Taking Aim

PHOTO by Ramil Sitdikov / RIA Novosti
An Introduction to Russian sniper rifles

The Russian military and the Federal Protective Service, or FSO, will soon have a new sniper rifle, the Tochnost. It has passed the state tests and is ready for production.

The first batch of weapons will be delivered to and used by the FSO. The Tochnost is a modified T-5000 rifle designed by the Russian firearms manufacturer Orsis. Lenta.ru offers an overview of the sniper rifles used by Russian security forces.

The T-5000

The T-5000 is Orsis’s signature product. The rifle was introduced in 2011 as a universal high-precision weapon both for recreational uses and law enforcement agencies. It is produced in five calibers, the main being the .308 Winchester and the .338 Lapua Magum. The new rifle was meant to compete with such leading foreign brands as the Austrian SSG 08, made by Steyr-Mannlicher AG and used by the GRU, Russia’s main intelligence agency.

In June 2012, a team from the FSB’s Alpha Group won an international competition using T-5000 rifles. In September of the same year, the rifle underwent further testing. On the whole, its design, ergonomics and accuracy meet the highest standards. The powerful .338 Lapua Magnum has an effective range of 1.5 kilometres.

From the very beginning, Orsis did not conceal its desire to become a supplier for Russian Special Forces but it had not managed to succeed. Russian firearms companies need to produce the ammunition and scopes along with the rifles, not to mention the pile of paperwork to fill out in order to be considered for a contract by the defense industry. Finally, law enforcement agencies still prefer to work with state-owned companies rather than private entities.

TsNIITochMash, a Russian industrial design bureau, was contracted to develop the new rifle, with work beginning in late 2013. According to reports, the T-5000 underwent about 200 changes. Preliminary tests are scheduled for 2017.

The Trailblazers

The first sniper rifle, adopted by the Soviet army after the Second World War in 1963, was the Dragunov rifle.

Over the years, the rifle has seen several modifications, including the introduction of the SVD and SVU models and in the early 1990s, the Interior Ministry began using the SVU with an added automatic-fire option. However, the rifle never became popular. In 2013, Kalashnikov presented its own rifle, the BC-121, based on the SVD. Kalashnikov had made a few improvements but even that did not help.

The SVDM is the latest Dragunov model. The rifle is equipped with a hinged cover, a Picatinny rail and a heavy forged barrel.

Shooting Cameras

The first full-fledged Russian sniper rifles were the SV-98, produced by Izhmash, and the MC-116M, made by Tula TsKIB. Both rifles were developed in the late 1990s similarly to the Record-CISM and MC-116 sports models, which had been successfully used in competitions for shooting at ranges of 100 and 300 metres.

The SV-98 and MC-116m have similar characteristics: they both have 7,62x54 mm cartridges, manual reloading, a detachable magazine, an adjustable pad stock and a cheek piece. The stated shooting range is up to 800 metres for the MP-116M and one kilometre for the SV-98. Both rifles have so far performed decently in tests.

The manufacturing of the SV-98 and MC-116M has been limited. Orders are placed by request of law enforcement agencies, in particular the Interior Ministry, FSO and FSB.

In the 1990s, Russian security forces used a compact .22 LR small-caliber sniper rifle with an SV-99 biathlon shutter. It was developed in Izhevsk and modeled after the Biathlon-7-2 sports rifle. Unlike the original, the newer model had a detachable butt with the option of installing a pistol grip.

The advantage of the SV-99, according to Biryukov, is that a small lead pellet with a low muzzle velocity would not ricochet, which reduces the risk of collateral damage. However, the SV-99 is not powerful enough and the areas where it can be used are limited. Its main purpose is to disable surveillance cameras and other optical devices, and for shooting dogs.

The OC-48K is another bizarre rifle from the same group. It’s a compact 85-centimetre weapon, yet quite inconvenient to use.

A small number of these small rifles were produced for the Interior Ministry.

Jeeps and Missiles Lillers

The U.S. pioneered modern heavy sniper rifles. In 1983, the US military purchased a batch of M500 12.7mm rifles from Research Armaments Prototypes, or RAP, that were used in Lebanon, Panama, Haiti and Iraq.

In Russia, the first large-caliber semi-automatic sniper rifle, the OSV-96, appeared in the mid-1990s. In 2000, the Kovrov Degtyarev Plant, or ZiD, made the KSVK sniper rifle.

The main purpose of these rifles is to target other snipers, destroy gun emplacements and take out light armored vehicles.

The rifle’s ultra-long range is bold but not effective. Military experts point out that other weapons are more suitable.

Turn the Sound Off

Another use of sniper rifles is silent or low-noise shooting. The VSK Vyhlop system was developed for the FSB and publicly unveiled in autumn 2005 at the Interpolitex exhibition in Moscow.

The VSK Vyhlop consists of a 12.7mm caliber rifle and specially designed ammunition. The traditional 12,7x108 cartridge is too powerful, so it uses a 12,7x55 mm cartridge, which saves energy better than 7.62 mm caliber because it is heavier. Its effective range is 600 metres.

The VSK Vyhlop’s main purpose is to target protected vehicles as well as people in flak jackets.

In 1987, Klimovskiy TSNIITOCHMASH developed a compact and noiseless sniper rifle, the VSS Vintorez, for Russian Special Forces. The idea of special weapons appeared in the late 1970s but due to some development requirements, the design was delayed by nearly ten years. The Vintorez uses a special subsonic 9x39mm cartridge. The stated effective range is 400 metres, although it is often deployed over distances up to 200 metres.

In 1994, the Tula Instrument Design Bureau, or KBP, came up with a cheaper Vintorez version, the VSK-94. The rifle was designed on the basis of the noiseless 9A-91. They’re similar weapons, and criticisms of the seemingly clumsy VSK-94 are consistent with those of the Vintorez.

Author: Vladislav Grinkevich