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The silent death - PB Soviet pistol in Afghanistan

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

The Soviet silenced pistol PB (Pistolet Bezshumniy) is a unique 9mm firearm that was developed in the late 1960s for covert operations by the Soviet military and, lesser so, intelligence agencies. It is also commonly known as the "Soviet Spy Pistol" or "Soviet Silent Pistol." The PB pistol was designed to provide a low-profile, suppressed weapon for close-quarters combat and assassination missions. While having an aura of some Soviet James Bond tool, it was, in fact, a pretty regular Ground Forces weapon. And just like almost any other example of the Soviet Small Arms collection, it was used during the Soviet-Afghan War.

Are you looking for more? Check our Soviet Infantry Weapons of the Afghan War book.

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PB 9mm pistol

Brief history and key features of the PB pistol

While having an uncanny resemblance with Makarov PM Pistol - these two are not the same thing. PB pistol was created by A. A. Deryagin at the Central Research Institute "Tochmash". The PB is an independent system of mass changes and revisions of the mechanisms for combating the counteraction of PM. Since the shutter-casing is greatly shortened, the return spring is placed vertically in the handle, interacting through a swinging two-arm lever with the shutter-casing.

Key features and characteristics of the Soviet PB silenced pistol include:


1. Silenced Design: The most distinctive feature of the PB pistol is its integral suppressor, which significantly reduces the noise generated when firing. This made it an ideal choice for covert operations where stealth was crucial.


2. Subsonic Ammunition: The PB pistol uses subsonic ammunition, typically the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge, designed to operate at lower velocities to avoid creating a sonic boom when the bullet breaks the sound barrier. This contributes to the overall effectiveness of the suppressor.


3. Discreet Carry: The compact size and suppressed firing of the PB pistol made it easier to carry concealed and to use in situations where traditional firearms might draw attention.


4. Cultural Impact: The PB pistol has gained notoriety and recognition due to its appearances in popular media, especially in spy-themed movies, novels, and video games. It was prevalent in post-Soviet cinematography, as the 90s have seen the peak interest in silenced pistols and this one was the only available in post-Soviet lands.


The Soviet PB silenced pistol is a testament to the innovative engineering and design that emerged during the Cold War. It exemplifies the Soviet Union's approach to developing specialized covert operations and espionage tools. Today, the PB pistol remains a symbol of Cold War intrigue and a notable piece of firearms history.


Use of PB pistol in Afghanistan

Despite the common myth, the PB pistol was not used exclusively by the Special Forces. If anything, it was more of regular ground forces weapons than SpN. The special forces would rely more on silences Stechkin - APB.

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Soldiers of 70 OMBr. The guy on the right of the center has a PB pistol in self modified holster. Also note the PKT on a self made tripod installed on an armored vehicle

The PB pistol itself was used by pretty much all ground troops units: airborne, infantry - you name it. The question is, however, if they were popular. The short answer is no, which is counter-intuitive in a way. PB pistol has some valuable positive sides when compared to the next best thing - the AKM rifle with PBS-1 silencer. However, carrying an extra weapon had its draws.

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Soldiers of 66th OMBr, again with the self made holster

First of all, it was, by all means - dead weight. The situations when a PB pistol could have been used effectively were rare and having a dedicated man with a silencer could probably solve this problem in most cases. Secondly, silenced pistols are known to have stoppages, especially in rough terrains, like that of Afghanistan. But most importantly, soldiers and officers really did not like to take the risk of losing a pistol on a mission. This would come with so much headache and a potential criminal charge that any advantages that the pistol provided would easily be overweight by drawbacks. To read more on that issue, check our article on why Soviet Army did not like pistols.

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It seems, from the photos, that soldiers really didn't like the regular PB holster. It is, however, pretty cool - it has a compartment for the silencer, which has a spring to ease the process of taking the silencer out of the pouch. But this whole process still seems to be too slow - soldiers would just make holes in the regular PM holsters and put the PB with the attached silencer in there.

Some HQ photos of the PB pistol

Here are some really good photos of a real PB pistol taken from Wikipedia.

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pb pistol

pb pistol

pb pistol

pb pistol

pb pistol

pb pistol

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