SR-3 Vikhr: A specialized silenced assault rifle in 9x39mm caliber

Author: Eric Sof

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The SR-3 Vikhr is a compact, specialized assault rifle designed to fire subsonic 9x39mm ammunition. Developed by TsNIITochMash specifically for Russian law enforcement, this weapon’s design is based on the AS Val rifle. Despite its small size and weight, the SR-3 Vikhr is a costly weapon, limiting its mass production for the Russian military. Instead, it is primarily utilized by Russian Special Operations Forces and select government officials’ security teams. The acronym “SR” represents “spetsialnaya razrabotka,” meaning special development.

Introduction

The S-3 Vikhr, developed in the early 1990s, was tailored specifically for law enforcement agencies. Originally intended for use by state security operatives and special VIP security teams, its original design lent itself well to concealed carry. According to some sources, production of this weapon began in 1994. The SR-3 and its improved variant, the SR-3M, are currently used by the Russian presidential guard, FSB operatives, elite law enforcement, and police units.

Comparison of Soviet-designed rifles, the SR-3M, AS Val, and VSS Vintorez
An image showing the SR-3M compact assault rifle at the top, the AS Val silenced assault rifle in the middle, and the VSS Vintorez silenced sniper rifle at the bottom. All three rifles are Soviet-designed and feature unique characteristics, such as integral suppressors and specialized ammunition. The image provides a visual comparison of the different models and allows the viewer to appreciate their similarities and differences (Photo: XY)

After introducing the SR-3 Vikhr, the FSB established new operational requirements to combine the best qualities of the SR-3, AS Val, and VSS Vintorez, resulting in the creation of a new variant known as the SR-3M (СР-3М).

Design

The Vikhr is a variation of the Val but without an integral silencer. The original SR-3 could not mount one, making the Vikhr more compact than its predecessor. This weapon features a different stock and simplified sights. Some refer to the Vikhr as a submachine gun due to its size and ballistics, but it is a gas-operated weapon that fires from a closed bolt – a feature typically found on assault rifles, not submachine guns.

A right-side view of the SR-3 Vikhr
A right-side view of the SR-3 Vikhr (Photo: XY)

The Vikhr uses the same 9×39 mm special subsonic ammunition as the Val. The primary round is the SP-6 armor piercing, which can penetrate 6 mm steel at a distance of 200 meters. Additionally, there is the SP-5 ball round with a heavy bullet and the PAB-9, a cost-effective alternative to the SP-6. At close ranges up to 100 meters, the 9×39 mm ammunition offers superior penetration compared to 9×19 mm pistol rounds used by submachine guns and 5.45×39 mm or 5.56×45 mm ammunition used by compact assault rifles. Additionally, 9×39 mm bullets typically do not ricochet, making them safer to use in urban environments or when firing inside buildings.

The Vikhr is equipped with a fire mode selector located within the trigger guard, behind the trigger, allowing the weapon to be fired in semi-automatic and full-automatic modes. It also features an ambidextrous safety lever above the pistol grip. The charging handle on the Vikhr is located over the foregrip, unlike the AK-style charging handle found on the original Val.

This weapon utilizes the same 20-round capacity magazines as the Val assault rifle and can also accept 10-round capacity magazines from the Vintorez silenced sniper rifle.

The original Vikhr featured a folding buttstock, but the improved production model now has a similar buttstock to the Val silenced assault rifle. The Vikhr also has simple iron sights with 100 or 200 meters settings and a side-mounted rail for various scopes and night vision sights. However, the weapon’s effectiveness is limited by its short barrel and the shaped trajectory of subsonic bullets. It can’t be equipped with a bayonet or under-barrel grenade launcher.

Variants

SR-3M

The SR-3M Vikhr is a modernized version of the silenced assault rifle. The “M” in the designation stands for “modernized.” The FSB sought a weapon combining the features of the SR-3 Vikhr, the Val, and the Vintorez into one versatile weapon. The SR-3M can mount a detachable suppressor and be used with or without it. It also features a redesigned foregrip with a collapsible vertical grip.

A left-side view of the SR-3M equipped with a suppressor and PSO-1 scope
A left-side view of the SR-3M equipped with a suppressor and PSO-1 scope (Photo: XY)

It has the Val-style safety, fire mode selector, and charging handle. The SR-3M has a skeletal side-folding buttstock, and iron sights have been moved to the foregrip and a side rail for various optics. It is often seen with a PSO-1, 4x magnification scope, graduated for 9×39 mm ammunition. The SR-3M is fed from larger 30-round capacity magazines, which are also compatible with older 20- and 10-round magazines of the Vikhr, Val, or Vintorez.

SR-3MP

The SR-3MP is an improved version of the SR-3M. It includes a dovetail rail mount for attaching various optical sights and two Picatinny rails on each side of the handguard for mounting laser sights, tactical flashlights, and other tactical accessories. An additional rail is added below the pistol grip to allow for the folding stock to be mounted for operators wearing full-face shield masks, bullet-proof helmets, or night vision gear, enabling them to aim by the shoulder without the stock getting in the way.

The SR-3MP rifle fitted with a suppressor and an optical sight on its new Dovetail rail mount
SR-3MP rifle, a compact assault rifle equipped with a suppressor and an optical sight mounted via its new Dovetail rail mount. The image shows the rifle’s sleek design and advanced features, such as the suppressor that enhances its stealth capabilities and the new Dovetail rail mount, which allows for the attachment of various optical sights (Photo: XY)

Technical specifications

Country of origin:Russia
Manufacturer:TsNIITochMash
Entered service:1994
Caliber:9×39 mm
Weight:2 kg
Length:640 mm
Length (with folded stock):395 mm
Barrel length:156 mm
Muzzle velocity:270 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire:900 rpm
Practical rate of fire:40 – 60 rpm
Magazine capacity:20 rounds
Sighting range:200 m
Range of effective fire:up to 200 m
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