As a coda to my earlier post about the rearming of Russia’s police (and why it’s a good thing), it’s been announced that traffic and transport police, as well as precinct inspectors (essentially local community officers) and maybe some regular beat cops will receive PB-4SP ‘Osa’ pistols firing non-lethal rounds, instead of their current weapons: conventional PM pistols or the new Yarygin PYa ‘Grach’. This comes 3 years after an initial commitment to begin use of non-lethal weapons and is a further sign of encouraging, if sometimes glacially slow police reform on he ground.
The MVD has apparently earmarked 45 million rubles ($1.6 M) for 3,800 18mm PB-4SPs. These higher-power versions of an existing civilian weapon fire metal-cored rubber bullets with a muzzle energy limited by law to 91 joules — enough to stun, even break bones, but not generally lethal unless fired at the head or point blank range. Of course, a problem is that many cases in which officers use their weapons are indeed at close quarters, and the standards of marksmanship and coolness in a crisis amongst many Russian police are pretty low, so I do fear that there will still be casualties. However, given that there is less real need for such officers to be resorting to weapons anyway, this is a step in the right direction. At least these rounds are less likely to hurt an innocent bystander through ricochet or passing through the target. (According to Izvestiya, 65 people were killed and at least 500 injured by non-lethal weapons in the past few years in Russia.)
For the real tech and gun mavens, the PB-4SP Osa (a pun: it means ‘wasp’ and also stands for Oruzha Samoobronnyi or Self-Defence Weapons), is a light, four-barrel gun firing 18.5 x 60 mm rounds using a single CR-123A high capacity lithium battery. The rounds available are the T (Trauma), the rubber bullet described above, as well as a noise and flash round (SZ), a signal flare and a solid, lethal slug.