PSS: A Special Purpose Silent Pistol

Author: Eric Sof

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The PSS is a silent pistol that utilizes recoil operation and is chambered in the unique 7.62x42mm SP-4 ammunition. Dubbed the “MSS Vul” by its creators at the TsNIITochMash special weapons foundry, it was engineered during the 1980s for covert operations and reconnaissance. The PSS was designed to supersede the outdated PB-silenced pistol and was officially adopted by the Soviet Army and KGB Spetsnaz in 1983.

Introduction

The Soviet Union developed the PSS silent pistol for special forces, reconnaissance units, and KGB operatives. This innovative weapon, which operates on a sealed cartridge system, was designed to overcome the limitations of earlier double-barreled pistols, such as the MSP and SP-4M, which were restricted to only two shots.

A soldier holding a black PSS silent pistol with the magazine removed
A soldier wearing camouflage fatigues and a tactical vest holding a black PSS silent pistol in his right hand while the magazine is out of the pistol (Photo: XY)

The PSS boasts compact dimensions and utilizes special noiseless ammunition, eliminating the need for a traditional silencer. Despite its effectiveness and popularity among elite units of the Russian armed forces and special law enforcement units, the PSS was never exported outside of the Soviet Union. However, it may still be in service with some former Soviet republics.

In 2011, the PSS was succeeded by the PSS-2, which uses the more powerful silent 7.62×43 mm SP-16 cartridge. This updated weapon variant continues to be used by special operations units today.

Design

The PSS is a recoil-operated pistol designed with a silent slide to align with its purpose of silent operation. Except for its slide’s guide rod, which is located above the barrel rather than on the pistol frame, the PSS follows traditional conventions.

The PSS is chambered for the special 7.62x42mm SP-4 ammunition, which features an integrated silencing mechanism through a gas-sealing piston that pushes the bullet. This locking of all powder gasses within the strengthened case makes the PSS much quieter than most conventional pistols with suppressors. However, this ammunition is relatively low power and lacks penetration compared to standard pistol ammunition, with an effective range of only 25 meters.

PSS Silent Pistol is also known as Vul
PSS Silent Pistol is also known as Vul (Photo: XY)

It is worth noting that special noiseless ammunition of a similar design was used in the Soviet Union as early as the 1970s. Additionally, the PSS features a special design that slows down the slide on the final stages of movement to prevent clanking noise, an improvement over the older PB-silenced pistol with a suppressor that had significant sound reduction but generated significant noise from the clanking of the slide.

The PSS has a double-action trigger, and a manual safety switch mounted on the slide. It is fed by a single stack magazine that holds six rounds and has simple iron sights with a sighting range of 50 meters and an effective range of 25 meters. Its compact dimensions make it easy to conceal.

A diagram that shows how the PSS action works
A diagram that shows how the PSS action works (Photo: XY)

Variants

A few years ago, Russia developed a new version of the PSS, known as the PSS-2. This new model is based on the original PSS silent pistol but incorporates features of the SR-1M pistol and includes various improvements. The PSS-2 silent pistol utilizes newly developed SP-16 noiseless ammunition and was adopted by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in 2011.

PSS-2 the successor to the famous PSS silent pistol
PSS-2 is the successor to the famous PSS silent pistol (Photo: XY)

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Soviet Union
Manufacturer:TsNIITochMash
Entered service:1983
Caliber:7.62×42 mm SP-4
Weight (empty):700 g
Weight (loaded):850 g
Length:170 mm
Barrel length:35 mm
Muzzle velocity:200 m/s
Muzzle energy:190 Joules
Magazine capacity:6 rounds
Sighting range:50 m
Range of effective fire:25 m
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1 thought on “PSS: A Special Purpose Silent Pistol”

  1. what good is it if it has limited penetration? Penetration = effectiveness and is the ultimate purpose of any firearm and all ammunition.

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