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First Soviet Russian Suppressor: The Bramit Device

Built by the Mitin Brothers, the Soviet Army fielded more than 10,000 of these Bramit suppressors during World War II.

First Soviet Russian Suppressor: The Bramit Device

Adopted in 1940 the Soviet Bramit Device designed by the Mitin Brothers became the first silencer to see mass production and saw heavy combat during World War II. (Photo by Janne Pohjoispaa)

While we have long covered sound suppressors, legally “silencers” according to the BATF, in Firearms News, our editorial team has decided the time is ripe to add a dedicated monthly silencer column. In the future, you will see all manner of historic and contemporary silencers, subsonic ammunition, noteworthy designers and manufacturers covered. Plus, you will see articles penned by multiple authors for various points of view and expertise. So, you will want to stay tuned. For our initial column, I’d like to look back at the first silencer mass produced in huge numbers for military use, the Soviet Bramit Device.   

The Soviets were initially quite a bit behind the US when it came to developing, adopting, and fielding a silencer. In the US, Hiram Percy Maxim patented his first silencer in 1908 and, while it may surprise many, a relatively large number of his silencers were produced for the US Army during World War I. While capable of muffling the report of the rifle, there was still the problem of the very loud sonic crack of the standard issue Caliber .30 M1906 150-grain ammunition. In the end, little if any actual use was made of them during the war. They were used in some sniper demonstrations immediately following the war, but sniping, and sniper equipment quickly fell out of vogue in the US after 1919. The US military felt sniping had been useful in the static trench warfare of World War I, but would not be needed in the future. Alas, all the lessons learned and equipment developed during the Great War were cast aside and forgotten. We will revisit the forward thinking Hiram Percy Maxim and some of his early silencers in the future.

Soviet Russia Bramit Device Suppressor
The Bramit Device consists of four main parts, not seen are the two 15mm thick disposable rubber wipes placed inside. (Photo by Janne Pohjoispaa)

Meanwhile, in Soviet Russia, the Red Army began a rearmament and modernization program in 1930. This led to the adoption of a new model of infantry rifle, the 7.62x54mmR M1891/30, and the development of specialized optics, equipment and training for sniping. The Red Army was also interested in developing and fielding silencers on both rifles and machine guns. In 1931, the first Soviet patent, No. 19494, would be issued for a “noiseless weapon.” It was issued to two amateur designers, Ivan and Vasily Mitin, but it wasn’t for a silencer. Rather, they came up with the novel idea of muting the report of a firearm by locking the powder gases from the cartridge into a limited space, thus preventing their escape into the atmosphere. While an interesting concept, it didn’t prove successful at the time and they soon moved on to more conventional designs.

From 1931 to 1938, silencers from at least four different designers were tested on Mosin rifles and a DP-27 machine gun. However, all of them had various shortcomings which precluded their adoption. In 1940, the “Mitin brothers” (Brat’ya Mitiny or Brothers Mitin) as they became known, developed a suppressor for the Soviet Model 1891/30 7.62x54mmR rifle. This passed military testing and was officially adopted by the Red Army. According to my research, while the NKVD certainly fielded the new device, the task to create one and research funding for development was from the Infantry arms department of the Main Artillery Directorate. So, it was officially a Red Army project.

Dubbed “BraMit” (for Brat’ya Mitiny) it was a relatively simple if somewhat crude device, but  robust, easy to manufacture and use. It mounted onto a rifle in the same manner as the bayonet and locked in place with a simple twist. So, no special modifications, such as muzzle threading, needed to be made to the rifle. The overall length of the device was 9.2 inches and it was about 1.25 inches in diameter and weighed 17.6 ounces. The device consisted of four pieces machined from steel. The main body, a funnel shaped internal expansion chamber, a cylindrical piece with external threads on one end and internal threads on the other and an end cap. The end cap and cylindrical piece were both knurled for easy disassembly.

The design relied on disposable rubber wipes. To use, the device was disassembled, the funnel shaped piece dropped into the main body, a 15mm thick rubber wipe was placed in the bottom of the cylindrical piece and this was threaded into place. Next a second 15mm rubber wipe was placed in the rear of the end cap and this was threaded on. Each rubber wipe had a center hole for the projectile to pass through. The device was issued with six rubber wipes and a carrying case. The wipes had a limited life of approximately 60 shots in warm weather, but this was reduced to 15 to 20 in freezing temperatures. Different types of rubber were tried with American lend-lease providing an all-weather solution in 1943.

Soviet Russia Bramit Device Suppressor
The exterior ballistics of the special subsonic ammunition was notably different, with a lower POI, than standard ammunition so sight corrections were roll marked onto the body of the silencer. (Photo by Janne Pohjoispaa)

The Bramit Device was intended to be used with a special subsonic 7.62x54mmR cartridge, the use of normal rifle ammunition was strictly prohibited. By teaming the device with subsonic ammunition, the Mitin brothers greatly reduced the muzzle signature while also eliminating the telltale sonic crack. The subsonic cartridge was loaded with a 148-grain FMJ projectile and had a muzzle velocity of approximately 853 fps. To identify them, the subsonic 7.62x54mmR cartridges initially (1940–41) received a black color coding on either the entire cartridge or just the projectile. This was changed to a green color coding on the bullet tip and cartridge base.

Obviously, the exterior ballistics of the subsonic ammunition was significantly different than the standard light ball ammunition. The point of impact was much lower. So, roll marked onto the body of the Bramit were the sight corrections for 100 to 300 meters in 50 meter increments. To hit at 100 meters required the elevation setting of the scope, or iron sights, to be set at 700 meters and to hit at 300 meters required the sights to be set at 1,200 meters. While 300 meters was considered the maximum range of the combination, field reports indicate the actual effective range to be out to about 150 to 200 meters. Terminal performance was noticeably less than standard ammunition, but it was an effective system.

If subsonic ammunition was not available, troops were instructed to break down standard rifle ammunition, discard two-thirds of the powder charge and reassemble. Alternatively, the entire powder charge could be discarded and replaced with the powder charge from one 7.62x25mm TT-30 pistol cartridge. These modified cartridges were practical for partisan units operating behind enemy lines for long periods. In the future, I’ll reload some of these partisan cartridges and test them to check their velocity, accuracy and trajectory.It will come as a surprise to many, but tens of thousands of Bramit suppressors were fielded during the Great Patriotic War (World War II).

Soviet Russia Bramit Device Suppressor
A wartime German schematic showing the internals of the Bramit Device with the rubber wipes in place.

They were issued to Army and NKVD Scout groups, snipers and partisans. Units had to provide approved lists of reliable soldiers to receive them, with the approval done by division commanders and commissars. The devices were considered secret, and the Soviets wished to prevent their capture. While very simple in design, these early silencers provided the Soviet Army with important practical experience with suppressed weapons and subsonic ammunition. Oh, and the Mitin brothers’ initial concept from 1931 mentioned at the start of this article? It was later dusted off and successfully developed into Russia’s famous captured piston series of silent cartridges used for clandestine missions.


If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.




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