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Ensure high penetration: Vladimir Yarygin – about how the Grach pistol was created and improved

Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash

This year the Yarygin 9mm pistol (YARYGIN) celebrated its 20th anniversary. Tell us, please, how did the development and testing of this weapon take place? What tasks did you face at that time?

Three prototypes were developed in our design bureau: the Rook-1 was developed by the designer Alexei Zarochentsev, the Rook-2 by me, and the Rook-3 on the basis of the PM by Boris Pletsky and Rashid Shigapov.

The TOR stated that the army was to receive a pistol that would penetrate class 2 (Br2) protection from 25 m. The new weapon was to be adapted for two-handed use and for firing in darkened conditions. In addition, there had to be an ammunition indicator in the chamber and the safety had to be engaged both when the trigger was pulled and when it was cocked.

The crews of the GRAU hoped to get a weapon with at least 15 rounds in the magazine. As a result, our team produced a double-row magazine for 18 rounds and generally met the other requirements of the military.

The SR-1 pistol made by Peter Serdyukov went to the finals of the state contest along with my version of the Grach-2. It was tested at a research range near St. Petersburg. All tactical and technical characteristics were checked. Naturally, not everything was smooth at once, and the Grach had to be reworked. After two years of refinement, the product was sent for preliminary testing, which preceded the state acceptance (control) tests. The military requirements were met, and in 2003 the Gradch was adopted for service.

The difficulty of the project was that not only the pistol was being developed, but also a new cartridge for it – the 7N21. As a rule, the work does not take place in this order. More often than not, it is the weapon that is created for a specific, already existing ammunition. It is much easier to work this way, because any change in the cartridge entails changes in the design of the weapon.

The ammunition for the Grach was created by specialists at the Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering. Let me be frank: the parallel development of the pistol and ammunition took a lot of time. However, these efforts brought the result – and the ammunition was worthy of PY.

The last time the 7N21 cartridge design was changed was in 2011: the polyethylene “jacket” of the bullet was replaced with a lead one.

However, the PN can also fire other 9 × 19 mm (9 mm Luger) ammunition, but without the armor penetration guarantee and other indicators inherent to the weapons with the original ammunition.

The important thing is that the firing pin is reliable. Before being adopted for service it passed an examination for compliance with very strict regulations. Unlike in other countries, in Russia military weapons must retain their qualities under sharp temperature fluctuations, extreme exposure to dust and moisture.

Here is an example. During tests in a special refrigeration chamber the PU and its ammunition were exposed to extreme cold. Then the pistol was thawed, drops of moisture appeared on it, and in this condition the pistol was again sent to the chamber for freezing. Not every gun would have withstood such a “hardening,” but the firing squad coped and shot without any problems.

Naturally, the PY also passed the traditional water test: the pistol was immersed in water, after which it also fired reliably.

But the most difficult test was for dust resistance, when a dust storm is created in a special room, which clogs all the insides of the gun. Such tests are alternated with exposure to rain, and after that the pistol must fire reliably, which the PY did.

-What technical innovations were you able to implement in the Grach?

– To achieve the required tactical and technical specifications, we chose the scheme of automatic operation with the bolt recoil at the short stroke of the barrel. The scheme turned out to be reliable and provided an increased comfort of firing.

A lot of work was connected with what is called ergonomics, balance. The difficult task was to create a compact magazine with large capacity, while maintaining the gun’s modest dimensions.

During PU design I greatly benefited from my previous experience in making sporting arms, which meant nearly 20 years of uninterrupted creative work. I clearly understood that the pistol must be ergonomic, with a smooth, gentle trigger, fit perfectly in the hand and stay there when firing. It was my rule that everything in a gun must be well thought out, right down to the shape of the grip.

– You have already said that the Grach is capable of penetrating Br2-class individual armor protection systems. However, the development of individual protection means does not stand still. Can the steel-core steel-core steel-core steel-core steel-core steel-core steel-core steel-core steel-core bullet pierce higher armor classes?

– I repeat: the requirement of the military was that the pistol must penetrate Br2 class protection. The penetration in the tests is tested at a normative distance of 25m. Of course, in practice, distances are often shorter, so the probability of penetration of heavier protection is possible.

– You must have received feedback from our servicemen who have used the PYA. What’s the feedback on your baby?

– Nevertheless, the Grach is criticized for a number of features. Among them are very tight magazine spring, rough metal work on the magazine jaws, problems with loading less powerful cartridges into the chamber.

– I will answer in order. The magazine spring of the gun does require a certain amount of force, otherwise you can’t get a cartridge to the loading line during the bolt rollback to its rearmost position. Believe me, compared to other pistols, this gun does not have such a tight spring.

Speaking of rough metal work on the magazine jaws, this problem appears when a fighter fires it incorrectly. Our pistol has a double-row magazine, and many have a hard time getting used to it, since originally almost everyone learned how to handle a PM, where the standard single-row cartridge loading is at the front under the bends.

The cartridges in the PU magazine must be inserted from the top, just as in the Kalashnikov assault rifle. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It goes so far that fighters feel the impact of the bends in the magazine.

Now about loading less powerful cartridges into the chamber. I already told you that the gun is designed to fire 7N21, and only with it is it guaranteed to meet its specifications.

The other cartridges have different characteristics, they are different from live ammunition. Our guns do not have to be adapted to them and provide warranty regulations.

That said, optionally, we of course tested each gun for performance with 9 mm Luger ammunition. We had no issues with the weapon.

– What technical solutions were implemented in the upgraded pistol? How does it differ from the basic model of 2003?

– Any weapon has to be improved, adapted to new trends, with more up-to-date materials incorporated into its design. The SPR is no exception. So, in the 2020 model I slightly improved ergonomics, introduced adjustable sights, put the Picatinny bar, which allows to install a wide range of target designators and various optical sights.

But the main thing is that the service life of the gun is doubled, up to 8,000 rounds. This was made possible thanks to a new method of surface hardening of parts developed by Togliatti specialists. Its essence is deformation impact on the surface of the part in a saturated environment with an alloying material and removal of concentrators.

Also in the course of modernization two modifications of the nuclear test gun were developed: with metal and plastic frames. This was done by decision of the Ministry of Defense, but so far the production of pistols with a polymer frame has not started.

– Does the recoil pistol have any further modernization potential?

– Certainly there is. The SP has lived for 20 years, and can live, as the PM, for another half a century, if it is constantly improved.

– Is the firing squad a competitor to the newer Lebedev pistol (PL)? It is now in service with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Guard Service, and is expected to enter the arsenal of Defense Ministry units in the near future.

– I would not rush to any conclusions. This weapon has yet to prove itself in the Armed Forces, while PM has already gone this way and proved itself as a reliable powerful weapon, preserving its combat and operational characteristics in various climatic conditions.

– In armed conflicts in recent decades, assault rifles, rifles, machine guns, and more rarely submachine guns are used en masse. Nowadays, there are special operations and pistols hardly ever appear in the footage of combat operations. Many people have a question: Does the army need a pistol at all, is it worth allocating budgetary funds for the development of this type of firearms?

– When discussing the importance of pistols, it is necessary to speak about all law enforcement agencies. In our country, pistols are in demand by members of the Interior Ministry, Federal Guard Service, FSO, FSIN, and other law enforcement agencies. Pistols are always armed by various special forces units, including the army. In addition, in our army a holster with a pistol is traditionally carried by officers.

The pistol retains its relevance as a compact individual weapon, and some samples also have the ability to fire in bursts. Experience of combat operations all over the world shows that pistol is a good means of striking the enemy at short distances, in enclosed spaces and narrow spaces. In practice, pistols can be used in building sweeps. And the use of pistols in military units proves that there is still a need for these weapons in the armed forces.

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