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History of firearms: PP-19 Bizon-2

11 January 2019
We would like to talk about the submachine gun with a helical magazine which Victor Kalashnikov worked on.

A helical magazines is a kind of large capacity drum-type magazine, which has been known since the end of the 19th century. These magazines are different in the way that cartridges in the cylindrical magazine are located on the spiral surface of the screw, also known as the Archimedes screw. Compared to traditional drum-type magazines, such as those for Thompson submachine guns or PPSh, helical magazines are much smaller in diameter and longer. In theory, this makes helical magazines more convenient to use since they only slightly increase the cross-section of the entire weapon, enable its user to shoot lying on the ground grounded or on a trench parapet, and their large longitudinal size can be "masked" to the dimensions of the weapons.


Such weapons were widely advertised in the United States in the early 1990s. This was the family of Calico submachine guns, which had helical magazines with a capacity of 50 or 100 cartridges. The design feature of these American weapons was that the magazine was located on top, while most of the cartridges were not located above the barrel, but behind it, thereby increasing the length of the weapon and the height of the sight line above the barrel.

The idea of a magazine with an increased capacity with a small cross section seemed promising to IZHMASH engineers, and they decided to develop their own version of the magazine and weapons therefor.

IZHMASH engineers led by Viktor Kalashnikov took the perfectly mastered Kalashnikov assault rifle and, in 1993, created a submachine gun with a helical magazine with a significant capacity based on its receiver with the trigger and firing mechanism. The prototype was presented to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia; after clarifying its requirements, it was finalized and launched into mass production as the Bizon PP-19. Unlike the original automatic rifle, the Bizon had a free bolt and somewhat shorter receiver. The helical magazine was located under the barrel instead of the forearm, which made handling this weapon much more convenient compared to its American counterpart.


Initially, the Bizon family included versions for 9x17, 9x18 and 9x19 caliber cartridges equipped with helical magazines with an increased capacity (53 cartridges of caliber 9*19 or 64 cartridges of calibers 9*18 and 9*17). Initially, only the family members for the 9x18 cartridge, adopted by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1996, entered mass production. Several Bizons for the 9x19 cartridge were produced for export; in particular, these submachine guns are used by the Republican Guard of Uruguay.


It should be mentioned that, despite the rather convenient handling of weapons when shooting and its high-capacity magazine, the Bizon did not take off with users. The first examples of helical magazines had aluminium cases, which were later replaced by cast polymer. Nevertheless, such magazines were not very convenient to carry in pouches; the cartridge loading procedure was also less convenient compared to traditional casket magazines. The high price and slightly less reliability of helical magazines compared to traditional casket magazines caused by their rather complex design also played an important role. Which is why in the middle of the 2000s, IZHMASH used the same Bizon to develop a more user-friendly and more reliable submachine gun, the Vityaz PP-19-01, complete with simple, durable and reliable casket magazines for 30 cartridges, enabling their combination into pairs with a special clamp.

In terms of its combat and operational characteristics, the Vityaz showed its superiority over the Bizon, and it is the Vityaz that is now in mass production at the Kalashnikov concern and supplied to the Russian security forces and for export. In addition, Vityaz was used as a basis for developing the very popular semi-automatic carbine Saiga 9x19 for the civilian market, as well as a novelty from the last year – the sports carbine Saiga 9 LOT Yarovit.

If you are interested in our modern products, you can see them by clicking on the following links:

Carbine Saiga 9x19

Sports carbine Saiga 9 LOT

Submachine gun Vityaz

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