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Self-loading Small Size Pistol


Caliber 5.45 x 18 mm
Dimensions and weight 
Total weight (with loaded magazine)  510 g
Total weight (with empty magazine) 460 g
Overall length   155 mm 
Barrels length  85 mm 
Fire characteristics
Bullets initial speed 315 m/s
Practical rate of fire 30 rpm
Magazine capacity 8 cartridges
Sighting range 25 m

In 1973 the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant began producing the 5.45mm PSM small self-loading pistol developed by a group of Tula designers: Tikhon Lashnev, Anatoly Samarin and Lev Kulikov. Before designing the PSM pistol in 1969, they had already accumulated rich experience in developing sports and hunting weapons. The same group headed by Lashnev had developed a rapid fire sports pistol. Subsequently, they used its separate design features to create the PSM pistol. The cartridge for the pistol was developed by Antonina Denisskaya, designer from the Precision Mechanical Engineering Central Research Institute.

Conceptually, the PSM is a pistol for concealed carrying. In terms of length and weight, it is listed on the lower bracket of pistols known in the world as service compact sidearms. Owing to the overall dimensions and weight of this class of pistol (overall length from 150 to 178 mm, empty weight from 0.500 to 0.810 kg), they can be carried in clothing pockets without the holster. In foreign countries, the 9mm short Browning cartridge (9x17 mm) is the most commonly used cartridge for such pistols.

The designers of the cartridge-pistol complex, apparently inspired by the idea of creating a compact pistol possessing sufficient destructive power, had to develop a new and unique 5.45mm cartridge. In terms of overall dimensions, the 5.45mm MPTs pistol cartridge is virtually identical to the 6.35mm Browning pistol. In terms of muzzle energy, our cartridge surpasses the Browning cartridge by 1.2 to 1.5 times and is somewhat better than the 5.6mm circular-ignition high-velocity cartridge (.22LR HV). In terms of specific energy (ratio of muzzle energy to bullet cross section area), the MPTs cartridge surpasses the 6.35mm cartridge 1.5 to 2 times and the 5.6mm cartridge 1.1 times. This characteristic determines the depth of bullet penetration into soft tissue and penetrating effect.
     The cartridge dimensions and power predetermined many design features of the pistol, which can in general be referred to as traditional. The pistol operates on the blowback principle, i.e., the simplest and most reliable principle of operation. It has a hammer-type double-action firing mechanism. The safety catch at the rear of the slide, when engaged, blocks the firing pin and slide and releases the hammer from the sear notch. The disassembly procedure is very much similar to that of the Makarov pistol: the trigger guard needs to be pulled down before separating the slide.
     Although externally traditional, the PSM pistol also has expedient and useful design features. When the magazine is inserted into the receiver, the trigger guard thrusts against its front wall and prevents disassembly without withdrawing the magazine. The safety catch thumbpiece in the "safe" position is turned upward; when disengaging the safety with the thumb, the firer can simultaneously cock the hammer, enabling him to avoid double action firing during the first shot. Consequently, the first and subsequent cartridges are fired at the same trigger pull. The magazine side walls are provided with wide slots to receive the knurled lugs of the follower, which facilitate magazine loading.
     The pistol was primarily intended for army high command staff. However, owing to its insignificant dimensions, especially small thickness (21 mm across the safety catch), it soon became popular with security and law enforcement personnel. The PSM was also appreciated by higher echelon Party functionaries.
     The great political changes in the world during the late 1980s and early 1990s led to the appearance of the Russian small pistol on the Western arms market, which was noticed by the European and American media specializing in weapons. Publications about the PSM pistol appeared in the Swiss magazine Internationales Waffen-Magazin (June 1992) and American Fighting Firearms (Spring 1994).
     Western experts highly appreciated above all the firing accuracy of our pistol. During pistol trials at a distance of 10 m, P. Grimm and T. Hartl from Switzerland obtained a five-shot dispersion diameter of 16 mm (from a sitting supported position). N. Stadman from the Fighting Firearms recalls that the dispersion diameter was 25 to 30 mm in the standing position firing at a distance of 7 m.
     The pistol boasts excellent ergonomics: the recoil energy is only 0.9 J and, according to N. Stadman, "the firing dynamics and noise level are comparable with pistols for the 5.6mm circular ignition cartridge. The recoil is close to zero, and the pistol jumps insignificantly. Despite its small thickness, the pistol is very comfortable to hold and does not reveal any sideward displacement tendency noted in other thin-grip pistols and revolvers". The trigger pull in single action firing is 1.8 kgf, close to the virtually ideal pull established by Western standards.
     However, Western experts were most impressed by the penetrating power of the 5.45mm bullet. N. Stadman reports that they fired at multilayer packages of antibullet Kevlar fabric attached to a timber sleeper at a distance of 8 m. The bullet pierced 45 layers of Kevlar and penetrated the timber support to a depth of 10 to 15 mm without any deflection from its trajectory. During firing at a package of 55 layers of Kevlar, the PSM bullet fully pierced it, but still emerged from the package at an angle of 45 degrees through four layers of Kevlar. The bullets were not deformed once (including previous successful firings at packages with 17 and 34 layers of Kevlar). Other experts conducted their own tests (although with thinner Kevlar packages) and became convinced of the effectiveness of this miniature bullet. Clearly no modern flak jackets offer protection from this bullet.
     Drawing on the PSM standard pistol, enterprise designers developed an export version, the IZh-75. Bearing in mind the destructive criteria for weapons imported to the U.S.A., the enterprise developed the pistol, nicknamed Baikal-441 and chambered for the 6.35mm Browning cartridge that is widespread in Europe and America.
     The Baikal-441 differs from its predecessor in terms of caliber, backsight adjustable in elevation and deflection, chamber status indicator and improved grip shape.
     The PSM pistol is a unique firearm, combining high cartridge effectiveness and small dimensions and weight, making it the ideal weapon for personal self-defense.

Characteristics of Small Pistols

Pistol Erma EP752 Walther PPK PSM Baikal-441
Caliber, mm 5.6 (.22LR) 7.65 (.32 ACP) 5.45 6.35 (.25 ACP)
Barrel length, mm 84 83 85 85
Overall length, mm 155 155 155 156
Empty weight, kg 0.59 0.59 0.46 0.48
Magazine capacity, rds 8 7 8 8
Backsight fixed fixed fixed adjustable
Double action option yes yes yes yes

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