|Art by TL Jeffcoat|
It is a common belief that the Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) were trained and skilled in using Ballistic Knives. I have never found any trustworthy verification that the Ballistic Knife training was anything more than rumor or propaganda. However, I did find plenty of information about the Spetsnaz training in throwing knives to quietly eliminate enemies out of reach without making too much noise. Since the Russian variation of the Ballistic Knife is spring loaded, it’s pretty quiet, and therefore it is possible that the Spetsnaz also master firing the Ballistic Knife alongside throwing knives. Aside from the show the Deadliest Warrior using the Ballistic Knife as a Spetsnaz weapon, I found a couple sources that speculated the Spetsnaz trained with the weapon, but rarely used them.
The Ballistic Knife is not like other knives. It's a hybrid knife, but it's not a firearm. The handle of the knife is a hollow tube. A spring that is twice the length of the handle when not compressed is crammed inside and held by the blade once it's locked into position. The switch is small and easily flipped with the thumb. Unlike several versions made in other countries, the Russian model did not rely on gunpowder or explosives to fire the blade. The blade can be reloaded by sliding it back into the spring until it locks into place.
As long as the blade is locked into position, the knife acts as a typical knife. It can be used to slash, stab, or cut without any problems. A spring loaded Ballistic Knife is much quieter than a firearm version, but it is not as accurate at a distance. In longer range situations, a throwing knife would still be the best way to eliminate a patrol quietly. The most ideal situation for a Ballistic Knife would be with the element of surprise.
With training, a soldier could learn to fire the knife at close range while holding it like he would a knife he's going to stab with. The unsuspecting enemy will believe he's at a safe distance while out of arm's reach. The flying blade from a Ballistic Knife can strike with enough force at 15 feet ( or 5 meters) to penetrate clothing and light armor. If a man is hit in the face with one of these, even if the blade turns in the air, it will strike with enough force to at least stun the target. That one second, is enough time for the Spetsnaz to close the range and neutralize his enemy by some other means.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.