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APS

Underwater assault rifle

APS underwater assault rifle

At the time of its introduction the APS was a unique weapon with no known analogues

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service mid 1970s
Caliber 5.66 x 120 mm
Weight (without magazine) 2.46 kg
Weight (loaded) 3.4 kg
Length 823 mm
Length (with folded stock) 615 mm
Barrel length 300 mm
Muzzle velocity 335 mm
Cyclic rate of fire (air) 600 rpm
Practical rate of fire ?
Magazine capacity 26 rounds
Sighting range 30 m
Range of effective fire (air) ~ 50 m
Range of effective fire (5 m under water) 30 m
Range of effective fire (20 m under water) 20 m
Range of effective fire (40 m under water) 10 m

 

   The APS is an underwater assault rifle. It was developed specially for combat divers. It was adopted by the Soviet Navy in the mid 1970s. It was used not only by the divers, but by naval commando units as well. At the time of its introduction, the APS was a unique weapon with no known analogues in the West. This underwater assault rifle was kept in high secrecy until 1993, when the APS was first offered publicly for export customers.

   The APS is a gas-operated, selective fire weapon. It fires from an open bolt. It can fire while under the water, as well as in the air. The APS is much lighter than the AK-74 assault rifle, which is a standard-issue infantry weapon in Russia. Build quality of the APS is rather crude.

   Standard ammunition is useless under the water, as it has a range of only 2-3 meters. Bullets loose their trajectory and penetration instantly. Furthermore it is unsafe to fire standard firearms under the water. So this weapon has a smoothbore barrel and fires specially designed 5.66 mm MPS rounds with darts, rather than bullets. The dart is 120 mm long. The whole projectile is 150 mm long. Under the water projectiles are stabilized by a hydrodynamic cavity, generated by the flat point of the dart. However these have no stabilization when fired above the water. There is a baseline MPS round with a steel dart and MPST round with a tracer dart. This ammunition uses standard 5.56x39 mm cases. The ammunition is resistant to water and corrosion.

   A fire mode selector has three positions for "safe", "semi-auto", and "full-auto". It is located on the left side of the receiver, and is operated by a thumb.

   This underwater assault rifle is fed from 26-round capacity magazines. It has unusual shape due to its long ammunition. Each APS assault rifle comes as standard with two magazines, and a bayonet.

   This weapon has got a simple steel wire stock. When not in use the stock is telescoped into the weapon.

   The APS assault rifle has got simple, non-adjustable, iron sights. This weapon is quiet effective and accurate under the water. Though its efficiency and firing rate reduces gradually as the depth increases. At a depth of 5 meters its effective range is 30 meters. At a depth of 20 meters its effective range reduces to 20 meters. Such range might not sound a lot. However in most cases visibility under the water is even lower. So such range is adequate. In the air its effective range and performance are reportedly poor. That's why combat divers and naval commando units, that are engaged in amphibious operations both below and above the water, typically carry the second weapon - a standard assault rifle for use on shore or on board hostile vessels.

   This weapon can easily penetrate diving suits and defeat hostile combat divers. Its rounds penetrate a 5 mm thick organic glass, or diver's mask.

   Service life of the APS when firing above the water is very short. Its barrel deteriorates instantly. So another interesting feature of this weapon is that for training above the water its smoothbore barrel can be replaced by a rifled one. Once the barrel is replaced, the weapon can fire standard 5.45x39 mm ammunition above the water.

 

Variants

 

   ASM-DT experimental underwater assault rifle. It appeared in the late 1990s and is a significantly modified version of the APS. The main improvement is that it used a rifled barrel with shallow riffling. This weapon could fire both special underwater ammunition and standard 5.45x39 mm ammunition without the need to change the barrel. It used two types of magazines - a magazine of the APS, loaded with special underwater ammunition, and a standard magazines of the AK-74 assault rifle, for firing above the water. Its performance under the water was similar to that of the APS. However on the air it outperformed the APS significantly. The ASM-DT had an effective range of 150-200 meters, which was similar to that of the AKS-74U compact assault rifle. So the shooter had to simply change the magazines when entering or leaving the water. A drawback of this weapon was a complicated magazine well.

   ADS underwater assault rifle. The ADS is a further development the ASM-DT experimental assault rifle. First prototypes of this weapon appeared in around 2000. Externally it has got little in common with the APS. It is actually based on the A-91M assault rifle with bullpup layout. This weapon can be used both below and above the water. The ADS uses newly developed 5.45x39 mm PSP underwater ammunition. This ammunition was developed by 2005. From the standard 5.45x39 mm round it differs only by bullet shape. This special ammunition retains a compact size of the standard 5.45x39 mm round and can be loaded and fired from the standard AK-74 magazines. Under the water this new ammunition has slightly inferior performance to the APS darts, however the same ammunition can be fired both below and above the water. Furthermore it has significantly greater range above the water, than ammunition of the APS. Its effective range above water is 500 m, similar to that of the standard AK-74 full-size assault rifle. That was a huge improvement for the weapon of this type. Furthermore the ADS has got an integral 40 mm grenade launcher. This weapon is being proposed for the Russian Navy as a replacement for the APS. It is also being proposed for various export customers.

   QBS-06 is a Chinese underwater assault rifle. It is a clone the APS. The Chinese weapon has got a number of modifications and is chambered for slightly different 5.8 mm ammunition, which is built around cases of the China's standard 5.8x42 mm round. Still though it uses darts.

 
APS underwater assault rifle

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APS underwater assault rifle

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APS underwater assault rifle

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APS underwater assault rifle

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APS underwater assault rifle

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APS underwater assault rifle

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APS underwater assault rifle

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