Will Russia Export Underwater Machine Guns?


Earlier this fall, the Russian arms manufacturer Tula Instrument Design Bureau unveiled what it said was the first machine gun that could be used on land or underwater.

The Tula-based company, which has been making precision weapons for almost a century, displayed its so-called ADS amphibious assault rifle in what looked like an expensive fish tank at the Interpolitex 2013 arms show in October in Moscow.

News reports said the weapon would soon be in the hands of Russian special forces and also available to international commandos. While the gun has apparently won orders from customers abroad, it’s unclear how many deals the state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, has actually inked. Sales to specific countries weren’t immediately publicized.

The ADS relies on a specially designed cartridge and longer bullets for use underwater.

On land, the rifle shoots standard 5.45mm x 39mm rounds at a rate of 800 shots a minute and with a range of 500 meters, according to a report by RT, the Russia media organization previously known as Russia Today. The performance is similar to the AK-47, also known as the Kalashnikov, on which the ADS is based.

Underwater, it fires bullets measuring 53.5mm long from a slightly larger cartridge and has a range of about 25 meters at a depth of 30 meters, according to RT. A video of the event doesn’t actually show the amphibious assault rifle firing rounds in a submerged environment.

The weapon may be of use to Russia’s Spetsnaz special forces, who have historically relied on separate rifles for land- and sea-based missions.

Nikolay Komarov, a Tula official, alluded to such when he said, “Until now underwater fighters were compelled to use two types of weapon – for use underwater and the Kalashnikov for overland firing. Now it is only necessary to replace the ammunition magazine,” according to RT.

While its international market is likely small, the rifle may also be of interest to commandos or security personnel defending underwater infrastructure.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Lance

    They will offer it BUT would not sell hardly at all most want awesome AK series of rifles.

  • seans

    Didn’t they already make this in a non bull pup AK version the ASM-DT or something.

  • allwet

    yawn.Really? WTFF?

  • Lightsaber

    “Underwater, it fires 53.5mm bullets …” That’s one big bullet!

    • JBone

      I think it reads 53.5mm long, that’s not a diameter. Something about speed in water as a function of vessel length maybe?

  • ripple

    I love bull pup rifles but I have never seen any cartridge able to work under water, Those guys at myth busters proved that just about every cartridge known to us today will stop in water.
    SHOW ME!

    • DBM

      This isnt the first for the russians. The already have a dart type round that does work. And myth busters isnt always right,

    • Rickey Leach

      I agree-a range of 5 feet? lol

      • DBM

        Range of 5 feet is for standard bullets but these are darts. Think about the difference in a tank round. Bunt nosed vs discarding sabot.

        Saying that its more hype than anything. It can have its uses but its largely useless. The Russians are always being melodramatic. Example: They have been making a big deal about new diesel electric subs they are building. They have their uses however they are nothing more than an very slight update of a 40 old design and if they stay true to form they will have to undergo a months long battery change out after every long patrol cruise.

        • seans

          You realize that diesel electric subs are incredibly quiet compared to nuclear subs, they are excellent for what they are designed for.

          • DBM

            Sean, Yes I do and they are better for shallow water operations because they are much smaller than nuke subs. However the subs are based on a 40 year design, True it is a solid design but you have to realize that the Russians/Soviets design(ed) first rate stuff and build junk. They are still using tube technology in their so called 5th gen jets.

          • seans

            Its not their size that matters it is the fact that non nuke subs are inherently quieter than nuclear subs when running underwater due to the fact that reactors make noise, not much noise, but still significantly more than a diesel sub running off batteries. Low tech has its advantages. And you realize a lot of our subs are built off a 40 year old designs.

          • DBM

            You’ve obviously never worked with Russian made equipment. The subs will be in dry dock most of the time. Low tech has its disadvantages too.

  • DBM

    This is BS. First its not a machine gun, its a carbine.

    Second, any modern rifle/pistol will fire underwater but not cycle reliably. And instedd of firing a 49 grain projectile it will be pushing over a thousnd grain bullet equivelent (water volumn that has to be pushed out of the barrel. You better hit the target with the first shot because there won’t be a second one, The damned thing will push you all over the place.

  • Bob W

    I suspect they mean a 5.35 mm underwater projectile. A 53.5 mm projectile would be just over 2 inches in diameter, and would not fit into the weapon in the picture. It would be nice if the reporters or editors actually looked at the numbers when proofreading the articles.

    • Guest

      my first thought. i
      didnt give much creditability to the article thereafter

  • Sam L.

    Guys, they said the bullet is 53.5mm long, meaning it fires 5.45×53.5 instead of the usual 5.45×39. A longer bullet profile and different boattailing would drastically improve the underwater aerodynamics of the bullet.

    • Jon H

      I might just be making up words, but I think you mean hydrodynamics

    • T-Bone

      Still have to displace (push) all that water inside the barrel. That alone makes it BS advertisement. But in Russia, hell, who cares, they make millions and caviar is great.

    • Guest

      I still think a K-Bar would be more effective

      • seans

        You ever had to dive against a anti swimmer dolphin. It ain’t fun, and in training they don’t get some of their nastier weapons they can use. I doubt this would kill one with a single shot our two, but it probably keep them away.

        • DB Cooper

          In Vietnam they found edged weapons on dolphins was worthless so they developed a hypodermic weapon that is attached to a CO2 cartridge. Results are really nasty.

          • seans

            Yeah that was one of the ones I was talking about. I have also heard of some experimentation with bang sticks, which would be pretty nasty.

          • DBM

            The dalphines were trained to go for the belly and the CO2 cartride will vent directly into the chest or stomach cavity. This usually results in near instant death and possibly explosion of the stomach cavity. Bang sticks are nothing more than 12 gauge buckshot shells on the end of a pole. Both are still used for by divers for protection against sharks.

  • Tom

    How would a 5.45×53.5 cartridge fit in a chamber, let alone a magazine, designed for 5.45×39?

  • DBM

    The actual projectile appears to be another dart design which would cut way down on the water resistance. The projectile also extends almost to the base of the shell casing.

    The bullet length is 53.5 mm compared to an overall cartridge length of 57mm.

  • DBM

    watched the video and must say I’d like to get my hands on the rifle being assembled in it. The short barrel dropped in and snapped in place. How great would it be to easily drop in barrels of different lengths according to mission/home defense/hunting needs instead of having to buy a second gun or upper.