Tuesday, 18 November 2014



The BTR-80 is an amphibious armoured personnel carrier, and is the successor to the BTR-70 and BTR-60 designs. Its inception was closely connected to the events unfolding in Afghanistan at the time, but the design of the vehicle had minimal innovation. The BTR-80 follows the traditional BTR layout; three sections of the vehicle, divided into the driver and commander's section at the front, passengers' and gunner's section in the middle, and the compartmentalized powerplant section at the rear. All the vehicle's occupants share a common space within the vehicle, and exit via side doors - a huge improvement over the side hatches of the BTR-70.


The commander in a BTR-80 would be the squad leader of a motorized infantry squad consisting of 8 men, including himself. While in the BTR-80, his job is to scan for possible threats and determine the next course of action.

The commander has a TKN-3M day/night binocular periscope with an accompanying OU-5-1 IR spotlight at his disposal, along with three TNPO-115 periscopes. Two of the periscopes flank the TKN-3M aperture and one is aimed to the right of the commander. The commander does not have a cupola, but the TKN-3 is is mounted in a ball joint housing to enable viewing in elevation and azimuth. The OU-5-1 IR spotlight is directly attached to the TKN-3M and will move with it. The photo below (from ambbrescia.com website) shows a TKN-3M with a heavy layer of cosmoline in its ball mount in a preserved BTR-80.

The TKN-3M has a fixed 5x magnification in the day channel, and a field of view of 10 degrees. The maximum target identification range is around 3000 m at daytime. The night channel has a 3x maximum magnification and a field of view of 8 degrees. The active mode requires the use of the OU-5-1 IR spotlight which supplies infrared light needed to illuminate the target.

TKN-3 periscope aperture with OU-5-1 IR spotlight attached to the same rotating block

Due to the simple lack of an electronic fire control system for the weapons in the BPU-1 turret, the BTR-80 does not provide the possibility of target designation with the TKN-3.

TKN-3 in ball joint housing

The commander has access to the R-123 radio. As of today, it is woefully obsolete. Enemy troops could easily listen in to any and all communications sent through these radio sets, which proved to be a fatal weakness during the Chechen campaign. The R-123 radio had a frequency range of between 20 MHZ to 51.5 MHZ. It could be tuned to any frequency within those limits via a knob, or the commander could instantly switch between four preset frequencies for communications within a platoon. It had a range of between 16km to 50km. The R-123 had a novel glass prism window at the top of the apparatus that displayed the operating frequency. An internal bulb illuminated a dial, imposing it onto the prism where it is displayed. The R-123 had a relatively advanced modular design that enabled it to be repaired quickly by simply swapping out individual modules.

Commander's workstation. Note the conveniently placed firing port.


The gunner is seated inside the small one-man turret. The turret reaches the same level of armour protection as the hull and weighs 540 kg when fully loaded with all of its standard equipment. The size of the turret is such that only a small part of the gunner's head is physically inside it, and the KPVT machine gun occupies the entire length of the turret, as shown in the drawing above. Due to the location of the eyepiece of the gunner's sight, his eyes are level with the turret ring and only the top part of his head intrudes into the space inside the turret. As such, the small size of the turret itself does not imply that the gunner's station is particularly cramped, especially considering that there is no turret basket around the gunner's seat.

For general visibility, the gunner is furnished with only two periscopes in addition to his periscopic sight to view the outside world. There is a single TNP-205 general vision periscope placed next to the 1PZ-2 sight, and one TNPT-1 rear-view prism directly above him on the turret ceiling. This pitiful combination means that the gunner has very little independence in detecting targets at short to medium distances, and even less in detecting targets located above the vehicle. This was somewhat offset by the abundance of observation devices in the passenger's compartment and the good visibility from the commander's station, but the height of the turret makes it a better vantage point than the hull for surveillance purposes. Even so, this arrangement was already enough to make the fully-enclosed turret a much better alternative to a pintle-mounted machine gun with a gunshield.

The photo on the left below (credit to Vitaly Kuzmin) shows the gunner's station of a modernized BTR-80. Several things are missing in the picture, including the gunner's seat which is suspended from the turret and the PKTM co-axial machine gun, and the gunsight is not original either. The photo on the right shows an BTR-80 turret with the original 1PZ-2 sight. Note the TNPT-1 rear-view prism on the turret ceiling and the dome light placed conveniently above the ammunition boxes of the KPVT and PKTM, making it easy for the gunner to load and service the machine guns in darkness.

The gunner is seated on a simple suspended seat with an oblong cushion. The backrest can be adjusted in height, the seat can be adjusted forwards and backwards, and the entire seat frame can be raised or lowered from its mounting point at the turret ring as shown in the drawing on the left below. The seat is not very comfortable for long periods as it has no padding. Being seated on a seat that is suspended above the floor of the hull, the gunner has a better chance of surviving a landmine blast underneath the vehicle, which is also aided by his central location in the BTR. The travel lock for the turret is located near the gunner's left shoulder, and BTR-80s that are equipped with the 902V smoke grenade system have a control box located next to the turret travel lock. The mechanism for opening and closing the protective shield for the 1PZ-2 gunsight is located near the roof of the turret, directly above and to the left of the 1PZ-2 sight housing.

Gun elevation and turret traverse are done manually with the use of two manually-operated handwheels. The turret traverse handwheel also has the solenoid triggers for the KPVT and PKTM machine guns. The electrical system for the firing of the weapons are located underneath the weapon mounts.

A motivated gunner can slew the turret at a very quick speed, but the lack of powered traverse and stabilization is a drawback nonetheless. As an armoured personnel carrier that is still in service in the present, the lack of powered traverse was a noted grievance of BTR-80 gunners according to a TV Zvezda interview. Still, one could argue that the protection of a full turret like the turret makes it inherently superior to having an exposed pintle-mounted machine gun on the roof of the vehicle, as in the case of the M113 and earlier versions of the BTR-60.


The gunner is provided with a periscopic monocular 1PZ-2 day/night dual purpose sight. This sight has variable magnification settings of either 1.2x or 4x magnification. In the 1.2x magnification setting, the field of view is 49 degrees, and 14 degrees in the 4x magnification setting. The sight has no independent stabilization system. The aperture mirror of the sight has a maximum elevation limit of +81 degrees and a maximum depression limit of -10 degrees, but the weapons themselves can only elevate to +60 degrees and depress to -4 degrees due to the design of the turret and gun mount. The periscopic mirror in the sight aperture is vertically aligned with the weapons complex with mechanical linkages, and as such, the range of elevation of the sight is the same as the weapons.

This is more than enough to allow the gunner to fire at aircraft and input range corrections for ground targets located at high elevations, but the sight has no ability to track moving aircraft other than the simple concentric lead rings in the viewfinder of the sight. The same viewfinder is used against all target types, but the reticle markings for ground targets are too small to be used in the 1.2x magnification setting and the reticle markings for anti-aircraft work are not visible in the 4x magnification setting. In practice, the 1.2x magnification setting is mainly used for firing at aircraft or for non-precision fire at ground targets, and the 4x magnification setting is used exclusively for firing at ground targets.

The 1PZ-2 is used for aiming both the KPVT and PKTM coaxial machine gun. Both machine guns are sighted to a maximum range of 2,000 meters, but the maximum ranges for precise direct fire with these two weapons is mainly determined by the tracer burn-out distances of their tracer rounds. Fire correction is difficult without the help of tracers because the impact of the bullets is imperceptible at long ranges. As a rule, the maximum effective range of a 7.62mm machine gun on troops in open terrain does not exceed a kilometer and it is not effective against aircraft. Officially, the maximum effective range of the KPVT on lightly armoured vehicles is stated to be 1,000 meters and the maximum effective range on unarmoured targets or infantry is 2,000 meters. Against slow low-flying aircraft, the maximum effective range of the KPVT is 1,500 meters.

The sight has a simple reticle with fairly basic accommodations for range estimation and fire correction. A vertical line runs down the entire height of the viewfinder and a movable horizontal line runs across the entire length of the viewfinder. To adjust the sights for different ranges, the horizontal line in the viewfinder is lowered until it matches the corresponding number marked in the range scales. The intersection point between the vertical line and the horizontal line is the aiming point.

The drawings below show the reticle when it is adjusted to engage two types of targets. The first drawing (5.23) shows the reticle when it is calibrated for the KPVT to a distance of 1,400 meters and aimed at the center mass of an APC-type target. The second drawing (5.24) shows the reticle when it is calibrated for the PKT to a distance of 900 meters and aimed at the center mass of a car.

Lead and windage is adjusted using the horizontal deflection scale in the center of the reticle. A short horizontal bar above the horizontal deflection scale is calibrated to mark a distance of 500 meters for the KPVT. It aligns with the fixed horizontal line of the anti-aircraft rings. The horizontal deflection scale is also used for range estimations, but for more precise measurements, the gunner will have to rely on the commander as he has access to a stadiametric rangefinder in his TKN-3 periscope.

As usual, an internal bulb in the sight can be turned on to illuminate the reticle when fighting in low light conditions. To adjust the contrast of the image seen through the sight, the gunner can switch between two filters in the sight by turning a knob. For firing at ground targets, a neutral filter is used. For firing at air targets or for firing in the direction of the sun, a tinted filter is used.

The photo below shows the view through through the 1PZ-2 under 1.4x magnification. The tinted filter is in place.

The photo below shows the view through through the 1PZ-2 under 4x magnification. The neutral filter is in place, so the actual color of the target can be clearly seen.

The sight has a basic nightvision module. It is of the active infrared type, and it works in tandem the OU-3GA2M IR spotlight. The power of the 110 W spotlight is enough to allow the gunner to see and identify tank-sized targets up to 400 meters away, but seeing smaller vehicles such as armoured personnel carriers would be more difficult.

Overall, the night vision capabilities of the sight are extremely lackluster. It is not a serious contender in the world of night vision devices, and turning on the infrared spotlight might reveal the vehicle's position faster.

The 1PZ-2 is a utilitarian tool that fulfills all of the basic criteria for its purpose, but no more. In technological terms, it belongs firmly in the 1950's. Nevertheless, the 1PZ-2 is already more advanced than the PP-61AM periscopic sight that was standard for the BTR family of troop carriers since the BTR-60PB.


Recently modernized BTR-80 units have had the new TKN-4GA-01 sighting complex installed. This is the same sight used in the BTR-82A, but unlike the BTR-82A, the gun on the BTR-80 remains unstabilized so the weapons still cannot be fired accurately on the move on rough terrain.

The turret was slightly modified to accommodate the larger and more modern sight.

In the observation mode, the magnification is fixed at 1x with an angular field of view of 49 degrees. In this mode, the magnification of the main optic is the same as the anti-aircraft optic, so the sight becomes binocular and the gunner can more easily spot targets, especially considering that the TKN-4GA-01 is stabilized. In the observation mode, the gunner can spot tank-type targets or targets of a similar size out to 3000 m (according to the manufacturer). Once the gunner identifies a target and is ready to engage, he can switch to the higher magnification mode and use the monocular day sight to engage. In the daylight gunnery mode, the sight is monocular and only the right eyepiece is used. In the day setting, the sight offers a fixed 8.2x magnification and an angular field of view of 7 degrees. In the night setting, the sight has 8x magnification and an angular field of view of 7 degrees.

The simple anti-aircraft optic included in the TKN-4GA-01 is not improved over the 1PZ-2 but greater magnification in the daylight gunnery optic compared to the 1PZ-2 enables the gunner to see and engage targets at longer ranges with more confidence than before, making the BTR-80 more effective overall. Another important upgrade lies in the inclusion of the PL-1-01 laser beamer, which not only has a greatly superior range than the earlier xenon IR spotlight but also features pulse modulation allowing its IR laser to penetrate more deeply into mist and fog, making it much more effective than the simple IR lamp during poor weather conditions.

The patent of the modernized BTR-80 with PL-1-01 laser beamer can be viewed via this (link).


The KPVT is an open-bolt single-feed heavy machine gun, fed with 50-round belts held in individual boxes. It fires the 14.5x114mm cartridge at a cyclic rate of 600 rounds per minute out of a 1.346 m barrel. The barrel is shrouded in an air-cooling jacket and supported with a metal frame on its mount in the BTR-80 turret. At the muzzle of the barrel is a conical flash hider and booster assembly. The booster is connected to the air-cooling jacket, and allows the propellant gasses escaping from the barrel to push the barrel against the end of the jacket, causing it to recoil backwards a short distance. The short-recoil action reduces the recoil impulse and more importantly, reduces the shot dispersion by dampening the vibrations of the machine gun. The machine gun cradle itself also contains a pair of recoil buffers to further enhance the accuracy of the weapon.

Ten ammunition boxes with a belt of 50 cartridges each are provided for a total of 500 rounds of ammunition. The boxes much be manually loaded by the gunner. First, the empty ammunition box is removed by pressing on the locking lever on the side of the box holder. The box will drop to the floor, and the gunner can retrieve a fresh box from the hull and load it into the box holder by pushing it in from below. If the turret is aimed forward, the closest ammunition rack to the gunner is to his immediate left and right. More boxes are stowed at the two rear corners of the hull and to the right of the commander's station.

Once a fresh box has been loaded, the next task is to put the ammunition belt into the feed system of the machine gun. To do this, the weapons complex must be elevated to the maximum limit as the KPVT occupies the entire length of the turret and it would not be possible for the gunner to reach the feed system. Raising the weapons complex also allows the top cover of the KPVT to be opened and for the gunner to find the feed lips and slot the belt of cartridges into the machine gun. After this, the charging cable is pulled to cock the gun and ready it to fire. The two pictures below show this process. The photo on the left shows a gunner straightening out a belt of rounds and the screenshot on the right shows a gunner preparing the cock the machine gun (screenshot from this video).

Additional boxes of ammunition may be stowed inside the vehicle if the crew chooses to. They could simply be placed on the floor, on the seats, or anywhere that does not interfere with the general function of the vehicle.

A spare barrel for the KPVT is carried in the vehicle. The KPVT has a heavy barrel and it is sufficiently cooled by air alone, so it does not require barrel changes during combat. As usual, the machine gun is fired in bursts to ensure an efficient rate of ammunition consumption, and the subsequent reduction in the practical rate of fire also ensures that the barrel does not overheat. Furthermore, the presence of a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun to supplement the KPVT allows the gunner to conserve 14.5mm rounds when engaging soft-skinned targets and enemy infantry in the open.

The available bullet types are the B-32, BS-41, BZT, BZT-M, MDZ, and MDZ-M which are armour-piercing incendiary (API), armour-piercing incendiary tracer (API-T) and instantaneous incendiary-high-explosive (HEI) respectively.

B-32 is an AP round made from tool steel, while the BS-41 is an AP round made from tungsten carbide. BS-41 is superior to the B-32, but the latter is still the most numerous type due to its economy. The BZT and BZT-M rounds are the tracer counterparts to the B-32 and BS-41 respectively. Both of these rounds have similar, and very modest penetration capabilities, and only serve to duplicate the flight trajectories of their counterparts. The also BZT-M differs from the BZT by having a slightly more powerful propellant to match its speed to that of the BS-41. The MDZ and MDZ-M rounds fulfill a niche requirement as anti-helicopter ammunition. This type of bullet has a limited advantage in the anti-personnel role in that it produces a small amount of splinters upon detonation, and it can set field fortifications alight.

B-32 (AP-I)

The B-32 bullet is composed of a hardened steel core with 1.8 grams of volatile incendiary mixture packed at the tip. The steel core is to defeat light armour, and the incendiary mixture is useful for injuring the occupants or setting internal equipment alight.

One interesting aspect about the B-32 bullet is that it shares the exact same external and internal design as the 12.7mm B-32 and 7.62mm B-32, differing only in scale. The B-32 bullet design was originally made for the 7.62x54mm cartridge, but was later adopted in larger calibers due to its very good ballistic shaping.

Muzzle velocity: 988m/s
Core: Heat-treated tool steel

The velocity limits of B-32 for various thicknesses of steel are listed as follows:

Muzzle Velocity of 14.5 B32: 988 m/s
V50 of 15.6mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 730 m/s
V50 of 15.4mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 739 m/s
V50 of 18.8mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 841 m/s

This means that 980 m, a 14.5mm B-32 bullet will go through 15.6mm of ATI 500-MIL plate angled at 30 degrees to the vertical. This is almost exactly double the performance of the .50 M2 round for a very small increase in caliber and small increase in overall dimensions. At 915 meters, the 14.5mm B-32 bullet will go through 15.4mm of the same steel at the same slope. Odd, but not a big deal. A 0.2mm error margin is easily explained away by quality issues. At 525 m, the 14.5mm B-32 bullet will go through 18.8mm of the same steel at the same slope.

Here is the graph of thickness against V50:

The B-32 is not useful against the sides of an M2 Bradley IFV, as the core will shatter against the two spaced steel plates that protect the aluminium armour underneath.

The photos below (taken from here (link) show the results of shooting a KPVT at two 6mm sheets spaced a few centimeters apart at point blank range. This would be a good demonstration of the performance of B-32 against the sides of a Bradley, as it simulates the configuration of its spaced armour, but sadly, the sheets are mild steel, and there was no witness plate to prove that the bullet had not shattered.

Therefore, these photos are interesting, but prove nothing. Note that some of the incendiary mixture from the bullet was wasted as it burned up outside the plate.

BS-41 (AP-I)
A souped-up armour-piercing cartridge first introduced for anti-tank purposes in 1941. It is very useful against lightly armoured vehicles like armoured cars and bullet-proofed utility and transport vehicles like M113s, Humvees and LAVs. Armoured attack helicopters are fair game as well. The extra penetration ability granted by the tungsten carbide core enables the the BS-41 to be useful against modern utility trucks and cars, but with the emergence of new and more advanced ceramic armour technology, the BS-41 cartridge will find its usefulness diminishing rapidly.

The bullet also has an incendiary compound packed at the tip of the bullet, just like the B-32.

Penetration of BS-41 into mild steel
Muzzle velocity: 1005m/s
Core: Tungsten carbide
Bullet Mass: 64.2 g
Bullet Length: 51.2mm

Core Diameter: 11.72mm
Core Length: 38.72mm
Core Mass: 38.72 g

Incendiary Compound Mass: 0.97 g

40mm RHA @ 100m
35mm RHA @ 350m
32mm RHA @ 500m
20mm RHA @ 1000m

80.5mm Mild Steel @ Muzzle
125mm 5083 Aluminium Armour @ 100m

Testing was conducted on the BS-41 against ATI 500-MIL plate, a high strength type of steel with a hardness of 500 BHN. This is much harder than normal RHA, which tends to have a hardness of around 300 BHN. The average hardness of mild steel is 145 BHN.

Muzzle Velocity of 14.5mm BS41 bullet: 1005 m/s
V50 of 24.5mm of ATI 500-MIL plate at 30 deg: 869 m/s

At 435 m, the BS41 bullet can perforate 24.5mm of ATI 500-MIL plate steel angled at 30 degrees. According to widespread claims on various websites and old Army documents, the 14.5mm BS-41 bullet is apparently also capable of perforating 40mm of steel armour (the properties of which are not specified, but assumed to be around 360 BHN steel) at 100m at 0 degrees, and 32mm of the same steel at 0 degrees at 500m.


The BZT and BZT-M have armour-piercing cores and incendiary tips like their armour-piercing-only counterparts, but these have an additional tracer element at the rear. The BZT has a steel core, and the BZT-M has a tungsten carbide core, both of equal dimensions. The tracer can burn until at least 2000m. These bullets are linked in a belt of AP ammunition in a 1:4 ratio.

Muzzle velocity: 995m/s (BZT) - 1005m/s (BZT-M)
Core: Heat-strengthened steel
Penetration: 20mm RHA @ 100m (BZT)
Tracer ignition distance: 50m - 120m from muzzle
As you can see in the pictures above, the BZT class of bullets have a shortened armour piercing core, with the addition of a volatile incendiary mixture packed in front of it at the tip of the bullet.


Explosive bullet with miniature fuze. This round is good for lightly armoured utility vehicles, such as trucks, jeeps, and others, but its main purpose is to shoot down unarmored helicopters. The relatively thick steel wall of the bullet allows it to punch through the thin aluminium skin of transport helicopters like the Mi-8 and the Huey and explode inside with great fragmentation and incendiary effects. For example, the aluminium skin on the fuselage of an Mi-8 utility helicopter is made from D16AT aviation aluminium alloy with a thickness of only 0.8-1.0mm, and the fuselage skin for many Western military and commercial helicopters is usually made from 7075 aviation aluminium alloy with an average thickness in the vicinity of 0.025 inches (0.635mm). Even the armoured AH-1 Cobra will be more vulnerable to this round compared to regular B-32 armour piercing bullets as its lackluster protection is far from enough to stop MDZ bullets. The effect of an MDZM bullet on the aluminium skin is simulated in the promotional display shown below.

As you can see, the damage inflicted on a helicopter with MDZM bullets is very serious, much more so than if it were hit by a B-32 armour piercing incendiary bullet which would only leave a small 14.5mm-diameter hole in the fuselage.

Muzzle velocity: 1000m/s - 1008m/s
Flame temperature: 2500°C - 3500°C

The 14.5mm cartridge is no longer a reliable means of dealing with light AFVs in the present day due to the universal up-armouring of this class of vehicle, thereby leaving the 14.5mm caliber with only of limited use against certain targets. Surprisingly though, even with the KPVT machine gun, the BTR-80 is still much better armed than modern competitors, which are usually armed with only .50 caliber machine guns. The KPVT grants the BTR-80 superior anti-masonry capabilities and superb anti-personnel performance thanks to its ability to penetrate straight through sandbag, wood and cement fortifications in addition to a substantial demoralizing factor. In a direct comparison to some NATO armoured scout cars and APCs armed with 20mm autocannons - usually the excellent Rh202 - like the Spähpanzer Luchs, the BTR-80 comes off much worse in every way, without a doubt. Thus, we can classify the KPVT as something in between a .50 caliber machine gun and a 20mm autocannon.

As mentioned before, the KPVT is not stabilized. The gunner is only able to fire accurate if the vehicle is stopped or moving at a very relaxed speed over even ground. This has the effect of limiting the usefulness of the BTR-80 as a fire support vehicle.


Unlike a typical armoured personnel carrier, the BTR-80 has a PKTM coaxial machine gun. The machine gun is fed with 250-round boxes with five more carried inside the tank within reach of the commander, who is responsible for reloading the machine gun. 7BZ-3 API (armour-piercing incendiary) rounds with the B-32 bullet and 7T2 API-T (armour-piercing incendiary tracer) rounds with the T-46 bullet are linked in a 4:1 ratio. The machine gun has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 to 800 rounds per minute. A 250-round box of 7.62x54mmR ammunition is provided in a continuous belt with ten more boxes stowed inside the BTR-80. The co-axial machine gun can be fired either by depressing the trigger button on the gunner's handgrips, or by pressing the emergecy manual trigger button located on the trigger unit installed at the back the receiver of the machine gun.

The coaxial machine gun is generally considered a backup weapon used to either conserve 14.5mm ammo or used when 14.5mm ammo has run out, or perhaps when the target is behind less solid cover.


There are three firing ports on the port side and four on the starboard side, all of which are canted forward to allow troops to fire to the front of the vehicle. The commander is provided with his own firing port. All of the passengers' firing ports the can traverse from 15 degrees to 25 degrees forward. The frontmost passenger firing port is intended for the squad machine gunner to use with his PKM.

None of the firing ports can actually lock the dismount's rifle in place, so he must bear the full recoil of his rifle. Each firing port can be closed with an exterior lid, which is manually operated. The firing port itself may be unlocked and swung open inwards.

There are two more firing ports on the roof hatches, one each. These are simple round port holes that allow any type of weapon to be fired at targets above the vehicle. Given the complete ineffectiveness of assault rifles at air targets, the only use of these ports would be to allow troops to fire at targets in tall buildings or cliffs which happen to flank the vehicle, while under relative safety. Presumably, this feature is usually entirely ignored by troops in favour of simply leaving the vehicle.

The commander's firing port is aimed directly forward and can traverse in a 50° horizontal arc and 50° in a vertical arc.

The firing port attendees were provided with sheet steel cartridge casing deflectors that would snap onto the receiver of their Kalashnikovs, since AK-type rifles ejected spent casings with quite a bit of force, so the user would otherwise pelt hot brass at his neighbour's face when he opened fire. The casing deflectors prevent this by redirecting spent casings downwards. Aside from that, the firing port stations were also fitted with a fume extractor system. Air hoses were attached to the sheet steel cartridge casing deflectors and were positioned just in front of the rifle's ejection port to suck in the powder gasses that escape from the ejection port as the rifle fired. Without this system, the BTR would be flooded with powder fumes, especially if all eight passengers have been firing continuously for extended periods of time without permission to open any of the hatches. This system is similar to the one installed in the BMP-1 and BMP-2.

There are two square roof hatches over the troop compartment, which allow dismounts to aim their personal weapons, RPGs, or MANPADs from the vehicle whilst affording some cover for the dismount. This feature is most useful for MANPADs. Unlike RPGs or automatic weapons, the accuracy of a MANPADS is not significantly affected by motion.

In addition to the weapons organic to the BTR-80, the vehicle can also carry grenades, grenade launchers, assault flamethrowers, additional small arms ammunition, and MANPADS launchers, machine guns - both light and heavy - and even AGS grenade launchers or other equipment. The BTR-80 can transport almost anything that its occupants need for short missions.


In accordance with its intended role, the BTR-80 was designed as a lightly-armoured vehicle. According to the specifications for the basic tactical-technical characteristics of the BTR-80, its requirements for protection did not change from its predecessors - its frontal armour had to resist 12.7mm armour-piercing bullets and it had to offer complete protection from 7.62mm armour-piercing bullets from all angles of fire. The basic requirements were already fulfilled by the BTR-60PB and BTR-70, but the BTR-80 achieved a higher level of security by having slightly thickened plating on the front and sides of the hull. This decreased the chances of a successful armour perforation down to point blank range, although it should be noted that bullets tend to require some standoff distance to fully stabilize and that a yawing bullet has drastically less penetration power than a stabilized one. The roof of the BTR-80 is resistant to some small arms fire, but only from a limited range of angles. Unless it is shot directly from above, the roof would be able to resist 7.62x51mm ball rounds and 7.62x39mm BZ (AP-I) rounds from point blank range.

The turret and hull is constructed from welded 2P high hardness, high strength armour steel plates with thicknesses ranging from 7mm to 10mm. 2P grade plates with thicknesses of 8mm to 14mm have a tensile strength of 1450 MPa and a hardness of 388 – 495 BHN (average 450 BHN). For comparison, MIL-A-12560 specifies that RHA steel for a plate with a thickness of 6.35mm to 12.7mm should have a hardness of 341 BHN to 388 BHN. The direct foreign equivalent of 2P grade steel in specification is MIL-DTL-46100 high hardness armour steel for combat vehicles and as such, Bisalloy 450 is a good representation of 2P since the physical properties of Bisalloy 450 are practically identical to 2P and it has been certified to achieve the MIL-DTL-46100 standard.

The higher efficiency of 2P grade steel compared to armour steels of lower hardnesses is only true for certain types of projectiles. Bullets from small arms are more readily defeated with high hardness plates set at an oblique angle, but fragmentation and splinters from grenades, shells and bombs are more efficient at piercing high hardness armour plate as their blunt shapes change the mechanism of penetration from ductile hole formation or fracturing to adiabatic shear plugging. This is shown in the graph below.

As the graph illustrates, the ballistic limit for .30 caliber M2 armour piercing bullets steadily increases until it plateaus when the hardness of 450 BHN is reached, but for .50 caliber fragment simulating projectiles, the highest ballistic limit (within the scope of the study) is achieved at a moderate hardness of 300 BHN. The efficiency of the 10mm plate drops drastically with increasing hardness and it reaches its lowest point at a hardness of 450 BHN. As the hardness decreases, the efficiency of armour against fragments and splinters increases, making aluminium armour plate a better choice than high hardness steel.

The upper frontal plate measures 10mm thick at an angle of 45 degrees and the lower frontal plate measures 9mm thick at the same angle. The interstitial plate joining the two plates measures 7mm thick at an angle of 87 degrees. The angled corners are the same thickness as the upper and lower front plates beside them. The upper sides are 10mm thick, and the lower sides are 9mm thick. Besides a relatively high thickness and an optimal hardness for protection from small caliber fire, the side armour of the hull has the additional benefit of between 20 to 30 degrees of vertical slope. Like the rest of the side hull armour, the top half of the side doors is 10mm and the lower half is 9mm. The rear of the hull, and the roof and the floor all measure in at 7mm thick. This is enough against .30-06 ball rounds, but 7.62mm M61 AP rounds are enough to defeat this armour.

According to a variety of sources, the mass efficiency of high hardness armour is 1.3 times the mass efficiency of RHA steel against armour piercing bullets. The .30 caliber M2 armour-piercing bullet can perforate 0.45 inches of RHA steel set at 30 degrees at muzzle velocity according to the Navy Criterion. With the 1.3 mass efficiency coefficient of 2P steel, the 10mm of side armour on the BTR-80 hull is more than enough to offer comprehensive protection from this bullet. The less potent M61 armour-piercing bullet is even less likely to puncture the armour plate.

However, the thickness of the side armour of the hull is not nearly enough to provide any meaningful amount of protection from 12.7mm-caliber threats except ball rounds, and only if the bullet impacts the armour at a considerable angle. NII Stali states that without additional armour, the upper side of the BTR-80 hull can be defeated by the 12.7mm B-32 armour-piercing bullet from a distance of 1,500 meters.

The video below shows a BTR-80A sustaining hits to the side from an SVD rifle at point blank range. The bullets used are 7.62mm B-32 bullets which are equivalent to .30-06 M2 AP rounds. The BTR-80A does not have increased protection compared to a basic BTR-80 as the BTR-80A model is not designed for newly built vehicles but is instead a modernization package for existing vehicles.

The turret walls are 10mm thick angled at 45 degrees at the front and sides, thinning down to 7mm at the rear but maintaining the same vertical slope angle throughout. As such, the front armour of the turret shares the same protective value as the front of the hull but the sides and rear of the turret have a slightly higher level of protection than the sides and rear of the hull. Like the hull, the roof of the turret is 7mm thick.

Overall, the level of protection offered by the BTR-80 was sufficient for the role of this class of troop transport for a conventional war. This is a very basic level of protection, so generally speaking, the BTR-80 only viable as a "battle taxi". It offers sufficient protection to go up against the organic firepower of a typical American mechanized rifle platoon, not counting any anti-tank weapons carried by the platoon, like the LAW, for example. If attacked by anti-tank grenades, the armour of the BTR-80 is not only incapable of resisting a complete perforation, but the plates themselves may be breached by the explosive blast alone and the welds that join the plates may burst with a direct hit, as demonstrated by the BTR-80 in the photo below. This particular example was lost to an RPG attack in Ukraine.

Furthermore, it is extremely dangerous for a BTR-80 to directly confront enemy vehicles armed with autocannons, as even high explosive shells from the 25mm cannon of the M2 Bradley can pierce its armour. It is less clear if 20mm cannon shells are also capable of doing this, but the risk is still extremely high. In general, proper reconnaissance and planning should ensure that motorized infantry riding in BTRs do not face resistance armed with more than small arms. Against such forces, the BTR-80 is well-armed and well-protected enough for the task.

If the BTR is acting as a battle taxi against a lightly-armed enemy force, as it should, there is no sense for the passengers to not be inside the armoured hull as it is completely adequate as a shield from bullets and splinters. However, in situations where heavy weapons and mines are expected, soldiers invariably prefer to ride on top of the BTR rather than in them, as this helps improve the chance of surviving a mine blast but also allows them to quickly dismount and spread out, as such incidents are often followed up with an enemy ambush from hidden positions. Being outside the vehicle has many more disadvantages on its own, obviously, the primary one being that this practice makes the soldiers vulnerable to claymore mines, jumping mines, and to the most basic IEDs.


The BTR-80 is provided with the 902V countermeasures system which include six 3D6 smoke grenade launchers, arranged at the rear of the turret, pointing forward. 3D17 anti-IR smoke grenades are available as well, although seldom used with "unimportant" assets like the humble BTR-80.


The BTR-80 has a overpressure NBC protection suite, similar to its predecessors. The higher pressure within the hull prevents particulate contaminants from entering the vehicle, and the occupants are supplied with purified air from an air filtration system. The air outlets for purified air is the only form of ventilation that the passengers have.


The occupants are provided with OU-2 1-liter fire extinguishers employing 114B-2 halocarbon extinguishing agents. There is no automatic fire extinguishing system.


BTR-80s have been seen with slat armour sets in various conflict zones as a response to the presence of RPG threats. These slat armour kits are only provided in small numbers to the Southern Military District and most often seen in the North Caucasus. BTR-80s mounted with slat armour screens are very commonly seen during anti-terrorist operations in Chechnya. The Ukrainian army has mounted slat armour on most of their BTR-type vehicles in light of the recent conflict in the Donbas region. Their availability on short notice is quite noteworthy as it indicates the ease of which they can be deployed. Slat armour is a cheap and convenient solution that provides a reasonable level of protection from common anti-tank threats that is compatible with the thin base armour of the vehicle.

The BTR-80 below is equipped with a slat armour kit developed by NII Stali. The slat armour screens cover the entire length and height of the hull sides and most of the front, with gaps left in the bottom edge of the lower glacis and the top edge of the upper glacis (presumably to not interfere with the view from the periscopes). The side doors in the hull are not protected by slat armour. In the example below, the lower half of the slat armour screens on the sides of the hull have been folded up. This feature is designed to permit free access to the wheels. The armour kit includes a layer of spaced armour plating underneath the slat armour screens made from ST-44 high-hardness steel to act as a dampener for shaped charge warheads as well as to provide additional protection from small arms fire. Note that the windscreens are also shielded by spaced armour panels, and that the panels on the lower glacis of the hull are divided into multiple longitudinal strips. These particulars can be used to differentiate it from other appliqué armour kits developed for the BTR-80.

The addition of the spaced armour plating underneath the slat armour panels helps to mitigate the damage caused by the blast of shaped charge grenades that successfully detonate despite the presence of the slat armour, and NII Stali advertises that the armour kit provides the upper side of the hull with protection from 12.7mm B-32 armour-piercing bullets from a distance of 325 meters. The claimed success rate of defeating anti-tank grenade threats such as the PG-9S grenade (fired from the SPG-9 recoilless gun) is 50%.

According to NII Stali, the entire armour kit weighs 1,000 kg. When installed on a BTR-80, the resulting gain in weight can be considered quite modest as the coverage offered by the additional armour is very generous. On the hull, the armour kit covers 90% of the front, 80% of the side and 90% of the rear. On the turret, the armour kit covers 60% of the front, 80% of the side and 100% of the rear.

The photo below shows a Russian BTR-80 with NII Stali slat armour kit in the Donbas, Ukraine. The slat armour screens on the sides of the hull have been unfolded but the screens at the front of the hull have been removed for some reason.


During marches, there are three crew members - the gunner, the commander and the driver. In practice, however, the commander dismounts with the 7 passengers and fights alongside them as their squad leader. The BTR-80 will continue to provide fire support with only the driver and gunner manning the vehicle.

A reasonable amount of attention is given to passenger comfort, although it is still surprisingly cramped inside. The vehicle is deceptively small.

The total height of the vehicle including the turret is 2.41 meters, but the height to the hull ceiling is only about 1.91 m. That's 6'3" - barely taller than most Anglo and Nordic combatants and hardly much taller than the average Soviet combatant. The low profile gives the BTR-80 wonderful concealment potential in densely vegetated environments. Being quite low to the ground, terrain features like rocks, mounds, shrubs and even tall grass can hide the BTR-80, and the tiny turret can be easily camouflaged.

The vehicle can transport 8 troops, though it is quite cramped at full capacity. Fortunately, due to the open space accommodation, soldiers can arrange their equipment and themselves wherever they want and in whatever position they find most comfortable.

Departing from other designs, troops must dismount from side doors instead of a typical rear door or ramp. This has its own pros and cons. Frankly speaking, exiting from these narrow doors in full gear is more inconvenient than it should be, but the choice of two doors means that if one side of the vehicle comes under fire, troops can disembark from the other side. This means that in an ambush scenario, the occupants have a good chance to escape unless surrounded from both sides. The doors are split into two portions; the upper half which swings sideways and outwards, and the bottom half, which drops down and forms a step, which is useful if the vehicle is on the move.

Port side door, inside view.
The lower hatch forms a small step

The upper half is opened and closed with a handle, but to close the lower half, there is a pullstring to help rein it in.

The accommodations for the passengers include two benches, facing away from each other, and periscopes for monitoring the situation outside the vehicle. There are two more individual seats at the front of the vehicle.


When driving in a non-combat situation, the driver relies on one of the two windscreens at the front of the vehicle for most of his driving work. In this condition, the armour panels for the windscreens are locked in a horizontal position which helps to shelter the windscreens from snow and rain, thus helping to improve driving visibility. When combat becomes imminent, the driver must switch to an array of four TNPO-115 periscopes mounted to the ceiling, supplemented by another TNPO-115 periscope on the side of the hull. This number of periscopes is enough to allow him to drive the BTR-80 safely at high speeds without the help of the windscreen.

At night, driving visibility is seriously affected as the driver must rely on a single forward-facing TVNE-4B night vision periscope. One of the TNPO-115 periscopes is swapped out for the TNVE-4B. The night vision periscope has a viewing distance of 120 meters. Due to the limited field of view and viewing distance, it is not safe for the BTR-80 to be driven at normal daytime speeds, so the average speed of the vehicle has to be severely restricted. When driving at night in a non-combat condition, the driver may drive with the help of a pair of night vision goggles.


Despite its ungainly appearance, the BTR-80 is a very assertive cross-country vehicle. The weight of the vehicle is 13.6 tons plus 3% for a full combat load, adding up to a total of 14 tons in a combat configuration. This is somewhat heavier than the BTR-70 which weighed 11.5 tons, but the increased weight of the BTR-80 is compensated by the major improvement in performance gained from switching from a pair of petrol engines to a single diesel engine.

Early versions were originally powered by a single KamAZ-7403 diesel engine. The KamAZ-7403 produces 260 hp at an engine speed of 2,400 RPM and has a specific fuel consumption rate of 0.5 liters per kilometer. All BTR-80s manufactured only in 1993 have a YaMZ-238M2 diesel engine instead of the KamAZ-7403. This engine produces 240 hp at the same engine speed. Very few vehicles have the YaMZ-238M2 engine as its use was only a temporary measure due to the burning down of the Kamaz engine plant in 1993.


The BTR-80 has a power-to-weight ratio of 19.1 hp/ton. The vehicle can cross a two meter-wide trench and scale a vertical obstacle with a height of 0.5 meters. The chassis has a generous 475mm of ground clearance, allowing the BTR-80 to drive right over tree stumps, rocks, and the like. The maximum speed on paved roads is 100 km/h, although drivers are never allowed to exceed 90 km/h during peacetime and the official top speed on paved roads is 80 km/h. The average cross-country speed is between 20 km/h to 40 km/h.

The air intake for the engine is located on the hull roof, just in front of the engine access panel and behind the starboard passenger roof hatch. The inlet is covered by a dome to prevent accidental water intake from rain and from waves when the vehicle is swimming in a body of water. The drawing on the left below shows the air cleaner and air heater and how it connects to the air inlet. The photo on the right below shows the air supply tube leading from the air cleaner to the engine.

Exhaust fumes are collected from the exhaust manifolds on either side of the engine and routed to a pair of mufflers mounted externally on the rear corners of the hull. Each of the two mufflers are encased in a sheet steel shroud and covered from the front with a thin armoured shield.

The BTR-80 carries fuel in two 150-liter fuel tanks at the very back of the hull, located on the flanks of the engine cooling system. The fuel filler ports are next to the brake lights. With a full load of 300 liters of diesel, the maximum driving distance of the BTR-80 is 600 km on a paved road and between 223 km to 480 km on cross-country trips. The location of the fuel tanks can be seen in the photo on the right below.

The transmission is of a hydromechanical planetary type, with five forward gears and one reverse gear. The two front pairs of wheels are the steering wheels. The vehicle has a minimum external turning radius of about 13.2 meters.

The suspension of the vehicle is of an individual torsion bar type, typical of wheeled designs. Each wheel has a telescopic double action shock absorber to improve driving comfort. The BTR-80 may mount either KI-80 or KI-126 tubeless tyres with detachable armoured rims, both of which are bullet-resistant and semi-mine resistant. The latter is a later issue (mid 90's) which is superior in all of the characteristics previously described. An example of a mine that the wheels could reliably resist would be the BLU-43 anti-personnel mine, and mines like it. This affords the vehicle some dependability in regions saturated with area-denial mines, and grants the vehicle good survivability characteristics. Of special interest is the BTR-80's ability to drive even with two of its wheels completely destroyed. In fact, this feature enables the BTR-80 to continue moving even after being detonating an anti-tank mine, which, as a rule, would destroy at least one wheel. The tyres have an operating pressure ranging from 50 kPa to 300 kPa. The BTR-80 can endure travel for several hundred kilometers even with all its tyres punctured.

The BTR-80 has a centralized tyre pressure control system, enabling the driver to control tyre pressure while on the move in accordance with the type of terrain that the vehicle has to traverse.

The photo on the left shows a BTR-80 in Kosovo with KI-80 tyres. The large wheel hubs are the tell-tale sign that KI-80 tyres are in use. The photo on the right shows a BTR-80 with KI-126 tyres which have smaller wheel hubs.

The KI-126 tyre is currently standard among all BTR-80s.


Swimming BTR-80s. Note the raised tubes.

The BTR-80 is fully amphibious. It is propelled by two water jets, and can attain a maximum speed of 9km/h in the water. The driving endurance in the water is 12 hours. Turning in the water is achieved by closing off one of the water jet nozzles; closing the right nozzle turns the vehicle right, and closing the left nozzle turns the vehicle left. If both jets are malfunctioning, the vehicle may still move in the water by the turning of the wheels. The speed is reduced to a measly 4km/h, although the occupants would be saved from being stranded in the middle of whatever body of water they were trying to cross.

The wave deflector has to be erected before entering the water to ensure that driving visibility is not affected.

There are two ventilation tubes, which must be raised when the vehicle is in the water. They provide air to the engine and vent exhaust gasses.


The BTR-80 has two 12ST-85R1 batteries connected in parallel, or a 6ST-190TR batteries connected in series with a dual G290V three-phase synchronous generator set.

All crew members are provided with the P-124 intercom system.


  There is an electric winch inside the bow of the BTR-80. The winch has a maximum pulling force of 4.6 tons, enough to let the BTR pull itself out of a bog or a ditch when hooked to a nearby tree or something, or perhaps rescue another vehicle from such conditions. The winch cable is 50m long.

The cable and hook can be accessed at the very front of the hull, through a square port (shown above).


This is a variant of the BTR-80, with a different turret and armament. No other changes were made to the rest of the vehicle. Over a hundred of these vehicles have been made for both service in the Army and for clients abroad.


The BTR-80A is a more heavily armed variant of the BTR-80, equipped with a BPPU pseudo-unmanned oscillating turret in lieu of the truncated cone turret on the original model. It is conceptually similar to the Marder 1 IFV's turret design.

The total separation of armament from crew compartment drastically lessens the physical impact on the gunner. Thanks to the lack of fumes and reduced acoustic stress from the cannon, the gunner is left trouble-free and undistracted, thereby improving his performance in combat.

The BPPU-1 turret is electrically driven and stabilized, and both the co-axial machine gun and autocannon have a gun elevation of 70 degrees and a gun depression of 7 degrees. With the new 2A72 autocannon and new gunner's sights, the relative combat efficiency of the BTR-80A increases by 2.1 to 2.4 times over the baseline BTR-80.

With the new turret, the weight of the vehicle increases to 14.55 tons. Since the engine remains unchanged, the BTR-80A has a power to weight ratio of only 17.9 hp/t.

The BTR-80A is often mistaken for the BTR-82A, but this is quite understandable. They are, after all, externally identical. However, the BTR-80A is simply a BTR-80 with a drop-on turret upgrade and thus did not receive any improvements to its hull, unlike the BTR-82A which has a spall liner. This is perhaps the easiest method of identifying a BTR-80A. For instance, a BTR-80AM:

Note the lack of spall liners and the lack of composite armour on the lower door

Generally speaking, the BTR-80A is identical to the BTR-80 in all ways except for the new turret. For more information about the BTR-80A in this regard, simply visit the BTR-82A article.


  The original BTR-80 is no longer being procured by the Russian military, having being temporarily supplanted by the BTR-82A. However, export sales are an entirely different matter. The BTR-80 is still displaying a strong standing among international clients.
  Surplus units from the late 90's cost approximately $400,000, and relatively new units should cost no more than that. Some civilian BTR-80s (new as well) are sometimes sold for as little as $50,000.



  1. Please note: the last photo is BTR-82AM (check the square PL-1 laser projector, not the round OU-5M on BTR-80A) - they lack the spall liner.

    1. Ah, nicely spotted! I will correct it as soon as I can.

  2. The ''homegrown'' iraqi add-on armour is from Ukraine, and that BTR-80 is BTR-80UP with 'Akustik' modules. Keep up the good work!

    1. Ah, thanks for the heads up! I must admit, I was a little lazy doing the research for this article.

    2. Might be a bit off-topic but are you familiar with the 'Kliver' turret installed as an upgrade to the BTR-80 and BMP-1? If so, will you include it in your upcoming article about the Kornet ATGM?

    3. I'm as familiar as anyone else is about it at this point, but I'm sorry to say that I will not be writing about it. It is currently an only an upgrade option, but never used as far as I know. I will only be writing about realistically relevant stuff, which is also why I did not write much about T-72B2 "Rogatka" in the T-72 article.

  3. Great stuff thank for sharing !

  4. I have a question, what is the full troop capacity for the BTR-80? From what I have seen on web every site says 3 crew(driver, gunner, and commander) and 7 passengers, but from your photos it looks like it can hold 3 crew plus 8 passenger. The driver and commander in the front 2 seats, then there are 2 seats behind the driver and commander for 2 passengers, the gunner is in between those 2 seats and then there are the 2 benches in the back that hold 3 on each for a total of 6. Is that correct? Would this also apply for the BTR-70 and BTR-60PB having the extra spot for the 8th passenger or do they really only hold 3 crew and 7 passengers?

    Thanks for this amazing article by the way, I just found this blog yesterday and have been slowly reading you posts, the amount of time and effort you must put into this is truly amazing. I was wondering, do you think you might do a post on the T-64 later on seeing as you have done one on the T-62, T-72, and T-80? I know this is probably very time consuming so I understand its not something you could just write up real quick, but do you think you might do it eventually?

    1. A Soviet motorized infantry squad consists of 8 men, but when mounted on a BTR, the squad leader becomes the BTR commander, thus reducing the squad to 7 men. When dismounted, the BTR commander dismounts with the passengers, so the vehicle will be crewed by just two men: gunner and driver. Both 2 + 8 and 3 + 7 descriptions are correct. The extra seat is occupied by a platoon leader, or by support personnel like medics. The fourth vehicle in a motorized squad would carry 11 men total.

      Note that this is also true for the BMP.

      Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, I might do a T-64 article eventually, but not anytime soon. I already have a rough draft written up for the 115mm-armed T-64. I definitely won't be writing about the 125mm version of the T-64.

    2. Correction: Four men in the fourth vehicle. Driver, gunner, commander and platoon leader. Passenger seats are left empty.

  5. What is the depression on the BPU-1 turret's weapons?

    It's a trope that soviet vehicles have no depression, and in some video games I've seen the BTR not be able to hit prone infantry that are ~30m away from the vehicle.

    I've also seen all sorts of different numbers different places, from 4 degrees to 12 degrees (somehow) and that it was improved from the BTR-70 and BRDM-2 somehow?? (Perhaps they were confused by the 30mm turret)

    1. There's a bit of unintentional misinformation in the article; the BTR-80 does not use the BPU-1. It uses the MA turret, which is completely different from the BPU-1. The BPU-1 is used only in the BTR-60PB, BTR-70 and BRDM-2. The depression on the MA turret is -4 degrees, and the depression on the BPU-1 is -5 degrees. The main attraction of the MA turret was the higher maximum gun elevation of 60 degrees, compared to just 30 degrees on the BPU-1. The higher gun elevation was one of the new requirements for the BTR-80 owing to the experiences of Soviet troops fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan.

      BPU-1 (BTR-60PB, BTR-70, BRDM-2): -5 to +30 degrees
      MA (BTR-80): -4 to +60 degrees

      It's no trope. It's completely true that all Soviet vehicles have sub-par gun depression.

      Sorry about the firing port hoses part. The entire paragraph was incomplete and full of errors since this article is not high on my priority list (low view count). It has been fixed now. Thanks for reading!

  6. You call it a BMP in the part about the firing port hoses btw :P

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  8. Is there any difference in armor protection from the BTR-70 to the BTR-80? The profiles of both vehicles are nearly identical, so I imagine this could only be due to thicker or higher hardness armor. I do generally see that BTR-80 is supposedly heavier, so is this only due to the new drivetrain or are there armor improvements? Thank you

    1. They're practically the same. Both use 2P high strength high hardness armour plating, and both are virtually immune to 7.62x54mm B-32 ammunition fired from an SVD at point blank range.