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Special purpose small arms ammunition of USSR and Russia.
© 2005 - 2008 Maxim Popenker SP-3 and PZAM silenced pistol ammunition During the postwar period, there was much development in the field of the small arms ammunition. Soviet Union actively participated in these developments, following both mainstream and some more or less unconventional routes. The mainstream developments are well known and included 7.62x39 M43 and 5.45x39 M74 intermediate ammunition for assault rifles, as well as 9x18 ammunition for pistols. Of cause, there was much more development in these lines that it might appear at the first sight, but for now we will focus on rather more interesting types of ammunition. During the post-war decades both USSR and its major rivals from NATO were deeply engaged in espionage and counter-espionage. These activities sometimes called for very special actions, usually described by typical Russian euphemism as “wet deeds”, or, in plain language, murders. These clandestine operations required some very special weapons, and during early 1950s the designer Igor Ya. Stechkin (better known as an author of the 9mm APS Stechkin automatic pistol), developed a very special weapon for KGB. Externally this weapon looked much like flat tin cigarette case, but internally it held three short barrels and a trigger unit. The intended use of this weapon was obvious, but the necessary compact size effectively prohibited the use of a standard silencer. As a result, Stechkin developed a special type of ammunition, which required no silencer to be fired silently. The major source of the sound of gunshot is the large volume of hot gases, violently expanding from the muzzle and creating a sound wave. Stechkin avoided this problem by encapsulating the blast of the propellant within the cartridge case. First experiments were conducted using standard 9x18 cases, but the ammunition, designated SP-1 (Spetsialnyj Patron 1 – special cartridge 1), never achieved production status. The SP-2 ammunition, which was the first to be produced in any quantity, has been based on 7.62x39 case, slightly shortened and fitted with round-nose 7.62mm bullet with aluminum core extended back into the case to rest on the internal piston. Internally this cartridge contained a small charge of propellant behind a short piston, which propelled the bullet out of the case when fired and then locked the hot powder gases inside the case. The resulting sound was almost non-existent, and the cartridge has been adopted by KGB for clandestine operations. To improve performance and somewhat confuse possible investigators, the round-nose bullet has been later replaced by standard pointed 7.62mm bullet originally used in 7.62x39 M43 ammunition. Earlies development centered on a large steel case with single-stage piston and internal firing pin, located in the base in attempt to keep high pgas pressures within the case after the discharge. This design was known as 7.62x63 PZ cartridge, which later evolved into PZA and PZAM cartridges of the basically same dimensions. This ammunition was in use since mid-1960s in S4M silent pistol. Later on, another cartridge cartridge, designated as 7.62x38 SP-3, has been developed and put in use during early 1970s, along with MSP two-barreled derringer type pistol and NRS scout shooting knife. The SP-3 featured much shorter case, because it used more compact two-stage piston system and more or less standard primers, securely crimped into the base of the cartridge. The performance of the SP-3 was about 25% less (in terms of muzzle energy) than of PZAM, but it was considered sufficient for its intended use in deep concealment last-ditch weapons used by Soviet secret intellegence agents outside of USSR. cartridge metric designation PZAM SP-3 7.62x63 7,62x38 bullet weight 8 g / 123 grain 8 g / 123 grain muzzle velocity ~ 175 m/s / 570 fps ~ 150 m/s / 490 fps muzzle energy 122 J / 90 ft-lbs 90 J / 66 ft-lbs
loaded 7.62mm PZA
loaded 7.62mm PZAM
7.62mm SP-3 cartridge and spent
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known as 7. (right) metric bullet muzzle cartridge designation w eight velocity SP-4 7. Since the effective range of silenced pistols is severely limited. also involved silenced weapons. The SP-4 ammunition and PSS pistols are still in use by elite Spetsnaz units within Russian armed forces. as well as by some FSB and MVD elite units. loaded 7. these cartridges were loaded with heavier bullets. which could defeat typical military type body armour at the ranges of up to 300-400 meters..62x39 M43 ammo. were based on a 7. The SP-5 cartridge was loaded with standard “ball” bullet with lead core.62x42 SP-4 ammunition. Two weapons were initially developed for this ammunition. blowback operated semiautomatic PSS pistol and single-shot NRS-1 scout shooting knife.62mm PZAM silent cartridge and fired case (note projecting piston and slightly bottlenecked cartridge) loaded into steel clip. magazine fed. These cartridges.62mm SP-4 silent cartridge (left) multi-shot capabilities of PSS / SP-4 compared to 9x19 Parabellum cartridge system.. which projected significantly from fired cases and thus made almost impossible to develop the semi-automatic weapons for these cartridges. fitted with detachable sound suppressors (silencers) and loaded with special versions of 7. during the late 1980s. To achieve subsonic velocity along with acceptable ballistics. The telescoped two-stage piston has been replaced by single-stage piston. but its performance was still inadequate. This cartridge has been adopted circa 1983 by KGB and Spetsnaz elements of the Soviet Army. Apparently. So.62mm M43 bullet has been replaced by the cylindrical bullet. known as SP-5 and SP-6. loaded into steel clip used for MSP pistol Note that piston is of two-stage telescoped design http://world. but in more powerful form. soviet designers developed improved sub-sonic ammunition. and fitted with a brass driving band at the front. which did not projected from the case when fired.guns. along with six-shot.62x39 US (Umenshennaya Skorost – Low velocity). and loaded with heavy. also initiated by Spetsnaz requirements. The SP-6 cartridge featured an armour-piercing bullet with hardened steel core. the earlier MSP pistol with SP-3 ammo and S4M pistol with PZAM ammo were not phased out of service and still can be encountered in the hands of serious operators.ru/ammo/sp-e. streamlined bullets.3 g / 143 grain 200 m/s / 655 fps SP-5 and SP-6 subsonic assault rifle ammunition Next line of development.62mm PZA silent cartridge and fired case (note projecting piston) loaded 7. who not require 7.62x41 9. scout and Spetsnaz elements of the Soviet army originally employed AK and AKM rifles.Special purpose cartridges of US.htm SP-4 silenced ammunition The key problem with the SP-3 and PZAM ammo were their telescoped pistons. necked-out to 9mm. and was intended for accurate sniper work out to 300-400 meters. made of mild steel. both based on the same receiver and gas operated action – VSS sniper rifle and AS 2 of 5 15.62x39 M43 case.2010 01:53 . During late 1970s and early 1980s Soviet designers solved this problem by developing the 7.7. which used the same basic principle. suitable for specially designed automatic weapons. as used for S4M pistol 7. the standard 7.Modern Firearms .Ammunition .62mm SP-3 cartridge and spent SP-3 case and bullet.
5 g / 193 grain 16.. as well as increased driving surfaces.7. as well as with most other special purpose cartridges. designated as PAB-9. with peak pressures running up to 2 800 kg per square meter. At the minus side. is more or less a stretched-out 9x19 Parabellum cartridge (left) 7N21 cartridge with improved performance. which brings this cartridge. Latter on. and a powerful powder charge.8 g / 260 grain 16 g / 247 grain muzzle velocity 290 m/s / 950 fps 280 m/s / 920 fps 280 m/s / 920 fps http://world. After initial test and research.62x39 9x39 9x39 bullet w eight 12.Ammunition . the terminal performance of the small-caliber. cartridge 7. the 9x19 Parabellum. Armor piercing bullet for 7N21 ammo features a hardened steel penetrator core. almost obsolete. Another offspring of the ”Grach” trials is the 9x21 family of ammunition. such as SR-3 and 9A-91 compact assault rifles. First produced circa 1994. this version of the 9mm features an armor piercing bullet of proprietary design. gas operated action – VSS sniper rifle and AS assault rifle.. known as 9mm SP-10 AP cartridge (right) compared to SP-10. and used same magazines with 10.2010 01:53 . This cartridge featured bullets with stamped (instead of machined) steel cores. The one problem. and 7. with its ammunition being about 100 years old. but of lighter weight. This gives additional benefit of flatter trajectory and lessened recoil. is that such ammunition is usually quite expensive. and the tip of the penetrator is exposed at the front of the bullet. to the +P+ level.ru/ammo/sp-e.Modern Firearms . The one way to deal with body armor is to adopt smallercaliber. to achieve better penetration. officially designated as 7N21. Both weapons were selective fired.guns.62 US СП-5 СП-6 metric designation 7. so this ammunition is apparently no longer in use. both beneficial for accuracy. enclosed into bimetallic jacket. but this time with improved penetration capabilities rather than stealth. Russian armed forces adopted an improved version of the world’s most popular pistol ammo. conducted since late 1980s under the codename “Grach”. light weight bullets is somewhat questionable. The space between the core and jacked is filled with polyethylene.62x39 M43 cartridge for scale SP-10 armor piercing pistol ammunition This development leads us back to pistol ammunition. used by elite Internal Affairs Ministry. high velocity bullets for both pistols and submachine guns. with integral sound suppressors. 9x21 ammo also available 3 of 5 15. Bullet of the similar design. An attempt was made during late 1990s to produce much cheaper 9x39 AP loading. associated with 9x39. 7N31. The proliferation of body armor rendered most military pistols. several more weapons were developed for 9x39 ammunition.htm left to right: SP-5 ball cartridge case and bullet. and latter was adopted for PP-2000 submachine gun. Police and State Security units. SP-6 AP dummy cartridge. is used in another service 9x19 cartridge. accuracy was poor and barrel wear significantly increased. Adopted by the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) of Russian Federation.Special purpose cartridges of US.or 20-round capacity. As a result. this cartridge in its basic form. which has been developed in late 1990s for the GSh-18 pistol.
.Modern Firearms .5mm SPS cartridge case and bullet. This “rifle” ammunition is available in two basic forms. the APS (which.7 g / 430 m/s 103 / 1410 grain fps 7N31 7N28 / SP-11 7N29 / SP-10 9x19 9x21 9x21 Underwater pistol and rifle ammunition Next line of development. with 4 of 5 15. Both APS underwater automatic weapon and SPP-1M underwater pistol are still in use by Russian navy. and the steel bullets were covered by special lacquer coating.3 g / 460 m/s 82 / 1508 grain fps 4. After a short research designers rejected available western “pocket-gun” ammunition.45x18 MPTs cartridge had a rimless bottlenecked case. MPS “ball” and MPST “tracer”.2 g / 600 m/s 65 / 1967 grain fps 7. is the underwater firearms and ammunition for these. This weapon used cartridges. in fact.66mm MPS dummy cartridge 13. took the place during 1970 – 1972 timeframe. Initially satisfied with the pistol. as well as offered for export. This pistol was intended as a concealed carry weapon for security personnel. Special Forces elements of the Soviet Navy requested further development and by the mid-1970s soviet designers brought in an unique underwater assault rifle.62x39 M43 cartridge. cartridge SPS MPS metric designation 4.7. as well as self-defense weapon for top ranked officials. Initially developed during late sixties. which looked more or less like scaled down 7. 4. which held all four rounds together.2 g / 204 250 m/s / 820 grain fps 15 g / 232 360 m/s / grain 1180 fps Note: for underwater cartridges muzzle velocities listed in air.. in the water. cartridge 7N21 metric bullet muzzle designation w eight velocity 9x19 5. with flat shape and not thicker than a matchbox (17mm)”. externally similar to earlier SPS pistol ammunition.45x39 M74 cases. the bottlenecked brass cartridges were rimmed and loaded using special flat clips. The 5. as entirely unsatisfactory.66x39 bullet w eight muzzle velocity underwater cartridges. left to right: 7. was a smoothbore weapon).guns. 5.5x40R 5. Both primer pockets and case necks were sealed against the water.35x16SR and 7.5mm SPS dummy cartridge.65x17SR. which could be considered as a “special purpose”.Special purpose cartridges of US. http://world. and rapidly developed a small round. MV depends on the actual depth Small-caliber pistol ammunition The last development.9 g / 390 m/s 122 / 1278 grain fps 6. made of brass.2010 01:53 . such as 6.Ammunition . This ammo is used in SPS “Gyrza” pistol and in SR-2 “Veresk” submachine gun.htm in AP-T (tracer) and SP-11 low-ricochet ball (with lead core) bullets. To achieve better loading and extraction. underwater cartridges propelled the long and slim drag-stabilized bullets.62x39 M43 cartridge for scale. 4. when the KGB requested the development of an “easily concealable pocket pistol. but based on the standard 5.ru/ammo/sp-e. and were used in four-barreled SPP-1 break-open pistols. almost unique to the Soviet armed forces.
guns. turned into a predictable failure. and the latter attempts to use it for larger PDW-type weapons such as full-size OTs-23 “Drotik” automatic pistol. bottlenecked case. Still. but it has a reputation for penetrating soft body armor at shorter distances.Ammunition .ru/ammo/sp-e. cartridge 7N7 / 5. However.2010 01:53 .45mm 7N7 cartridge (right) compared to reliable 5. made of brass. as well as by various law enforcement operatives. The terminal performance of this tiny cartridge is rather unspectacular.htm 5 of 5 15.45mm MPTs metric bullet muzzle designation w eight velocity 5.45x17 2. the extremely compact and quite 5.45x18 PSM pistol is widely used as a self-defense weapon for Army 9x19 Parabellum cartridge (left) and MVD generals.. working under cover.. with pointed jacketed bullet.Special purpose cartridges of US.7.5 g / 320 m/s 39 / 1050 grain fps http://world. it is by no means an “armor piercing” ammunition.Modern Firearms .
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