The TOZ-81 Mars (Russian: ТОЗ-81 «Марс») is a prototype Soviet revolver developed for Soviet cosmonauts as a survival weapon, and a competing design to the TP-82.
History[edit | edit source]
In 1979, Soviet astronaut Alexei Leonov proposed the creation of a survival weapon for Soviet cosmonauts, given his previous experience of landing in the middle of inhospitable wilderness during the Voskhod 2 mission. Tula Arms Plant (TOZ) began developing special weapons in response to the proposal, one design being the TOZ-81.
The design of the TOZ-81 was actually conceived prior to the start of the physical design process; the weapon design was first sketched by Soviet firearms historian Alexander Zhuk. Zhuk named his original sketch design "Topor" (Russian: Топор), meaning "ax". When TOZ formed a design team, Zhuk was invited to the team.
A plastic mockup was made to demonstrate and approve the design. One firing prototype, marked with serial number "00001" was developed for testing. This is the only model ever made, and the TP-82 was adopted over the TOZ-81. The prototype was transferred to the Tula State Museum of Weapons.
The reason for the weapon's rejection is unclear. Zhuk speculated that the weapon's .410 bore chambering was unpopular, leading to the weapon's rejection. Another theory speculates that the TP-82 was much more simple and reliable, leading to it being adopted over the TOZ-81.
Design[edit | edit source]
The TOZ-81 is a double-action-only revolver with a five-shot cylinder. The cylinder is located almost directly above the grip, and the weapon fires from the bottom chamber, both unusual features for revolvers. The location of the cylinder improved the balance and made more efficient use of the gun's length, while the lowered barrel reduces muzzle flip. The cylinder is reloaded via break action (done via a lever in front of the cylinder), and the chambers are also marked with numbers on the outside.
The gun has two available barrels: a rifled 5.45x39mm barrel and a smoothbore .410 bore barrel. Barrel change can be done by hand. The .410 shells it uses were loaded with buckshot or single flechette projectiles. The 5.45x39mm cartridges it uses were loaded with special expanding bullets.
An aluminum alloy tube stock can be mounted to the rear of the frame. The stock has a wooden cheek piece and a polymer recoil pad. An emergency radio transmitter with a retractable antenna is built into the stock, which would send a distress signal when activated. A folding knife is also housed over the barrel.