China has been developing underwater guns!

Unbeknown to me, China has been developing a line of underwater guns. Their designs are based on Russia’s underwater guns but are chambered in a new cartridge that appears to use 5.8x42mm (Chinese DBP87) brass.

The Chinese version of the Russian SPP-1 three barrels in a triangular configuration, rather than the SPP’s four barrel setup.

SPP-1 (top), Chinese variant (bottom)
The Chinese version of the [Russian APS] rifle( being fired.

More info at China Defense.

[ Many thanks to Sven (Defense and Freedom) for emailing me the the info. ]

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.


  • Hrmmmm…. I’ll take an H&K P11 thanks.

  • There can’t be a huge market for this, can there?

  • Carl

    So… this is intended for frogman vs frogman deathmatch?
    Anyone ever heard of such a combat situation actually happening?
    I guess it’s nice to have one just in case though.

  • WhyMe?

    You said the Chinese gun has a third barrel which sounded like the Russian one got only two, while in fact it has four. I’m sure you do know that; I just thought it might be a little confusing for those who don’t.

    • WhyMe?, I thought it had two. I have updated the post. Thanks.

  • Beaumont

    Didn’t the Ruskies also have a four-barreled version of their pistol? IMO, the Chicoms adding a 4th barrel does not seem difficult from a design standpoint. I wonder, why 3 barrels?

  • Matt Groom

    I know someone who tried to get approval to build and sell one of these back in the day, but the ATF said “NO!”. My question to him is the same as the question I pose to the Chinese: “Why? Are Sharks really that big of a problem?” I know they’re for hostile enemy divers, but come on, really? Was James Bond really that influential?

    • Matt, LOL. Yea, if suppressor laws are anything to go by, then yes 007 has been that influential. Plenty of people take guns “fishing”.

  • Aurélien

    Well even if its ugly as hell, i’ll take the russian ASM-DT assault rifle over anything built buy the chinese or the P11 anytime.

  • zach

    Or a Glock with maritime spring cups, for engagements up to about 7 feet :). P11? you have to send it back to get it RELOADED. I would also rather use that ugly russian gun, because as far as I know they work

  • Aurélien

    “I would also rather use that ugly russian gun, because as far as I know they work”

    As a matter of fact, the ASM-DT works with underwater darts (on the paper it can kill through a diving mask at 20 meters at a depth of 20m) and, with a slight manipulation is able to shoot your average 5.45x39mm ammo from an AK74 mag, without even having to drain the rifle. It can also use GP-30 launchers and combat optics.
    Its the only real “assault frogman” rifle available on the market, and an astonishing piece of engineering. The APS underwater rifle is a nice piece too, but only fires darts, but is design for strict underwater use in offshore bases defense. The H&K P-11 and SPP-1 are just self-defense guns.

  • Vtoroy Ruchey

    Maybe someone will be interested … Russian assault rifle, designed for firing on land and under water called ADS (Автомат двухсредный специальный – АДС). Guys from special operations forces of the Russian navy, say that he is better than existing machines for underwater shooting (APS). On land, it is not inferior to the AK – 74. Under the water at a depth of five meters, he shot almost 25 meters. Experimental Machine ASM-DT “Sea Lion” is a further development of the automaton Underwater Special APS, founded in the USSR in the 1970s.Currently, the AFM-DT exists only in the experimental samples. Here links to images ADS

    • Vtoroy, thanks for the links.

  • Bill Lester


    I’d wager these are intended to be used a lot more against anti-swimmer dolphins and seals (small case seals) than human divers. The way the Chinese sell to anyone with money, I’m sure some of these could end up in the hands of AQ or similar terrorist groups bent on mayhem in some port.

  • Carl

    “Or a Glock with maritime spring cups, for engagements up to about 7 feet”

    Has anyone tested terminal ballistics for “land ammo” such as 9×19 underwater? I don’t think there is much energy left after pushing through even the shortest distance of water. And what about the shockwave from the detonating gunpowder? Isn’t that going to ruin the shooters day either way?

    Maybe it would be worth experimenting with bullet shapes for normal ammo to achieve some sort of super-cavitation effect (see Wikipedia on underwater guns)…

  • Lance

    Im not surprised that the Chicoms took Russian designs again for there own development. I think the Russians have the better quality of there designs.

  • sully

    All those hours training for underwater knife fighting will be rendered useless… *sigh*

  • zach

    @Carl, I believe a 9mm round will travel about 7 feet underwater, you do bring up an interesting point about the shockwave but I imagine from a 9mm it wouldn’t be hugely severe, but enough to probably be a minor annoyance :). Anyway I was simply saying that since Glock pistols with said spring cups can cycle underwater (they can without the spring cups, but it messes up the gun eventually) unlike any other conventional pistol to my knowledge, I’ve seen a Glock 19 fire a full mag underwater

  • Carl

    Lance: Ok, but have you seen anyone fire a pistol underwater while fully submerged (ie not just their forearm)?

    Consider that 9mm Parabellum has been shown to impart hydrostatic shock in humans (ie hemmoraging in other parts of the body than where the bullet hits), it doesn’t sound like anything I’d like to try.

  • GarryB

    The primary purpose of these underwater rifles is not actually enemy divers… one of the biggest threats to a diver is a creature far more at home underwater than humans…

    Both the US and the Soviets trained dolphins for perimeter searches and even fitted them with weapons to kill enemy divers in harbours.

    A little four or three shot pistol simply doesn’t cut it when there is half a ton of dolphin barrelling at you at high speed with razor sharp blades fitted to its nose that is trained to rip you to bits if it makes it to you.