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APB pistol- Soviet full auto suppressed handgun for Spetsnaz

APB pistol is a rare example of an automatic pistol. Better yet, it is a fully automatic and silenced, which makes it almost unique. In the western countries it is treated as a super niche, Spetsnaz-only weapon, issued to literal James Bonds. And while it was primarily associated with the GRU, it was in the utmost Soviet tradition of small arms design to silence everything that can theoretically be silenced. So, it's a no brainer that the APS faced similar fate. And it was a rather successful design!

In this blog, we have a number of articles about the Soviet small arms - all of them can be find in the directory. Even better, we have a whole book dedicated to them - with beautiful photographs of all the weapons used by the Soviet Army in the second part of the Cold War.


Genius design of the APB

As most suppressed weapons, APB was not a standalone design, but a reworked APS. The modification done to it was both simple and beautiful - the engineers have added a "fake" barrel on top of the real one, which has the thread to screw the suppressor on it. And that's pretty much it! With this simple and extremely cheap solution, Soviets managed to give a second life to now discontinued APS.

PB pistol
A photo of APB pistol from our book "Soviet Weapons of the Afghan War"

To make it more appealing to the end user, a light wire stock was designed t be used instead of the bulky wooden one. It proved to be rather useful, given that the balance has now shifted to the front of the pistol, with the added suppressor.

In 1972 this new weapon was adopted by the Soviet Army. Funny enough, the APB has outperformed some experimental suppressed submachine guns, which were competing against each other at the time. Without being tested directly with them, its characteristics have proved to be on the higher level, and the submachine gun idea was then scrapped.


Here are the brief characteristics of the APB pistol

Caliber

9x18mm

Bullet speed

290 m/sec

Weight without stock and suppressor

1100 gr

Weight in full assembly

1600 gr

Length of pistol in full assembly

780 mm

Magazine capacity

20 rounds

Realistic rate of fire

60 shots per minute


Use of the APB pistol in Afghanistan

As can be seen from the table above, the pistol in full assembly becomes quite a weapon - while still light it is still almost a meter long. For that reason, using APB as a secondary weapon was rarely a reliable solution in Afghanistan, or, in fact, anywhere at all.

On a positive side, the APB had a special holster, which could fit all the necessary parts of the assembly - pistol, suppressor and the stock. But it would not be a ready available weapon - the shooter had to put it all together before using it in the suppressed mode. While it only took seconds for an experienced used, it still was not a ready available secondary weapon.

PB pistol
A holster-bag can be see on one of the officers

In Afghanistan, just as it was intended, the APB was mainly used in the Spetsnaz unit. They had these pistol is good numbers, and, in theory, were supposed to use them quite often. They did need silenced weapons more often due to nature of the tasks and the enemies did not have any armor so the pistol could have its maximum efficiency on the battlefield. However, just like their colleagues in all other branches and units of the 40th Army, guys from Spetsnaz preferred using a more stable solution - the PBS-1 suppressor, which was installed on AKMS rifles.


“During the operations, except for instances when we acted on foot, pistols were never taken: neither PM, nor APS, nor PB nor APB. They were not popular due to the short firing range. For silent fire the AKM assault rifle with PBS-1 was used” From “Legends and myths of the Afghan war”, by Mageramov Alexander


Future fate of the APB

While being a perfectly capable suppressed pistol and one of the best weapons in its class, it has failed to find its role in the Soviet Army. Albeit giving more practical hours to the soldiers and officers, when compared to regular pistols like Makarov, it was rarely used in the actual, practical situations. Most of the memoirs which have APB mentioned in them are usually talking about how cool it was to have such pistol, but almost never about using it in fighting.

So, right now, many APB pistols are still stored and issued in the military units of the post-Soviet country. But even with the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine, not many of these pistols have surfaced and it took us quite some time and effort to find one in the forces to photograph it for the Soviet weapons of the Afghan War.

In terms of a collectible item, a very few of these have ever left the forces and hence minimal numbers managed to get into private hands. Luckily, unlike the PB pistol, the APB is structurally very similar to its base, the APS. So, making a replica is far from impossible.

PB pistol

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