Ukraine has rather strict firearms laws but still permits civilian ownership in some facets. Rifles are easily obtained for recreational use provided the proper documentation is submitted and approved but pistols are illegal for private ownership. This leaves citizens with two primary options for personal protection in everyday carry, a knife or a traumatic pistol.

The Fort-12 was probably the most popular model I’ve encountered, resembling a CZ-75 in style. It features a special barrel designed specifically for rubber bullets and as such has a very limited range. Its designed to be used in a close quarters self-defense role, so range isn’t really an issue in this regard. The bullets themselves are odd because the have a flat cylindrical shape to them, probably aiding in the weapon’s limited range. A major problem with this is after a sustained amount of fire, the barrel lining becomes incredibly fouled by the rubber deposits. Apparently malfunctions are a common occurrence so routine maintenance is an absolute must.

The pistols cost around $600 and require and application process, its much easier for active duty Ukrainian military personnel to complete this and interestingly enough foreign journalists. Of course the use of force laws must be adhered to as well, which are incredibly strict leaving little room for error. From what I could gather, you pretty much have to be confronted with a deadly weapon to employ it; being attacked by a group using their fists is not considered justifiable use.

It’s definitely an interesting solution to self-defense. They are considered ineffective by many people here and many people modify their rubber bullets with metallic tips (illegally) to create a more lethal round. While gun violence is very low, knife attacks are much higher since it is much easier to obtain and employ discreetly. That being said, organized crime and career criminals obtain real pistols and AK variant rifles through the black market easily; so it all seems rather pointless.