GSh-18: A pistol designed by Gryazev and Shipunov

A black handgun with a silver slide and a magazine inserted into the grip, commonly referred to as the Gsh-18 or Russian Glock A black handgun with a silver slide and a magazine inserted into the grip, commonly referred to as the Gsh-18 or Russian Glock
The Gsh-18, known as the Russian Glock, is a popular pistol in Russia (Photo: XY)

The GSh-18, developed by the KBP Instrument Design Bureau in Tula during the 1990s, is a semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9mm. It derives its name from the surnames of its designers, Gryazev and Shipunov, and its impressive magazine capacity of 18 rounds.

Introduction

The GSh-18, a Russian semi-automatic pistol, was developed in 1998 as a military sidearm to penetrate body armor. Its design was derived from the unsuccessful P-96 gun, and it was developed by renowned designers Gryazev and Shipunov, famous for their GSh-series aircraft cannons.

A close-up image of the GSh-18 pistol, showcasing its sleek design and advanced features
The GSh-18 – Designed to Take Down Armored Targets (Photo: XY)

After successfully passing military trials in 2000, the GSh-18 entered service with the Russian Ministry of Justice that same year. However, it was not until the government’s Decree No. 166 in 2003 that the pistol was widely adopted. Despite this, the Yarygin pistol ultimately became the primary sidearm of the Russian Army. Nevertheless, a limited number of GSh-18 pistols were believed to be produced for Russian law enforcement forces.

Design

The GSh-18 is a contemporary addition to the relatively small group of rotating-barrel handguns. While most rotating-barrel pistols have two or three lugs, the GSh-18 boasts an impressive ten, arranged evenly around the barrel. As a result, the barrel can rotate within a mere 18 degrees, resulting in an exceedingly robust lockup due to the considerable lug surface area.

GSh-18 highlighting its effectiveness against body armor and other tough materials
The GSh-18 – A Powerful Russian Semi-Automatic Pistol (Photo: XY)

The GSh-18, chambered for the 9×19 mm Parabellum round, was developed alongside a special PBP armor-piercing round designed for enhanced penetration. This ammunition features a lighter and faster bullet with a hardened steel core, capable of penetrating an 8 mm steel plate or any Class III bulletproof vest at 20 meters. In addition to this specialized ammunition, the GSh-18 can fire any 9×19 mm Parabellum rounds.

The pistol features a double-action trigger and lacks manual safety, although it is equipped with an automatic firing pin safety similar to a Glock 17 pistol. The frame is constructed of polymer with steel inserts and slide rails, while the slide is made of steel. The grip shape is designed for comfort, and the GSh-18 is fed from a double-stack magazine with a capacity of 18 rounds.

Although details about the mechanism are scant, it appears that the GSh-18 pistol utilizes a beveled set of lugs just behind the barrel to prevent dirt and grime from compromising the locking lugs. Despite this apparent vulnerability, the pistol passed Russian military trials with flying colors. On paper, the GSh-18 boasts several impressive features, such as good 3-dot sights (which can include night sights), a low bore axis, and a polymer frame that results in an unloaded weight of just 16.5 ounces.

The stripped-down Gsh-18 reveals its intricate design and engineering
GSh-18 stripped down to the major parts (Photo: XY)

Additionally, the mag release is reversible to accommodate left-handed shooters, and the trigger-mounted safety allows for loaded carry. The ejector doubles as a loaded chamber indicator, and the pistol can hold 18+1 rounds of 9mm cartridges. Furthermore, the magazine of the GSh-18 is designed with a double-feed system, which allows cartridges to feed alternately from the left and right sides instead of being forced into a single column at the top of the magazine.

This design, also used in the Stechkin APS, is widely regarded as superior in submachine guns. It reduces spring pressure on cartridges, making feeding more reliable and magazine loading easier. Equipped with simple iron sights, the GSh-18 is reported to operate accurately.

Variants

The GSh-18, also known by its GRAU index 6P54, has several variations to suit different needs. In 2012, the GSh-18 Tactical was unveiled with a Picatinny rail, a new receiver, and the ability to install a silencer.

The GSh-18 also has a civilian version, the GSh-18S “Sport,” which features a modified trigger and firing pin and a 10-round detachable box magazine. Another civilian version, the GSh-18 “Sport 2,” boasts an 18-round detachable box magazine and a modified trigger.

The GSh-18T is a non-lethal variation that uses MP-80-13t .45 rubber bullets.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Russia
Manufacturer:KBP Instrument Design Bureau
Caliber:9×19 mm Parabellum
Weight (empty):580 g
Length:183 mm
Barrel length:103 mm
Muzzle velocity:600 m/s
Magazine capacity:18 rounds
Sighting range:50 m (?)
Range of effective fire:~ 50 m
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