KGB ultra-silent pistols still in active use

    Reader Tarkan emailed me a couple of interesting news article about the assassination of a former Chechen commander in Turkey last week. Sabah reports:

    According to police investigations the gunshots hit the victim from a diagonal angle and the weapons used were especially made for the KGB. Known as ‘small special guns’ and used in assassinations, both the SP3 and SM4 models only let off minimal noise when shot. Police are stating that the previous Chechen commander that was murdered, Gazhi Edilsultanov was also killed by a 7.62 gun and the same weapon might have been used in both murders.

    As usual, the media got the facts incorrect. The SP-3 is a cartridge. The S4M is a pistol.

     Ammo A Sp-3-1
    SP-3 Cartridge (Photo from

     Handguns S4M-1
    S4M pistol (Photo from

    The round is one of many Russia piston silenced rounds. The gas from the primer propels a piston (I doubt they contain any powder) which in turn propels a 123 grain bullet at 490 fps generating 66 lbs of muzzle energy. This is significantly less energy than a High Velocity .22 Long Rifle (130+ lbs). The piston then locks in the gas preventing muzzle noise.

    The bullet itself is similar to the 7.62x39mm (AK) bullet. In theory this is supposed to fool investigators into thinking the victim was shot by a conventional rifle. This may have worked when the cartridge was classified but any modern forensic expert would not be fooled by a rifle bullet that clearly left the muzzle slowly and had very poor penetration.

    A combination of very low power and a relatively large caliber bullet means the round is not capable of much apart from gangland style executions as demonstrated in the recent assassination. reports that in September another Chechen was assassinated in Turkey:

    On September 6 Gazhi Edilsultanov, a former Chechen colonel, was gunned down in Istanbul reportedly during a dispute over financial aid being collected in Turkey for Chechen separatists. Edilsultanov was the head of the Chechen refugee camp in Istanbul

    It is suspected that the killing was not a robbery but an assassination:

    Perhaps, however, the story of killing Edilsultanov for the €50,000 was not true, and the suspects invented the money story to cover up the fact that the murder was committed by Russian intelligence.

    I would be surprised if Russian intelligence are still manufacturing the pistols themselves. Ammunition on the other hand is relatively simple to make. I am sure with a lathe and reloading press any competent machinist could manufacture the SP-3 cartridge.

    A bit thanks to Tarkan for the information he emailed me.

    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!