The impetus for the development of the PPSh came partly from the Winter War against Finland, where the Finnish army employed the Suomi KP/-31 sub-machine pistol as a highly effective tool for close-quarter fighting in forests or built-up urban areas. The Soviet weapon was developed in mid-1941 and was produced in a network of factories in Moscow, with high-level local Party members made directly responsible for production targets being met.
A few hundred weapons were produced in November 1941 and another 155,000 were produced over the next five months. By spring 1942, the PPSh factories were producing roughly 3,000 units a day. The PPSh-41 was a classic example of a design adapted for mass production (other examples of such wartime design were the M3 submachine gun, MP40 and the Sten). Its parts (excluding the barrel) could be produced by a relatively unskilled workforce with simple equipment available in an auto repair garage or tin shop, freeing up more skilled workers for other tasks. The PPSh-41 used 87 components compared to 95 for the PPD-40 and the PPSh could be manufactured with 7.3 machining hours compared with 13.7 hours for the PPD. Barrel production was often simplified by using barrels produced for the 7.62mm M1891 Mosin–Nagant rifle: the rifle barrel was cut in half, and two PPSh barrels were made from it after machining the chamber for the 7.62mm Soviet submachine gun cartridge