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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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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.62x39 US (Umenshennaya Skorost – Low velocity). The SP-6 cartridge featured an armour-piercing bullet with hardened steel core. suitable for specially designed automatic weapons. Two weapons were initially developed for this ammunition. magazine fed. necked-out to 9mm. made of mild steel. as well as by some FSB and MVD elite units. which projected significantly from fired cases and thus made almost impossible to develop the semi-automatic weapons for these cartridges. scout and Spetsnaz elements of the Soviet army originally employed AK and AKM rifles. which could defeat typical military type body armour at the ranges of up to 300-400 meters. soviet designers developed improved sub-sonic ammunition.62mm PZA silent cartridge and fired case (note projecting piston) loaded 7.62x39 M43 case.62x41 9. These cartridges. The SP-4 ammunition and PSS pistols are still in use by elite Spetsnaz units within Russian armed forces. Apparently. During late 1970s and early 1980s Soviet designers solved this problem by developing the 7.62mm M43 bullet has been replaced by the cylindrical bullet. loaded into steel clip used for MSP pistol Note that piston is of two-stage telescoped design http://world. and was intended for accurate sniper work out to 300-400 meters. blowback operated semiautomatic PSS pistol and single-shot NRS-1 scout shooting knife. along with six-shot. as used for S4M pistol 7. known as 7. loaded 7. who not require 7. To achieve subsonic velocity along with acceptable ballistics.Special purpose cartridges of US. also initiated by Spetsnaz requirements.. fitted with detachable sound suppressors (silencers) and loaded with special versions of 7. also involved silenced weapons. Since the effective range of silenced pistols is severely limited..Modern Firearms .ru/ammo/sp-e. The telescoped two-stage piston has been replaced by single-stage piston.guns.7. but its performance was still inadequate. which did not projected from the case when fired.62mm SP-3 cartridge and spent SP-3 case and bullet. both based on the same receiver and gas operated action – VSS sniper rifle and AS 2 of 5 15.2010 01:53 . the standard 7. streamlined bullets.62x39 M43 ammo.62mm SP-4 silent cartridge (left) multi-shot capabilities of PSS / SP-4 compared to 9x19 Parabellum cartridge system. these cartridges were loaded with heavier bullets. and fitted with a brass driving band at the front.Ammunition . were based on a 7. known as SP-5 and SP-6. during the late 1980s. which used the same basic principle.62x42 SP-4 ammunition. but in more powerful form.62mm PZAM silent cartridge and fired case (note projecting piston and slightly bottlenecked cartridge) loaded into steel clip. (right) metric bullet muzzle cartridge designation w eight velocity SP-4 7. So. The SP-5 cartridge was loaded with standard “ball” bullet with lead core.3 g / 143 grain 200 m/s / 655 fps SP-5 and SP-6 subsonic assault rifle ammunition Next line of development. and loaded with heavy. This cartridge has been adopted circa 1983 by KGB and Spetsnaz elements of the Soviet Army.htm SP-4 silenced ammunition The key problem with the SP-3 and PZAM ammo were their telescoped pistons.
the 9x19 Parabellum. Police and State Security units. the terminal performance of the small-caliber. is more or less a stretched-out 9x19 Parabellum cartridge (left) 7N21 cartridge with improved performance.htm left to right: SP-5 ball cartridge case and bullet. designated as PAB-9. Russian armed forces adopted an improved version of the world’s most popular pistol ammo. used by elite Internal Affairs Ministry. The one problem.7.. SP-6 AP dummy cartridge. 7N31. accuracy was poor and barrel wear significantly increased. officially designated as 7N21. This cartridge featured bullets with stamped (instead of machined) steel cores. but this time with improved penetration capabilities rather than stealth. both beneficial for accuracy.62x39 M43 cartridge for scale SP-10 armor piercing pistol ammunition This development leads us back to pistol ammunition.Modern Firearms . At the minus side. this version of the 9mm features an armor piercing bullet of proprietary design. to the +P+ level.. Armor piercing bullet for 7N21 ammo features a hardened steel penetrator core.ru/ammo/sp-e. such as SR-3 and 9A-91 compact assault rifles. The proliferation of body armor rendered most military pistols. conducted since late 1980s under the codename “Grach”. and 7. as well as with most other special purpose cartridges.62x39 9x39 9x39 bullet w eight 12. As a result. which brings this cartridge.Special purpose cartridges of US. The one way to deal with body armor is to adopt smallercaliber.5 g / 193 grain 16. almost obsolete. cartridge 7. with integral sound suppressors. as well as increased driving surfaces.Ammunition . known as 9mm SP-10 AP cartridge (right) compared to SP-10. and latter was adopted for PP-2000 submachine gun. but of lighter weight.or 20-round capacity. Another offspring of the ”Grach” trials is the 9x21 family of ammunition. The space between the core and jacked is filled with polyethylene. Latter on. After initial test and research. several more weapons were developed for 9x39 ammunition.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. is used in another service 9x19 cartridge. to achieve better penetration. high velocity bullets for both pistols and submachine guns. which has been developed in late 1990s for the GSh-18 pistol. gas operated action – VSS sniper rifle and AS assault rifle. Adopted by the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) of Russian Federation. Bullet of the similar design. with peak pressures running up to 2 800 kg per square meter. light weight bullets is somewhat questionable. and a powerful powder charge.guns. This gives additional benefit of flatter trajectory and lessened recoil. and used same magazines with 10. 9x21 ammo also available 3 of 5 15. with its ammunition being about 100 years old. associated with 9x39. enclosed into bimetallic jacket. Both weapons were selective fired. First produced circa 1994. is that such ammunition is usually quite expensive.62 US СП-5 СП-6 metric designation 7. this cartridge in its basic form. so this ammunition is apparently no longer in use. An attempt was made during late 1990s to produce much cheaper 9x39 AP loading. and the tip of the penetrator is exposed at the front of the bullet.2010 01:53 .
4.3 g / 460 m/s 82 / 1508 grain fps 4.ru/ammo/sp-e. in fact. and were used in four-barreled SPP-1 break-open pistols.66mm MPS dummy cartridge 13. in the water.5mm SPS cartridge case and bullet. left to right: 7.2010 01:53 . was a smoothbore weapon).7.Special purpose cartridges of US. MV depends on the actual depth Small-caliber pistol ammunition The last development.66x39 bullet w eight muzzle velocity underwater cartridges. which looked more or less like scaled down 7.Ammunition . with flat shape and not thicker than a matchbox (17mm)”.35x16SR and 7. This weapon used cartridges. To achieve better loading and extraction. made of brass. This “rifle” ammunition is available in two basic forms. Initially satisfied with the pistol. such as 6. the bottlenecked brass cartridges were rimmed and loaded using special flat clips. 5.62x39 M43 cartridge for scale.guns. almost unique to the Soviet armed forces..Modern Firearms . as well as offered for export.5mm SPS dummy cartridge.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. as entirely unsatisfactory. but based on the standard 5. 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. 4. and rapidly developed a small round. MPS “ball” and MPST “tracer”. Initially developed during late sixties. with 4 of 5 15.htm in AP-T (tracer) and SP-11 low-ricochet ball (with lead core) bullets.45x18 MPTs cartridge had a rimless bottlenecked case. The 5. http://world. took the place during 1970 – 1972 timeframe. and the steel bullets were covered by special lacquer coating. when the KGB requested the development of an “easily concealable pocket pistol.65x17SR. This ammo is used in SPS “Gyrza” pistol and in SR-2 “Veresk” submachine gun.5x40R 5. Both primer pockets and case necks were sealed against the water. which could be considered as a “special purpose”. externally similar to earlier SPS pistol ammunition. cartridge 7N21 metric bullet muzzle designation w eight velocity 9x19 5. as well as self-defense weapon for top ranked officials. which held all four rounds together. underwater cartridges propelled the long and slim drag-stabilized bullets. cartridge SPS MPS metric designation 4. is the underwater firearms and ammunition for these. After a short research designers rejected available western “pocket-gun” ammunition..45x39 M74 cases.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. the APS (which.2 g / 600 m/s 65 / 1967 grain fps 7.9 g / 390 m/s 122 / 1278 grain fps 6.62x39 M43 cartridge. Both APS underwater automatic weapon and SPP-1M underwater pistol are still in use by Russian navy.
cartridge 7N7 / 5.45mm MPTs metric bullet muzzle designation w eight velocity 5.htm 5 of 5 15.guns.Special purpose cartridges of US.Ammunition . made of brass.7. and the latter attempts to use it for larger PDW-type weapons such as full-size OTs-23 “Drotik” automatic pistol. However.2010 01:53 . the extremely compact and quite 5.Modern Firearms . as well as by various law enforcement operatives. with pointed jacketed bullet.45mm 7N7 cartridge (right) compared to reliable 5. turned into a predictable failure. it is by no means an “armor piercing” ammunition. bottlenecked case.45x17 2.ru/ammo/sp-e...5 g / 320 m/s 39 / 1050 grain fps http://world.45x18 PSM pistol is widely used as a self-defense weapon for Army 9x19 Parabellum cartridge (left) and MVD generals. working under cover. Still. The terminal performance of this tiny cartridge is rather unspectacular. but it has a reputation for penetrating soft body armor at shorter distances.
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