We’re familiar, here in the USA, with weapons that are shaped by US gun laws. We have a variety of weird and wonderful arms that exist only because of the Gun Control Act of 1968, the National Firearms Act of 1934, and the patchwork of implementing regulations and executive orders that have shaped the US market. In addition, state assault-weapon band have resulted in oddities like California’s “Bullet Buttons.” A wide range of legislatively-midwifed Frankenguns, from the Walther PPK/S, to short barreled rifles, to pistols with SIG braces, reflect the degree to which designers are constrained by the gun-designing impulses of American politicians and bureaucrats.
It should come as no surprise that the same thing happens in other countries with large gun markets. This case in point comes to us from Russia, where gun laws are generally stricter than in the United States. There, no one can own a pistol. Most citizens can own a shotgun; but to own a rifle you have to have owned the shotgun without incident for five years.
So here comes the VPO-208: an SKS shotgun.
Produced by Techcrim, an Izhevsk manufacturer, the .366 by Russian measure, across the lands (.375 by ours, across the grooves), is a smoothbore or near-smoothbore gun that gets the would-be gun owner into a semi-automatic, service rifle platform, while staying within the letters of Russian law.
The ammunition appears to be made from fireformed 7.62 x 39mm casings, and is available in a range of sporting projectiles, plus a shotshell variant.
It is reminiscent of such American wildcats (some of them since turned production) as the small-head .300 Whisper, .300 AAC Blackout, .338 Spectre, and the Mauser-head-sized .375 Reaper, all of which run in the AR-15 platform. It just goes to show that this kind of innovation is hardly an American monopoly.
The first table in the advert below has three columns: “Type of projectile”; “Speed, meters per second;” and “Energy, Joules”. Here’s our conversion of this table.
|Projectile Type||Velocity, m/s||Energy, J||Velocity, fps||Energy, ft-lb|
|LSWC poly coat 13.5 grams||640||2765||2099||2039|
|FMJ 11 grams||700||2618||2296||1931|
|FMJ 15 grams||620||2883||2034||2126|
|JSP 15 grams||620||2883||2034||2126|
As the shot of the fired JSP shows, and these velocity and energy tables suggest, it would actually be a good short-range hunting round.
The second table, with the bullet-drop diagram, is, “Velocity and Energy of Projectile, .366 TKM with 15-gram FMJ bullet”. Here’s our translation and unit conversion.
|Metric (SI) Values||Muzzle||50 meters||100 meters|
|Bullet Drop mm||0||35||125|
|Bullet Drop in.||0||1.38||4.92|
The problem with the gun is its accuracy, as it’s basically a smoothbore. Hyperprapor suggests that it might be minute-of-E-silhouette at 100m.
But hey, it will let some Russian guys own the rifle their nation’s color guards parade with, and even let them shoot it, all with the reduced paperwork and hassle of a shotgun; perhaps a big win for them.
There are no ballistics for the shotshell, which exists, we suspect, primarily to navigate the channels of Russian weapons law. (This law does seem somewhat liberalized since Soviet days). Techcrim’s website shows that they are very active in small-caliber (.410) shotguns and shells, which seem to have more of a following in Russia than they do here. We wonder if that’s an artifact of Russian law, too.
We saw this on r/guns, posted by our old friend hyperprapor, who notes that under Russian law “paradox rifling” is legal if it’s under 150mm long (About 5.9″). Paradox rifling is rifling that was just engraved in the last few inches of the bore of what was otherwise a shotgun, to give it some capability with a single ball or bullet. It was named by English bespoke gunmaker Holland and Holland, who adopted the patent from GV Fosbery of Webley-Fosbery fame. Westley Richards called it “Explora” but other makers seem to have stuck with the paradox name.
And this is definitely one for the “how weird does it get” file — a smoothbore SKS that is one short hop removed from the Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver!