Incredibly unsafe pistol demo?

Last month in the Russian town of Tarusa, IDPA shooters held a public demonstration of their sport and allowed the local to give it a go. I must admit I was shocked to see that the demonstration was done out in the open, from an elevated position, with people, vehicles and boats behind the targets!


If you look closely, there appear to be people on the other side of the river.


The guns appear to be real, not airsoft or air guns.

Google Translate is a crude tool at the best of times, but I think they are saying that it was safe because the boat pictured above was 200-400 meters away from the firing line! I looked up the probable location on Google Earth / Maps and I think at best the boat was 200 meters, probably less.

Picture 1-1-1

According to Hatchers Notebook, the classic text on ballistics, a .45 ACP and .38 Special round can reach as far as 1200 yards ( 1097 meters ) if fired at the right elevation!

Am I missing anything that would make this safe? Can any Russian speakers please read the forum thread and let us know in the comments if they were doing anything that made it safe.

UPDATE: trigger288 says in the comments that the pistols are loaded with low powered rubber bullets, which are only dangerous up to 50m.

Hat Tip: Дмитрий Кочетков

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • trigger288

    The “pistols” on the photos are not real firearms. Ttey are loaded with low-energy traumatic cartriges with soft rubber bullets. It is danger up to 50 meters. Ewerything is ok with safety.

    • trigger288, ah! That makes sense.

  • It still gives me the willies. Emotion over logic, I know. Another good example of why it’s not necesarily good evidence just because it’s a photo.

  • Phil

    In Soviet Russia, bad habits teach you!

  • Erik

    Rubber bullets or no- I’m still canceling my riverboat tour of Tarusa!

  • Matt Groom

    I find it ironic and interesting that the Russians are now more free than the British.

  • Sad thing trigger288:

    In NJ those pistols you say are not real firearms, would be classified as such, thus would be heavily regulated as well.

    Funny juxtaposition there NJ vs. Russia. Who’s got more freedom?

    But then again, can regular folks own those guns in Russia?

  • Affe

    Something tells me that Russian casualty-tolerance is slightly higher than ours. See, eg, WWI, WWII, Beslan…

  • workinwifdakids

    I respectfully propose that training to violate any of the 4 rules of firearms safety may result in tragedy. If it’s capable of firing a projectile, we need to be aware of our target, and what’s beyond it.

  • Jerry Reich

    They were obviously playing Russian Roulette.

  • I respectfully propose that training to violate any of the 4 rules of firearms safety may result in tragedy. If it’s capable of firing a projectile, we need to be aware of our target, and what’s beyond it.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  • Erik

    Those pistols can also fire standard rounds in 9×18 Mak. They’re just using low-power rubber stuff.

  • Freiheit

    Even “dangerous to 50m” still puts the round out into the river where a boat might be. I also see walking paths on the satellite but no roping off in the pictures.

    I’d chalk this up as safe by the numbers but not by common sense or best practice.

  • They’re setting a bad example. Regardless of the ammunition they should have taken steps to show every aspect of weapons safety. Especially considering these were “new shooters”.

  • Crabula

    Whether or not the guns are “real” or the bullets are only “effective” out to about 50 meters is irrelevant. The fact is that this is still a very very poor example of proper safety protocol. It is particularly poor considering that this is a public demonstration.

    It’s never ok to demonstrate, to an untrained public, an improper or unsafe way of doing things and then saying “it’s ok. I’m a professional.” There is too much potential to give someone a false sense of confidence in doing something for which they have been taught wrong from the start.

    Man, you guys make me look long winded.

  • Mikeone

    LOL WOW! Just WOW!

    Imagine if that happened here! And the media sh!* storm it would cause.

    Its just bad form no matter how you look at it.

  • trigger288

    2 Erik:
    NO! They can not!

    2 Crabula:
    Those rubber bullets are “effective” up to 5 meters and “danger” up to 50 meters.

  • trigger288

    2 Cemetery’s Gun Blob:

    Yes. But the price on this “pistols” with legal documents is fantastic. More than $1000 for a useless toy.

  • Shturman

    I absolutely agree with trigger288.
    First of all, the gun on the pictures is Horhe. These guns are the modification of our Ukrainian pistol Fort-12, its traumatic version (master model – Fort-12R), which in Russian Federation has special stoppers inside the barrel (do avoid of shooting with normal rounds) which people call – teeth.
    Can you imagine, that poor smooth rubber ball, whilst coming through such stoppers and extremely losing own power, can fly away for over the 213 meters??? Guys, this bullet flies, in the best case, for 15-20 meters, its effectiveness is 10 meters maximum (against drunk people – 0!).
    So, this shooting is 100% safe, real unsafe shooting normally takes place during hunting, where people are shooting with the self made steel or bronze bullets, due to their ricochets.
    The price of these useless toys is high, but the price of the registry is also not too cheap. But in Russia everybody can buy traumatic gun after 18 years old. In Ukraine we have even more stupidity: only special categories of people can own “condom thrower”: deputies, journalists, policemen and their family members, military officers and some others. So, if I want to buy it, it is prohibited for me (officially). If non-officially, to become a journalist in my country costs 400$, the gun’s price is 350$, medical certifications and other expenses – 50$. Any questions???
    Normal guns (pistols and revolvers are prohibited for civilians, only long guns are permitted almost without any restrictions)

  • Crabula

    I don’t care what range those rubber bullets are effective at. It is irrelevant. The point is that it sets a bad example for the public being demonstrated to.

  • Shturman

    Yes, it is correct for 100%, it’s just a matter of poor safety behavior, attitude and many lacks, I can tell this like an HSE Engineer.
    My phrase “this shooting is 100% safe” is a blaming on the laws, not on the public safety. I wanted to show how sometimes the stupid laws can bring people to a greater stupidity. It is a really funny situation: gangs are not afraid of these guns, but police says “It’s OK guys”. This leads to total ignoring of such a devices (in our laws these items called “devices”, not “guns”) like guns as well.

  • jdun1911

    I know why so many people are upset about nothing.

    I assume from what trigger288 posted, the ammo are simulation munitions and the weapons are modified to use it. The gun and ammo simulate the real thing.

    Blackwater or any high level training schools uses something similar to it. They are used in training and at time students and staffs gets hit at point blank range. Sure it hurt but it doesn’t kill you.

    In the end it comes down to people that have no experience and those that have them.

  • jdun1911

    Forgot the link.

    You can go to youtube and search videos for it.

  • Raphaël


    Je suis passionné par les armes mais j’habite la Belgique qui a une législation très restrictive en matière de détention d’arme. Je cherche à me procurer l’arme de mon choix en vente par correspondance entre les usa et la Belgique, jusqià présent, sans succès. Je ne suis pourtant pas un aventurier, un simple passionné. En fin, je vais devoir me faire une raison et patienter encore une petite année pour obtenir les permis nécessaires. Vous avez de la chance de pouvoir vivre votre paassion au quotidien… Certain diront que “qui vit par le glaive, périt par le glaive” mais je crois qu’à trop craindre le glaive, on périt sous le fouet.

    Bien à vous.

  • Matt Groom

    Umm, I think Raphael said this:


    I am fascinated by the weapons but I live the Belgium that has a very restrictive legislation regarding detention of weapon. I look for to obtain me the weapon of my choice in sale by correspondence between the wore and Belgium, present jusqià (?), unsuccessfully. I am not nevertheless an adventurous, a simple fascinated one. In end, I will have to be done a reason and wait again a small year to obtain the necessary permits. You are lucky to be able to live your passion to the Newspaper (I think he means blog)… Some will say that “that lives by the sword, perish by the sword” but I believe that to too to fear the sword, one perish under the whip.

    Well to you.

    Sorry if I’m out of place for this, but I had to know what he wrote!

  • Thanks, Matt!

  • I found only one pertinent opinion.
    That IPSC/IDPA deom should be prepared in a regular firing camp.

    Regarding the range of those so called guns, what to say. They are built to stop the agressor at 7-10 meters. OK, at that range the damges can occur but at the matter fact their pourpose is to stop the agressor and to avoid to be harmed by an injust and violent action.
    I own in my collection some of those weapons, here in Romania those guns are legal and can be even carried concealed by anyone as long is over 18 year age and has the right authorization from the police.
    I boght from Kishinew, Republic Moldavia, FORT 12P and a revolver Schmeisser 820 AE , both of them chambered in 9mm [.380], one in PA other on R. Along the years I owned and a Walther P50T, a Walther PP, a Mauser HSC 90 and lately a Rohm RG88, all of them chambered in 10x22T
    rubber bullets all. But those ones I sold them.
    I am using them in IPSC/IDPA contests and of course, I can use them for self defense.
    Testing them [FORT 12 and Schmeisser 820 AE] I can tell you that even after 10-12 meters are not harmful, under that distance the damages can be serious. Just think that Yellow Pages was pentrated to page 400 at 9 meters with both of them.
    Here are some results: one rubber bullet at 0,9 grams launched with 320 meters / second can develop 59 Joules. That is not a joke at all.

    As the conclusion, those weapons are built so that cannot fire the real rounds and the ammo with rubber bullet is not considered to be dangerous as long you are using the gun in a right way and NOT IN A PUBLIC PLACES.

    The people from that boat was not in danger not for a second and the officials that organized that demo in public has a single circumstance: the exercise was held on the top-hill place, so, no way that in less then 100 meters to meet somebody … :).

    If there is somebody that want some links to see our tests, it has only to leave here a message.

    By the way, I have founded here in Romania the Romanian Self Defense Club and the website is the website with our resources.