December 08, 2021
One interesting tidbit many do not know is that while developing/testing subsonic ammunition prior to the adoption of the 9x39mm cartridge, Russian engineers dabbled with the 7.62x25mm. This was during development work focused on replacing the subsonic 7.62x39mm ammunition fielded by Spetsnaz and Scout units. Their goal was to develop a quiet but accurate subsonic load with sufficient penetration and terminal performance for effective use in combat.
One combination they tried was loading the 7.62x25mm M1930 “Tokarev” cartridge case using the 152-grain bullet from 7.62x54mmR 7N1 “Sniper” ammunition. This actually made a lot of sense as the smaller case capacity of the 7.62x25mm cartridge was beneficial in a subsonic cartridge. The case was also well designed for use in automatic weapons, production machinery was readily available and the Soviets were very familiar with producing it.
The chosen projectile is of suitable weight and length for the small pistol cartridge, and was readily available. Plus, QC on it was held to a higher standard, due to it being intended for sniper use. Plus, this projectile was designed with an early yaw cycle, to improve terminal performance.
While this loading proved both very quiet and accurate, it lacked the terminal performance and penetration the Russians were looking for from their next generation of subsonic ammunition. They eventually developed and adopted the 9x39mm to replace the subsonic 200-grain 7.62x39mm ammunition then in service. I'll also mention the Chinese People's Liberation Army fields a similar cartridge, called the Type 64, which is very similar to this Russian design. Unlike the Russians though, the Chinese actually fielded it with their Type 64 and later Type 85 silenced submachine guns. I thought it was an interesting concept, and currently doing some testing with it. I thought I would share what I was up to and see if anyone had any thoughts or comments!
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About the Author:
David M. Fortier has been covering firearms, ammunition and optics since 1998. He is a recipient of the Carl Zeiss Outdoor Writer of the Year award and his writing has been recognized by the Civil Rights organization JPFO. In 2007 he covered the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist.