In this article we’ll take a look at three unusual and less-known firearms design by Pyotr Serdyukov, the designer of the SR-1 “Gyurza” pistol, VSS “Vintorez” and AS VAL suppressed rifles. Just like the more famous ones created by Serdyukov, the guns discussed in this article were made for the special forces.
Special forces units often have to solve problems that regular forces rarely encounter and such tasks sometimes require specialty weapons/tools. The large armies normally don’t need such stuff because either they solve those situations differently or they don’t need to do the job and say remain uncompromised. That’s why we see some tools and gadgets that are only in special forces armories.
In the Soviet Union, the need for such devices especially increased in the ’70s when they were paying attention to the development of special forces more than ever before. To meet the increasing needs of these units, in 1972 the Soviet Union established a special department in the TsNII TochMash arms designing facility. Since designing these new weapons and devices almost always requires out of the box thinking, they encouraged a number of young designers who previously had unconventional and innovative design ideas to join the new department. Among these engineers was Pyotr Serdyukov who was assigned to lead this new department. We know him mainly for designing the iconic AS VAL and VSS “Vintorez” rifles, however, he, along with a team of other designers, has designed other special weapons, too. Let’s take a look at these three firearms.
RG-019 (РГ-019) Nail Gun
Designed in 1974, RG-019 was basically a nail gun used to set brackets shown in the above image. It was designed primarily for the military divers. Its purpose was to attach heavy underwater explosive devices to concrete constructions, ship hulls, and other underwater hard surfaces. RG-019 was a part of a toolkit called “Vystrel” (Выстрел – shot) which in its turn was code-named RG-027. The RG-027 Vystrel toolkit consisted of the RG-019 nail gun, PS-1 cartridge and the brackets/anchors it was designed to set. The kit was adopted in 1981.
The special cartridge that this gun was chambered in was called PS-1 (ПС-1). This cartridge was designed by two gentlemen named V. Abramov and V. Zubachev. It was based on the 7.62x39mm cartridge case loaded with a long bullet/nail.
RG-019 is a manual repeater with a detachable box magazine attached from the top of the receiver. The barrel lockup is accomplished by a tilting bolt. It is a hammer fired gun. RG-019 has a built-in safety mechanism preventing from firing it if it is not firmly pressed against a hard surface. Reportedly, the gun also has an integral suppressor! Note also that the muzzle portion has special cutouts to match the wings of the brackets it sets.
RG-019 weighs 1.8 kilograms (about 4 lbs). The magazine capacity is 5 rounds. The gun has an overall length of 280mm (11″) with 206mm (8″) height and 50mm (a little less than 2″) width.
PSZh Less Lethal Pistol
In the mid-’70s, Serdyukov’s team was designing another special firearm. This time the “customer” was the KGB. The gun was called PSZh and it was a part of a set called “Pyro-liquid System FIALKA” (фиалка – viola). It was designed to shoot a small jet of irritant liquid using a special cartridge. This gun was to be used as a non-lethal weapon with an effective range of 6 meters. It was used in KGB security operations during the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow. The advantage of shooting a jet of liquid irritant substance over the gas is that it can be relatively safely used in constricted spaces and inside the buildings.
The Fialka set consisted of the PSZh (ПСЖ) pistol and two types of 13x60mm cartridges designated as PZh-13 (ПЖ-13) and PZhR-13 (ПЖР-13). Reportedly, these cartridges have a very weak powder charge and also feature a built-in piston which after accelerating the liquid, seals the case mouth thus trapping the gasses and making the gun silent.
Apparently, there were a number of similar guns developed later for the civilian market. In the image below, two PZh-13 cartridges (copper colored) are compared to one of the civilian guns’ cartridges (the silver colored one). Note the absence of a rim or rim cut which is unnecessary with the mechanism of operation described below.
PSZh pistol is a barrelless repeating less-lethal firearm. In order to fire this gun, one must press the thumb trigger lever on the left side of the gun. The trigger cocks and releases the double action only hammer which hits the primer of the top cartridge in the magazine. Upon release, the trigger momentarily deactivates the cartridge retention mechanism for long enough time to allow the magazine push the cartridge stack up, align a fresh round with the hammer and eject upward the fired case, but for short enough period of time to capture the new cartridge and prevent it from being ejected too. There was no chamber per se and each cartridge was strong enough to safely handle the pressure generated by the small powder charge.
This gun also had a sliding safety selector on the thumb actuated trigger. The magazine capacity was 5 rounds. Its unloaded weight was 150 grams (5.3 oz). The Fialka system was adopted in 1979.
RG-022 Cartridge Powered Wire Cutter
The RG-022 cutter was a part of a system called Pyrotechnical Complex “Vozgonka” (возгонка – sublimation). Its purpose was to silently cut metal rods. It is capable to cut rods of up to 20mm (.787) diameter. This tool was to be used in special operations to silently enter fenced areas.
The blank cartridge of this gun/cutter was designated RG-015 or 7.62x38mm and it was based on the 7.62x39mm cartridge’s case.
RG-022 has one fixed blade and a second movable one attached to a piston. Upon firing the blank cartridge, the piston shoots the movable blade into the fixed one thus cutting the object placed between the two blades. This cutting tool has a rotating bolt lockup and it is striker fired. It has a safety selector with safe and fire positions. There is also an automatic safety which blocks the shooting mechanism if there is nothing placed between the blades.
RG-022 is fed from a two-section detachable 8-round box magazine. In the same magazine body, there are two separate sections. One of them is to load the blank cartridges in and the second one stores the fired cases. Presumably, this layout is incorporated to prevent from leaving the spent cases in the area of operation thus compromising the presence of the unit or allowing to identify it later.
I assume that the silent operation was accomplished by capturing the expanding gasses between the chamber and the fully extended piston.
RG-022 was adopted in 1979. It was quite a large device weighing 4.5 kilograms (almost 10 lbs). Later in 1983, they adopted a similar but smaller device called RG-038 with its own cartridge called RG-039.
That’s the three unusual guns designed by Pyotr Serdyukov. If you know more about these guns or have more detailed, better quality pictures, please share in the comments.
RG019, RG027, RG022 Special Purpose Complexes. (2016, March 14). DogsWar.ru website. Retrieved from: http://www.dogswar.ru/oryjeinaia-ekzotika/strelkovoe-oryjie/7667-kompleksy-specialnog.html
Special weapons: SPK-1 Vystrel Special Pyrodynamic Complex. (2015, December 28). Rusdarpa.ru website. Retrieved from: http://rusdarpa.ru/?p=802
Аэрозольный комплекс «Фиалка» (Aerosol Complex “Fialka”). (2000, March). Солдат Удачи (Soldier of Fortune). Retrieved from: http://sof-mag.ru/sof_2000/gal_2000_05.html