The AS VAL, a silenced assault rifle, was engineered in the mid-1980s for Soviet special operations units. Its purpose was to supersede the AK-47 and AKM rifles, which lacked integral suppressors. Today, the AS VAL sees widespread use among Russian special forces.
The AS Shaft (Russian: АС «Вал»; Автома́т Специа́льный), also known as the AS VAL, is a series of Soviet-designed rifles featuring an integral suppressor. The design of these rifles was based on the prototype RG-036, which was completed in 1981 by TsNIITochMash. The rifle is chambered for the powerful 9x39mm cartridge, making it a formidable weapon in the right hands.
The AS VAL is a gas-operated, selective-fire weapon with an integral silencer. Four rows of nine holes drilled in the barrel follow the rifling, allowing gas to escape into the expansion chamber surrounding the barrel. The chamber extends about 20 cm forward of the barrel, where three baffles are located. The baffles are stamped out of a single sheet of 1 mm thickness and welded to a removable frame pressed against the front of the suppressor housing by a spring. This effectively reduces muzzle flash and muzzle report to 130 dB. However, no design features reduce the noise of the action.
This rifle uses SP-5 and SP-6 subsonic ammunition. The primary round is the SP-6 armor-piercing round. It is made of hardened steel, able to penetrate a 6 mm steel plate at 200 m and a 2 mm steel plate at 500 m. This round can defeat most military body armor at ranges of 300-400 meters. The SP-5 is a ball round fitted with a heavy bullet. There is also a PAB-9 round, a lower-cost version of the SP-6. However, the actual effective range of the AS VAL is limited to 200-300 meters due to the shaped trajectory of subsonic bullets.
The AS VAL silenced assault rifle has a collapsible metal stock that folds to the left. It is fed by detachable box-type magazines that hold 20 rounds. The magazine release button is located behind the magazine. The integral silencer can be easily removed for storage and maintenance.
Manipulation of the AS VAL is similar to many AK-type rifles, with a charging handle on the right side, tangent rear sight, a magazine release button behind the magazine well, and a safety lever above the trigger guard. However, the fire selector is behind the trigger within the trigger guard. The rifle also has an “AK-type” Warsaw Pact rail for various optical sights, such as the PSO-1-1, PSO-1M2-1, and 1-PN-51, calibrated for use with the 9x39mm cartridge. The standard open sights are graduated from 100 to 425 meters in 25-meter increments.
The action of the AS VAL is similar to that of AK-type rifles, with a similar long-stroke gas system and a piston located above the barrel. However, the design features a rotating bolt with six locking lugs and a milled steel receiver. It is worth noting that this weapon is not compatible with a bayonet or under-barrel grenade launcher.
The AS Val is a compact rifle that can be easily disassembled and concealed in a standard case, giving it a significant advantage in military trials. It saw widespread use during the Chechen campaigns and was utilized effectively by Russian special operations units in battles against terrorists. The rifle was even used to eliminate a notorious Russian mafia boss. Weighing in at 2.5 kilograms, it is lightweight and comfortable to fire. The use of subsonic 9mm rounds results in minimal recoil.
Variants and derivatives
The VSS Vintorez silenced sniper rifle is fitted with a wooden stock and a smaller-capacity magazine. The VSS Vintorez is chambered in 9 mm caliber and is still very popular among Spetsnaz.
The SR-3 Vikhr is a compact assault rifle based on the AS VAL design. It lacks a suppressor and has a new stock intended for concealed carry. Some even refer to this weapon as a submachine gun.
The SR-3M Vikhr silenced assault rifle was designed to meet an FSB requirement. The Russian FSB state security agency was looking for a weapon that would combine the features of the SR-3 Vikhr compact assault rifle, AS VAL silenced assault rifle, and Vintorez silenced sniper rifle in a single versatile weapon.
The resulting SR-3M can mount a detachable suppressor, can be used with or without it, has a redesigned foregrip with a collapsible vertical grip, Val-style safety, fire mode selector, and charging handle, uses a skeletal side-folding buttstock of the AS VAL and iron sights that have been relocated to the foregrip. There is also a side rail for various optics, and it is fed from larger 30-round magazines, though these are compatible with older 20- and 10-round magazines of the Vikhr, AS VAL, or Vintorez. The SR-3M Vikhr is very similar to the AS VAL in appearance.
9A-91 and VSK-94
The 9A-91 and VSK-94 are cost-efficient redesigns of the two rifles by the KBP Instrument Design Bureau completed in 1992, lacking the integrated suppressor. Production began in 1994.
VSSM and ASM
VSSM and ASM (6P29M/6P30M) are modern versions of the rifle, where the VSSM is equipped with an aluminum buttstock that includes an adjustable cheek and butt pad and a new 30-round magazine intended for use with the ASM. Both rifles are outfitted with Picatinny rails on the top of the dust cover and the sides and bottom of the suppressor, forward of the handguard. The shrouds around the suppressor can be removed. Deliveries began in 2018.
|Country of origin:||Russia|
|Entered service:||late 1980’s|
|Length (with folded stock):||615 mm|
|Barrel length:||200 mm|
|Muzzle velocity:||290 m/s|
|Cyclic rate of fire:||900 rpm|
|Practical rate of fire:||40 – 100 rpm|
|Magazine capacity:||20 rounds|
|Sighting range:||400 m|
|Range of effective fire:||200-300 m|