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OTs-38 is one of the last designs of the late Igor Iakovlevich Stechkin. Developed to fire special silenced ammunition, this revolver features many unusual technical solutions.
First of all, the ammo fired by this revolver is far from usual. Specially-designed 7.62x42 mm silent ammo achieves low volume of discharge by blocking the gases within the case. Bullet receives only the initial push through the plunger within the case, and all the gases are contained within, thus making fire very quiet.
To accommodate such unusual cartridge, OTs-38 uses a system similar to one used in old Nagant revolvers - cylinder shifts forward prior to shot, aligning the cartridge with barrel precisely.
To help cylinder align precisely, it`s swing-out scheme is quite unusual - it swings out to the right and forward-upwards. Reloading can be done with loose cartridges and with five of them, connected with metal clip.
Ambidextrous safety allows to cock the trigger, and lock it in that position, allowing for a quick and accurate first shot. Fire occurs not from the top chamber, but from bottom, thus minimising muzzle jump and raising accuracy. Top cylindrical shape, often mistaken for barrel is really a housing for integral laser sight. There are also regular sights with contrast white inserts.
This is highly specialised weapon, designed for covert and clandestine operations, and it is not used as a standard sidearm of any sort. Rather, it was designed as an alternative for PSS silent pistol which leaves no cases behind.