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SR-3 (539-14).jpg
9×39mm SP-6 (7N9) cartridges with blue-tip armor-piercing bullets
Type Rifle, subsonic
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Production history
Designed Began in 1940s, finished in 1980s
Parent case 7.62×39mm
Case type Rimless, bottleneck
Bullet diameter 9,25 (SP-5)
9,26 (SP-6)
Neck diameter 9.98 mm (0.393 in)
Shoulder diameter 10.36 mm (0.408 in)
Base diameter 11.35 mm (0.447 in)
Rim diameter 11.35 mm (0.447 in)
Rim thickness 1.50 mm (0.059 in)
Case length 38,76 (SP-5)
38,78 (SP-6)
Overall length 56 mm (2.2 in)
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
16.8 g (259 gr) SP5 280 m/s (920 ft/s) 658–723 J (485–533 ft⋅lbf)

The 9×39mm is a Soviet / Russian rifle cartridge and is the world’s longest developed modern bullet.[1]

History and design[edit]

It is based on the Russian 7.62×39 mm round, but with an expanded neck to accommodate a 9 mm (.356 caliber) bullet. The cartridge was beginning to be designed in the 1940s by a team of a supposed 27 unknown members, but was later finished by N. Zabelin, L. Dvoryaninova and Y. Frolov of the TsNIITochMash in the 1980s. The intent was to create a subsonic cartridge for suppressed firearms for special forces units that had more power, range and penetration than handgun and some rifle cartridges. The 5.45×39 mm cartridge introduced in 1974 for the AK-74 lacks sufficient bullet weight (at 53 gr to 80 gr) for acceptable energy at subsonic velocities. The bullet of the 9×39 mm is approximately 16 g (250 gr), double that of the normal 123 gr 7.62×39 mm round, and is subsonic. This slow velocity does not produce a sonic boom, but does limit the muzzle energy and effective range of a weapon when compared to non-suppressed rifles. The round has an effective lethal range of 400 to 530 meters and a maximum penetration of up to 10 mm of steel. Like the 5.45×39mm cartridge, 9×39mm SP-5 features an airpocket in the tip, which improves its capability to yaw after impact, and thus increase its effect on soft tissue.


Cartridge SP-5 SP-5UZ SP-6 SP-6UCh PAB-9 SPP BP
Type sniper test (increased charge) armor-piercing training armor-piercing sniper (increased penetration) armor-piercing
Bullet weight [g] up to 16.8 about 16 up to 17.3
Muzzle velocity [m/s] 280–320 280–320 280–320
Muzzle Energy [J] 658-860 678-886
Maximum penetration up to 8 mm of steel up to 10 mm of steel

SP-5 (7N8) - The SP-5 (СП-5) (SP: Spetsialnyj Patron; "Special Cartridge") was developed by Nikolai Zabelin. It is a conventional lead core FMJ bullet, but developed for accuracy.

SP-5UZ - The SP-5UZ (СП5-УЗ) is an SP-5 variant with an increased charge intended for a factory-specific strength testing of the weapons.

SP-6 (7N9) - The SP-6 (СП-6) was developed by Yuri Frolov. It has a hardened metal armor-piercing core. It can penetrate 2 mm (0.079 in) of steel at 500 meters or 6 mm (0.24 in) of steel, 2.8 mm (0.11 in) of titanium or 30 layers of Kevlar at 200 meters. At 100 meters it penetrates 8 mm (0.31 in) of steel, while retaining enough power to neutralize a soft target behind it.[2]

SP-6UCh - The SP-6Uch (СП-6Уч) is an SP-6 variant intended for training.

PAB-9 (7N12) - The SP-6's bullet is expensive, so an attempt was made to make a lower-cost version of the cartridge. The PAB-9 (ПАБ-9) used a stamped rather than machined steel core. It sacrificed too much performance to be usable. As of 2011, its usage is prohibited.[3]

SPP - The SPP (СПП) (SPP: Snaiperskie Povishennaya Probivaemost; "Sniper - Increased Penetration") is a sniper round with an increased penetration.

BP - The BP (БП) (BP: Broneboin'ie Pulya; "Armor-Piercing Bullet") is an armor-piercing round.


The 9x39mm cartridge and some of it’s weapons are currently being banned in some war zones due to the unethical and “overpowered” nature of the round. There is a bill being put in place named “The Vladikavkaz 9x39mm Subsonic Round Restriction Certificate“ and is unknown if it will continue to stay in effect. Not much is known of this certificate.

See also[edit]


  • Jane's Infantry Weapons 1997-98[4]


  1. ^ Николаев, Андриан. "Патроны для стрелкового оружия - Военный паритет" [Ammunition for firearms]. Militaryparitet.com (in Russian). Retrieved 2013-12-08. 
  2. ^ "Специальные патроны СП-5, СП-6 и ПАБ-9" [Special bullets SP-5, SP-6 and PAB-9.]. artillerist.ru (in Russian). 2008-04-02. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved 2015-03-24. 
  3. ^ "Специальные патроны СП-5, СП-6 и ПАБ-9" [Special bullets SP-5, SP-6 and PAB-9.]. artillerist.ru (in Russian). 2008-04-02. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved 2015-03-24. 
  4. ^ Jane's Infantry Weapons 1997-98 (23rd ed.). Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group. p. 458. ISBN 0-7106-1548-5. 

External links[edit]