Will This Russian Handgun Become ‘The AK-47 of Pistols’?

Gear

Kalashnikov Concern, the largest arms manufacturer in Russia and industrial avatar of AK-47 inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov’s genius, is branching out beyond its iconic assault rifle. The company’s been prototyping everything from autonomous tanks to high-powered sniper rifles, but the Russian weaponsmiths seem most excited about the advanced Lebedev PL-15 pistol: It could, with luck, become what The War Zone called “the AK-47 of pistols.”


The handgun, designed in conjunction with elite Russian police and sportsmen to function as an all-purpose sidearm, is in testing now and could possibly end up in the holsters of military and law enforcement agents around the world, Kalashnikov CEO Alexei Krivoruchko told Russian news agency TASS earlier this month.

"The trials are currently underway and we hope that they will be completed this year,” Krivoruchko said. “We hope that the pistol will be sought after by the Defense Ministry and other uniformed and law enforcement agencies.”

The company’s already got a reputation for manufacturing durable and reliable weapons:

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So there’s a lot of appeal in the idea of a reliable pistol crafted in the same spirit of the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle. Here are the specs, according to TASS:

According to the corporation’s press office, the pistol chambered for the 9x19mm round is very thin — 21mm at the barrel and 28mm at the grip. It has the controls on both sides, which makes it possible for both right- and left-handed people to use it. Its characteristics ensure reduced recoil and muzzle rise and quick return to the line-of-sight.

As the press office said, the PL-14 pistol has a loaded chamber indicator, which allows the serviceman to know by touch whether the weapon is chambered or not. The pistol coupled with the modified-design chamber can fire rounds with a non-standard length.

The company first trumpeted a prototype PL-14 at a military gear convention in Moscow in 2015, before unveiling an updated PL-15 iteration of the Lebedev. In the December 2015 video below, you can watch U.S. Army Delta Force veteran and firearms expert Larry Vickers testing the original PL-14:

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Vickers’s assessment — “a pretty slick gun, accurate, very controllable and easy to reload” — echoes the frequent praise that’s followed the AK-47 in its ascent as the world’s most-used rifle. But as The War Zone points out, effectiveness may not be enough to catapult the completed PL-15 to similar iconic status:

Since 2014, the drop in the global price of crude oil, a major Russian export, and international sanctions on the government in Moscow have led to a significant decline in the overall Russian economy. The United States and the European Union both imposed travel and trade bans in protest over the Kremlin’s activities in Ukraine and Syria.

In October 2016, reports began to appear suggesting the Kremlin might have to reduce defense spending by as much as 30 percent in the coming year. At least one expert suggested the actual cuts would amount to less than 10 percent, but this would still be significant.

Based on what we’ve seen, the PL-15 certainly fits The War Zone’s description of an “AK-47 of handguns.” Whether the Russian military has the cash to elevate the flexible little gun into the world’s most ubiquitous sidearm is another matter entirely.

Photo via Kalashnikov Concern
(Photo: CNN/screenshot)

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.

Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.

Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."

Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.

Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.

Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.

"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."

Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.

Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.

"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.

Photo: Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.

Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.

Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.

When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."

Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.

Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.

Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.

Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.

"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.

"Yes," Graffam said.

The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick)

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