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KS-23

Pump-action shotgun

KS-23

Originally developed for suppressing riots, the KS-23 is the most powerful tactical shotgun in the world

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1985
Caliber 23x75mmR
Operation Pump action
Weight (unloaded) 3.85 kg
Weight (loaded) 4.1 kg
Length 1040 mm
Barrel length 510 mm
Muzzle velocity ?
Practical rate of fire 8 - 12 rpm
Magazine capacity 3 rounds
Sighting range 150 m
Range of effective fire (solid shot) 150 m
Range of effective fire (buckshot) 25 m

 

   Officially classified as a carbine (KS being shorthand for "Karabin Spetsialniy", or "Special Carbine"), the unique Russian-made KS-23 shotgun was developed primarily for the purpose of suppressing riots. Firing an enormous 23 mm shell, comparable to in size to the old 6-gauge shell, it is possibly the most powerful tactical shotgun in use today.

   The origins of the KS-23 are somewhat obscure. It was designed in 1971 by the TsNII-TochMash weapon design bureau, but exactly how and why the design was ordered are unknown to published sources. The weapon itself was to be manufactured using cut-down barrels for the 23 mm 2A7 automatic cannon (used in the manufacture of the ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system). Specifically, barrels were selected from the production line that were rejected for anti-aircraft use due to design flaws, but were still sufficiently strong for lighter projectiles and pressure loads.

   Development dragged-on throughout the 1970s, and it wasn't until 1981 that production actually began. The shotguns were constructed by Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod, receiving the KS-23 designation in 1981, and they were finally formally adopted by Soviet law enforcement forces in 1985. Production and development continued into the late 1990s, but little else has been publicized about the KS-23's production.

   With the obvious exception of its unusual barrel and powerful ammunition, the KS-23 is a relatively conventional shotgun. It seems that it is based on Winchester Model 1200 pump-action shotgun design. The stock is wooden, apparently carved from walnut, and the pump is made of polymer, giving the weapon's construction a decidedly haphazard appearance. The forward tubular 3-round magazine is mounted underneath the barrel, and is fed through a loading port on the underside of the receiver; the operator can also load a fourth round into the chamber through the ejection port on the right side of the receiver. Sling swivels are fitted to the magazine plug and the base of the stock. The safety is controlled by a button, located at the front of the trigger group. The bolt carrier is reminiscent of those used in Eugene Stoner's assault rifle designs, with a rotary bolt and four radial locking lugs. The trigger is single-action.

   The sights are extremely austere, consisting of a front blade and rear notch, neither of which are adjustable. However, unusually for a weapon of this type, the KS-23 is tapped to accept a telescopic sight; though this would be of little use when firing buckshot, unitary projectiles like slugs and gas cartridges are much easier to aim at longer distances with the addition of a scope.

   The KS-23 fires only proprietary ammunition, but a wide variety of loads were developed for it. These include two different buckshot rounds the "Shrapnel-10" and "Shrapnel-25" rounds, rated as effective at 10 m and 25 m, respectively; presumably, they use two different sizes of shot. Two less-lethal projectiles are available; the "Strela-3" ("Arrow 3") cartridge, which fires a plastic bullet for less lethal purpose, while the "Volna-R" round, which fires a rubber baton projectile. Two tear gas rounds are available, the "Cheremukha-7" and "Syreni-7", which hold CN and CS agents, respectively. There is also a "Volna" round (not to be confused with the Volna-R), which is an inert cartridge used for training and display purposes.

   The most infamous load for the KS-23 is the "Barrikada" ("Barricade") round, a solid steel rifled slug fired at an extremely high muzzle velocity. This round was developed primarily for use against soft-skin vehicles, such as cars and cargo trucks, and is reputedly powerful enough to shatter an iron engine block at distances of up to 100 m. The Barrikada is also effective against personnel behind cover (or rather, what they might think will provide them with cover), such as concrete, sandbags, and brick.

   There are also two grenade launcher attachments for the KS-23; the 36 mm Nasadka-6, and the 82 mm Nasadka-12. These are used to launch the 36 mm "Cheremukha-6" grenade and the "Cheremukha-12" grenade. Both of these grenades carry a tear gas warhead with CN agent, with the Cheremukha-6 being more effective against small groups of people than the 23 mm gas shells, while the Cheremukha-12 can instantly saturate a large area with gas. Both launchers require the PV-23 blank cartridge to launch their respective grenades.

   The KS-23 is used by Russia, a number of other Former Soviet Union nations, and Vietnam, but its distribution is otherwise unclear. It is used by police and paramilitary forces throughout Russia, notably the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is also unclear if the KS-23 has any military operators, but there is little doubt that this weapon's performance makes it an attractive candidate for use in combat operations (particularly in urban warfare). It is also unknown exactly when or if production ended, but it continued at least into 1998.

   The unit cost and production status of the KS-23 are effectively unknown, to say nothing of its availability.

 

Variants

 

   KS-23: Original production model, as described above.

   KS-23M Drozd: A "shorty" version of the KS-23, with a detachable wire buttstock and a shorter 410 mm barrel.

   KS-23K: Bullpup version of the KS-23, with a radically new layout, and a 5-round detachable box magazine.

   TOZ-123 Drake: Civilian model of the KS-23. A civilian version has also been manufactured, the TOZ-123 Drake, but it has not been a commercial success due to the peculiarities of various nations' firearms legislation. While the TOZ-123 is technically civilian-legal in Russia, firearms ownership in that nation is nonetheless heavily restricted and regulated, and the weapon itself (and especially it's ammunition) is extremely expensive compared to more conventional 12-gauge shotguns. The legal status of the TOZ-123 in the US is especially bizarre, as the TOZ-123 was for some reason banned by name from export into the US. Moreover, while the KS-23's design should logically make it civilian-legal in the US, the gun laws in that nation are in disagreement as to whether the is a shotgun or a rifle (due to the rifled bore); which is no small rifle, as a 23 mm pump action shotgun would be completely legal, while a 23 mm rifle would be designated as a "Destructive Device" (a catch-all legal designation that also includes anti-tank rifles, flamethrowers, cannons, mortars, rocket launchers, and so on --- rifles exceeding 12.7 mm in bore, with a few exceptions such as big game rifles, are technically "Destructive Devices" in the US). Needless to say, the awkward and confusing legal red tape surrounding the TOZ-123 and KS-23 has significantly harmed their sales prospects, and made them very rare and difficult for civilians to legally acquire. This would also explain why the KS-23 is so obscure.

 

Blacktail

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