Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle

The SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle is 24.4-inch barrel is better than that used on the typical Russian rifle of the period, but is still not equal in quality to comparable Western sniper rifles of the period (such as the M-21). This barrel is tipped with a long, slotted flash suppressor, and also has a bayonet lug (an unusual feature for a sniper rifle).

The trigger group is also simply adequate for a sniper’s weapon, but nothing exceptional; the fire controls include a safety sear and a disconnector, which ensures that the trigger must be released after each shot (or trigger bar will not reconnect with the sear, and the weapon will not fire). The SVD  Dragunov sniper is equipped with a sight mount attached to the left side of the receiver; this mount accepts the PSO-1 4x24 telescopic sight (standard until recently for the SVD series). The PSO-1 includes an illuminated reticle low-light conditions, and is powered by a battery which is essentially a proprietary Russian design that will fit into very few other devices. 

The mount will also accept the PSO-1M2, an updated PSO-1which includes a metascope that can detect IR light sources (but is not sensitive enough for use as night vision device. Another device usable by the SVD is the NSPU-3 3.46x image intensifying scope. Iron sights are also provided. The stock has a distinctive skeletonized profile, built of weatherproofed beechwood and including a semi-pistol grip and a raised cheekpiece.

SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle
In the early 1980s, an upgraded version of the SVD  Dragunov (sometimes referred to as the SVDM) was introduced. This version is basically the same as the standard SVD Sniper, but the wooden stock has been replaced by one made of synthetic materials, and a mount is provided for a detachable bipod. In addition to the standard telescopic sights available to the SVD, the SVDM can mount a Minuta 3-9x42 scope. This scope includes an orange light filter to improve image contrast, a rangefinder and an aiming reticle, both illuminated (either simultaneously or individually).

The SVDS is a folding-stock variant of the SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle that was designed for airborne, air assault, and special operations troops, but eventually distributed to the other parts of the Soviet Army. It was introduced in the late 1970s using experience gained in Afghanistan. It is basically an SVD Sniper Rifle with a tubular metal folding stock and a shorter 22.2-inch barrel with a shorter and less bulky flash suppressor; no bayonet lug is provided. (Originally, there was to be an SVDS-A, with a standard-length barrel, and an SVDS-D, with a shorter barrel, but the SVDS-A was not accepted for service.) The rifle is not intended to be fired with the stock folded, as when it is the trigger, pistol grip (which is no longer a part of the stock), and charging handle are obstructed. If fired with the stock folded, hit rolls are at -2.

The pistol grip and fore-end are made from polymer. A new 15-round magazine was designed to be used with this rifle, and it will not fit in the SVD or SVU Sniper Rifle. The scopes which may be mounted are identical to those on the SVDM; however, some of these rifles have been seen in the hands of troops in Chechnya with unknown-model scopes of 6x24 and 8x24 powers. The Russians have of late been trying to sell the SVDS on the export market; to this end, a version chambered for 7.62mm NATO has been developed in recent years. This version of the SVDS is also capable of mounting a wider variety of telescopic sights and night vision equipment.

The SVU, more properly called the OTs-03AS, is more-or-less a bullpup variant of the SVD Dragunov, though it is so heavily modified that it is very much a different animal. Early rumors suggested that the SVU was designed as a compact SVD for use by female snipers; however, the First Chechen Revolution provided the answer to the design of the SVU. The SVU is compact, has a capability for automatic fire, and can also serve as an effective sniping weapon; it was meant to be the support weapon for a sniper’s partner in a sniping team or as a sort of CQB sniper rifle. Numbers of these rifles were used in the conflicts with Chechnya by internal security forces and the military.

The muzzle has a large cylinder near the end that acts as a combined flash hider and low efficiency suppresser. The SVU may be fitted with a bayonet. The SVU may use the same optical sights as the SVDS, and also has flip-up iron sights. The SVU is equipped with a folding bipod; this bipod may also be locked to one side or the other, in order to steady the weapon against a horizontal support such as a wall or tree.

One of the newest variants of the SVD Dragunov is the SVDK. Afghanistan and Chechnya taught the Russian Army that sometimes a sniper rifle firing a heavier cartridge with better penetration is called for, especially in urban conflicts. To that end, the Russians developed a magnum-type 9.3x64mm cartridge and redesigned the SVD Dragunov Sniper to fire it, producing the SVDK. 60% of the parts of the SVDK are interchangeable with the SVD, but there have been many changes, both for functionality and to accommodate the larger cartridge. The SVDK uses the stock and pistol grip of the SDVS, and most of the furniture is made from black polymer; however the SVDS stock has been modified to include an adjustable cheekpiece and is made from polymer instead of steel. The barrel is cold-hammer forged and 22.2 inches long, with a conical muzzle brake/flash suppressor and no bayonet lug.

A folding bipod is provided, with legs adjustable for height. The top cover of the receiver has been strengthened by adding 0.3mm of thickness. The SVDK has new iron sights appropriate to the new cartridge; though Russian literature says that the standard telescopic sight is the PSO-1, this is probably not completely true since the PSO-1 would be inadequate for the range of the 9.3mm SN cartridge. It is more likely that the telescopic sights used are the new 6x24 and 8x24 sights, which are also often referred to as the PSO-1.

There is one further variant of the SVD: The TSV-1 training rifle. This is essentially an SVD which is modified to fire .22 Long Rifle ammunition; other than certain operating parts, the modifications include the magazines (they use inserts for the smaller cartridge) and a barrel insert. NORINCO in China makes their own version of the SVD and SVDS, called the Type 79 and Type 85 respectively. They also make a version of the SVDM in 7.62mm NATO, called the NDM-86; this is designed for export, primarily to civilians. The Polish make what is possibly the ultimate version of the SVD: the SWD-M. This version uses synthetic furniture and magazines, a light detachable bipod, and a new scope mount that in standard Polish Army issue uses a PCO LD 6x42 telescopic sight. The barrel is the same 24.4 inches long, but tipped with a compact muzzle brake and using a heavier bull profile. The SWD-M is not issued outside certain units of the Polish Army.

Romanian made Dragunov magazines will not feed reliably in the Dragunovs of any other country. The SVD has apparently been around since the late 1950s; however, its existence was merely conjecture and rumor until the mid-1960s when examples were captured by US troops in Vietnam. The SVD is basically a highly-modified Kalashnikov, using a similar bolt system, but using a short-stroke piston system with a lightweight piston instead of the long-stroke heavy piston of the Kalashnikov series. Thus, while the Dragunov Sniper Rifle may look like is uses the Kalashnikov action from the outside, internally the Dragunov Sniper is a very different weapon.


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