"A badly crafted thing always makes me protest."
Igor Yakovlevich Stechkin was born in 1922 year. The young years of the Soviet designer were held in the Tula region (Aleksino), but his family moved to TNU at 1935. For a long time, Stechkin’s friends and relatives could not understand how an intelligent young man who grew up in a family of a forensic expert who had never been apt to be in military business could have a desire to take part in the development weapons. At the same time, many noted the passion of the grandfather of the future designer of both cold and firearms. Giving his beloved work a lot of time and effort, the pensioner managed to infect them and his close relatives - family friends were surprised to note how easily his wife handled fishing gear, and his grandson could easily repair his gun by the age of twelve, and later even got several personal trunks.
“They said that right after birth, they began to swaddle me on the pedestal where my father’s revolver was kept. Maybe it influenced the choice of craft. "
The uncle of the designer, an outstanding scientist who left a noticeable mark in the field of hydrodynamics and heat engineering, was not deprived of an inventive talent. Thanks to the theory of thermal calculation put forward by him aviation, as well as - air rocket engines he entered history as one of the founders of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI). On the maternal line, Academician Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovsky, known as the first director of TsAGI in history, was a relative of Stechkin. That is why the desire of Igor Yakovlevich already in his youth to devote himself to science, namely, the design of weapons became a natural event. The extraordinary abilities of this person extended to everyday life - he easily repaired complicated equipment, electrical appliances, and even built furniture himself, cast jewelry, and even drew well. On the table and in Stechkin's closet there were always stored construction tools, to which he addressed on the very first free minute.
After graduating from high school in 1941, he entered the Tula Mechanical Institute. Even then, the bright abilities of the future designer of weapons allowed him to loudly declare himself. Successful defense of the thesis on the topic “7.65 mm caliber self-loading pistol” in 1941 under the guidance of N.F. Makarov brought him the opportunity to take a seat in the CDB-14, where his duties included the development of small arms. The members of the department of small arms were surprised not only by the student’s ability to easily navigate complex drawings and diagrams; but also the innovative ideas put forward by him, many of which even seemed to them very implausible. However, the point in all doubts was put by a blank cartridge from a pistol, the creation of which took about two years of hard work of the brilliant young man. Stechkin received an "excellent" and in May 1948, he became an engineer. Nine-centimeter pistol, equipped with a large-capacity store and giving the opportunity to conduct both single and automatic firing - this is exactly what the first task looked like, which the designer started at the new workplace.
A distinctive feature of the classic submachine gun is shooting from the rear sear, in which the primer is broken by a rigidly fixed drummer, while the bolt reaches the front position and in parallel is sent to the cartridge chamber of the cartridge itself. The significant mass of the shutter, which is from 500 to 700 grams, causes a change in the position of the weapon itself during its direct movement to the front position. When firing single shots, this significantly affects its performance. When maintaining continuous fire, the design of automatic weapons, especially involving a change in the firing mechanism, does not give a high accuracy rate. The reason for this is that the high rate of fire, carried out in the conditions of the moving parts of the extreme positions, provokes significant fluctuations of the weapon, because of which the ultimate goal is reached no more than one or two bullets fired from the weapon. Thus, an improvement in the design of the pistol had to be implemented in two directions: reducing the rate of fire to approximately 600-800 beats per minute, and also ensuring the possibility of firing from a closed bolt. This problem could be solved by introducing a new element in the design - the retarder. Its main task was to increase the response time for the trigger mechanism.
Later, the designer recalled that the number of requirements for a new type of weapon included the ability to conduct both single and automatic long-range shooting (up to 200 meters), the presence of a large magazine of cartridges, and the ability to use a holster as a butt. The first prototype, submitted by Stechkin after the approval of diagrams and drawings, had a magazine with twenty cartridges available. Factory testing took place from 24 January 1948 to 14 January 1949. Despite the fact that, in general, the results of the work were highly appreciated by the test commission, significant design flaws were discovered: a very large mass of the pistol and holster, low accuracy of the fight, unwanted self-switching of the translator. Based on the results of these tests, it was decided to make two samples of the new pistol for conducting field tests, which took place in 1949 during the period from April 16 to June 22.
A comparative analysis of the new development with the Sudadev submachine gun and the Mauser "Astra" convincingly proved that the national model of the weapon was not inferior to the PPS and even surpassed the Mauser in many respects. The sighting range up to 200 meters, the possibility of conducting lengthy skirmishes without the need for frequent reloading of weapons, a wooden holster were essential arguments in favor of developing Stechkin. Despite the flaws of the model found and noted during the test, the commission members recognized the pistol’s compliance with the technical and tactical requirements and recommended that the model be sent for further improvement work.
“This gun is like first love. Later I wondered where so much strength and skill came from. Fidel Castro kept Stechkin under the pillow, Rutskoi found him the most suitable weapon. And who and where else applied it, I do not even remember. ”
On the court of the commission were also presented models of weapons, developed by Voevodin PV, as well as - Kalashnikov MT. During the competition, the Vojvodina model was withdrawn from further participation due to the fact that it did not pass the basic tests. The technical and tactical characteristics of the model presented by Kalashnikov were found to be inappropriate to the requirements put forward even after it was finalized. As a result, the Stechkin model has emerged as the absolute leader, demonstrating the optimal fit of the design to the actual order at that time.
Performed according to the classical scheme, the first sample assumed the presence of a recoil spring under the barrel, as well as a trigger mechanism equipped with an open trigger. The fuse levers located on the casing gate served in parallel as a translator of fire and a magazine of cartridges. However, the design of the gun still needed serious refinement: in addition to the above deficiencies associated with the substantial weight and unreliability of the holster and the pistol itself, it was characterized by instability of the moderator operation, the low life of the spring of the sear and the transmitting lever, as well as the presence of sight installations only on 25 75 meters. Separately, significant time spent on assembling the model and its unattractive appearance were also noted.
The result of Igor Stechkin's hard work was a more sophisticated model of a pistol. The mass of the holster and of the entire weapon itself was significantly reduced. Shock, trigger and deceleration mechanisms were significantly refined; the time for parsing and assembling the pistol was reduced about four times. The number of parts has been reduced, the elements that make up the structure are considerably simplified, and the accuracy of shooting is increased due to the improved design of the holster-butt. Additionally, the installation capabilities of the sight at twenty-five, fifty, one hundred, and two hundred meters were introduced; the head of the flag is significantly increased, and the return spring is already placed on the trunk. Changing the shape of the bolt, the angle of the handle and the change in the overall length of the gun significantly influenced the appearance of the weapon. After testing the improved model, the commission was completely satisfied with the result and decided on the need to issue a large batch of weapons in order to conduct tests in various weather conditions.
Finally, the Stechkin pistol was adopted by the Soviet Army on December 3, 1951. The new type of weapon was given the name APS (Stechkin automatic pistol). It was intended to equip crews tanks, border guards, officers departing for “hot spots”, as well as for soldiers of a number of special forces. The high demand for Stechkin’s pistol was explained by its good firepower and compact size, making it suitable in situations in which the use of more bulky weapons is impossible (among tankers, pilots, etc.). The development of Stechkin had no analogues in the West until the end of the fifties of the twentieth century. Due to an unprecedented increase in crime in the 80-90s of the last century, the APS was widely used among the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a more powerful replacement for the standard Makarov pistol. Even today, this gun is successfully used in many military operations around the world, representing a high-quality alternative to personal self-defense weapons.
“I absolutely do not understand politics. Once Chernomyrdin arrived in Tula. I was entrusted to hand him a Cobalt pistol. I had to go to my brother and find out who this Chernomyrdin was after all. Fortunately, this was the first and last time I met a politician. ”
The result of many years of labor I.Ya. Stechkin became the honored Order of the Red Banner of Labor, medals "For Labor Difference", "For conscientious work in the Great Patriotic War", "Badge of Honor", a badge of Tula "For merits to the city". Also, an outstanding scientist became the winner of the Stalin Prize, USSR State Prize, as well as the SI Prize. Mosin. The last award awarded to Stechkin was the title of "Honored Designer of Russia", awarded to him by the President of the Russian Federation at 1992.
As a developer of very popular weapons, Stechkin has always recognized that his true role is not in attack, but in defense. Friends remember him, first of all, as a humble person who did not like undue attention to himself and was not seeking either for wealth or luxury. He lived with his wife and youngest son named Yaroslav in a simple two-room apartment, where most of the furniture was bought for the Stalin Prize and has never been updated since that period.
“I can firmly say that I am Monogamous. In my life there was one wife, one apartment, one work, one car. I have a pencil that I have been using for a hundred years. ”
Igor Yakovlevich until the last day worked at the Central Design Research Bureau of sports and hunting weapons, which was a branch of the notorious Instrument Design Bureau of the city of Tula. Even a serious illness could not stop this person. Having confined himself to a sick-list, in spite of his advanced age and deteriorating state of health, he continued to work. The list of his works includes guns "Berdysh", "Dart", "Pernach"; Cobalt revolver; the shortened “Modern”, “Abakan” submachine guns, as well as the “Fagot” and “Konkurs” anti-tank missile systems. In total, the scientist is the author of more than fifty inventions and over sixty developments.
“By order of special services in the fifties, I made a spy gun. For him, a special cartridge was invented, which does not produce any noise, smoke or flame at the moment of the shot. During the test of the pistol, we blurted out the wall of the workshop, almost immediately realizing that on the other side of the wall was a portrait with Stalin. The bullet passed just a couple of centimeters from the portrait. We are very lucky.
After Stechkin's health condition deteriorated significantly, he was transported home, where his son and ex-wife were caring for him until the last day. TsKIB supported the talented designer by allocating money for drugs, but this did not help. Igor Yakovlevich died on November 28 of 2001 cancer in the hands of his own son. He was seventy-nine years old. This happened almost on the eve of the 50 anniversary celebration of the adoption of the famous Stechkin pistol, the first creation of a genius developer. He was buried at the Tula City Cemetery. A lot of people came to the funeral. They carried red carnations to the coffin as a token of memory to a talented person who left a noticeable mark in the history of Russian weapons business.