Is this the most lethal handgun in the world?

by | Mar 30, 2009 08:00 AM ET

This article describes the Russian GSh-18 pistol - a gun that may be the ultimate in terms of high-power concealed-carry handguns for people like police officers, secret service agents, etc.:

Russian KBP GSh-18 Pistol and 9mm PBP AP Ammo for Special Applications

Some of the more interesting features of the gun include:

- Extreme light weight because of polymer stock (like a Glock) and lightened components. Weight is 580 grams with empty magazine (video mentions 470 grams without)

- Very compact, with contoured components and a slide only 34 mm wide.

- There are no traditional safety buttons or levers. The only safety is a tiny lever integrated into the trigger.

- Can fire standard 9mm rounds but is designed around an armor-piercing 9mm round

If it will load (open in a separate window and wait at least 60 seconds), this page has excellent photos, including the internals. This page has an excellent English video describing the gun and showing it in action.

If you watch the following video, you can see that a typical bullet fired by something like an AK-47 doesn't have much of an effect on steel:

On the other hand, the GSh-18's PBP round can puncture steel plate up to 8 mm thick. It is also effective against most body armors. It does this using a high-power cartridge and a bullet with a steel core. According to this page:

To achieve good penetration, designers of KBP first developed a special, very hot version of the 9x19mm Luger / Parabellum round, with light and fast bullet with hardened steel core (4.2 gram @ 600 meters per second, or 65 grains @ 1970 fps), called 9mm PBP. PBP ammo can penetrate 8mm plate of mild steel at 20 meters, or any Class III bulletproof vest at the same range.

This video is in Russian, but it shows the gun piercing steel, operating at -50 C and handling complete immersion in water:

The description for this video points out:

The entire projectile is not normally made of the same material as the penetrator because the physical characteristics that make a good penetrator (high density, tough, hard metal) make the material equally harmful to the barrel of the gun firing the round.

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