CRAZY INSANE Russian FSB Alfa Confidence Drills

Larry Vickers, who I was fortunate enough to meet in person at SHOT Show this year, just published a video showing elite Russian FSB (Spetsgruppa “A” or Alfa, also called Alpha Group) troops doing confidence drills with pistols.  These drills are nothing short of insane.

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.


  • JumpIf NotZero


    I don’t care what nationality and alphabet team you belong to, shit happens – if it hasn’t yet, it will.

    • MrSatyre

      Reminds me of the good ol’ days of the Cold War. A GRU defector in the 70’s claimed that the KGB and GRU routinely used prison camp laborers in to-the-death hand-to-hand combat drills. After seeing this, I can believe it.

      • DaveP.

        Viktor Suvorov, “Inside the Aquarium”. Read it if you get the chance.

    • I’m sure it has—

  • iksnilol

    Only way to operate properly.

  • Gene

    Anyone else see the ND as he was pushing folks away?

    • Quach

      I questions if it was cause when they do the second drill the second time, he does a discharge at the ground again.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      I noticed that, but assume it was part of the drill (shooting in the feet/legs?)

      Also … I don’t think you can call any one of these shots ND … the whole thing is ND.

      • n0truscotsman

        Thats what I think as well in regards to the shot to the ground.

        Anyway you look at it (reckless or brave), those shooters have steel appendages to say the least. Not exactly a unit to be trifled with.

        • Mr. Fahrenheit

          The only thing this video demonstrates is that lives and limbs are cheap in Russia.
          Brains,on the other hand…

          • Prax

            Would you say the same of the British SAS? They may not go the extreme of firing pistols into one another, but they certainly shoot subguns past their own heads of state…

          • 101nomad

            That keeps their heads of state honest.

          • Micki Mahoney

            We wish…

          • n0truscotsman


          • n0truscotsman

            well gee, one could say the same for the myriad of other special operations forces around the world.

            The point I made was that the Russians are not as obsolete and backwards as many think and are innovative and intuitive in many cases.

          • That’s different than actually shooting each other.

      • SafeArmsReview

        ND is a negligent discharge which this is not.

        It is a planned and well executed technique so its not an ND. Its playing by big boy rules.

        • From a personal view I don’t think it’s a necessary drill. Shooting each other? BS
          You can talk tough dudes all day and they are but that type of drill is not necessary to build speed and situational awareness.

          • bsnighteye

            What training do you suggest to prepare an operative for direct bullet impact and work under fire?

          • cmbv79

            GOE Portuguese Police unit.

          • SafeArmsReview

            Phil, its not ‘talking tough’. Just stating these drills are not NDs – NDs occur out of negligence which is defined as…

            “Conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.”

            In this case the ‘standards of behavior’ have been established; there are tasks, conditions and standards; training and execution to standard. As no one was harmed it seems it was not unreasonable risk. Now to those who have not been properly trained, it might seem ‘negligent’ but its not. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane with a parachute seems insane/negligent to me but with the proper training, its not a big deal.

            Now for the average person, I agree this is NOT something that is necessary or should be even attempted at all.

            With that said, your absolutely right.

            These drills are not for speed and situational awareness – its going beyond that. Its crowd control, its bump, shove and shoot; its more stress and getting hits on target under a worse case training scenario which builds a lot of confidence in your abilities, equipment and most importantly in making judgment calls in a dynamic and changing environment. Good stuff in my opinion (not really digging the getting shot bit personally – but I can see where it can help crazy spec ops & the like). Now this would be great training with simunition &/or airsoft which would lessen the overall risk. But the question we need to ask is “Why would this be important?”

            I have heard accounts/reports of LEOs and military that froze up after being shot (in the plate & without); they ended up combat ineffective – so something can be learned, even if your shot drive on and take down the MF that shot you! Its developing the warrior mindset – its the “no matter how many times you shot me I’m gonna shoot till my gun is empty then beat everyone else to death with it” mentality.

            As I said, we have done drill 2 and you learn a lot about yourself and what you can and cannot do – we called it “the gauntlet” (topped off firearm with four mags & your done when your empty). Lots of pushing and shoving, lots of targets and no-shoots, etc.

            So its not ‘negligent’ and its not tough talking, its going to the next level.

            As they said in the Army, do what your rank can handle. If some don’t like this with live fire, fine. If some want to do it with simunition/airsoft as part of force on force, fine. If some see no training benefit at all, then don’t use it = fine. But please don’t imply that I’m talking tough or trying to be macho because thats not my intention. I thought this was about sharing ideas on training and what others do.

            I appreciate the blog and ability to discuss without name calling.

          • SafeArmsReview

            P.S. BTW Phil, I have to apologize. I retract the part at the end “… to discuss without name calling” as you did not ‘name call’ but rather implied I was a tough guy, which I am not; just ask my wife.


          • BuzzKillington

            It’s all about putting on a good show. Those 3 shots he took were slow and accurate (I would hope so!). Tell me who would stand there and wait until the firing was finished? It’s to look good. Just like the shovel throws and shoulder flips.

    • Risky

      It looks like its supposed to be part of the drill, I’m guessing to intimidate the interferers or to simulate wounding them in the leg like Steve said. You can see he does it again around 4:48 and it looks very deliberate.

      • Andrey

        Just to add, intimidate to break the distance with interferers, and from what I hear, he supposed to do that more often when they come closer.

      • Jeff Zanooda

        At 4:09 you can hear a command “shoot at the ground” (“под ноги стреляй”).

        • Risky

          Thanks! I am very jealous of you bi-lingual folks. I would settle for Spanish but speaking Russian would be awesome. I’m afraid I ain’t got the time or brain elasticity to learn either anymore, though.

          • FourString

            You should download an Android or iOS app for learning Russian 😀
            I found mine to be very helpful

          • anonymous

            “an Android or iOS app for learning Russian”

            Any specific apps you recommend?

          • FourString

            Babbel is a great start

  • Anon

    I think I’d end up chickening out from this, the last thing I want is to get a very weak vest

  • Johannes Axner

    Some nice Fort Defender-2 body armors in the video. Got one in my collection. 9x19mmP should be a breeze for it, even in the insanely hot Russian loads. This is still not a drill I’d do. 😉

  • ColaBox

    That looks fun as hell. What pistol is that FSB soldier using? It looks like a railed up Glock of some sort.


    The Greek EKAM practices live fire drills with operators firιng at small balloons attached to other operator’s ears.

  • Jake

    I def agree that these drills are absolutely nuts. However I can see the wisdom in them if you truly were in a team of people doing something very very high risk. But if someone taught it in a class I would be headed for the door before the first round was fired.

  • Troy S.

    Say what you want but the the Russian DA guys are the real deal. The pain threshold these guys have is for real. I’ve seen it first hand, it’s a cultural thing multiplied by years of training. That being said if I had to choose my rescuers it would not be them. Collateral damage is usually very high.

    • Troy S

      Oh yeah that is most definitely not a ND. Shooting shots into the ground, while frowned upon here, is an effective crowd control technique employed by high speed soviet types.

    • n0truscotsman

      Given the hostage situations faced by Russia versus the west, I would not want to be a hostage there (I wouldnt be a hostage at all, but thats not the point).

      The chechens are less than cooperative and reasonable than other terrorists and criminals that have taken hostages. The circumstances of Moscow’s theatre and Beslan were also far different than what the west has faced.

      • John Sjöström

        When the West have the same insane Hostage situations as Russia had with over 100 of hostages then you may talk. The only thing that I can think of thats even close is the operation on Air France by GIGN

        • n0truscotsman

          That is exactly my point.

          The US hasn’t faced hostage situations similar to Russia. The most complex hostage taking scenario the US has ever faced was the Tehran hostage situation, which ended in tragic failure.

          • That we know of anyway—-

          • bernardg

            I’m pretty sure no clandestine operations can hide a hostage situation on massive scales (Like those on Beslan & movie theater massacre in Russia. Or more recent Mumbai attack & oil refinery hostage in Northern Africa) from the media anyway.

      • bsnighteye

        You can learn about Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis in this video (part about “Alpha” assault begins from 17:38) – don’t forget to turn subtitles on:

    • Yes it is just remember how many died in the theatre rescue when they used gas.

  • ThomasD

    The level of trust required to allow someone to put three rounds to the immediate side of your unprotected head after having delivered multiple rounds to his (albeit protected) torso defies belief.

    I mean, I know I get fired up from contact during sparring, and while never having gone beyond the signal to stop, I’ve certainly put some extra oomph into my strikes after getting clocked.

    Frankly, I’m not sure how controlled I’d be after taking bullets to the chest, and I don’t think you can actually know how anyone would respond until the first time…

    The other drills, although charged, and chaotic, seem substantially safer, assuming they do indeed intend, and already practice those shots to the ground.

    • sauerquint

      I believe that everything you mentioned is exactly the point of the drill. This would be an “exclusive” club.

  • Patrick Mingle

    that whole video puckered up my butthole pretty good. You know everyone says Russians are crazy and it is probably one of the most accurate stereotypes out there. I heard once there is a saying in Russia that roughly translates to “Don’t be a pussy”

    • Grady McDonald

      Someone watches the Daily Show

    • noob

      And I thought the 1936 LAPD pistol team was hardcore.

    • bsnighteye

      It’s not about being crazy, it’s about having faith…
      Faith in your partner, faith in your equipment, faith in your actions, faith in your deeds… If you’re not good enough, if you’re hesitating, if you can’t stand on line of fire – you have nothing to do here.
      Price for mistake – lives of hostages and international response.

      • BuzzKillington

        It’s about show. Their drills, including the acrobatics of the Spetnaz, don’t impress me. That’s cute that they can throw shovels and do flips over each other’s shoulders, but when it comes down to fireteams in real world shootouts, they are gaggled as f**k because they spent all of their time training on flashy drills.

        • bsnighteye

          Participating in show is strictly voluntary. If you see show about it – be aware that it’s made in less than 3 weeks. No one is training just for show – it’s plain stupid.

          Want real shootout? Here you go, but it’s not so interesting. It’s just like any military operation video of NATO operatons or any other country. Everybody is working, no show.

      • Patrick Mingle

        People, even professionals, make mistakes. Faith doesn’t do you much good with a hole in your head

        • José Pulido

          That’s why you train. Without faith, you have hesitation, with hesitation comes holes in the head.

    • Wetcoaster

      I can just imagine the reply to a requisition order for Simunition being “Don’t be a pussy, how else will you know your vest works?”

  • Griff

    meanwhile… our troops have parties in drag. 🙁

    • The Hun

      The NATO boys in their pretty blue helmets would s**t their panties if would they go up against The Bear.

      • Jim M

        I think you mean the UN as they are the “blue helmets”. And while Russia may have high end SOF, the combat readiness of the rest of their army is questionable at best. I’ll take an Anglo NATO nation any day of the week.

        • n0truscotsman

          The readiness of most NATO members are questionable to say the least also.

          We had a name for NATO troops in Germany during the good ol days: speed bumps. And the Bundeswehr? “the screeners”.

          • Jim M

            There’s a reason I said “Anglo” NATO nations! Some NATO militaries changed post 9/11. Others did not.

          • FourString

            Yeh, Britain & U.S. actually have pretty damn formidable militaries

          • hdsaa

            Canada New Zealand Australia even South Africa would kick Russia sof ass.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            Well, all 5 of NZ’s soldiers are very professional, but they don’t really have a lot of force projection.

          • Patrick Mingle

            Yes because nothing has changed in 25 years?

          • n0truscotsman

            Not really and if anything, the changes have been for the worse because those nations no longer face the Soviet Union, thus have a really hard time justifying the purchase of new armaments.

        • 3331

          When it comes to shooting rifles fast and accurately the Finnish people are without equal. I’m sure that SOF conflicts depend on more things than shooting skills, but the Finns are never to be underestimated.
          Russia learned that the hard way.

  • Jeff

    Based on this being how they drive trucks..

  • Mack

    i tip my hat to those guys

  • patrickiv

    How do we know they’re not using rubber bullets?

    • sauerquint

      They specifically said FMJ. At those ranges rubber bullets would still do alot of damage.

      • patrickiv

        Because the Russian government is notoriously honest.

        • sauerquint

          No less so than any other one including ours. You have rely on what you see and the other observer who was there.

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          This likely has bugger all to do with the Russian Government but there you go…

  • dp

    It is known fact that they do not make big deal out of petty stuff. I recall that while once visiting with parents to East Germany (before 1968), we came to touch with Red army (occupation force at that time). As we spoke to a non-commission officer (turned out to be ethnically Ukrainian) he had suddenly some rather distraught soldier reporting that one of trucks from the unit had traffic accident while on route. Our man just pushed his cap to the back of his head and said: “… ah, leave it there, just get another one and load over the cargo”. It was kind like in movie.

  • 101nomad

    “If you ain’t john, I am leaving……………”

  • Anon

    Is Vickers wearing a plate in the first drill? He doesn’t even flinch when being shot. I personally would be more willing(still wouldn’t be eager) to be shot if I was wearing a rifle plate.

  • Giolli Joker

    I don’t see this insane as training for highly prepared professionals trying to be able to face any situations that can be thrown at them…
    I’m worried for the folks that will try to emulate them after having seen this video…

    • Joe Schmoe

      No, I’m sorry; this is just plain stupid.

      There is zero point in shooting someone in the chest for a drill, you can simulate the same thing by just pulling them backwards without the risk of a bullet going through a faulty plate.

      The pushing around stuff is fine, the having people stand by the targets is stupid. One day someone is going to push his arm while he is shooting and one of those people is going down.

      • Giolli Joker

        Well… we’re talking about a Special Forces team that has casualties every year during it’s selection process…
        Anyway, I believe that the craziest parts of what we see in the video aren’t their usual training but a “show off” of their capabilities.
        You see similar stunts performed by different teams around the world (even here on TFB there was an old video of crazy marksmanship tricks performed by American LEO’ some decades ago).

        I doubt they bust body armors every day (it sounds expensive) or they leave daily some soldiers standing beside the targets.
        Yet they sometimes do it in controlled conditions to be able to perform the same actions in way less controlled environments… and to brag about their steely attributes.

  • A.g.

    It’s a good method to not forget that the one who will kill you could be your teammate.

  • Pete Sheppard

    What everyone said. What’s the casualty rate in these drills?

  • Samson

    “PERESTROIKA B!#$H!!!!!!!!!” lmfao @ Larry Vickers “WHERE’S THAT IRON CURTAIN NOW YA DURTY MUTHA??!?!”

  • Davey

    Dat ND @3:48…..

  • MrMaigo

    Every action movie ever. Shit.

  • SafeArmsReview

    Good stuff. I would do drill 1, but I would also want an extra large plate and have the guy who would shoot me, split a few playing cards beforehand.

    Now me and some buddies (who have contracted to instruct military and/or LEOs) do about the same as drill 2. One shoots and others yell, push, shove, pull left right, etc. We don’t shoot into the ground as we push folks away (simulates very close &/or contact shots – they are not NDs). Lots of adrenaline and stress to say the least (also lots of dry runs). Big boy rules for sure. A good way to practice is with airsoft if this is too risky for some.

    Still your team MUST have good skills and a lot of trust in your buddies. Hats off to the Ruskies!

  • SteveP

    I see that the tacticool fad of standing in the center of a kill zone with everyone’s atttention on you and looking left and right after shooting someone has reached Russia.

  • Patrick Mingle

    So I just watched this again. Did anyone else hear Larry call him a “perestroika bitch” hahaha

  • James

    You guys do realize that these are largely the same people who would lay down a massive rolling artillery barrage on their own men to kill a few of their enemies, right? The Russian military calculus is almost always that the lives of their own (civilian and military) are cheaper than those of their enemies.

    We don’t do this because in the U.S. the calculus is our civilians>our military>enemy lives. In Russia, it’s the reverse. Killing a couple of hundred Russian civilians and dozens of their soldiers in order to kill a handful of “terrorists” or whomever their designated enemy is completely acceptable to the ruling Russian elite that is largely unaccountable to their own people.

  • Mr. Scratch

    There is a certain method to their madness.

  • Wylde Chamber

    Different cultures historically have different values on life. A corollary for me is climbing. The Russians and other eastern european climbers are famous for their incredibly bold routes of risk and suffering. This appears insane to many of us (although I certainly get the highly skilled people can do highly skilled and risky things)

  • Gabe Suarez

    From A Discussion On My Forum

    It is currently in vogue to demonize Russian stuff, but the Russians did
    not embarrass themselves in the last two elections and I doubt Putin
    would have acted the same way Obama did if someone had been trying to
    undermine his influence in a contiguous nation.

    FWIW, if you come to HQ, right next to the Red Cell ball cap (given by a former member), you will
    see two patches. One is a Moscow IPSC patch (all the Alfa guys are
    members as it facilitates more trigger time), and a subdued team patch
    from their unit. Yes, I know them. Continuing.

    Everyone can make a mistake (in re: The AD in SUL). In fact, I have
    seen US SF and SEAL guys make safety errors when the heat was turned up
    at a SWAT school back in the 1990s that would have gotten them kicked out of any US shooting schools.

    I suspect that a US Film crew was gleeful
    finding a Russian making a mistake just as a Russian film crew would
    have with an SF error. That the Russians allowed it to make the final
    cut speaks as much about them as it does if the director didn’t tell them
    it would make the final cut.

    On training comments: Totally disingenuous on the film maker’s part as I
    know that similar “Insane” drills are done by SF units all
    over the world. The difference is that you will not find unskilled and
    untested (and unfit) attendees at such training events as often
    happens in US CCW classes, and in the world being depicted, there are no
    liability concerns.

    On training value: I see the concept having value, but the execution is
    poor. If I feel a sting from a bullet, I do not want to condition
    myself to stand there while Tavarich hits me with a controlled triple. I
    want to condition myself to minimize damage by exploding off the
    targeted area and drawing or diving to cover. Rather than handling this
    with armor and ammo, we do it with T-shirts and airsoft. I suspect the drill was more of a demo for the camera.

    Anyway…some missing perspective.

  • Why did I just see the bullet proof cup sequence from Super Troopers go bye?

  • Medawar

    Roger Bacon, in Flight International coined a phrase to describe ultralight aircraft enthusiasts:
    “temporary members of society”. I think that applies here.

    The drill would not be exactly the same with rifles, because rifles would probably shoot straight through the vest. Even if they didn’t, nobody would be returning fire anything like instantly!

  • micko77

    I saw this on LAV’s show a few months ago. Pretty darn intense; I noticed then that a round went into the dirt, and see that it’s at 3:49 on this vid. Muzzle control if not trigger finger control….

    • Zugunder

      That was intentional, on 4:08 man says “под ноги, под ноги стреляй!” which basicaly mean “shoot at the ground”

  • Rex

    Have you noticed the gun? Is the Strike one of arsenal firearms… so some lucky man got it finally! Seems fantastic!!!
    I think it is an effecting training but the risk of incidents is so high that it make it not bearable (unless obviously you are about to go fighting in the 3rd world war!)

  • Medawar

    This wouldn’t happen in the West, today. But in the sixties, Raymond Baxter (A friend of Ian Fleming) tested a new bullet proof vest live on BBC Tomorrow’s World, by taking the inventor to a bit of waste ground near Television Centre and getting two men to shoot at him at very close range. (Not only with the two guns seen, but with others.)

    Note Squadron Leader Baxter’s thoughtful provision of a military ambulance. Note also the complete absence of police supervision or even interest. Imagine the panic that would be caused today!

    This clip just has a brief highlight, but if I recall rightly (and it was a long time ago) the original broadcast did feature a progression towards heavier handguns when the inventor proved to be still alive after a few .22″ and .32″ bullets had been fired.

    The plate was clearly very heavy, but it also took multiple hits from several different calibres. I think it must have been steel, hardened on one side only. (The traditional method is to keep it red hot for a fortnight with carbon monoxide playing against one surface and nitrogen or argon against the other. The monoxide side goes very hard and the inert gas side stays springy, so it doesn’t shatter or scale.) I don’t think the Russians use ceramic plates (one shot, really), at least, not here.

    • Zugunder

      nice! there also intresting video. Sadly it’s in Russian. watch from 0:59

      Man sitting in mi-28 cockpit, while they shoot at him AP 7.62mm and 12.7mm rounds also high velocity fragments (i have no idea what is this, that’s what narrator says, also maybe i translated this wrong) they not aiming at his head most of the time, but sit in this cockpit during this tests it’s not something i would want to do 😀

  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    Here’s Malaysia GGK doing Malaysia’s GGK thingie

  • John

    What is the vest used by these FSB operators ?