SVD Dragunov Sniper Rifle which translates to “Sniper Rifle, System of Dragunov, Model of the Year 1963” has been one of the greatest and most used sniper rifles ever. Used in a plethora of conflicts across the world, it has just demonstrated its reliability, killing power and its dead-end accuracy. It is still hailed as one of the best sniper rifles produced till date and its accuracy is unmatched even for many modern-day western sniper rifles of comparable role.
SVD Dragunov is the standard Designated Marksman Rifle ( DMR ) in Indian Army. It is one of the most favourite of sniper rifles used by IA Marksmen and Special Forces teams alike. It has been remarked to engage targets upto 1000 metres by expert snipers which shows how deadly and accurate it is.
Here are 10 features of SVD Dragunov which makes it a deadly weapon even in modern 21st Century-era :
- SVD Dragunov is chambered for a Tsarist-era 7.62 x 54 mm which is much different than the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO round used in most western sniper rifles of comparable role like SSG-69 and M14. SVD employs 7N1 sniper-grade cartridge with steel-core bullet which can penetrate armour thanks to its high-twist rate and muzzle velocity.
2. The accuracy of SVD is unmatched even in 21st century. It showcases an accuracy of 1.04 MOA-1.24 MOA(MOA is Minute and second of arc; used to compare accuracy of rifles). This accuracy is quite good for engaging targets in marksman ranges and put precision fire on targets that are beyond the range to be engaged by assault rifles.
3. SVD features same reliability as AK-family of rifles however SVD is not a variant of AK-47/AKM. SVD features a short-stroke gas-piston system while AK-47 features a long-stroke gas-piston system.
It features a machined receiver for additional accuracy over long ranges as against stamped receivers which were used initially on AK-47. Both look superficially similar however except some features there is no similarity between them.
4. SVD sports a PSO-1 Optical Sight which helps SVD to engage targets upto larger distance. Through this scope the sniper can look over the horizon for upto 1000 metres and beyond and can take accurate aim.
SVD is also complemented by Night Sights. In Indian service , SVD has been spotted with 1PN58 NSPUM image intensifying night sight.
5. SVD is probably the only sniper rifle to feature a bayonet for close encounters. These bayonets come handy while in close encounters when you can’t take accurate aim always through the sight. It also comes with a detachable bipod for additional accuracy and better comfort.
6. SVD biggest advantage in my view is its semi-automatic fire. Being semi-automatic it has a higher rate of fire than bolt-action rifles. Bolt-Action Rifles are touted as being more accurate than Semi-Auto one but in marksmen ranges , the difference in their accuracy is more negligible . Hence with a SVD in hand , a marksman can engage targets at a much faster rate.
7. Sergeant Vladimir Ilyin of Soviet Union back in 1985 recorded the longest kill from a SVD at 1350 metres during Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This pretty much shows how lethal the SVD can be. Indian Marksmen and snipers have also been seen using these SVDs in various encounters in Kashmir and on LOC firefights.
According to many Pakistani sources, many Pakistani soldiers have been found hunted by the 7.62x54mmR round, the same round used on SVD.
8. This weapon was borne out for the need of marksmanship and suppressive fire needed on a battlefield. Usually snipers are armed with sniper rifles of higher caliber , but SVD is used to support the troop level men by providing precision and high-rate fire on hostile targets.
This makes SVD really simple and effective to use. Even an average soldier with some skills on assault rifles can take up a SVD and provide accurate fire on hostiles in case of dire situations.
9. Many people tout that SVD is an obsolete weapon by now. But in modern warfare sense no weapon ever proves to be obsolete. AK-47 , a rifle borne out in late 1940s is still used by many forces worldwide.
Other weapons which are touted vintage and still used are Sterling Carbines and M14 Battle Rifles. SVD has time and again proved its worth as a deadly and never-dying weapon.
You must be thinking, now what next? Will Indian Armed Forces continue to drag with SVD Sniper Rifles, when better options are available now in International Market? Thankfully to replace these legacy platforms, Army has issued a RFI for more than 5000 sniper rifles which will be chambered for a new .338 Lapua Magnum round which is more deadly than SVD and used for ultra long range sniping.