The Russian military might have yet another pistol on its shopping list for 2019.
Over the past 30 years, the Russian army has experimented with developing and fielding a wide variety of pistols to replace the geriatric and downright obsolete Makarov PM, which first entered service in the 1950s and has soldiered on without any major update through the years.
In 2003, the Makarov’s first successor, the MP-443 Grach (or PYa) appeared after a 10-year development and testing period.
Since then, it has served as the de facto sidearm of the Russian army — though not necessarily the improvement Russian infantrymen were looking for in a pistol.
Reliability concerns with the PYa have prompted the military to begin their pistol acquisition process anew, while continuing to issue both the PYa and the Makarov until a more long-term solution can be built.
Rostec, the massive state-owned aerospace, defense and technology conglomerate, put forward one design in the form of the Udav, a Double Action Only offering, just last year through its TSNIITOCHMASH corporation.
Now, everybody’s favorite rifle manufacturer, Kalashnikov Concern, has thrown its hat into the ring with a pistol of its own — the PL-15.
Essentially the same size as Glock 19, the PL-15 is a further development of a gun Kalashnikov has been working on for years, having first introduced a prototype in 2015.
The PL-15, like its Glock counterpart, is chambered for 9x19 mm Luger, popular in the west. but mostly unheard of in conventional Russian military units.
The PL-15 comes in two major frames — the regular -15 and the compact -15K — both of which use a locking system similar to that found in the Browning Hi Power handgun.
The recognizable and generic layout of the pistol allows for a fairly easy learning curve for the end user. All PL-15s are built with ambidextrous magazine releases, slide locks and manual safeties.
The -15 uses a 4.4 inch barrel, while the more concealable -15K comes with a shorter 3.2 inch barrel. Both frames have an under-barrel rail for a clip-on laser or a flashlight, and both guns use dovetailed iron sights. If necessary, both barrels can be acquired in threaded form, allowing for the use of a suppressor.
Kalashnikov expects to begin mass-producing the PL-15 later this year.
Since the company is owned by Rostec, it’s possible that it might take a back seat to the Udav for the time being, with regards to marketing the weapon to the Russian military.
However, the PL-15 could find itself being picked up earlier on by law enforcement and VIP protection units, before the Army considers it as an alternative or a full-on replacement for the PYa and the Makarov.