Back in 2012 I came across and article about Soviet cosmonauts carrying a firearm on their spaceships. I may have stumbled across the article by accident but it is more probable that a friend of mine directed me towards it. The other week another friend sent me an article about the gun. A few days later a third friend, who has never spoken to the other two, sent me a link on the cosmonaut’s gun. Seemed the fates were telling me I should write something about this for the blog!
The original article I saw was somewhat confusing. Much was made about the gun being a defence against bears. These are bears encountered after the space capsule has landed in a wilderness, not space bears. The Soviets seem to have been unworried about space bears! The gun illustrated looked like a sawn-off shotgun with a third barrel for rifle rounds. The rifle barrel was described as 5.45mm, which would suggest the 5.45x39mm Soviet assault rifle round. It is, however possible that the article was in error and the barrel was actually for a .22 small game round. A sawn-off shotgun with a pistol grip would not really be my first choice of weapon for defence against bears. There were even suggestions that the weapon had been withdrawn because it contravened arms treaties about weapons in space! Just to add to the confusion, my third friend informed me the gun could be uses as a handle for a machete! That didn’t sound very practical.
I decided to do a little research and by reading some additional articles a clearer picture began to emerge. Firstly, it became evident that many articles were only showing you half of the actual weapon. Rather than being a handle for a machete the weapon ingeniously used as sheathed machete as a detachable stock. The gun wasn’t intended to be a pistol, but a compact double barrelled shotgun useful for taking various small game and in extremis as a defensive weapon. The machete, incidentally, was also designed to serve as a digging implement. Apparently the weapon was withdrawn from issue due to cosmonauts’ concerns about a fellow crew member becoming crazy and using the weapon. (Sci-fi movies have taught us that one crew member always goes crazy on a space mission. Russian sci-fi is not different apparently.)
So, for today’s blog I present some links and pictures of the TP-82 “Space gun”. While researching this I came across something even more astounding!.