Military Review

The weapon of the Soviet special forces. Silent Thunderstorm Pistol


Silent pistol S-4M

Although the main methods of combating the sound of a shot were invented at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries, intelligence agencies and the military showed increased interest in these developments only before the outbreak of World War II. After the war ended, interest in such developments did not disappear, on the contrary, to get silent weapon the secret services of many countries of the world dreamed. By the beginning of the 1960s, the United States and the USSR shared the palm in the secret competition for the creation of silent models of small arms. It was in the 1960s that a whole series of silent pistols were created in the Soviet Union, including Thunderstorm pistols.

The appearance of a silent pistol "Thunderstorm"

In the USSR, they always worked on interesting and unusual models of silent weapons. For example, already in the 1950s, the genius Soviet designer-gunsmith Igor Yakovlevich Stechkin worked on the creation of such samples. It was he who developed on the instructions of the KGB a unique three-barrel shooting cigarette case, known as TKB-506A. In the "cigarette case" developed by Stechkin, special silent cartridges were used, which the gunsmith created on the basis of the widespread cartridge for the Makarov pistol 9x18 mm. The weapon was as unusual as possible, but it was ideally suited for special services. True, the range of the unusual pistol was small - no more than 7 meters.

It is not surprising that work in the field of creating silent compact weapons was continued. According to the Kalashnikov magazine, in the late 1950s, employees of military unit No. 1154 of the KGB of the USSR designed a new 7,62 mm silent pistol that received the Groza-58-M index. In the future, the gun was modernized many times and reached the stage of mass production. By design, the new silent pistol was a non-self-loading weapon model with a block of two barrels that were paired together in a vertical plane.

For loading, the gun barrels reclined upwards like many hunting rifles or pistols of the simplest design “derringer”. The new silent pistol was equipped only with a self-cocking trigger, its loading was carried out by a cartridge designed for two rounds. For firing from Thunderstorm, specially designed 7,62x63 mm Snake cartridges (PZ) with powder gas cutoff in the gun barrel were initially used, and later modernized versions of these cartridges under the designations PZA and PZAM.

PB gun (top), S-4M (center) and SME (bottom)

Serial production of the new pistol was supposed to be deployed at the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (IMZ). The corresponding decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR came out in November 1959. In Izhevsk, the assembly of weapons was the responsibility of the experimental workshop No. 28. At the same time, to ensure the necessary level of secrecy at the IMZ, the weapon received a symbol - product “C”. For a long time, pistols were produced in extremely limited quantities. At the same time, the plant was undergoing a continuous process of improvement and modernization of weapons.

So, already in November 1960, the S-2M model appeared, in 1961 - the S-3M, and in 1962 the S-4M model was created. The last pistol went into mass production and was mass-produced in Izhevsk since 1965. At the same time, S-4M "Thunderstorm" pistols were used not only by KGB officers, but also by GRU military special forces. And even later, on the basis of the S-4M pistol, a small-sized special pistol (SME “Thunderstorm”) was created, adopted for service in 1972. The pistol was created by TsNIItochmash specialists by order of the KGB and was even smaller than the S-4M pistols used by military special forces.

Derringer with powder gas cutoff

It may be noted that the “derringers” were a class of small pistols of a very simple design, most often pocket-sized. Such weapons are great for covert carry. The weapon got its name in honor of the American designer Henry Deringer, who lived in the XNUMXth century. The pistols he created were often used as a weapon of self-defense. One of the most famous representatives of the class was the Remington Double Derringer pistol, which, like the Thunderstorm pistols created in the XNUMXth century, had a single block of two barrels located in a vertical plane. It is worth noting that over time, the term “derringer” itself began to be widely used in the weapons world to refer to almost all non-self-loading models of pistols with a compact form factor.

The second interesting detail that applies to all Soviet pistols of the Storm family was the chosen method of dealing with the sound of a shot. Designers used the method of cutting off powder gases. Such a scheme involves the use of a whole complex, which, in addition to the pistol itself, also includes a special cartridge equipped with a sub-caliber bullet (in most cases). In such models of firearms, a powder charge of reduced power is separated from the bullet by a wad-piston. Such a piston at the time of the shot first accelerates the bullet, and then it sticks, abutting against the protrusion of the barrel or slope of the sleeve, thus locking the powder gases in the barrel of the weapon.

The weapon of the Soviet special forces. Silent Thunderstorm Pistol

Silent pistol S-4M

The method of cutting off powder gases has proven its effectiveness; it better eliminates the sound of a shot than traditional silencers. But the method also has its drawbacks - weapons and ammunition for it become more difficult to manufacture and more expensive. Also, this method imposes its limitations on small arms, in automatic systems it is extremely difficult to use. But the scheme is suitable for pistols. Moreover, the ability to dispense with a silencer makes the weapon as compact and comfortable as possible for hidden carrying.

Characteristics of the gun S-4M "Thunderstorm"

The creators of the S-4M Thunderstorm pistol managed to implement all the conceived solutions in the model. The development was promising and interesting, since a silent pistol was created without the use of a silencer and other massive devices designed to extinguish the sound of the shot and hide the flash of the shot. Some experts call the "Thunderstorm" the first domestic silent pistol in the entire line of such weapons. The model was not only completely silent, but also developed from scratch, and did not constitute an adaptation of existing trunks into a “silent” model.

The scope of the new small arms was various kinds of special operations, which required completely silent and flameless firing from the special services and army special forces. The new gun could only be used with the range of previously created cartridges PZ / PZA / PZAM standard for the Soviet defense industry caliber 7,62 mm. At the same time, the size of the cartridge itself was not standard - 7,62x63 mm. The use of such cartridges provided the shooter with silent shooting, since the sound of the shot was suppressed due to the locking of the powder gases in the sleeve of increased dimensions and increased strength. Since the locking of gases was carried out through the use of an intermediate piston, this determined a large length of the sleeve.

In its design, the S-4M pistol was a non-self-loading sample of small arms with a tilt-up block of two barrels paired in a vertical plane. To charge and discharge the gunner, it was necessary to use a special form of metal clips that combined two cartridges. The pistol was equipped with a trigger mechanism with hidden triggers, single action (non-self-cocking). Cocking was done manually by pressing the lever located at the base of the pistol grip. In the process of modernization, the weapon received a manual fuse, which was placed on the left above the pistol grip. Behind the trigger, the designers placed the latch of the barrel unit. The gun used open sights.

Silent pistol S-4M "Thunderstorm" was distinguished by the following tactical and technical characteristics. The recommended aiming range from this model did not exceed 10-12 meters. At the same time, the weapon was very compact, the weight of the pistol without cartridges did not exceed 600 grams. The total length was 147 mm, height - approximately 104 mm, width - 27 mm. The practical rate of fire did not exceed 6-8 rounds per minute. This was quite enough when you consider that the weapons had to be used to solve a very specific problem and did not compete with the standard systems of small arms. The initial speed of the 7,62 mm bullet ranged from 150 to 170 m / s. At the same time, during the tests of the S-4M pistol with a PZA cartridge in 1965, very good penetration results were noted. At a distance of 25 meters, a bullet was guaranteed to penetrate a package consisting of two dry pine boards (each thickness is 25 mm).
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  1. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 6 June 2020 06: 17 New
    Thanks. Good, interesting "seed" for the mood on a working Saturday)))
    With the weekend, FORUMAN!
    Interestingly, why on the SME is the appendage on the trigger guard from below?
    1. Catfish
      Catfish 6 June 2020 06: 45 New
      Good morning! hi
      This is the lever for cocking both trigger guns.
    2. Mister X
      Mister X 6 June 2020 08: 59 New
      ... with a tiltable block of two trunks paired in a vertical plane.
      Author: Yuferev Sergey

      Right up?
      The barrel block breaks, and leans down on the hinge.
      Where are the trunks directed?
      Isn't it down?
      1. Tugarin
        Tugarin 6 June 2020 09: 12 New
        full time up?
        The barrel block breaks, and leans down on the hinge.
        Where are the trunks directed?
        Isn't it down?

        It reminded me: "Is the glass half full or half empty?"
        Of course down. The author needed to indicate the exposed part of the trunk.
        1. Mister X
          Mister X 6 June 2020 10: 33 New
          Quote: Tugarin
          Of course down


          Quote: Tugarin
          The author needed to indicate the exposed part of the trunk.

          There is no limit to perfection.
          I reread my old articles - there is a desire to rewrite them ...
    KVU-NSVD 6 June 2020 07: 43 New
    gun weight without rounds did not exceed 600 grams.
    Not a little for such a baby. Or maybe it's all the same с cartridges? I wonder if there were attempts to create a special pistol, where the cartridge itself is the barrel in the true sense and provides strength, and the "visual" barrel is just a lightweight construction container? This would give a significant reduction in weight, and the performance of modern plastics with piezo-ignition of the charge is even greater (and metal detectors would be in difficulty) .. In the civilian version, a similar example is "Wasp" and "Guard". They are very light without cartridges. They are certainly not very quiet, but there are cartridges without a piston cutoff naturally ..
    1. Avior
      Avior 6 June 2020 08: 25 New
      But at the same time, the sleeve itself must correspond in strength to the strength of the barrel, it turns out.
      That is, you get a light gun with very heavy cartridges.
      The total weight will not change.
      1. KVU-NSVD
        KVU-NSVD 6 June 2020 08: 31 New
        Quote: Avior
        That is, you get a light gun with very heavy cartridges.

        The cartridges of the Wasp and the Guard are not very heavy either .. The thickness of the sleeve and, accordingly, the strength depend on the charge. And he is by definition low-power - more than five meters, many ten he especially slaughter and does not need. Again, the sleeves may not be made of steel - the price of materials and the limited nature of the parties do not play a role here - cartridges for non-mass special use.
        1. Avior
          Avior 6 June 2020 10: 11 New
          In injuries, bullet energy is much less, and bullet speed is also less.
          They are specially made from duralumin so that you can’t shoot at combat.
          On the other hand, for a cartridge with locking sleeves, the pressure remains in the sleeve, if removed after firing, it means it holds
          1. KVU-NSVD
            KVU-NSVD 6 June 2020 10: 54 New
            If you replace the rubber bullet with a sub-caliber metal bullet in the Wasp's cartridge, then it will be enough for "lethal" use. Yes, I'm not talking about traumas at all, namely about a special pistol based on the same principles of the device - piezo ignition of gunpowder, automatic switch of ignition to another cartridge when the previous cartridge misfires, a lightweight design made of special plastics, cartridge plus barrel in one "bottle" ... with the addition piston locking of gases. The problem of weight and strength of ammunition for such a design can be solved by using not steel for casings, but for example titanium-based alloys. Yes, ammunition will be very expensive, but it doesn't take much. However, this is nothing more than just reflections on the basis of what you read.
            1. Reserve buildbat
              Reserve buildbat 6 June 2020 15: 12 New
              There will be a silent shot and a noisy explosion of a plastic sleeve in the future. Just look at the wall thickness of the STEEL casing of the gas cut cartridge. Even at the "Groza", at least at the PSS. The pressure inside is not cheap at all
              1. KVU-NSVD
                KVU-NSVD 6 June 2020 15: 31 New
                Quote: Stroibat stock
                further noisy explosion of a plastic sleeve.

                Have you read my comments carefully or diagonally? Read them from top to bottom and questions about plastic sleeves and so on will disappear by themselves.
        2. RealPilot
          RealPilot 27 August 2020 19: 32 New
          I agree with you!
          Wasp cartridges are not heavy, but not lethal either.

          And in the example described in the article, everything is just the opposite! This is what the pros did for the pros.
          It is not Navalny to "hound", and Skripal is not a "newbie" (I do not believe in both cases)! Everything is serious and clear here!
  3. SaLaR
    SaLaR 6 June 2020 12: 17 New
    He shot a couple of times ... the main thing is not to grab the shells immediately after the shot)) And it's so cool ...
    1. CTABEP
      CTABEP 7 June 2020 18: 21 New
      So you don’t even have to grab the sleeves after the shot, I just flew by the sleeve from the AKM’s collar, for the first moment I thought that it had hit me in the back :). Although here it should simply cool down for a long time, the hot gases did not fly out into the air, but remained in it.
      1. SaLaR
        SaLaR 10 June 2020 15: 50 New
        Well, yes .. they explained it at the briefing), and given that this was the first shooting at all .. only 2 weeks were served)))