everything they can to strip us of our rifles. One has to wonder why, especially now. 

While we do not share an 830-mile border with Russia, our porous southern border is an open invitation to any group or government seeking to do us harm, whether they be 20,000 military-age males from China or untold thousands from countries that sponsor terrorism.

Armed civilians are a strategic resource – a force multiplier that should be part of any national defensive plan. It is unfortunate that the Biden-Harris administration is either too arrogant or too ignorant to see this, and that they remain fixated on total civilian disarmament instead. 

Finland gets it. But unlike our current leadership, they’re a pragmatic people. To understand this, one only has to look at their traditional Puukko knife, which is a simple, straightforward design that has been part of the Finnish culture – its very soul – for more than a thousand years. Of course, the Finns would include armed civilians in their defensive planning. To do otherwise would be senseless and a waste of valuable human resources. 

One of the author’s Puukko knives. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

Sisu is a Finnish word that doesn’t translate well. It’s generally understood to mean “guts” or “intestinal fortitude” or the inability to quit even when pushed far beyond one’s normal physical limitations. Actually, it means much more. Sisu is tenacity, raw angry power, the ability to keep going no matter the pain, personal loss or extreme hardship. It’s the willingness to spit in death’s eye and enjoy it. Sisu is a lifestyle. 

I’ve never written about Sisu before in the dozen or so years I’ve been doing this, but as someone with Finnish blood pumping through their veins, it always comes to mind whenever I hear the gun-controllers prattle on about banning this or confiscating that. They don’t understand that regardless of the legislation they introduce or the room-temperature IQs of the dunces who sign their bills into law, all they will ever receive in return is a large heady dose of American Sisu. Most gun owners get this, even those who haven’t incorporated a Puukko into their EDC. 

The Finnish model works. It would work here. Besides, rifle ranges are much cheaper than an attack by some of our uninvited guests, especially if no one is armed, trained and willing to stop it. 


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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

6 Responses

  1. I am unconvinced the Finns will take their national security more seriously, more likely they simply do what the rest of europe NATO does, which is freeload off the US for defense while telling americans how much they hate them. But time may prove me wrong, but I am cynical.

    1. They are taking it seriously enough that they are building a full-length north to south secure border fence with Russia.

      What does that tell you?

      1. It tells me nothing, call me when they consistently meet their 2% minimum GDP for defense and can boast a well staffed army airforce and navy that actually has modern functional ships and aircraft in sufficient numbers as well as a robust domestic defense industry, because fences won’t do toss against tanks and bombs

        1. Do you consider 35 F-35 fighters to be modern and functional?

          They placed that order :

          As for your ‘in sufficient numbers’ crack, they are a nation of only 5.6 million people, so on a per-capita basis, I wouldn’t be surprised if that ratio is far higher than the US’s total projected purchase…

  2. Finland wants its people armed because it knows the Fins will defend Finland.

    Our government wants us disarmed because they know we will defend our country..

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