Odd Barnaul Commercial 9 x 18 mm Bullet


Pictured are various views of a commercial 9 x 18 mm cartridge sold under the “Silver Bear” brand in the United States. We have now encountered two boxes of these - a full one and a partial one, both of the same lot number, and filled with cartridges loaded with the projectile. The weight of a pulled bullet was 93.8 grains, consistent with the “94 Grain” advisory on the box label.

The odd features are a smooth cannelure around the tip of the bullet, and a hole in the base of the lead core that is approximately is approximately the depth to coincide with the position of the cannelure on the outside of the bullet jacket. This looks very much like a tracer bullet with an unfilled tracer cavity. However, the standard Russian 9 x 18 mm Makarov tracer is identified by a green primer seal and neck seal and has no groove around the tip. Further, they were only loaded by the Low Voltage Electric Co using Arsenal 188 headstamp, and those in
1995 (with dummy rounds known from a European Trade Show, dated 1997).

These Barnaul rounds were made in 2008, according to the lot number. The case is zinc-washed steel, and it bears the older Barnaul insignia, changed in 2009 to Cyrillic initials.

Can anyone identify this projectile as to the reason for the groove and the empty cavity in the lead core? I have heard rumors of a short-range cartridge with this groove on the bullet, and already had a picture of a fired, similarly-grooved bullet in my files, but this ammunition is NOT short-range. It is standard velocity commercial ball ammunition.

Help please!

John L. Moss
(Photos and text by JLM and cartridge from his collection)


This is the “PRS” anti ricochet projectile as it is in serice with the Russian MIA (Police). No relation to tracers (they have a green PA and CM, no green primer, so far only one lot made: 188 95).

There is a whole series of these “PRS” in various calibers but so far the 9x18 is the only with this special identification groove.
The latest “PRS” also have these letters (in Cyrillic of course) in the hs making it 3x120° then.


EOD - thanks for that information, but any thoughts on why these should show up loaded in commercial cases, boxed as ordinary 94 grain bullet, ball ammunition, and sold in the commercial blue “Silver Bear” boxes and with commercial Barnaul headstamp?

The bullet is quite ordinary. It is GMCS jacketed with lead core. The only difference is the tracer-like cavity in the bullet and the groove around the tip. I assume the groove is ONLY for identification - is that correct? I don’t see any property that would make this bullet any more anti-richochet than any other ordinary lead-cored, FMJ bullet. Am I missing something.


The headstamp, by the way, is a 2x180° format, with the Baikal Trademark at the top and the caliber at the bottom. They are not dated on the headstamp. They have no primer or CM seal.


Perhaps they were leftovers or production over-runs, best suited to commercial products having (presumably) less stringant specifications?



AKMS - that is a very likely scenario. Now I am wondering why a hole up the center of the lead core of any otherwise very standard-looking bullet construction would cause it to be “anti-richochet.” I don’t understand the physics there, if there are any. I will shoot some for accuracy, but I have no where that I can do any richochet testing due to the dangers involved and the types of surfaces necessary.


John, the Russians never really stated all the details of this design (and even more of the variations). I still have not gotten behind all the principles of the “PRS” series since the patents are somewhat differing and it seems the design has changed over the recent years of development (to make it worse the design is differing from caliber to caliber it seems). A Rozboron (Russian export agency) document is stating that the projectile is deforming on the front section after the first impact and is sowith reducing the ricochet ability (at least a bit) and is reducing the range after the first impact. Also some Russian researchers are saying that the lead core might be of a composite construction.
Not to forget that the predecessor of this cartridge in Police service was the good old steel cored one. Keeping this in mind almost anything else has a lower ricochet rate anyways.

Regarding the question how these projectiles ended up on commercial export cartridges I can say that Russia has developed a tradition in recent years to mix up components of commercial style ammunition. Some of these events had been discussed here before.


I have found some of those bullets amongst my commercial 9x18 as well. Some I only noticed after I had fired and recovered them and saw the hole in the bottom. All the ones I have found have a far less distinct cannelure than the one pictured though.
I always wondered what they were.


I can add one general consideration to the question of modern Russian bullets design.

In some cases the new bullet construction and even the new cartridges is a result of corruption of bureaucracy. The reason of this is very simple. To get the bribe from Manufacturer during serial production is not easy. It’s possible only for high-ranking officials. But low- and medium-rank functionary also would like to get some easy money from their subsidiaries. That is why the simple way to get some money is to organize short-run environment, or, the best thing, is to start research scientific work (NIR in Russian) for developing new bullet/cartridge. It’s impossible to make real calculation of the expenditure in condition of scientific work or short runs the expenditure. So it’s a real way for “salary increase” of bureaucracy.

The sample of this is a veriety of Russian cartridge calibers addopted for Army, Militia and other forces - 7,65x17SR Browning, 9x18PM, 9x19, 9x21, 9x23, 9x30

The more close sample of such situation is the history of 9x39 Special cartridges. Cartridge was developed and produced at Klimowsk plant. But then lobbying the Tula plant by high-ranking officials led to starting some NIRs at Tula directed on developing new Higher penetration bullets. The first result was PAB-9 cartridge, which soon was abandoned. But Tula receive the Government order for producing 9x39. Then Tula plant started new NIR for improvement penetration capability of SP-6 bullet. This was made to avoid paing royalty for Klimowsk plant (the designer and owner of Patent for original SP-6 construction). This was resulted in adoption slightly modified SP-6 bullet and starting it’s mass production at Tula.

The design of some pistol cartridges also depend on Russian behind-the-scenes deals. My opinion that developing of the range of anti ricochet bullets and it’s persistent advertising also based on corruption. Indeed it’s easy to develope anti ricochet bullet in country many years used steel cored bullets as main type of projectiles for hand weapons. Any lead core bullet will be less ricochet.


These bullets seem to be the perfect candidates for sectioning.


Jonny - I am going to ask Frank section a round for me. I would like to show a section of it in my book. I tried to section just a bullet, and had no way to hold it for filling it away.I don’t have hardly any power tools - no grinder for example.

Regarding comments about mixed components, I have experienced that but mostly with cases. However, in the instance, we have two boxes of the same lot number, acquired within a day of each other, and all of the rounds in each box have this bullet.


John, looks like this is a factory loading mistake. A law enforced bullet PRS was loaded instead PSO - commercial bullet. Nothing bad had happened. A test in 2009 has showed up what PRS can’t be claimed as anti-ricochet and under some conditions produces even more particles comparing to PSO. Distribution of PRS bullets developed by Barnaul among law enforcement teams has been cancelled.


Jon, the projectile has a lead core which is basically tube shaped and the cylindrical cavity in the core is reaching right to the jacket’s tip section (from inside). This design is allowing for some deformation.

So if the PRS are obsolete now it is even less of a surprise to see them in commercial boxes. The existing stocks have to be utilized in order to minimize the loss of money on this project.


treshkin, Interesting insights. Thanks!!!



Yuri - the fact that the anti-richochet bullet was cancelled and that it was being made by Barnaul says it all. Thanks for that information.

Can you please tell me what PRS and PSO stand for. I could use all three forms - Russian, Russian language in Western Alphabet (Transliteration) and in Englis (translation).


Can anyone give me an answer on the meaning of PRS and PSO as the designation for bullets for the Makarov cartridge, as requested in the previous entry on this thread? It will be very helpful for me. Thank you.


PRS mean Ponijennaya Rikoshetosposobnost (bullet with reduced ricochet capacity).
PSO mean "Patron sportivno-ohontinichiy " (sport and hunting cartridge) bullet with lead core.


Yuri - Perfect. Exactly the information I needed.

Thank you!