It was intended as a survival aid to be used after landings and before recovery in the Siberian wilderness. The upper two smoothbore barrels used 12.5×70 mm ammunition (32 gauge), and the lower rifled barrel used 5.45×39mm ammunition. The pistol could be used for hunting, to defend against predators and for visible and audible distress signals. The detachable buttstock was also a machete that came with a canvas sheath.
TP-82s were carried regularly on Soviet and Russian space missions from 1986 to 2006. They were part of the Soyuz Portable Emergency-Survival Kit (Носимый аварийный запас, Nosimyi Avariynyi Zapas, NAZ). In 2007, the media reported that the remaining ammunition for the TP-82 had become unusable and that a regular semi-automatic pistol would be used on future missions.