During the Cold War years, Russian Special Forces were looking at a weapons system that could be used as a sub-sonic round but they were also looking for something that gave better armour penetrating abilities than the existing 7.62×39’s that they were using for covert operations. Spetsnaz units at that stage were using rifles fitted with detachable silencers and loaded with 7.62×39 US (Umenshennaya Skorost – Low velocity) ammunition. To achieve subsonic velocity along with acceptable ballistics, these cartridges were loaded with heavier bullets, but its performance was still inadequate. It was during the mid-1980’s that TsNIITochMash (The Central Research Institute of Precision Engineering) in Klimovsk unveiled the 9×39, which was based on the standard 7,62×39 M43 case necked up to 9mm. it was launched in two variations, namely SP-5 (standard ball with lead core, and was intended for accurate sniper work out to 300-400 meters) and SP-6 (armour-piercing bullet with hardened steel core, which could defeat typical military type body armour at the ranges of up to 300-400 meters).


SP-5 mild steel core.


SP-6 Armour Piercing with hardened steel core. Able to penetrate helmets and heavy Kevlar body armour out to at least 200 meters. Second specimen is a dummy load.


7N12 bullet providing increased accuracy and penetration. Second specimen is a new commercial production for Wolf Performance Ammunition