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Designated marksman rifle


The SVD is a tactical rifle, rather than a true sniper weapon

Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1963
Caliber 7.62x54 mmR
Weight (empty, with scope) 4.3 kg
Length 1 225 mm
Barrel length 620 mm
Muzzle velocity 830 m/s
Magazine capacity 10 rounds
Sighting range 1 300 m
Range of effective fire 800 m


   This rifle was designed by Yevgeny Dragunov in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It won competition against two other competing designs and was adopted by Soviet armed forces in 1963 as SVD. Full-scale production of this rifle commenced in 1964. It became a standard squad support weapon in service with the Soviet armed forces. Also it was exported to Warsaw Pact countries and Soviet allies. Currently it is used by Russian and at least 30 other countries. It was license-produced in China. A copy of this weapon was produced in Iran. Since its introduction the SVD has seen action during countless wars. Production of this rifle still continues in Russia.

    The SVD is a squad support weapon optimized for medium-range rapid fire combat. In Russia it is considered as a sniper rifle, however it is inferior in terms of performance to most Western sniper rifles. It is a tactical rifle, than a true sniper weapon. The SVD was not designed for highly trained sniper teams, but for designated marksmen to extend a fire reach of a squad. It can engage targets beyond the reach of Kalashnikov assault rifles. The whole concept behind this weapon is that an average individual with some simple instructions can successfully engage targets. It is worth mentioning that during the Cold War, Soviet Army had no dedicated sniper rifle in its inventory other than SVD due to its doctrine.

   This tactical rifle is chambered for 7.62x54 mm rimmed ammunition. It is a standard ammunition used by rifles and machine guns. The SVD uses specially-designed sniper grade ammunition for precision shooting. It is much more accurate than standard ammunition. With this special ammunition the SVD is as accurate as American M24 and M110 sniper weapons. The SVD can also fire standard 7.62x54 mm ammunition, though with reduced accuracy. Standard ammunition is available in the form of conventional, tracer or armor-piercing incendiary rounds.

   The SVD is a gas operated weapon. Its internal mechanisms have a number of similarities with Kalashnikov assault rifle. This weapon proved to be reliable and tolerant to abusive use. This rifle has a manual safety. The barrel is relatively thin to save weight. Soviets and Warsaw Pact countries did not use marksman weapons with heavy barrels.

   The SVD is a semi-automatic weapon. It has a higher rate of fire and can make much more aimed shots comparing with bolt-action rifles. However there are some drawbacks of semi-automatic design. Spent cases are ejected sideways and can disguise the shooter.

   The original SVD has a wooden handguard and skeletonized wooden stock. The stock has detachable cheek rest. Current production version, the SVD-M, has black polymer stock and handguard.

   The SVD is fed from 10-round magazines. The rifle comes with four spare magazines.

   This rifle comes with a PSO-1 optical sight. It has 4x magnification. The scope's reticle pattern is easy to use and makes range estimation quick and reasonably accurate without any mathematical calculations. Also there are backup iron sights. Sighting range is 1 300 meters with optical sight and 1 200 meters with backup iron sights. The optical sight is side-mounted and does not block the iron sights. So the shooter can use any sight at any time. Range of effective fire is up to 800 meters. However it is considered normal, that at this range only 1 out of 8 rounds hits a torso-sized target. The SVD is most typically used at ranges up to 600 meters. In 1985 a record kill was made during the Soviet War in Afghanistan from 1 350 meters using the SVD rifle.

   A knife-bayonet can be fitted to this rifle. That is another feature uncommon to sniper weapons.




   SVDN comes equipped with a night sight. Otherwise it is similar to the SVD.

   SVDS has a shorter barrel with new flash hider and a side-folding stock.  It was developed in the early 1990s for the airborne troops. This rifle has a polymer furniture. Also it has slightly improved internal mechanisms. SVDSN is a night-capable version, that comes with a night sight.

   SVU, a version of the SVD with bullpup layout with a shorter barrel. As a result this weapon is much more compact. But its effective range is only 400 meters. It was developed in the late 1970 for the Soviet airborne troops. It was adopted in 1994 by the law enforcement forces as a weapon for urban combat. It was produced only in small numbers.

   SVD-M, a current production version of the SVD. It has black polymer furniture.

   Type 79, a Chinese license-produced version of the SVD. There is also an improved Type 85. Both of these rifles are used by China's armed forces, paramilitary units and law enforcement forces. China developed a number of commercial clones of the SVD.

   SWD-M, an improved Polish version with a heavy barrel and detachable bipod. It uses 6x magnification sight. This rifle was adopted in 1998.

   Al Kadesih. It is Iraqi hybrid between the SVD and Romanian PSL. Even though its appearance resembles that of the SVD, it has a number of differences.








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