"Clamshell" from Tula

Image source: warspot.ru

In the 80s and 90s, due to the aggravation of the criminal situation in a number of countries, there was a demand for quite exotic weapons in the form of folding submachine guns of concealed carry. Their fate eventually turned out differently, and the Russian PP-90 and PP-90M for some time became the standard weapon of police operatives.

Shooting " radio receiver»

Immediately after the end of World War II, Czech engineers designed several variants of submachine guns with a folding magazine receiver. In the ZK 383H and ZK 466 prototypes, in the transport position, the attached magazine was folded from the bottom forward and located under the barrel along it. Such weapons in the Czech army were planned to equip the crews of armored vehicles, cars and aircraft. A little later, a similar version of reducing the size of the weapon was used in the French MAT-49 submachine gun, which was produced in large quantities for airborne troops. Almost in the same period, another similar French MGD submachine gun was produced in small quantities, which later, in the 50s, was manufactured by the West German firm ERMA under the designation PM-9.

Czech ZK 383H and ZK 466 submachine guns

Image source: Miroslav Shada

In the 80s in the United States there was a surge of interest among designers and inventors to this type of weapon as folding submachine guns. Researchers attribute this to the wave of attempts on a number of famous people, but it is difficult to give the palm to any of the developers. The last experiments of inventors and businessmen Connor, Bixler and Boatman with folding submachine guns M-21 and UC-9 date back to April 1986, but we are much better known folding model FMG company ARES, patented in December 1986. At the same time, the company filed a patent application in April 1984.

Despite the striking external similarity of the samples, they have a different internal structure, which speaks in favor of parallel and independent development. The weapon consisted of two pivotally connected halves, which when folded looked like a small pencil case,or disguised as a portable radio. Within seconds of unfolding such a product, the submachine gun was ready for use. Soon, due to the tightening of gun legislation in the United States, such weapons were outlawed. Developers and potential customers quickly lost interest in such exotic designs.

ARES FMG Submachine Gun

Image Source: ARES Inc

In 2008, the well-known company for the production of accessories for small arms Magpul introduced its version of the folding submachine gun FMG9. From similar designs, it differs in the maximum use of plastic parts and weight comparable to the Glock 18 pistol.FMG can use standard magazines for Glock pistols to feed ammunition. In the future, information about the new American weapons of hidden use disappeared from the official sources of the developer company.

"Box" against the robber

At the very end of the 80s, in the interests of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, the development of many samples of special small arms began. Such work was also carried out in the Tula Instrument Design Bureau (KBP). As the chief designer of the KBP V. P. Gryazev recalls, the history of the PP-90 began in one of the offices of the Ministry of Defense Industry of the USSR. The proposal of A. G. Shipunov to combat the rampant banditry to create a "box"that will allow its owner to give the robber "money in the form of a queue" V. P. Gryazev and V. N. Valuev took seriously. Already in 1991, such a " box " really appeared, but not among Soviet citizens, but among Russian law enforcement officers.

Weapons from the first prototypes showed impeccable reliability and accuracy of automatic shooting. The Interior Ministry ordered 60,000 PP-90 units, which were required to be delivered within three years. For the first time, KBP employees were able to successfully organize the mass production of 20,000 such submachine guns annually. To date, it remains a mystery where such a large number of non-standard weapons are located, since the available open sources of information do not allow us to confirm such high figures and indicate more modest indicators (about 2000 units annually).

jpg "title=" PP-90 submachine gun, 1991">

PP-90 submachine gun, 1991

Source image: CIBAO

In 2000, the specialists of one of the American specialized magazines, for the first time acquainted with the Russian PP-90 (and only by advertising booklets), hastened to make their not entirely objective conclusions. At first, complaining about the ignoring of the Tula specialists of the American patent, placed in the public domain, they came to the conclusion about the striking similarity of the PP-90 with the American folding submachine gun company ARES. When converted from the metric system to the inch system and then rounded up, the overall dimensions in the folded state were identical to tenths of units in inches. At the same time, in the official advertising booklet of the company ARES of the same period, data on the dimensions of FMG are different and are given with an accuracy of thousands of units. The rest of the parameters that did not match were rejected by the Americans as questionable. Perhaps they were afraid of the declared according to their own information cost of 280 US dollars for one PP-90 — with such prices, you can really bring down the American arms market. For example, the same UC-9 submachine gun from a modified batch of fifty copies in 2012 was offered at all at a cosmic price of $ 12,500 per unit. But, as it turned out, the real story of the Tula "clamshell" was far from the painted picture of conscious disregard for international law.

PP-90 submachine gun, 1994

Image source: V. Kuzmin

In the official Russian patent for the invention of the design of concealed small arms (claimed in December 1991), issued to V. P. Gryazev and V. N. Valuev in 1993, there is a direct reference to the American patent issued to ARES. It was the American submachine gun that was chosen by the Tula designers as a prototype, the shortcomings of which they tried to eliminate in their invention. So, in the PP-90, the butt and magazine are laid out simultaneously, and the trigger guard consists of two parts and also folds. In the American FMG, the magazine turns under the action of a spring and gravity after the butt is opened, and the trigger does not have additional protection. On the receiver of the PP-90 there are folding front sight and rear sight with the possibility of fixing in both positions. Several more new technical solutions related to the design of the bolt, cocking handle and butt lock.


With the mass of positive properties and characteristics of the PP-90 in the process of trial operation, a number of shortcomings were revealed, which were eliminated in the new upgraded version of the PP-90M. It is in this version that the weapon has a single-fire mode. Almost all elements of the design have changed from the magazine to the shutter. From the muzzle of the barrel, the thread for installing a silencer disappeared, which could now be attached with a latch. Above the receiver cover in the slots of the sighting devices, it is now possible to install a laser designator. Serial production of the PP-90M began in Tula around 1995. To achieve the same impeccable reliability in folding submachine guns, the Tulyaks did not succeed, the production of the PP-90M was curtailed (according to one version, later all samples of the PP-90 and PP-90M were withdrawn from use).

PP-90M submachine gun with silencer and LCC

Image source: the Magazine "Arms»

Once again, we have to solve the Tula "tricks" with the designations of weapons. Everyone is well aware of the Tula PP-90M1 with a screw magazine, which, with such a similar designation, is not even a distant "relative" of the PP-90. As it turned out, in the 90s, under this designation, the Tulyaks developed an export modification of the PP-90M for a 9×19 mm cartridge. From the PP-90M, it differed mainly in the refinement of the product for a more powerful 9-mm cartridge. In turn, the PP-90M1 was a continuation of slightly earlier work on the PP-92, which, like the PP-90, did not have a single-fire mode. However, the export prospects of the "Parabellum clamshells" PP-92 and PP-90M1 remained promising. But a submachine gun with a screw magazine Tula KBP probably managed to sell abroad under the designation of a product already ready for export.

PP-90 and PP-90M were adopted by the internal affairs bodies of the Russian Federation in December 1996, and opposite these two products is marked "for the period of wartime". Perhaps it is in these few words that the secret of the huge number of submachine guns released is hidden, which are not only almost impossible to see now, but also difficult to find in archival photos of that time. In this case, such weapons must be stored in the warehouses of the Ministry until the specified period. Also, the Tula "clamshell" can be found in the arms of some units of Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Mongolian soldiers are firing PP-90M

Image Source: gsmaf.gov.mn

Ukrainian " Goblin»

In 1994, in the Kiev Design Bureau of Special Equipment (KBST), designer I. M. Alekseenko did not escape the temptation to develop his own version of the folding submachine gun in the hope of attracting the interest of the special services of Ukraine. The Goblin submachine gun, with many similarities with American and Russian models, still had several of its original features — forced air cooling of the barrel, a mode of shooting with twos, a long stroke of a lightweight bolt. In KBST, even a folding version of the "Gnome"assault pistol was created. Despite the optimism of Kiev engineers, such weapons did not interest either local security forces or foreign consumers.

Goblin submachine gun»

Image Source: nvimu.com.ua

Good APB, but not the one!

In 1993, naturally appeared and ungainly version of the submachine gun. PP-93 had almost the same appearance as the PP-90, only in the unfolded form. The folding function in the new product remained only at the butt. Having retained the automatic system with a free shutter from its predecessors and, accordingly, high accuracy for its class of weapons, the PP-93 attracted the Ministry of Internal Affairs more than the PP-90, and in 1994 it was planned to start mass production at the Kovrov Mechanical Plant. Probably, this did not happen, because no PP-93 with Kovrov roots has been found to date.

PP-93 submachine gun, 1995

Image source: V. Kuzmin

In 1995, the model PP-93, equipped with a silencer PBS-PP-93, received from the Tula strange designation APB, while becoming an automatic silent pistol. It is not clear whether this decision is dictated by the customer's requirements or by the developer's specific interests. It is strange that special purpose units are still armed with automatic APB pistols designed by A. S. Neugodov based on the Stechkin pistol (APS). Such a coincidence can not be an accident and, perhaps, indicates a desire to offer a replacement for these very Soviet APB with minimal bureaucratic and legal consequences.

In addition to the standard silencer configuration, the APB has an antabka on the receiver for attaching the belt and a modified butt plug that allows it to be folded with a silencer or laser designator installed. However, due to the peculiarities of attaching such additional accessories, the shooter has to choose which of the two devices will be attached to the weapon at the moment. At the same time, the LP-93 laser designator is supplied at the request of the customer.

Shooting from the APB. Author's photo

Image Source: warspot.ru

APB was manufactured in Tula until the end of the 90s and entered the special purpose units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. Such weapons were also exported. The well-known samples of the 2000s are a reworking of the PP-93 of old stock made in the 90s. Known and later PP-93, equipped with a silencer G-PP-93. At the same time, PP-90M and PP-93 are still offered to potential customers on the official website of the Tula KBP.

Characteristics of submachine guns













Weight with empty magazine, kg





1,97 / 2,0

Weight with loaded magazine, kg





2,27 / 2,3

Magazine capacity, cartridges




20 / 30

20 / 30

Dimensions when folded:

Length, mm






Height, mm




169 / 225

169 / 225

Width, mm






Length in the unfolded state, mm






Barrel length, mm


n / a


n / a

n / a

The rate of fire, RDS./min







  1. 9 mm special small-sized submachine gun PP-90. Technical description and operating instructions PP-90.00.000 TO
  2. 9-mm submachine gun PP-93. Technical description and operating instructions PP-93.00.000 TO
  3. 9mm automatic pistol for silent shooting. Passport APB. 00. 000 PS

Ruslan Guk

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