PP-19 Vityaz: A modern submachine gun for Spetsnaz

Author: Eric Sof

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The PP-19 Vityaz is a Russian submachine gun developed in 2004 by the Izhmash small arms. It is based on the AK-74 and shares many parts with it. Vityaz’s predecessor was the PP-19 Bizon. The gun was designed for the Vityaz, an elite anti-terrorist unit. Vityaz is also the Russian word for knight, which explains the weapon’s name.

Introduction

The PP-19 Vityaz is a submachine gun developed as an improved version of the PP-19 Bizon. Like the Bizon, it is based on the AKS-74U compact assault rifle and shares many parts with it. The Bizon, introduced in the early 1990s, was notable for its unusual 64-round helical magazine. However, the design was not very successful and was only produced in limited numbers.

PP-19 Vityaz with Zenit tuning
PP-19 Vityaz with Zenit tuning (Photo: Wiki Commons)

In contrast, the Vityaz has a more conventional appearance while still being based on the AKS-74U. The Russian police have adopted it, some other law enforcement agencies and the Russian FSB security agency. Production of the Vityaz began in 2008.

Design

The Vityaz is a blowback-operated submachine gun chambered for the standard 9×19 mm ammunition used in Russia. The initial version of the Bizon, on which the Vityaz is based, was chambered for the less powerful 9×18 mm Makarov ammunition. The switch to more powerful ammunition significantly improved the Vityaz.

The weapon is built on the shortened receiver of the AKS-74U, which allows for a high degree of parts commonality between the two weapons. This simplifies the production of the Vityaz and reduces its development and production costs. However, because it is a submachine gun rather than an assault rifle, it lacks a gas system, and its internal mechanisms had to be redesigned accordingly.

PP-19 Vityaz with flashlight
PP-19 Vityaz with a flashlight (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The Vityaz submachine gun can penetrate some body armor using the 7N21 armor-piercing ammunition. It has a combined safety and fire mode selector switch in the Kalashnikov style, which can be uncomfortable to use. It has settings for “safe,” “semi-auto,” and “full-auto.” Unlike the PP-19 Bizon, which had an unusual 64-round helical magazine, the PP-19 Vityaz is fed from traditional curved 30-round magazines.

The initial version of the Vityaz had a flip-up rear sight with settings for 100 and 200 meters, but these were later replaced with Kalashnikov-style rear sights. There is also a bracket on the left side of the receiver that can be used to mount a Picatinny-type scope rail. The effective range in open areas is around 50 meters, and the weapon is not particularly accurate. It was designed primarily for close combat inside buildings but remains lethal at ranges up to 200 m. A detachable silencer can be equipped.

Variants

The original version of the Vityaz submachine gun featured a standard side rail and no railed dust cover. This was later updated to become the Vityaz-SN, which removed the side rail and added a railed dust cover. The PPK-20 is a further modernization of the PP-19 Vityaz, developed and manufactured by Kalashnikov Concern. It uses the AK-19 stock and is issued with AK-9 style handguards and a new suppressor.

Kalashnikov USA KP-9
Kalashnikov USA KP-9 (Photo: Recoil Magazine)

The Saiga-9 is a semi-automatic pistol-caliber carbine version of the PP-19 Vityaz with a 345 mm barrel and is sold on the Russian civilian market by Kalashnikov. In the United States, Kalashnikov USA (not associated with the Kalashnikov Concern) manufactures the KP-9, a 9.25-inch barrel clone of the Vityaz, and the KR-9, a 16-inch barrel clone of the Vityaz.

Users

The Vityaz submachine gun is used by the Namibian Marines and was adopted by the Russian Interior Ministry in 2005. It is also used by various Spetsnaz units of the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service, and the Federal Guard Service. In July 2020, the 9mm PPK-20 variant with improved ergonomics, ammunition, and reliability, as well as a silencer, completed state trials and was approved for serial production. The Russian Aerospace Forces have also decided to include the PPK-20 submachine gun in the survival kit for military pilots. Police forces in Uruguay also use the Vityaz.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Russia
Manufacturer:Izhmash small arms, now Kalashnikov Concern
Entered service:2008
Caliber:9×19 mm
Weight (unloaded):2.75 kg
Length (stock extended):687 mm
Length (stock collapsed):450 mm
Barrel length:240 mm
Muzzle velocity:360 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire:800 rpm
Practical rate of fire:40 – 120 rpm
Magazine capacity:30 rounds
Sighting range:200 m
Range of effective fire:50 – 100 m
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