Submarines: Weapons for Divers


June 5, 2007: What weapons are available to military divers? You know, SEALs or other underwater combat troops. There's always the knife, but you have to get in close, too close, to use it. Think of the knife as a last ditch weapon. If you are carrying a pistol, that will work, but the bullet will stop after about fifteen feet, and won't hurt anyone after two or three feet. The water slows down the bullet real quick. Rifles send the bullet a little further, but still becomes harmless about three feet out. However, if fired from just above the water, say from a dock or boat, bullets will hurt someone underwater to a depth of 5-10 feet. When fired outside the water, the bullet is able to get up some speed before hitting the water and starting to slow down.

During the Cold War, especially in the 1970s, The Soviet Union and the United States (with a lot of help from West Germany) came up with some more effective underwater weapons. These weapons fired heavier bullets that created an air bubble around them (cavitating) which enabled them to maintain higher speeds for longer distances. These projectiles could hurt you out to about a hundred feet. Beyond that, most of the time, you can't make out a target. The Russians still have their underwater "nail gun" (as underwater warriors call this type of weapon), in both pistol and assault rifle (it looks like a bulked up AK-47) forms. The U.S. still arms underwater troops with a similar pistol. And then there's also the spear gun. It's used for hunting fish, is a one shot affair, and has a range of about 14-24 feet. Now you know.


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