The Russian OSA
Posted Nov 19th 2012 | By:
Here on this side of the pond, less than lethal weapons normally mean Tasers, pepper spray, and alarm devices. Well in Russia, things get a little more real.
Even under the repressive rule of the Tsars, private ownership of handguns, rifles, and shotguns was legal and even encouraged through the sale of surplus military weapons. In Soviet Russia, this changed as communists made it illegal to own handguns. Today these laws are still on the books in Vladimir Putin's Russia. You can own some simple shotguns and rifles for hunting purposes (with a permit) but private ownership of handguns and even powerful air guns has largely been illegal for nearly a century. Impact weapons such as batons, slaps, blackjacks, etc. are illegal as well. Even possession of a normal item, like a pipe or wrench, can be enough to charge a citizen with carrying a weapon if they have no clear reason (such as a plumber on the way to a job) to have it with them. So what do Russians use for personal defense beside bad breath and the occasional vodka bottle?
Even though Putin likes a nice trip to the range, legal handgun ownership is for military, police, and those with special permits (such as bodyguards) only-- not the common citizen.
The PB-4 OSA (Russian for "Wasp") is a break-open four barreled derringer type pistol that will not accommodate any known firearm cartridge. Made of polymers and aircraft grade aluminum, the gun will contain almost no steel other than the occasional screw. It fires one chamber at a time and is double-action-ish, as you do not have to cock a hammer. A 9-volt battery powers the electric ignition of the proprietary gas cartridges. In Russia, it is officially known as a 'traumatic gun' and when you look at the rounds, you can tell why.
It fires a 15.3mm (.60-caliber) phenolic rubber bullet with a metal core. This round fires out at about 400-fps which packs a heck of a wallop. It pokes holes in paper targets but penetrates less than an inch in ballistic gelatin (after 15-feet). At ranges less than that, especially if making a headshot, it can be lethal. For those who want more of a distraction to allow for a quick getaway, there is a non-projectile flash-bang cartridge that sounds like a shotgun going off and shoots out a two-foot long muzzle flash. It can also shoot a flare round to 100-feet high for signaling purposes (for lost hunters, boaters, etc.).
(It's in Russian, with ripped off music from Pulp
Fiction, but the footage of the OSA in action is pretty groovy)
Lately these guns have shot up in popularity in Russia, especially in large urban areas prone to crime. Russian Muslims from parts of the country such as Chechnya and Dagestan have caused quite a stir in metropolitan Moscow for shooting their legal OSAs during weddings. As any serviceman with a CENTCOM tour can tell you, it's quite a frequent occurrence for Islamic wedding celebrations in that part of the world to conclude with the firing of guns in the air. As real gatts are illegal, this provides a niche market for OSA-wielding revelers to ring in the occasion.
In several other recent cases civilians, both criminals and citizens alike have found themselves at the end of a lethal engagement with the rubber-bullet guns. This has led to a crackdown on even these devices.
To paraphrase Yaakov Smirnoff, "In Russia, even less than lethal weapon...." well you get it.
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