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The 5.45x18mm, a small Soviet pistol cartridge. It is especially known for its armor-piercing capabilities. Next to a U.S. quarter for size comparison.

The 5.45x18mm is a Soviet handgun cartridge developed around 1969-1970 by Antonina D. Denisova of the Precision Mechanical Engineering Central Research Institute (TsNIITochmash). It is utilized in the PSM Pistol (which it was developed with), as well as the OTs-23 Drotik machine pistol. It has seen use by Russian police, military and the KGB since 1973.

One interesting aspect of this cartridge is how it uses a spitzer-style bullet, which is atypical of most handgun ammunition. Contrary to its name, the 5.45x18 fires a 5.63mm (.222 caliber) bullet.

There are several wildcat cartridges that are very similar to the 5.45 x 18 including the .224 Montgomery and the .22 Epperson Cricket, both of which are .25 ACP cases necked down to accept a spitzer-style .224 caliber bullet.


The 5.45x18mm cartridge fires a 38.6 grain bullet at about 1,000 feet per second for only 94 ft lbs of muzzle energy. There are not many easily accessible ballistics tests on the cartridge, but Soldier of Fortune Magazine found the wounding characteristics of the round to be poor in a ballistic gel test. The steel-core loading however, is well-known for its ability to penetrate body armor. About 45 layers of kevlar at close range.

Bullet (Grains) Velocity (FPS) Energy (Ft Lbs)
38.6 Gr. 1,000 fps 94 ft lbs energy

Video / Ballistics Demo

Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons made a video demonstrating the armor-piercing capabilities of the 5.45x18mm cartridge, using a PSM Pistol.