We Are the Mighty explains that the Soviet Cosmonaut’s three-barreled TP-82 Survival Pistol was developed to to defend them, not against Marvin the Martian, but against hungry bears after they landed deep in Russia’s wilderness interior.
Alexey Leonov â€“ the first human to do a spacewalk â€“ landed his capsule in forests of the snow-covered Ural mountains [in 1965], some 600 miles off target. Luckily for him, he carried a 9mm pistol that would protect him from the beasts in the untamed wilderness. His fears of landing off-course caused him to lobby for a survival weapon that would be included in all Soyuz capsules. What he got was the TP-82, a weapon that could hunt, take down large predators, and fire off flares. But wait, there’s more: The weapon’s buttstock was also a large machete that could be used as another survival tool.
But the survival weapons didn’t show up overnight. Leonov and his partner in the Soyuz capsule that day, Pavel Belyayev, spent two nights on the ground in the Urals, cold and fearful of large predators. They weren’t able to be rescued for two full days before a ground crew could ski out to them in the deep snow and heavy forest canopy. Leonov’s fear of being stranded among brown bears never left him, however. Nearly 20 years after the rescue, he became second in command of the cosmonaut training program in 1981.
He used this influence to develop the three-barreled pistol and make it standard in Soyuz space capsules.
More on the TP-82:
Wikipedia tells us the shotgun barrels were chambered for 12.5Ã—70 mm ammunition (40 gauge –.492, bigger than .410), and the lower rifled barrel used the 5.45Ã—39mm ammunition developed for the AK-74 assault rifle.
HT: Karen L. Myers.