Military Review

Armor-piercing ammunition: modernity and prospects


The "sword and shield" competition, that is, the simultaneous improvement of both the means of engaging enemy manpower and the methods of individual protection of one's own fighters, is an eternal driving force of progress in military affairs and weapons craft. It would seem that the appearance of a "firearm" on the battlefields put an end to this competition, because no armor could resist it. However, centuries later, the issue acquired a new urgency, which led to the emergence of such special ammunition as armor-piercing bullets.

Surely everyone remembers the lines from the immortal "Vasily Terkin": "A three-line rifle on a canvas belt, and cartridges with that head that is terrible for steel armor ..." Poetry is poetry, but in this case we are talking about a very specific ammunition. Tvardovsky was referring to the classic domestic rifle and machine gun cartridge 7,62 × 54 mm, equipped with an armor-piercing bullet B-30, or B-32, which replaced its predecessor, which became the first swallow among ammunition of this kind developed in the USSR.

The main difference between them was that the new bullet created two years later (as it is already clear from the index) not only pierced armor steel 2 PP in 10 mm at two hundred meters, but thinner armor at a distance exceeding 700 meters. She also guaranteed the ignition of, for example, gasoline, if one is found behind the protection it has overcome, with a probability of 75%. It should be understood that those used at that time for small arms weapons The ammunition was intended primarily not for firing at the enemy's manpower, but for destroying his lightly armored vehicles. Personal protective equipment in the form of cuirasses, vests with steel plates and the like were already used in the Great Patriotic War, but were rather exotic, unlike armored cars and light tanks.

In the design of an armor-piercing bullet, in principle, there is nothing super complicated. All the same "shirt" made of lead or tombak (an alloy of copper and brass), hiding underneath the core, which serves to crush the armor. In the simplest version, this is especially strong steel, but in modern conditions it is necessary to take into account the development of personal protective equipment, so that tungsten carbide, or even depleted uranium, often becomes the "stuffing" of the "armor-piercing" currently being manufactured. The question here, as always in the production of weapons and ammunition, is the main thing - the final price of the product.

The B-30 and B-30 developed back in the 32s and their modifications, supplemented by the tracer composition, were so successful that they are used in the Russian Armed Forces to this day. The same can be said about ammunition of a larger caliber - 12,7-mm 57-BZ-542, designed for such machine guns as "Utes" and "Kord", as well as the sniper rifle of the same name. Naturally, with the advent of new types of weapons, first in the Soviet, and then in the Russian army, special armor-piercing ammunition was developed for it.

Known not only the corresponding cartridges of 5,45 × 39 mm caliber 1N-10 7N-22 for AK and RPK model 1974, but also capable of penetrating sufficiently serious obstacles cartridges of 9 × 39 mm caliber for a special sniper rifle VSS and "silent" automatic machines AS , 9A-91. The purely pistol cartridges have not been forgotten either - their armor-piercing options exist not only for the formidable Gyurza, but also for the simple Makarov or even small-caliber PSM.

It is clear that the NATO armies could not leave their soldiers without armor-piercing ammunition. Today, their main samples used for standard small arms under the unified caliber of the North Atlantic Alliance of 7,62 × 51 mm are M61 AP and Bofors FFV bullets made of the same tungsten carbide with the addition of cobalt. According to the declared performance characteristics, they are capable of effectively hitting the enemy in a standard army body armor at fairly solid distances - the first at 100 m, and the second at all 300. However, NATO members give preference in the fight against more reliably protected targets to the 12,7 × 99 mm caliber, which features a whole family of armor-piercing bullets with impressive performance.

Is there a future for armor-piercing ammunition for small arms? Without a doubt. After all, the improvement of personal protective equipment is reaching new levels. The domestic set of combat equipment "Ratnik" is the best proof of this. And our potential opponents do not sit idly by. On the other hand, it is quite difficult today to talk about any definite prospects for the development of "armor-piercing", a kind of "main line". Many experts believe that the armor-piercing potential of such calibers as the usual 5,45 × 39 mm, 7,62 × 39 mm, or even 7,62 × 54 mm has already been exhausted and it is impossible to create something radically new and unprecedentedly effective within their framework. ... Extending calibers up to 12 mm and above is also not an option.

As far as I know, the latest domestic development in this area should be considered an armor-piercing cartridge of 5,45 × 39 mm caliber (GRAU index 7N39). The ammunition is not bad, but definitely not "breakthrough". What way will the development go further? Perhaps the answer to this question can be provided by the use of fundamentally new materials or technologies in the arms industry, about which we simply do not know yet. In any case, the rivalry between the shield and the sword will continue as long as the wars are fought.
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  1. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 4 August 2020 10: 09
    The article is poor. Virtually no illustrations. I understand - they are not needed for a specialist, but a specialist will not even read this opus, but for inexperienced people, photos and diagrams would not hurt ...
    Too often lately, behind promising headlines, there is a banal listing of data from public sources.
  2. Nehist
    Nehist 4 August 2020 10: 13
    Dear Author tried to dress this Ratniik and walk in it! Further, the mentality has not been killed ... grieve for the whole set ... Further ... Yes, no one will hang extra iron on himself !!! Since the speed of movement and comfort are more important than any warriors, cyborgs, and in general any body armor!
    1. SARANCHA1976
      SARANCHA1976 4 August 2020 11: 35
      That is, you prefer to comfortably receive a bullet in the stomach or a shrapnel in the shoulder. And why these generalizations Nobody. All that are fools?
  3. kind
    kind 4 August 2020 11: 08
    From personal experience. One magazine with BZT in the pouch, all the same gave confidence in victory.
    1. Alexander Drobyshev
      Alexander Drobyshev 23 August 2020 22: 00
      Good day. I wanted to clarify whether you fought with an SVT-40 rifle or were you a sniper with an SVD? Just in addition to this weapon and the Mosin rifle, a cartridge with a BZT bullet
      only fits machine guns, but there are no magazines laughing ... And the cartridge in your photo is called "7,62 mm cartridge arr. 1943 with a bullet BZ" and it never had a tracer composition laughing .
  4. Undecim
    Undecim 4 August 2020 11: 10
    In the design of an armor-piercing bullet, in principle, there is nothing super complicated. All the same "shirt" made of lead or tombak (an alloy of copper and brass), hiding underneath the core, which serves to crush the armor
    The propagandist Kharaluzhny did not even bother to study the device of an armor-piercing bullet. I pointed out the shirt and the core, but forgot the shell.

    7,62 mm rifle cartridge with armor-piercing bullet arr. 1930 B-30:
    a- cartridge, b- bullet
    1- shell; 2- shirt; 3- steel core;
    4- propellant charge; 5- igniter capsule
    The author also forgot in the article to describe not only the prospects, but also the current state of armor-piercing bullets, limiting himself to describing the ammunition of the beginning of the last century.
    As always, the maximum chatter and lack of information.
    1. hohol95
      hohol95 4 August 2020 12: 15
      Do you have information on the first Russian armor-piercing cartridge 7,62 × 54 mm with an armor-piercing bullet of Staff Captain Kutovoy?
      1. Undecim
        Undecim 4 August 2020 13: 19
        This is not the first Russian armor-piercing bullet, but the second.
        The first was the "shield-piercing" bullet of the cartridge for the fortress gun of the Baron Hahn system - a steel core in a lead sheath. Cartridge - 20,3x95R

        "The weight of a steel bullet is 30 gold, the weight of the charge is 6 gold; the initial speed is 1.400 ft. A bullet from 1.500 sh. Pierces an iron sheet 3 yb. Thick. And from the same distance pierces an earth sack or sacking round and hit people behind them; from close distances she punched up to 2,5 earth. bags, placed tightly one after another. "
        And there is a lot of information on the Kutovoy pool on the net.
        1. hohol95
          hohol95 4 August 2020 16: 29
          And there is a lot of information on the Kutovoy pool on the network
          Thanks for the info. So I'm looking badly! hi
          1. Undecim
            Undecim 4 August 2020 17: 58
            And you try Kutovoy's shield-piercing bullet.
        2. Alexander Drobyshev
          Alexander Drobyshev 23 August 2020 22: 13
          8-line fortress rifle of the Krnka-Hana system, model 1876.
          The shotgun was 144 cm long and 92 cm long barrel, and weighed 20 kilograms. The 8-line cartridge had a dimension of 20,3x95R,
          his bullet weighed 128 grams and accelerated to 427 m / s at the muzzle. The armor-piercing bullets for this cartridge had a steel core in a lead sheath, the usual bullets were made entirely of lead.
  5. AUL
    AUL 4 August 2020 11: 10
    tombaka (copper and brass alloy)
    1. Ilshat
      Ilshat 4 August 2020 12: 53
      I laughed so hard! laughing laughing laughing
    2. Shimoza
      Shimoza 9 August 2020 12: 34
      Not a "blooper", but the usual illiteracy at the level of Ya. Zen .... Tompak is a kind of brass
  6. svp67
    svp67 4 August 2020 11: 18
    Many experts believe that the armor-piercing potential of such calibers as the usual 5,45 × 39 mm, 7,62 × 39 mm or even 7,62 × 54 mm has already been exhausted and it is impossible to create anything radically new and unprecedentedly effective within their framework. ...
    Why? from where is this conclusion? Not yet reveal the potential of "subcaliber armor-piercing bullets" ... like tank BOPS

  7. SARANCHA1976
    SARANCHA1976 4 August 2020 11: 27
    Article by nothing
  8. akunin
    akunin 4 August 2020 14: 58
    not an expert, but in my opinion, about 2 years ago there was an article on "topvar" that the Scandinavians (emnip) developed a sub-caliber ammunition of combined action (a tungsten rod in a plastic casing), ie. if the target is not armored, it is hit by the bullet entirely (rod + plastic), and if it is armored, the plastic is easily separated and remains behind the armor, while the rod flies further. Perhaps the future belongs to such ammunition.
    1. Eug
      Eug 8 August 2020 07: 37
      Especially if the plastic remaining "on the armor" can have a concussion effect.
  9. KSVK
    KSVK 4 August 2020 17: 53
    tombaka (copper and brass alloy)

    Tompac is a kind of brass. Brass contains copper, tin and zinc. Tompac is like copper-zinc without tin.
  10. KSVK
    KSVK 4 August 2020 18: 05
    The author forgot to mention energy. A bullet with a certain energy MUST NOT pierce the armor. Due to the energy transferred to the obstacle, there will be minced meat from bones and meat inside the armor. I don't know the numbers. There is data on ballistics-energy. But about the striking effect, no. Now, if the author provided such data, it would be interesting. But alas. request
  11. sanya
    sanya 5 August 2020 11: 38
    It is already clear that the stake will be placed on increasing the muzzle velocity and caliber
  12. K-50
    K-50 5 August 2020 11: 38
    The same "shirt" made of lead or tombak (an alloy of copper and brass),

    If we take into account that brass, in turn, is an alloy of copper and zinc, then we get a tombak - an alloy of copper with a small addition of zinc? what
    Again, brass turns out! fellow lol
  13. Eug
    Eug 8 August 2020 07: 34
    I don’t know how in Russia, but in the States a soldier will not receive insurance for injury or ... if at the time of injury he is not wearing a bulletproof vest, helmet and other standard protective equipment.
  14. rusboris
    rusboris 10 August 2020 22: 27
    The captain gave the obviousness another pearl. It remains to add that smokeless powder is used in armor-piercing bullets.
  15. nikolai55soot
    nikolai55soot 21 August 2020 08: 24
    Armor-piercing is good; designer Lobaev is preparing to hit the target at 7 km. , I just offered him the technology of shooting a sniper up to 10 kilometers, he is silent ....
    1. Evgeny Kelpsh
      Evgeny Kelpsh 21 September 2020 16: 17
      What do you suggest aiming for the horizon? I do not want to comment on Vlad's aspirations to shoot and hit very far, this is purely his personal affair, but the correctness of the results obtained raises serious doubts. No one saw the protocols of such firing, how many shots were fired and what kind of ammunition was also unknown. And how much does the rifle weigh? On "Army 2020" they actually fired from the serial OSV-96 at 2000 m and hit the third time. The problem with the scope and cartridge.
  16. Evgeny Kelpsh
    Evgeny Kelpsh 21 September 2020 16: 08
    As for the armor-piercing SP-6: Allows you to confidently hit targets protected by body armor up to 2-3 protection class inclusive at a distance of up to 300-400 meters, penetration of 7-8 mm of St3 mild structural steel at a distance of 100 meters. As you can imagine, this is such a conditional armor-piercing. .300 (7,62x67 mm) cartridges with a solid bullet have good penetration for normal caliber weapons.