Dragunov sniper rifle

The Dragunov sniper rifle (formal Russian: Снайперская Винтовка системы Драгунова образца 1963 года Snayperskaya Vintovka sistem'y Dragunova obraz'tsa 1963 goda (SVD-63), officially "Sniper Rifle, System of Dragunov, Model of the Year 1963") is a semi-automatic sniper/designated marksman rifle chambered in 7.62×54mmR and developed in the Soviet Union.

The Dragunov was designed as a squad support weapon since, according to Soviet and Soviet-derived military doctrines, the long-range engagement ability was lost to ordinary troops when submachine guns and assault rifles (which are optimized for close-range and medium-range, rapid-fire combat) were adopted. For that reason, it was originally named Самозарядная Винтовка системы Драгунова образца 1963 года "Self-Loading Rifle, System of Dragunov, Model of the Year 1963."

It was selected as the winner of a contest that included three competing designs: by Sergei Simonov, Aleksandr Konstantinov and Yevgeny Dragunov. Extensive field testing of the rifles conducted in a wide range of environmental conditions resulted in Dragunov’s proposal being accepted into service in 1963. An initial pre-production batch consisting of 200 rifles was assembled for evaluation purposes, and from 1964 serial production was carried out by Izhmash.

Since then, the Dragunov has become the standard squad support weapon of several countries, including those of the former Warsaw Pact. Licensed production of the rifle was established in China (Type 79 and Type 85) and Iran (as a direct copy of the Chinese Type 79).

Dragunov sniper rifle
Class Manportable
Type Rifles
Manufacturer Kalashnikov
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1963
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Afghanistan View
Albania View
Argentina View
Bangladesh View
Bulgaria View
China View
Finland View
Georgia View
Hungary View
India View
Iran (Persia) View
Iraq View
Kazakhstan View
Kyrgyzstan View
Libya View
Mongolia View
Nicaragua View
North Korea View
Pakistan View
Poland View
Russia (USSR) 1963 View
Tajikistan View
Turkey (Ottoman Empire) View
Turkmenistan View
Ukraine View
Uzbekistan View
Venezuela View
Slovakia View
Czech Republic View
Belarus View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Kalashnikov 1963 View
Ordnance Factories Board 1963 View
Norinco 1963 View

The Dragunov is an original rifle design for several reasons. First, it was not meant for highly trained and specialized sniper teams, but rather for designated marksmen. After the introduction of the SVD, the Soviet Army deployed designated marksmen at the basic motorized infantry rifle platoon level. Those designated marksmen were often chosen from personnel who did well in terms of rifle marksmanship while members of DOSAAF. Such marksmen were estimated to have a 50% probability of hitting a standing, man-sized target at 800 m (875 yd), and an 80% probability of hitting a standing, man-sized target at 500 m (547 yd). For distances not exceeding 200 m (219 yd) the probability was estimated to be well above 90%. To attain this level of accuracy the sniper could not engage more than two such targets per minute. Later in every platoon of Warsaw Pact troops, there was at least one Dragunov rifle marksman. In the German Democratic Republic arsenals alone, there were almost 2,000 Dragunov rifles, while in many Western armies there was not even a single sniper rifle except in special forces units (as an example, in the Italian Army until the 1990s), but in Warsaw Pact troop formations, the Dragunov marksmen were widespread among the regular units. To fulfill this role, the rifle is relatively light for a sniper rifle, but well balanced, making it easier to use in a dynamic battle. It is also a semi-automatic rifle, a rare feature for accuracy-oriented rifles in the 1960s (except for customized ordnance, like M1 Garands), to allow rapid fire and quicker engagement of multiple targets. As with all precision-oriented rifles, the user has to take care not to overheat the barrel and limit the use of rapid fire. In order to fire effective API ammunition, its accuracy potential was slightly downgraded by shortening the twist rate, another uncommon priority for a pure sniper rifle. It has a relatively light barrel profile; its precision is good, but not exceptional. Like an assault rifle, the rifle has mounts on the barrel to fix a bayonet. The standard AKM bayonet can even be used to cut electrified barbed wire. Lastly, the rifle was meant to be a relatively cheap mass-produced firearm.

These features and unusual characteristics were driven by the tactical use doctrine of Dragunov armed marksman, which was: from (just behind) the first line targeting high-value targets of opportunity and providing special long-distance disrupting and suppressive fire on the battlefield, even with sudden close encounters with enemy troops in mind. A relatively small number of marksmen could assist conventional troops by combating or harassing valuable targets and assets such as: key enemy personnel like officers, non-commissioned officers and radio operators, exposed tank commanders, designated marksmen and snipers, machinegun teams, anti-tank warfare teams, etc.

Type semi-automatic Sniper rifle,designated marksman rifle
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1963–presen
Wars Vietnam War
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Nagorno-Karabakh War
Salvadorian Civil War
Gulf War
Somali Civil War
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Gothic Serpent
War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
Iraq War
Yugoslav Wars
Second Chechen Wars
Cambodian–Thai border dispute
2008 South Ossetia War
Kargil War
2011 Libyan Civil War
Syrian Civil War
War in Donbass
Yemeni Civil War (2015)
Production history
Designer Yevgeny Dragunov
Designed 1958–63
Manufacturer Izhmash
Ordnance Factories Organisation
Produced 1963–present
Variants See Variants
Weight 4.30 kg (9.48 lb) (with scope and unloaded magazine)
4.68 kg (10.3 lb) (SVDS)
4.40 kg (9.7 lb) (SVU)
5.02 kg (11.1 lb) (SWD-M)
Length 1,225 mm (48.2 in) (SVD)
1,135 mm (44.7 in) stock extended / 815 mm (32.1 in) stock folded (SVDS)
900 mm (35.4 in) (SVU)
1,125 mm (44.3 in) (SWD-M)
Barrel length 620 mm (24.4 in) (SVD, SWD-M)
565 mm (22.2 in) (SVDS)
600 mm (23.6 in) (SVU)
Cartridge 7.62×54mmR
Action Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire 30 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 830 m/s (2,723 ft/s) (SVD)
810 m/s (2,657.5 ft/s) (SVDS)
800 m/s (2,624.7 ft/s) (SVU)
Effective firing range 800 m (875 yd)
Feed system 10-round detachable box magazine
Sights PSO-1 telescopic sight,1PN51/1PN58 night vision sights and iron sights with an adjustable rear notch sight

End notes