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.
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).