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(Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova)- Dragunov Sniping Rifle was the first
rifle designed from scratch as a sniper rifle, and was introduced in the
1950's. It has very limited similarities to the Kalashnikov series of
rifles. The SVD can be expected to shoot 2 MOA with quality ammo.The
Dragunov self loading sniper's rifle is intended for engaging fleeting,
moving, open and masked single targets. Aimed fire is delivered by
single shots. For convenient handling the sniper's rifle on march,
in landing and transporting in various kinds of war vehicles (ammored
infantry vehicles, armored vehicles, helicopters and other) the rifle is
equipped with a folding butt. Provided in the set are: magazines;
accessories for cleaning and oiling: oiler. Knife-bayonet; rifle
sling; optical sight with SPTA. While the weapon is a bit
crude when it comes to workmanship, it still functioned flawlessly. We
shot extensively out to 900 meters. The rifle is extremely deadly, even
with cheap surplus ammo, out to about 600 meters. After that, your pressed to hit consistantly. We easily were
maintaining sub 2 MOA. The SVD is not a true sniper rifle in todays terms, but it performs exceptionally well for
what it was designed for, a weapon to extend the range of the average
SVD VS Romanain
The SVD is more
accurate. The Romanian rifle is not a Dragunov despite the ads to the
It is actually called the FPK. It is an RPK slightly reinforced and setup
to fire the 54R cartridge.
The RPK is an AK with a reinforced receiver, a longer barrel(21"),
bipod and a funny shaped buttstock. The gas piston is longer than
the standard AK and therefore heavier causing more disturbance during
recoil which makes it harder to get back
on target etc. The trigger is the same as the AK too. The Dragunov has a
lightweight, short-stroke gas piston and a trigger that has much less
creep, pull and weight. It was also designed from the outset as a
sniper-rifle not an adaptation of an excellent assault rifle. The FPK is
a good rifle but it is not a sniper...
EVGENIY DRAGUNOV: CREATOR OF FIREPOWER
(ABSTRACTS FROM A FORTHCOMING BOOK)
Fedorovich Dragunov was born on February 20, 1920 in Izhevsk into a long
line of gunsmiths. His grandfather used to work in the Izhevsk Arms
Factory. Following the family tradition, he graduated from the Izhevsk
Industrial School as a technician of “metal machining”. The young man
was offered a job in the same factory where his grandfather had worked
in Czarist times. His first project was to improve machining technique
the bayonet of the Mosin - Nagant rifle, model of 1891/30. In 1939 he
was recruited in to the Soviet Army where he served in a regimental
gunsmith workshop. With the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War broke
out in 1941, he was promoted to the rank of a senior armorer, which
afforded him priceless experience with both Russian and enemy automatic
weapons. Dragunov was an accomplished and enthusiastic target shooter
and his shooting skills proved very useful in the war as well as in his
subsequent career of an arms designer. He never missed an opportunity
to take part in competitions and tournaments and did it with fairly
Evgeniy Fedorovich Dragunov,
1920 - 1991.
After the war,
Dragunov returned to Izhevsk and joined the Arms Designing Bureau to
resume his work and education. He again turned his attention to
modernizing the Mosin - Nagant three-line (cal. 7.62 mm) magazine-type,
single shot rifle. The venerable rifle had been extensively used as a
sniper weapon during the past war. It was a fine weapon - accurate and
reliable, but what did not make shooters happy was its slow reloading.
The cartridges were placed into the undetachable magazine one by one.
Dragunov found an unusually simple but effective solution by designing
a new scope mount, which made reloading faster. The clearance between
the scope, held by the mount of a new construction, and the receiver of
the rifle was convenient enough to insert a cartridge clip.
The Mosin - Nagant rifle, it seems to me, became a Dragunov’s favorite.
At the end of the 1940-s and the beginning of the 1950-s, he made a
number of sporting versions of the rifle.
It will not be an exaggeration to say that Dragunov founded a new trend
in the Russian arms designing school. As a leading project engineer he
constructed 27 various firearms including MTs-50, ÌTsV-50, Zenith,
Strela (Arrow), Taiga, CM, Biathlon-7-2, Biathlon-7-3, Biathlon-7-4
rifles, winners of several Olympic Gold Medals.
In 1958 Dragunov
accepted the challenge of designing a semiautomatic sniper rifle.
The rifle envisioned in the MENS submitted by GRAU (Glavnoye Raketno -
Artilleriyskoye Upravleniye - the Chief Missile and Artillery
Department of the Soviet Ministry for Defense) was more than a simple
sniper rifle. Along with high accuracy and the substantial range of
fire, the weapon had to be lightweight, compact, and capable of
tradition of training chasseurs - dedicated snipers dates back to the
18th and 19th centuries: During the Crimean campaign against British and
French troops, Russia fielded small units of selected marksmen with
excellent shooting skills. Their first performance at the battle of
unexpectedly effective, with a great demoralizing effect upon the
enemy, as they targeted crucial enemy personnel at advanced ranges,
while remaining beyond counter fire. Special high-accuracy rifles did
not exist at that time, and the men had to use standard weapons. The
development in 1891 of a new 7.62 mm rifle by Sergey Mosin, a designer
in the Tula Arsenal, was a major step toward creating a more accurate
Such a dedicated
sniper rifle, a version of the above rifle, was eventually developed in
Russia in 1930. Other attempts were also made to produce dedicated
sniper rifles by Fedor Tokarev (SVT-38 and SVT-40), Sergey Simonov
(AVS-36, SKS-44). Post-war attempts, such as variants of the SKS
carbine, were also unsuccessful, and the Army returned to the
well-proven model of 1891/30.
It was clear from
the beginning, Dragunov and his team were
commissioned to create a weapon as an individual means of advanced
field fire support. He realized, he would have
to compromise between two major schools of thought: In order to enhance
accuracy of fire, he had to first minimize tolerances between moving
parts, while maintaining a relatively higher weight of the weapon, and
keep a longer barrel. On the other hand, these clearances had to be
sufficient to provide trouble-free operations under adverse conditions
(fluctuating temperature, high humidity, dust, etc.); and for the better
maneuverability of an operator, the rifle had to be lighter and
It was also important to reduce pressure of gases in the chamber to
optimize automatic reloading (and accuracy of fire) - but for the sake
of operational reliability the pressure had to be high.
In our earlier
research on the SVD development like in prevailing number of other
Soviet sources it was believed that the first prototype of the SVD
sniper rifle was produced in 1959. Later and more accurate
investigation, however, allowed us to discover the SVD (SSV -
Snayperskaya Samozariadnaya Vintovka - sniper auto-loading rifle) dated
1958 - the same year GRAU opened the contest.
The first version of the Dragunov sniper rifle had a buttstock and a
handguard different from the later, model 1963, version. The number of
ventilation holes in a laminated plywood handguard is 3 in contrast to
the 6 openings in the usual SVD rifle. The buttstock has no cheek. The
geometry of the gas chamber also differs from the SVD, model 1963. The
rear sight of SVD-1958 is of a peep-type, with a sliding tangent. The
front sight is a copy of the AK47 post-type sight, with protective
ears. The muzzle is without flash suppressor.
The gun showed
fair accuracy but its reliability, and especially durability of mechanisms,
left much to be desired.
Although there is common perception in the West that under the Soviets
all defense production was so heavily monopolized that centralization
left scant place for competition, the evolution of SVD (Snayperskaya
Vintovka Dragunova) is an example to the contrary.
Kalashnikov did his bid in creating various sniper rifles. He produced
two models. Both had the construction typical of the AKM assault rifle:
- the receiver of
stamped and welded type;
- bolt carrier integrated
with connecting rod and piston;
- rotary bolt with two
- gas chamber without
- sights derived from the AKM
The rifles showed
the results far from being the best. Kalashnikov realized that his
chances to win the contest were really slim. In addition, he was
totally involved in designing the novel machine gun. It was evident he
would not be able to “chase two hares at a time” as the Russian proverb
says. Kalashnikov abandons the contest to work harder on the RPK
Dragunov’s team, two more groups of designers, headed by Alexander
Konstantinov and Fedor Barinov, worked on a similar project. The
strongest team of these two was, probably, that of A. Konstantinov.
became pretty tough as the stakes were high: The better of the two
firearms would be adopted for service. Another year and a half was
devoted to upgrading the first version of SVD. Dragunov, a kin sharp
shooter himself, knew subtleties of the sport. This helped him a lot in
designing an accurate weapon. One of such subtleties was the
construction of handguards. The Kalashnikov’s
rifles had handguards rigidly fixed to the
SVD, set of delivery. The rifle features
traditional laminated skeleton buttstock and a new synthetic
barrel through a typically
AK-type flange-ring. In firing, the force of gripping was inevitably
transmitted to the barrel, thus influencing (decreasing) the accuracy.
Dragunov’s design was smarter. His handguard allowed a certain degree
of freedom for the barrel. The main point onto
which the handguard rested, was the receiver.
Konstantinov also did his best and the cost effectiveness of his rifle
was even better than the Dragunov. In the end, however, the Army ruled
in favor of a superior accuracy potential, incredible durability and
effectiveness of fire - all qualities SVD possessed. Finally, in 1963
SVD won the contest and became an issue weapon of the Soviet army
Comparing the SVD
with the M1891/30 the Dragunov has an effective rate of fire of 20 to
30 rounds per minute, while the Mosin 1891/30 only 5 shots. Accuracy -
judged as 100% impacts in a 100mm circle - favors the SVD. Shoot-off
with highly skilled marksmen showed the following relative accuracy,
measured in millimeters:
Accuracy potential of
SVD, model 1963, and Mosin-Nagant model 1891/30, R.
Type of weapon
Range in meters
These data tell us
that the R100 factor of SVD at 600 meters is 395 mm, which in yards and
inches 14.17 inches at 600 yards: the requirement for sniper rifles in
the NATO is 15 inches at that range.
TSV-1 practicing sniper rifle, field stripped
weapon is usually
designed to match a specific type of ammunition, but with SVD it was the
opposite: A special sniper cartridge with a steel core was developed by a
group of Russian engineers headed by Victor Sabelnikov; using this
ammunition, the SVD showed the accuracy far better than with existing
Along with the
common SVD, Dragunov designed a shorter version of his famous weapon in
caliber .22LR. TSV-1 (Trenirovochnaya Snayperskaya Vintovka) was meant
for training army sharpshooters. It had the usual SVD buttstock and a
handguard, a more laconic receiver, a ten-round detachable pistol-type
magazine and a shorter barrel. The weapon had excellent accuracy! At a
distance of 50 meters, skilled shooters in a prone position were able of
firing a group of ten shots all inside a circle of 12 mm. The rifle had a
unique firing mechanism, integrated with a free blowback bolt carrier,
firing pin, return spring and a top bolt cover.
this feature I talked with those in the IZHMASH Design Bureau who had
worked with Dragunov and intimately knew him and his family. We were told
repeatedly that the story would be incomplete without mentioning Dragunov
as a man. In their opinion, his personal qualities were the foundation
and extension of his technical talent.
SVD, new version: synthetic non-folding buttstock and handguard, with
experimental 10-rd magazine.
ordnance expert of the highest acclaim, Dragunov, as a personality, was
described by his fellow designers as most unselfish and unpretentious in
private life, never caring for fame or glory. Once a local news story
noted “now quite a number of people are surprised why Dragunov had so few
decorations, just the two of them: the Lenin Prize and the Order of
“Token of Honor”. May be, it is because in Izhevsk, in Izhmash, there
works another brilliant arms designer - Mikhail Kalashnikov”.
A man’s merit can
not be taken only by awards; a more true measure is what remains in
people’s memory, after he is gone. Evgeniy Fedorovich was a man with a
strong sense of duty, totally committed to the cause and loyal to
friends. Like a guru, he lavishly shared knowledge with the younger generation
in his team. Many of them went on to become high-class specialists, but
they still speak of themselves as of Dragunov’s disciples.
died on 4 August, 1991.
I remember the day
I walked into the design office, some time after his funeral. There was a
portrait on the wall above his old table. It was somewhat unexpected, and
moving. I stood there for a few moments, thinking, when somebody behind
me said, rather pathetically, “You know why we liked him? Look, his
working desk was never locked up, and he always had his drawing board in
one room with regular engineers. He was one of us. He never considered
himself a god on the Mount Olympus, which was such a contrast to other
The fact is the portrait is still hanging above that same old table. It
is a memorial place in the design bureau.
With the breakout
of the war in Afghanistan the military raised an issue of developing a
folding version of SVD rifle. The reason was the numerous reports from
the troops that the rifle did not quite fit into a limited space of an
APC. The other problem was, a sniper could not, in case of necessity,
fire from the APC compartment for the same reason - the weapon was too
Dragunov was cautious. He said that the folding stock would invariably
decrease the accuracy potential of the weapon. He suggested, as a
compromise, to shorten both the barrel and the flash suppressor. The
overall length of this version was by about 100 mm shorter than the original
weapon. In addition, the weapon was equipped with a bipod. One of the
variants had a full-auto possibility.
Various tests showed that the rifle was too light and its controllability
in the fully automatic mode was far from being perfect. As a result, the
idea of a fully automatic sniper rifle was abandoned.
Izhmash, however, commissioned a group of designers to develop a weapon
of a more compact envelope. Dragunov did not live to the moment when the
new rifle was created.
SVDS, with folding stock.
SVDS (Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova, Skladnaya) rifle with the folding
stock had two types of synthetic constructions with a cheek-piece. The
two variants had different pistol grips made from the
glassfiber-reinforced polyamide. The rifles had a new detachable 10-round
magazine. The barrel’s length was similar to the original SVD, model
1963. The final variant of the SVDS rifle was completed at Izhmash in
1994 by a team of engineers headed by Azariy Nesterov. Nesterov, who has
been in the gun industry for almost 40 years, still works in Izhmash as a
senior arms engineer. In fact, originally the SVDS rifle was made in two
sub-variations: With the barrel 620 mm long - for infantry, while the
rifle with a 565-mm long barrel - for paratroopers. The army declined the
longer version, and accepted the shorter one.
As seen in the
pictures, SVD and SVDS have considerable differences. The latter were
dictated by the new conditions in the recent theaters of warfare in
various parts of the world. Being a firearm designated to destroy single
targets, which may be collapsible, moving, open or screened,
SVDS is better adapted for airborne troops and troops carried by armored
vehicles. Its overall length of 875 mm (34.5 inches) with folded stock is
roughly equal to the size of a soldier’s seated body.
The rifle can be operated from the ground (surface) means of
transportation, using them as shelter against enemy’s small arms fire.
The rifle can fire both special sniper cartridges and regular rounds with
steel core, cal. 7.62 x 54R. It also successfully employs tracer and
armor-piercing-incendiary types of ammunition.
Externally, the SVD
and the SVDS rifles differ in the following:
- SVDS has a folding
- a shorter barrel;
- a new conical muzzle
brake with teardrop-shaped slots;
- a pistol grip under the
- handguards made of
- the SVDS construction
features no underbarrel bayonet lugs;
- the bayonet comes in
which folds to the right, is made of steel tubular segments and assembled
by welding. It is attached to the rear of receiver by means of a hinge similar
to that of AKS74. The buttstock lock knob was also borrowed from the
Kalashnikov construction. The cheek plate has three functional positions.
“Marching order” - the plate is rolled up and locked in a vertical
position above the upper bar of buttstock. The other two positions of the
cheek in “Firing order” are as follows: (a) locked at the angle above the
upper bar of the stock when the operator uses an optic scope or a night
vision device; (b) unlocked and rolled down inside the buttstock frame when
firing with open sights.
The buttstock end is made from reinforced polyamide. The entire
construction of the buttstock is strong enough and can be used in a hand
The barrel is 565
mm (22.3 inches) long, featuring four grooves with the right-hand twist
of one turn in 240 mm (9.4 inches) with the width of grooves equal to 3.8
mm (1.5 lines) . The first designs of SVD had a twist pitch of one turn
in 320 mm (12.6 inches). Later the pitch was reduced to 9.4 inches which
somehow deteriorated the accuracy of fire with regular cartridges and
reduced the muzzle velocity from 830 m/second (2,721 fps) to 810 m/second
(2,656 fps). It was done in order to improve trajectory of special types
of ammunition, specifically - tracer and armor-piercing-incendiary bullets
which required a greater speed of rotation rather than a higher linear
velocity. Outer diameter of the barrel in SVDS is larger than that of SVD
by 1 mm, that is to say, the barrel walls in SVDS are by 0.5 mm thicker
than those of SVD. A heavier barrel is always welcome with sniper and
target rifles - the feature which improves accuracy potential. The bore
and the chamber are chromium plated.
SVDS, field stripped
The muzzle is
equipped with a monoblock, consisting of the front sight base integrated
with the flash suppresser. The whole device is attached to the barrel
with two pins coming into notches on the upper portion of the barrel end.
One significant peculiarity of a new flash suppressor is its conical,
funnel-type geometry with four teardrop-shaped asymmetrically located
slots. The lower two slots are placed in such a manner that none of them
comes into a central position. The partition between these slots is wider
than the one between the upper slots. This is done for the purpose of
preventing an excessive upward climb at firing. The other reason is
elimination of vertical gas jets. The jets, diverted strictly downwards,
would raise unwanted dust in front of the shooter, disclosing his
concealment. Despite the fact that the new brake is by 65 mm (2.6 inches)
shorter that the one of the SVD rifle, it is in no way less effective in
the sense of both suppressing flash signature and decreasing the muzzle
It might be of
interest to know that during our recent mission to the North Caucasus, we
were told a story that the Cossacks of the Terek River Territory during
the war in Chechnya put out enemy’s night-vision scopes by flashing
powerful camera lights.
The pistol grip, located under the receiver and attached to it with a
single long screw, is also made from thermosetting reinforced polyamide.
For operator’s ergonomic convenience the trigger and its guard bracket
are shifted forward by about 10 mm.
The SVDS rifle has the usual sheet-metal selector on the right side of
the receiver. The upper position is “safe”. The lower position at all
times places the mechanism into semiautomatic mode. The levers of SVD and
SVDS slightly differ in shape: in the latter the side ear has been
changed from the lower position to the upper, which is supposed to make
its manipulations easier. A top cover locking lever, which is located in
the rear of the receiver of both rifles, is geometrically identical. In
SVDS, however, the locking angle is somewhat smaller. Like the pistol
grip, the handguards of SVDS are made from black reinforced polyamide.
Their construction has been modified by adding pronounced horizontal ribs
to provide enhanced gripping surface. On the inside surface of the guards
there are additional rigidity ribs to increase shock resistance. Like
SVD, the new rifle has twelve ventilation openings in the handguards (6
on each side) eliminating a possibility of burning operator’s hands in
SVDS, close-up view of buttstock hinge, top cover retaining lever,
fire mode selector, pistol grip and standard detachable magazine.
Although 70% of SVD
and SVDS parts and components are interchangeable, a deeper insight may
offer more differences. The SVDS top cover has been given an extra
strength by stamping it from steel sheet 1 mm thick. The one in SVD has a
thickness of 0.7 mm. The gas regulator of a new rifle is basically the
same, with a few moderate alterations, which do not reduce operational
merits of the older version. The piston has no obturation grooves. Outer
diameter of the gas piston, internal diameter of the gas tube are 10.5 mm
and 14 mm respectively, while in SVD these sizes are 9.5 mm and 13 mm.
Steel bodied sheet metal magazines with prominent reinforcing ribs for both
SVD and SVDS rifles hold 10 rounds. No tools are required to load these
staggered-column, detachable box-type magazines. The magazines have a
hold-open device and thus after the last round has been fired, the bolt
group is retained in its rear position.
Both SVD and SVDS
can be used with the standard PSO-1 (Pritsel Snaipersky, Optichesky) -
the sniper optic sight. The use of this 4x scope permits to destroy
surface targets at a distance of up to 1,300 meters (appr. 1,422 yards).
The image of an object (target) in the scope is reversed from the left to
the right and from the top to the bottom. To bring it to the operator’s
eye in its natural form, the reversing system is available. To improve
contrast of an image in bad weather conditions, there is a light filter
To enhance aiming in twilight, there is a possibility of illuminating the
steel case; 7H2M bullet with steel core of 9.8 g;
powder charge of 3.1 g. (*)
3,800 m (4,158 yards)
with open sights
with optic scope
with night vision device
1,200 m (1,313 yards)
1,300 m (1,422 yards)
300 m (328 yards)
with regulator, locked-breech with a rotary bolt, fire from the
steel sheet stamped, 10-round, detachable, box-type magazine.
with PSÎ-1 scope, with empty magazine:
kg (9.4 lb.)
kg (10.2 lb.)
with extended stock:
with folded stock:
mm (49.8 inches) (**)
mm (44.7 inches)
875 mm (34.5 inches)
with right-hand twist of one turn in 240 mm (9.4 inches).
mm (24.4 inches)
mm (22.3 inches)
front sight with protective hood, adjustable for both elevation and
windage zero. Sliding tangent-type rear sight with an open U-shaped
notch adjustable for elevation only, in 100-meter increments to the
range of 1,200 m (1,313 yards).
phosphate, with lacquer coating.
frame-type buttstock and handguards. (***)
fiberglass-reinforced polyamide handguards, pistol grip, buttstock-end.
carrying pouch, bayonet, cleaning kit, optical sights and night vision
to series production.
(*) tracer and armor-piercing-incendiary types of ammunition are also
(**) rifle without bayonet.
(***) later modifications of SVD feature non-folding synthetic
At this time SVD is
available in several variations: (a) with laminated wooden non-folding
buttstock and plastic handguard; (b) with synthetic non-folding buttstock
and synthetic handguard.
Very possibly, both
SVD and SVDS may soon be available in calibers .308 WIN.,
9.3 mm and .338 Lapua MAG.
Stay with us and we’ll keep you posted ! PHOTOS. 1. Evgeniy Fedorovich
Dragunov, 1920 - 1991. 2. SVD, set of delivery.
The rifle features traditional laminated skeleton buttstock and a new
synthetic handguard. 3. SVD, new version: synthetic non-folding buttstock
and handguard, with experimental 10-rd magazine. 4. SVDS, with folding
stock. 5. SVDS, close-up view of buttstock hinge, top cover retaining
lever, fire mode selector, pistol grip and standard detachable magazine.