The chassis of the 2S5 is of all-welded steel armor construction that is believed to have a maximum thickness of 15-mm so providing the crew with protection from small arms fire and shell splinters. A dozer blade is mounted under the nose of the 2S5. This is used for clearing obstacles and preparing firing positions without specialized engineer support. Mounted externally on the forward part of the cupola is a 7.62-mm machine gun that can be operated by remote-control with a white light searchlight being mounted on the left side. The commander is provided with periscopes and other viewing devices. The long-barreled 152-mm ordnance, which is fitted with a five part multi-baffle muzzle brake, is mounted externally on the roof at the rear and when traveling is held in position by a travel lock. When deployed in the firing position a large spade is lowered to the ground to provide a more stable firing platform. The 2S5 takes three minutes to come into action and a similar time to come out of action. Ammunition is of the separate loading type, for example projectile and charge, and crew fatigue is reduced by means of a semi-automatic loading system. This consists of an electrically driven chain rammer located to the left of the breech which, when not required folds back through 90° so that it is parallel to the breech and the projectile and charge-loading system. The latter is pivoted on the right side and has a projectile tray and a charge tray. The projectile and charge are loaded in the trays and then swung upwards through almost 90° where the rammer first rams the projectile then the charge.
The 2S5 can be supplied with ammunition from either on board via the rear of the vehicle or from ammunition on the ground. A total of 30 projectiles and charges is carried with the projectiles being stowed vertically in a carousel device in the left side of the rear compartment with the 30 charges to the right in three rows of 10. Each row of 10 charges is also stowed vertically and they are on a horizontal conveyor belt that returns under the floor of the vehicle. The charge consists of a conventional cartridge case containing the actual charge and once fired the breech automatically opens and the spent cartridge case is ejected. Maximum range, firing conventional ammunition is 28500-m while a range of 40000-m can be achieved using a rocket-assisted projectile. In addition to the normal high explosive fragmentation projectile which weighs 46 kg, with propellant and cartridge weighing a maximum of 34 kg, other types include chemical, concrete-piercing, improved conventional munitions and tactical nuclear. A unit of fire is 60 rounds. The mechanical ammunition-handling system enables a maximum rate of fire of 5-6 rds/min to be achieved. Standard equipment for the 2S5 includes an NBC system and infra-red night equipment for the driver and commander.