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The SVD (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 rifle squad.

The Chinses SVD VS Romanain

The SVD is more accurate. The Romanian rifle is not a Dragunov despite the ads to the contrary.
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...

Outside Source: http://club.guns.ru/eng/dragunov.html




Evgeniy 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 high scores.

click for large image

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 semiautomatic fire.

The Russian 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 weapon.

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 compact.
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.

Mikhail 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 locking lugs;
  • gas chamber without gas regulator;
  • sights derived from the AKM rifle, etc.

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 machine gun.

Parallel to 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.

The competition 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 handguard.

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 sharpshooters.

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.

A new

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 standard cartridges.

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.

When researching 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.

Although an 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.

Evgeniy Fedorovich 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 big shots”.
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 bulky.
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.

The experimental 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.

SVDS systems

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 buttstock;
  • a shorter barrel;
  • a new conical muzzle brake with teardrop-shaped slots;
  • a pistol grip under the receiver;
  • handguards made of fiberglass-reinforced polyamide;
  • the SVDS construction features no underbarrel bayonet lugs;
  • the bayonet comes in accessory kit.

The buttstock, 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 combat.

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 blast.

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 intensive firing.

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 colored light-orange.
To enhance aiming in twilight, there is a possibility of illuminating the view-finder scale.








Rimmed, steel case; 7H2M bullet with steel core of 9.8 g;
powder charge of 3.1 g. (*)

Probable killing range:

3,800 m (4,158 yards)

Sighting range:
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)


Gas-operated with regulator, locked-breech with a rotary bolt, fire from the closed-bolt position.


Black, steel sheet stamped, 10-round, detachable, box-type magazine.

Weight with PSÎ-1 scope, with empty magazine:

4.3 kg (9.4 lb.)

4.68 kg (10.2 lb.)

Length, overall:
with extended stock:
with folded stock:

1,220 mm (49.8 inches) (**)

1,135 mm (44.7 inches)
875 mm (34.5 inches)


Four-groove with right-hand twist of one turn in 240 mm (9.4 inches).

Barrel lengths:

620 mm (24.4 inches)

565 mm (22.3 inches)


Round-post-type 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).


Black phosphate, with lacquer coating.


Laminated frame-type buttstock and handguards. (***)

Black fiberglass-reinforced polyamide handguards, pistol grip, buttstock-end.


Sling, carrying pouch, bayonet, cleaning kit, optical sights and night vision devices.


Currently in production.

Proceeding to series production.

(*) tracer and armor-piercing-incendiary types of ammunition are also used.
(**) rifle without bayonet.
(***) later modifications of SVD feature non-folding synthetic buttstock.

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.


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