Russians Armed With TOZ 82 Multi-Caliber Gun at International Space Station

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“For decades, the standard Soyuz survival pack included a deluxe all-in-one pistol called the TOZ 82 with three barrels and a folding stock that doubled as a shovel and contained a swing-out machete,” space junkie journo James Oberg writes at spectrum.ieee.org. “There were a few dozen rounds of three types of ammunition—rifle bullets, shotgun shells and flares—in a belt attached to the gun.” This is not new news. What’s interesting: Oberg now claims the Russkies have stopped packing the TOZ 82 for their flights to the International Space Station. I’ll explain how he came to that conclusion in a moment. First, some tales of multi-national TOZ 82 training on the Black Sea . . .

In the early years of the ISS, NASA astronauts also trained with the TOZ 82. Familiarization usually took place during survival training in the Black Sea, when the crews trained to safely exit a spacecraft floating on the water. After floating around in the water for a day or two, the astronauts and cosmonauts would take a few hours to fire several rounds from each chamber off the deck of the training ship.

“It was amazing how many wine, beer and vodka bottles the crew of the ship could come up with for us to shoot at,” astronaut Jim Voss, who spent a stint aboard the international space station in 2001, told me. “It was very accurate,” he continued. “We threw the bottles as far as possible, probably 20 or 30 meters, then shot them. It was trivial to hit the bottles with the shotgun shells, and relatively easy to hit them with the rifle bullets on the first shot.”

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Astronaut Dave Wolf, who spent four months aboard Russia’s Mir space station in 1997-98, agreed that the space weapon was “a wonderful gun.” He added, “I found it to be well-balanced, highly accurate and convenient to use.”

Mike Foale, the only astronaut who served aboard both Mir and the international space station, trained with the gun and found it to be pretty standard. “Other than firing flares, birdshot and a hard slug from its three barrels, during sea and winter survival training, I can’t say it is very unique,” he told me. He added, as if in reassurance, “The Soyuz commander controls its use.”

OK, so Oberg addresses the central question: do Cosmonauts have access to the TOZ 82 onboard the International Space Station, just in case crew relations become a bit . . . strained? He says they did, but don’t now.

“The pistol is still on the official list of kit contents,”Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti recalled the Russian review committee chairman saying. “But before every mission we meet to review that list and vote to remove it for this specific flight.”

The reasons for this remain obscure. Her crewmate, Terry Virts, told me he suspected it was connected with the transfer of the cosmonaut training center from military to civilian jurisdiction. And there is growing pressure in Russia to return the center to military control.

So it’s clear that while there are, as of now, no guns aboard the space station, the option remains to put a pistol back on board a future mission. Maybe a special treaty IS needed, and those diplomats might earn their keep!

And maybe they’re lying. And maybe American astronauts are not without their own personal defense weapons . . .

[h/t JE]

comments

  1. avatar ST says:

    Since one knows not what kind of creatures await on the landing site, I vote our boys and girls should carry Dan Wesson 10mm 1911s. Yes I know Glock makes a perfectly good pistol, but ‘Murrica, OK?

    Who am I kidding. Obama will instead mandate our astronauts wear plastic instead metal lapel pins, lest we bring a “potential weapon” into international territory…

    1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

      What about a M41 Pulse Rifle that fires a 10mm armor piercing caseless around for when they come mostly come at night….Mostly.

      1. avatar NickinTX says:

        Why don’t you put her in charge man!

    2. avatar Anonymoose says:

      How about one of those new 10mm P220s?

    3. avatar John Doe says:

      Guys, guys, what we OBVIOUSLY need is a couple of those handy dandy .50 BMG Thompsons from Bioshock 2. (Duh)

  2. avatar jomo says:

    “And maybe they’re lying. And maybe American astronauts are not without their own personal defense weapons . .”

    Really? Under the Obama/Putin administrations? It is almost a certainty that the TOZ-82 is still on board the Soyuz, since Vlad the impaler wouldn’t accept letting squeamish Western sensibilities get in the way. It’s also a certainty that any self-defense gear US astros might have had were quickly taken away when Barry took office. Not that I believe for one second they ever had any.

  3. avatar Rokurota says:

    Question of the Day: What firearm for space? (Per “Outland”, NOT a shorty shotgun)

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      If Battlestar Galactica taught me anything, it’s that the answer to that question is a Beretta CX4.

      1. avatar Nick D says:

        And if Firefly taught me, it’s a lever action .44 magnum, with “Vera” providing back-up.

        1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          If never watching never a sci-fi program in my life has taught me anything… It’s that I’m glad I don’t know what the hell you two are talking about.

        2. avatar ShaunL. says:

          I prefer the Calico from SpaceBalls.

        3. avatar martin says:

          Ah great gun” Six men came to kill me one time. And the best of ’em carried this. It’s a Callahan full-bore auto-lock. Customized trigger, double cartridge thorough gauge. It is my very favorite gun … This is the best gun made by man. It has *extreme* sentimental value … I Call Her Vera.”

        4. avatar JasonM says:

          I’d rather have a modern Earth rifle than Vera. For some odd reason, Vera needs an atmosphere to fire. While any traditional 9mm, 5.56, 7.62, etc. can fire in a vacuum, because the case contains all the reagents needed for the reaction.

        5. avatar Slicer87 says:

          If Star Wars taught me anything, it’s either a Sterling L2A3 SMG, MG34, Lewis LMG, Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII, Calico M950A, or a Mauser C96. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAJSRXil_vw

    2. avatar Nick D says:

      I would recommend the Glock 36. Small, light, and can be loaded with frangible .45 ACP, so as not to penetrate the hull and get everybody sucked out into the black.

      If long guns are needed, HK UMPs in .40 or .45, also loaded with frangibles, with 20 gauge shotguns loaded with #4 shot for riot suppression.

      1. avatar JasonM says:

        Spacecraft hulls are quite thin and flimsy. A frangible round will go right through them.

        1. avatar Nick D says:

          Fine, get an AR-15, cover it in rails, and cover every rial with bayonets. Then just throw it down the hallway and dare somebody to catch it.

          Maybe we should just stick with crossbows?

      2. avatar int19h says:

        Hence, cutlasses! Yarrr!!!

    3. avatar John L. says:

      GyroJet. Why not use the tool designed for the job?

    4. avatar Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      If my misspent youth playing Star Frontiers is any indication..

      Gyrojet!

  4. avatar Swarf says:

    That’s a pretty badass gun.

  5. avatar former water walker says:

    Space gun? How ’bout a phaser or a Star wars blaster 🙂

    1. avatar Phil COV says:

      The Star Wars blasters have terrible accuracy.

      1. avatar Rokurota says:

        Not if used by Imperial Stormtroopers.

        1. avatar Not applicable says:

          Rokurota,
          You mean ONLY if used by Imperial Stormtroopers.

        2. avatar Slicer87 says:

          Stormtroopers mowed down the rebels onboard the blockade runner and on Hoth.

        3. avatar Rokurota says:

          “Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.” The man said it.

    2. avatar Mr. Antisocial Guy says:

      You need to have some kind of spacey stun weapon that will make the target become unconscious without causing permanent injury. It also must not be able to damage the space craft in any way. The only weapon that would have those qualities would be an iPod loaded with Obama speeches like was given to Queen Elizabeth II of England by “you know who”.

  6. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    As interesting as this is…

    It’s not half as intriguing as how Warren Buffett could make me a millionaire or the list of which rappers are now broke…

    Those are some top notch ads you got there.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      *snerk*

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      Wait, so you didn’t come to a site about guns to see “Celeb Red Carpet Fails” or before-and-after photos of bad plastic surgery? What the hell are you here for, then?

      Seriously, though, the ads have gotten really trashy lately…

  7. avatar martin says:

    I think our boys should be armed with
    DL 44 Heavy blasters although they tend to make a person shoot first.

    1. avatar Rokurota says:

      Nothing beats a BlasTech!

      1. avatar Coxsone says:

        Torgue because, well, EXPLOSIONS.

  8. avatar John A. Smith says:

    We should give ours a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “The Soviet Almaz secret military space station program was equipped with a fixed 23mm autocannon to prevent hostile interception or boarding by hostile forces.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salyut_3#On-board_gun

      Pic – http://tranquilitybaseblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-cold-war-instead-of-space-war.html

    2. avatar 16V says:

      The US and the CCCP were both working on manned space missions to shoot film for a few days then return to earth with the boatload of film intel. Fortunately satellite tech made it irrelevant before it came to fruition. But the Russkies were ready, and armed for, well, whatever….

      http://www.russianspaceweb.com/almaz_ops2.html

  9. avatar John D. says:

    The 13mm rocket firing MBA Gyrojet handgun made in the 1960’s was rumored to have been specifically developed for usage in space.

  10. avatar anonymous says:

    And maybe American astronauts are not without their own personal defense weapons

    Cue the Mark Kelly jokes in 3, 2, 1, …

  11. avatar ShaunL. says:

    Also…. I REALLY want one!

  12. avatar Phil COV says:

    A good pointy stick. You’re gonna fire a slug in a compressed oxygen cylinder? A: Don’t miss. B: I hope your target is 250 lbs.

    1. avatar ST says:

      At least bullet drop won’t be a problem.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        No, but you will have to take orbital mechanics into consideration. It’s weird and screwy. Moving around in orbit isn’t intuitive.

        But at the short range you will likely be when shooting someone on the ISS, probably won’t matter.

        1. avatar int19h says:

          There is a multiplayer first-person shooter that takes place in orbit, in a zero-G environment, with all the associated mechanics (like recoil actually sending you flying backwards… the suits have recoil compensators, but you can turn them off to use it to full effect). Pretty entertaining, and certainly very different from your stock FPS.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shattered_Horizon

    2. avatar Nick D says:

      If they load it with frangible rounds it shouldn’t be a problem. I would imagine a space station would have some kind of defense against micrometeors. Also, in close quarters, I would imagine any fights could be concluded with a single buttstroke from that gun.

      1. avatar Drew says:

        There are some techniques developed for that purpose but I don’t believe they are used on iss. Besides those methods are supposed to protect the hull from puncture from outside. The shield may well stop the bullet… After it punctures the hull.

    3. avatar Phil COV says:

      The whole exercise reminds me of the COD Ghosts space levels. But I think those were AK variants.

      1. avatar Fer Morales says:

        Those were Tavors. And I bet they would puncture the ISS hull pretty easily.

  13. avatar Phil COV says:

    It’s basically a Taurus Judge with a meat cleaver-stock. Sold!

  14. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    A short barrel led drilling. Sweet!
    Watch your grip on the shoulder thing though…

  15. avatar Geoff PR says:

    The version I have heard of the story as to why the gun was there in the first place was that one mission, they re-entered hundreds of miles from where they were supposed to be.

    So there they were, in the middle of bum-phuque nowhere, and as night fell the local wolves took an interest to their presence.

    They were picked up some long hours later (maybe 2 days or so, can’t remember) and the gun was in their survival pack after that.

    The Russians also managed to pack not a small amount of vodka. Something about bottles of vodka mysteriously appearing from the arms and legs of the Russian space suits.

    1. avatar Royal Tony says:

      Yep. The Space Russkies used to carry Makarovs on board, but after that incident they quickly realized how useless a Mak is for survival in the frozen woods. Hence, the sawed off drilling with the meat cleaver stock.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      That’s the story I heard. American astronauts came down in the ocean. They got water purifiers and fishing gear. Russians came down in vast streaches of mostly unihabited wilderness. Lots of bears and wolves. They got guns.

      1. avatar Drew says:

        According to comentors on that blog there is no reason to ever have a gun in a survival kit. One guy challenges us to name a single incident when a bear or other animal has EVER attacked a human, like EVER!! Name ONE time he says! Another guy blames modern American gun culture for this decades old soviet decision to take a disgusting gun to space. There is some real intilectual talent over there.

  16. avatar Patrick says:

    If I was an american astronaut I would bring my glock 17 into space with me. Not because I needed superior firepower to the cosmonauts. But because I could then go for a space walk and shoot at the moon. I think I would need an orbitology expert to calculate the lead for me though. I’m not sure why but ripping through a mag of 9mm in space seems like a great deal of fun.

    1. avatar Nick D says:

      Shooting at the moon would be fun. Did the math on this, and if you were using a 115 gr 9mm NATO load, with a muzzle velocity of 1300 fps, it would take the bullet about 11.393 days to actually hit the moon. So, unless you feel like just empty a mag into deep space, knowing that it will eventually hit something, you’re going to need to plot the orbit of the moon parallel to your location in orbit around the earth, and fire at the moon a week and a half in advance to hit it. This isn’t that hard, as the moon is big target, and gravity will help make sure that if you get close enough, you will hit eventually.

      Now, really impressive would be trying to hit the lunar lander with a pistol from a quarter of a million miles away.

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        There are a couple of other things you would have to fit into the calculation. First is the orbital velocity of the ISS. Second is the fact that the bullet would have to reach escape velocity, which, as I recall, is about 17,000 MPH (or 6,120,000 fps). So the trip would be much shorter if such velocities are reached, or would never leave earth orbit.

        1. avatar JSF01 says:

          Escape velocity can have a variety of values depending on what you are escaping. I believe the 17,000 MPH is the velocity required to make it into earths orbit (the ISS velocity is about 17,150 MPH).

          I did a quick search for the Delta V required to make it to the moon from low earth orbit and it looks like it’s 5.93 km/s (In orbital mechanics every thing is based on the change of velocity or Delta V so to make it to the moon from LEO you need to accelerate another 5.93 km/s to go back you would decelerate or more accurate accelerate in the opposite direction of your velocity vector 5.93 km/s). So in order to shoot the moon you would need a bullet that fires at 19,500 fps.

      2. avatar Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        Now, really impressive would be trying to hit the lunar lander with a pistol from a quarter of a million miles away.

        So, a .45ACP then.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          See all the craters in the moon? That’s where the .45 acp impacted.

        2. avatar 16V says:

          Karl Lippard already has made the claim…

    2. avatar Phil COV says:

      Would a gun fire in a vacuum? Doesn’t gun powder require oxygen to accelerate the bullet?

  17. avatar knightofbob says:

    A quick internet search turns up several articles about the TOZ/TP-82 having been retired back in 2007. All indications are that the specialized ammunition (unique 5.45×39 and 32-gauge birdshot) produced specifically for the space program had all run out or expired.

  18. avatar Ralph says:

    If the astronauts are attacked, do they have a duty to retreat, or can they stand their ground?

    1. avatar Drew says:

      What ground?

  19. avatar bontai Joe says:

    This actually has a shoulder thingy that goes up!

    1. avatar Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      But does it have a compass in the stock?

  20. avatar Ben Molina says:

    Why not the M41A, loaded with 10mm explosive tipped caseless?

  21. avatar Leo says:

    From what i read the reason they stopped using that gun is that all ammo for it is past its exp date and the do not make it anymore

  22. avatar Beeblebrox says:

    If they made one of these that took standard ammo I bet it would sell like gangbusters. I know I would buy two, just for the novelty. One to shoot and one to keep as a collectible.

    1. avatar Drew says:

      Build one, you would need a tax stamp to make it as seen (or two? Would you need one each for the rifle portion and the shotty?) but it could be made in a common caliber/gauge. The real question of course is just that, and what scale to build it at. Scaled up to 12guage/.308 it might not be a short barrel after all.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        If it was legal without all the xtra hoops to jump thru I’d take one in 20ga over .357 or .45 colt. With a folding stock, not one of those machete thingies that go up.

        As a foraging gun birdshot from the 20 ga would do for pot meat and the pistol caliber barrel would bring down any bigger critters like deer.

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