The Soviet arms industry, on the one hand, thundered all over the world with separate models, and on the other, it remained especially secret where it was about non-trivial developments. The technology for the production of silent bullets fell into this category: despite the fact that a similar foreign concept was known, nothing was known about the Soviet one until the collapse of the USSR. And only today it is possible to fully see and realize how much domestic gunsmiths have done in this direction.
For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that more was known about the foreign development of cartridges that would shoot without sound. For example, the world community has known for a long time about the patent of an American named Bissel, dated 1902, entitled Means for effecting noiseless discharge of guns. The essence of his idea was in the special design of the weapon, where a small powder charge is separated from the bullet by a wad-piston and a layer of liquid, with the help of which the powder gases were not released outside when fired.
Scheme of operation of a silent cartridge according to the Bissel patent.
It is not known for certain whether Soviet engineers were familiar with the design proposed by Bissel's patent, but the first results of their activities in this direction known to the average man – and in this case we are talking about the development of silent cartridges by Gurevich even before the start of World War II – offered an almost identical system using intermediate fluid, which acts as a bullet pusher and accelerator.
Silent pistol of the Gurevich system.
The next significant development in this direction can be considered the creation of I. Ya. Stechkin in the middle of the last century, the assignment of the KGB of the USSR of a special silent cartridge SP-1 with a cutoff of powder gases in the barrel of the weapon. It was this technology that eventually made it possible in the future to design a number of models of silent weapons that were not burdened with the usual, but bulky, muffler of the sound of a shot. Moreover, initially this development was used to create an unusual type of firearm – for example, disguised as cigarette cases or packs of cigarettes.
Pistols-cigarette cases designed by I.Ya. Stechkin.
But one of the first pistols proper, capable of silently shooting, was the double-barreled non-self-loading pistol C4, developed by specialists of the technical services of the KGB of the USSR. Its design was completed by the beginning of the sixties of the last century, and a special model “Snake” (7.62 × 63 PZ) was chosen as a cartridge for it. However, they did not stop at one variation: for example, the Zmeya cartridge was modernized several times, as a result of which two more variants appeared – PZA and PZAM. A modernized pistol under the S4M index was also produced for them.
S4M double-barreled silent pistol.
In parallel with S4I, that is, since the mid-fifties, the Klimovsky NII-61 (now TsNIITOCHMASH), together with TsKB-14 (now the Instrument Design Bureau in Tula), were engaged in a similar development. We are talking about the creation of a silent pistol chambered for SP-2, and later SP-3, the foundation for which was also Stechkin's developments.
A decade later, in 1965, the KGB of the USSR and army special forces were armed with a non-self-loading pistol MSP, which was equipped with a folding block of two barrels. The latter were loaded with two 7.62-mm silent SP-2 cartridges. By 1972, a modernized version was also designed for the improved silent cartridge SP-3. SMEs also had a very telling nickname – “Thunderstorm”.
Special pistol MSP “Groza” (Small-sized special pistol).
The next developments in this direction were the 7.62-mm SP-4 cartridge, which is characterized by increased efficiency compared to its predecessors, and the PSS self-loading pistol, as well as the OTs-38 revolver for it. And already in the post-Soviet period, the newest silent pistol PSS-2 appeared under the more powerful 7.62-mm cartridge SP-16, which was put into service in 2011.
Samples of Soviet silent weapons and cartridges for them.
Most of these developments of the Soviet period became known only after the collapse of the USSR as part of the declassification of a number of documents of that era. But we know much less about modern projects related to the use of silent chuck technology. And yet, sooner or later, albeit with a great delay, the public will have the opportunity to learn about domestic developments in firearms that can shoot silently.