Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Silent Derringer

World Guns has another update and it makes for a good read, detailing as it does several Soviet-era silenced weapons. Of the bunch, the one that most took my fancy was the MSP, a weapon designed for up close and dirty work. With an over-under arrangement and barrels only 66mm long (about two and a half inches) this derringer-alike was intended for military and intelligence clandestine operations. Developed in 1972, this is definitely the sort of weapon you'd expect to find in a James Bond novel- for not only was it a small, easily concealed gun, it also fired silent ammunition. Yes, you read right- silent ammunition.

The MSP is chambered for Soviet SP-3 ammunition which operates on a very simple principle: the case holds the usual powder charge but it is contained by a piston. When the primer is struck and the powder ignited the expanding gases push the piston forward and this forces the bullet out of the case. The piston contains the gases however and, as it is these which cause most of the noise associated with a gunshot, the ammunition is virtually silent. It's an ingenious solution to the problem and requires no awkward suppressors attached to the barrel of the gun to contain the gases, allowing for a very compact and stealthy weapon.

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