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TP-82 Cosmonaut survival pistol (wikipedia.org)
174 points by BerislavLopac on Sept 6, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 74 comments

This is is exactly the type of thing I come to this site for. Showing me fringe info I don’t even know I’m interested in knowing about.

The article had a link to an AK-74, and I thought is that a typo for an AK-47? Apparently Russia moved on to the next generation in 1974 and the rest of the world remained with AK-47s?

It's all about the cost.

During WW2 and Korea, militaries generally favored larger, heavier bullets. The thinking was power is good. Over time, people realized that carrying weight is bad, and volume of fire is usually better than the power of a single cartridge – so the US moved to the M-16 (M4, AR-15) and the Soviets to the AK-74.

The sticking point is you have to have the money for BOTH:

1. Mass caliber conversion (rifle replacement, new ammo, new tooling...), AND

2. Purchase of additional, larger caliber weapons to replace the capability you lost when switching most of your forces from the intermediate cartridge to the newer, smaller bullet.

So, poorer countries tended to stick with the AK-47, and wealthier Soviet-bloc countries went to the AK-74...but there aren't too many wealthy communist countries, so the AK-47 remained the standard.

Remained with the name. AK-74 5.45mm cartridge AKM (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AKM) - 7.62mm

Wait until you hear about the AK-94!

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_laser_pistol

That's straight out of Scifi.

Seems like a movie prop. What evidence is there that this thing was a real prototype?

It's an exhibit in Russia's Strategic Missile Forces Academy museum.

Ok, that's evidence enough! Still looks like a prop though :P

Did you know that Princess Leia's blaster was not a prop but an actual Soviet handgun?


Cool! Did not know that.

If I just saw a picture of it at random, I would guess it to be a cheesy prop from an old Flash Gordon movie.

What would a laser gun look like without looking like a movie prop?

They look kind of like a telescope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn-_oWl_x90

Worth noting it took two decades from Leonov's complaint to introduction of this handgun.

Russian version of the article states that he expressed his complaint only in 1979 when he was visiting weapons manufacturing in Tula. The development started shortly after.

Soviet bureaucracy at its finest.

I thought the advanced team quickly building a log cabin to sleep in was very Russian.

I knew a guy years ago who kind-of described it as a right of passage that you would take a trip out into the woods and build your own cabin/dacha.

A Finnish friend sent me his pictures of building his, including the obligatory sauna.

Wow, just realized English has two phrases that are homonyms but mean very different things:

• “rite of passage” = “a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone's life”, “when an individual leaves one group to enter another”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rite_of_passage&o...)

• “right of passage” = right of way, “(approximately) a country's right for its ships to pass through the territorial seas of foreign states and straits used for international navigation”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Right_of_passage&...) Seems to be more often a typo for “rite of passage”.

Yes, rite of passage. Not sure how I managed to type the wrong spelling, brain seeming a bit glitchy.

It might be that Russians cooperate very well (I do definitely agree on that), but as the organisation grows bigger, it is definitely very Russian to not be able to do anything.

It's not a Russian trait, it's a common bureaucratic trait, and Soviet Union was bureaucratized over any sane limits.

One of signatures of Henry Spencer ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Spencer ) looks like this:

    Americans proved to be more bureaucratic           |       Henry Spencer
    than I ever thought.  --Valery Ryumin, RKK Energia |   henry@zoo.toronto.edu


russians (and other citizens of soviet union) transitioned from serfdom to (at the time) bleeding edge political system. It required tremendeous amounts of bureaucracy in order to enforce ex-serfs not to get any funny ideas about their current 'freedom'.

I can’t be the only one who was disappointed to find out that these weren’t designed for Cold War space combat with American astronauts.

The Salyut 3 space station had an aircraft gun mounted for defense in orbit:


Interesting. Would something like that have had an effect on the velocity of the spacecraft?

If my math is right, you'd need to fire the gun 60 times to change the velocity by one meter per second.

Absolutely! But nothing that couldn’t be corrected with station-keeping thrusters.

I'm sure there were contingency plans to use it (and the prior 9mm mentioned) during missions like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo%E2%80%93Soyuz_Test_Proj... if war broke out on Earth.

Well, US Space Command, and possible Space Force, is coming soon, so maybe you'll get your wish, just a generation or so late.

US Space Command was around for most of the time that this gun was used, it didn't go away until after 9/11

I was hoping they were in case they encountered hostile alien life forms in orbit.

See Also:

Soviet laser pistol

The talk section of Wikipedia speculates it might be a hoax. There seems to be a single reference to that pistol (and every other reference points back to that one).

My bet is that the laser pistol never existed.


Do click links in the articles. Now whether it worked or not is up to the debate (most likely not).

The link doesn't work for me. Another commenter mentioned that the laser pistol is shown in a Russian military museum, which is evidence enough for me.

Still looks goofy, though.

It does say 'survival' in the title. It never claimed they were combat pistols.

> In 2007,[2] the media reported that the remaining ammunition for the TP-82 had become unusable and that a regular semi-automatic pistol would be used on future missions.

Assuming the gun fires 28 gauge shotgun shells and standard AK74 ammunition, I can't see why the original ammunition failing would be a problem. Is there something I am missing here?

> Is there something I am missing here?

They weren't standard AK74 rounds. They were a special soft point version (5.45x39 SN-P) that were only used in these survival guns.

Couldn't someone just hand-load a different bullet into the same base cartridge? In the worst case scenario, swap out the barrel for one that can handle the standard rounds?

...or just start handing out newer, lighter automatic pistols, and save yourself some flight weight and an occasional maintenance headache.

They were already using lighter weight Makarov pistols before the TP-82, and switched to the combo gun after some cosmonauts spent the night in the Siberian wilderness and thought a small semi-auto pistol wasn't enough. But, yeah, running out of qualified ammo likely just supplied the impetus to re-evaluate the necessity of the TP-82.

More interesting is the laser pistol the USSR attempted to design for cosmonauts to carry.


But the laser gun was for blinding satellite cameras, not fending off Siberian bears.

True, but still fun, and still pretty much useless for either job.

Guessing they need ammo which has been cleared for spaceflight, as you want the ammo go up, potentially stay there for extensive amounts of time, come back down, and still be in working order.

And I guess also not go off if it is heated or shaked too much on its way to space!

Since it's stored very close to the astronauts that shouldn't be a problem. Or rather you'd have a different set of problems if your astronaut compartment was hot and shaky enough to let ammunition go off.

Even if it does go off, as long as the rounds are not chambered it's really not that big of a deal.


You don't want gunpowder burning in an oxygen rich environment, regardless of how the bullets are stored.

Good luck using a regular semi-automatic pistol as a machete!

200m effective range seems a wee bit optimistic to me considering that barrel length.

The russian version of the article gives it a 50% accuracy a 100m, so yeah, good luck with 200m.

Three barrels: two shotgun and one rifle? Wow. That's a lot of firepower for one pistol. I don't know anything about gun construction, but I'm amazed such a small gun holds together being so hole-y.

I'm surprised I've never seen these in an FPS. Seems like a unique and versatile sidearm.

I though the same thing! This would be a really cool un-lockable sidearm in Battlefield or Call of Duty!

I can't find out if it was ever actually used. Does anyone know?

Moon's haunted.

Not haunted, the man in the moon simply dug further down into the cheese layer beneath the lunar regolith when we got there and started poking things with flags.

And if you ran out of ammo, it would make a pretty decent club to beat, well, anything with.

It even has a machete in the stock.

Only in Siberia

Damn, Russians don’t do things halfway

On a similar note The Man In Black on Westworld favours https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeMat_Revolver

It was an interesting choice, and they didn't mess it up -- as I recall, some LeMat peculiarities play into the plot at one point, so the propmaster knew what they were doing.

Because I'm a nerd who grew up shooting, I've taken several runs at a "guns for writers" primer, because it's hard to get right if you don't know anything about firearms. The best rule is to avoid specifics here if you can, because naming a brand (e.g.) can back you into a corner if you don't know anything about the brand. (Case in point, I read a book a year or so ago that included a character cocking a SIG Sauer, which isn't possible.)

Point being, choosing a LeMat is a risky option for the writer because it's so unusual, so I was really happy to see they did so knowing what it was. We wouldn't really have LOST anything if they'd just given the MiB a bog-standard 1851 Colt or Single Action Army, but the LeMat adds a little depth/spice/eccentricity. It's a nice choice.

Why is this on HN? It's again another $random Wikipedia article.

Because the poster thought it might be interesting to those who frequent the site? Considering its position on the front page at time of writing I would say he thought correctly.

How long have you being here? Random Wikipedia article makes its way to the home page from time to time. Every day, ~5 Wikipedia articles is submitted to Hacker News (https://news.ycombinator.com/from?site=wikipedia.org), some have generated a lot of interesting discussions in the past.

One of the reasons I visit HN so much is precisely because of these "off topic" articles. Very often they're either interesting, thought provoking or just plain odd/unusual. That's a great thing! I have a wide range of interests so anything that tickles my curiosity is cool. Often, I find the comments far more illuminating and interesting than the original article itself.

Long may these random articles continue!

Things that become popular on HN are pretty much legitimate & on-topic by definition. The guidelines say "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity" is on-topic.[0] Off topic are "politics, or crime, or sports" but even those can have exceptions.

Posting a "why is this here?" comment is a sure fire way to be downvoted and [dead], after which practically no one will see your complaint anyway. Don't like a story? Flag it. It's the only effective way of lodging your opinion on these things.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

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