Russian Udav

Old mother Russia has surely noticed the advancements in handgun design in the West over the past couple of decades.  More than enough time to evaluate what works and what doesn't.  So it should surprise nobody that this spring, they will begin replacement of their 70-year-old Makarov pistols with a new 9×21 gun called the Udav.  What may (or may not) surprise you is how the Russians have ignored so much of what we've learned in the West in designing their new gun.

First off, don't confuse the Udav with Uday, Sadam Hussein's now-dead psychopath son.  Udav apparently means "boa constrictor" in Russian.  Expect Russian men (and likely more than a few women) to joke about carrying a snake on their hips or in their pockets.  The opportunity for humor might prove boundless thanks to whomever named this new gun.  You have to love their sense of humor.

This new "boa constrictor" pistol will fire a new 9×21 cartridge capable of defeating soft body armor. As if that's something magical or technologically novel.  It's not some mystical order of secret [stuff] to make a handgun projectile that will defeat soft armor. Heck, even the 5.7 has a host of armor-defeating projectiles.  However, the reason they aren't real popular (grammar intentional) is because they punch tiny little ice-pick holes in bad guys that don't reliably put those bad guys down.  In fact, you might just anger them even more with a couple of those tiny holes instead of stopping them.

Anyway, the Russians call their new 9×21 Russian cartridge the Gyurza ("blunt-nosed viper" in Russian).  The standard 103-grain projectile reportedly comes out at about 1345 feet per second from a 4.7" barrel.  Yawn.  So yes, that "boa constrictor" in one's holster fires a "blunt-nosed viper".  You have to love those Russkies.

In fact, the Russians boast this new snake gun will bite through 4mm of steel and over a millimeter of titanium armor at 100 meters.  Assuming, of course, its user can hit a target at 100m with the pistol.  And assuming the intended victim wears Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty as their body armor.

Reynolds Wrap2

In recent times, the Russians have made some rather fanciful boasts about technological prowess.  However it's safe to say this new pistol will surely do a better job as a sidearm in today's world than the old Makarov.  Unlike the 9×18 Mak with its old-school, all-metal frame, the new gun will enjoy a 21st Century polymer frame.  Like the new American military SIG P320/M17 sidearm, it will feature an accessory rail, and optional accessories, like a threaded muzzle for a suppressor and other do-dads.


Looking at the photos, it looks a lot like a double-action only, hammer-fired design – something "revolutionary" in the American market about thirty or forty years ago.

The only truly revolutionary aspect: it has no slide locking lever on the exterior.  The slide-stop cut in the bottom of the slide suggests an internal slide lock system.  At the same time, it does sport an external safety and an external hammer, something becoming rarer and rarer among new American guns.  Yes, old habits die hard for Ivan. 


Double-action-only modifications of hammer-fired guns in America have generally come about as a result of police bureaucrats wishing to reduce negligent discharges.  Maybe Mother Russia incorporated it for the same reason. 

Of course, the corollary to that in America involved user accuracy sagging badly as a result of the long, heavy, DA-only trigger pull.  (Remember how NYPD shot nine bystanders while trying to hit just one bad guy a while back?  And those were just Glocks with heavy trigger pulls…  Imagine a long, fairly heavy pull like the Beretta 92D!  Why NYPD might have wounded even more of the wrong people!)  Time will tell if the same happens with this new Russian design. 

Then again, the whole weapons system could fail, just like the last few attempts to replace the Mak.  From the Military Times:

In the past, the Russian military has considered and implemented other alternatives to the Makarov, each with limited success and a number of failings. Currently, the MP-443 Grach, or PYa, serves as the Russian military’s standard sidearm, though it hasn’t gained a ton of traction thanks to quality control and reliability issues.

So, watch and see what happens, because this new pistol reportedly will go into production this spring for deployment shortly thereafter.  Allegedly.   Time will tell.

One thought on “Russian Military Set to Adopt the 9×21 Udav “Boa Constrictor” Pistol”
  1. Interesting article and interesting design and choice for cartidge-the 9×21 being largely an Italian implemented design. In Italy only the military could have 9mm Parabellum (which translates to "For War")-the 9×21 could be possessed by CIV and outside agencies. It has a touch more powder/power than 9mm Para but pushes the same bullet. It had some devotees in USPSA for a while getting those 115 gr pills to make major power factor. 

    Good for the Ruskies for going with a DAO….should make it harder to shoot! Looks like they copied a lot of features from "modern" designs and put 'em in a blender…or as they say a gun built by a committee. 

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