Mr. Max Popenker sent us this photo he took of a range of Soviet-era Spetsnaz and KGB pistols. Max writes …

From quiet to silent: Soviet Spetsnaz pistols, L to R: 9×18 PB integrally suppressed pistol, 7.62×63 S4M silent pistol firing PZAM gas-seal ammo, and 7.62×35 MSP silent pistol, firing SP-3 gas-seal ammo.

Both organizations demanded pistols that were both silent and shot ammunition that would have been very confusing to military or law enforcement investigating shootings.

The SP3/PZAM cartridge was based on the 7.62x39mm round and later even fired the same bullet as the 7.62×39 M43 ammunition. Anyone finding the bullet (in a body for example) would assume it had been fired at long range by a AK, not a concealed pistol (long range because the velocity of this round when it hit the target would have been very low compared to a full power 7.62x39mm round).  As far as I know, no shootings with this cartridge has ever been reported in the West, which means either it was a very successful cartridge or it was not used often or at all.

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  • Andrew

    Gas-seal Ammo: still easier to find than .22lr!

    • bbmg

      A well silenced .22LR pistol is also about 10dB quieter than these things, there is still a considerable about of noise from the piston hitting the cartridge head and some gas still manages to escape.

      • bbmg

        10dB? I meant around 5.

      • Dr. Daniel Jackson

        Personally I would go with the slightly louder but significantly more powerful option than use a .22 if I needed to assassinate someone or take out some sentries.

        • M

          IIRC those gas seal rounds weren’t very powerful at all. Sent an ak round at <500 fps, and had a muzzle energy of <100 J

          • Dr. Daniel Jackson

            Got proof of that?

          • M


            “The load for the new round was the same M43 bullet, weighing 7.9 gram (122 grains), but the muzzle velocity dropped to about 145 m/s (475 fps), resulting in muzzle energy of only 83 Joules (61 Ft-Lbs) – about half that of .32 Auto / 7.65 Browning ammunition.”

          • gunsandrockets

            Ah, not so cool after all. I wonder how large a cartridge is required to make this concept more practical. .44 S&W? 12 gauge?

          • dan citizen

            the us made a gas seal 44 cartridge for tunnel rats in vietnam


        • BoB

          You can suppress .22 LR in a smaller gun+silencer package, but subsonic 9mm can be just as quiet but with significantly more oomph. It’s also much more reliable than rimfire. I’ve heard it stated a few times but have no research to back it up, that 9mm, .380, and .32 were always much more “popular” among your silenced assassination crowd than any rimfire cartridge.

    • Dr. Daniel Jackson

      That’s good to know,gas-seal ammo is way more useful anyway.

  • worldwideREB

    more on this maybe?

  • Arch

    I’d love a history and/or review write up on all three of these pistols.

  • Indrid_Cold

    Quiet. Not quite. Quiet.

    • Altoid Fiend

      They really meant to say ‘cute.’

  • That guy

    You can’t spell quiet? Really?

    • Yea I think we have that damn auto spell check at work.

      • Andrew

        Which means those words were even WORSE (TFB translation: “worster”) before autocorrect tried to help…

    • Cymond

      It’s a little shocking how often I read reviews & forum posts about how “quite” a suppressor is. Seriously, suppressor-aficionados who can’t spell “quiet”.

      Also, it’s a rogue agency, not “rouge”. And a muzzle brake, not a “break”. And “dual” means double, a “duel” is an armed fight to settle a dispute.

  • iksnilol

    So much want in spite of how rare gas-seal ammo is. Is it realoadable?

    • I wouldn’t want to try to break the seal of the captive piston in the cartridge case.

      In the US, each live cartridge would likely be classified as a NFA Title 2 Silencer.

      • Dr. Daniel Jackson

        They couldn’t do that especially if they listed the ammo as just subsonic ammo,which would not be entirely lying.

    • Giolli Joker

      They say it’s still quite dangerous for weeks, it’s a mini pressure vessel.
      Even if you were able to release the pressure without injuring yourself, the strain and deformation caused by the piston lodging itself in the case mouth would make the reuse of said case really unsafe.
      In short, no.

  • USMC03Vet

    I wonder which is Putin’s favorite. I’m sure he’s been in some basements taking care of Chechens.

    • waffen SS

      you hasbara trolls are very good at shape-shifting- USMC vet- LOL

      • Cymond

        it’s funny to see “waffen SS” calling someone else a troll.

        • waffen SS

          I’m not the one totally off topic with some BS about Pooty-Poot- shithead

          • And we are not the obnoxious Nazi-praising jerkwad questioning other people’s identities. On top of that, you ARE off-topic. What has your accusation to do with this article or the topic of this article? Nothing.

          • USMC03Vet

            It’s not off topic. Look at Putin’s career choice. He’s not some community organizer politician.

      • Grindstone50k

        2/10 generic troll

      • Ah the Hitler fan is back again. What a fool! Oh and goodbye again.

    • Dr. Daniel Jackson

      Putin doesn’t shoot anyone,he does however have a reputation for poisoning people.

      • USMC03Vet

        Putin wasn’t always top dog. You have to start somewhere.

    • Giolli Joker

      I’d bet on bare hands. 🙂

  • Blake

    W00t, more like this please 🙂

    Thanks Max!

  • Jimmy Bob Ray

    Cool stuff. Here’s a vid and some pictures.

    • guest

      Can someone identify the cartridge at 11:49?

      • bsnighteye

        7.62×38 SP-3 ammo designed in 1972 for MSP “Groza” pistol and NRS shooting recon knife.

        • guest

          Cool, looked awfully like the 7,62×39 but smaller.

  • Man pippy

    Really impressive, just goes to show you when it comes to small arms the russians blow away the west. The best the west could come up with is the welrod, which is huge and a british design.

    • bbmg

      Not a fair statement, if you look at the history of this concept there were plenty of weapons of this type developed in the West too:

      • Giolli Joker

        Well, the idea wasn’t unknown in the west, but Russians developed it to a much larger extent compared to the few patents and prototypes in western countries.

    • Anonymoose

      We’ve got the BT VP9 and slide-locked M9s though.

  • S O

    “Anyone finding the bullet (in a body for example) would assume it had been fired at long range by a AK (…)”

    It depends.
    Is the rifling twist 1:9.45″, four grooves, right hand twist as in AK 7.62 series? Does the angle of entry allow for a ‘long range’ shot with according bullet drop and thus downward-pointing terminal trajectory?

    A recovered bullet tells a lot more about its weapon than before it was fired!

  • gunsandrockets


  • The Soviet made some of the coolest stuff, a lot of it didn’t make sense, and seemed to be inspired by a childlike imagination, but man is it cool

  • Max Popenker

    Necessary note: Neither PZAM nor SP-3 rounds are based on 7.62×39; they only use its bullet. Both have seen some action in Afghanistan during the 1970s and 1980s, mostly used by Spetsnaz parties operating in Mujaheddin-controlled areas to take down sentries