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COMBAT & SURVIVAL / February 2004


SVD / SVDS 'Dragunov' rifle

by Bob Morrison

Now in service for forty years the Snaiperskaya Vintovka Dragunova, usually referred to as just the Dragunov, is regarded by most as being a sniper rifle, although these days it is used more in what would be called the sharpshooter role. For the first two decades of service, the Dragunov was issues on scales of one per infantry platoon, but as the Soviets became bogged down in Afganistan numbers were increased to give at least one of these weapons to each infantry squad. Conscripts who showed greatest natural ability as marksmen during basic training were often singled out to become sharpshooters and they then converted to

the weapon before being posted to their unit. Unlike their companions who were usually only trained to hit targets out to two or three hundred metres, Dragunov marksmen were expected to engage out to 600 metres, thereby effectively doubling the range of the squad. A really skilled user, firing precision ammunition, can even achieve kills at 800 metres and expect regular hits out beyond 1000 metres.

The Dragunov uses essentially the same bolt system as the AK-47 and AKM family, and in many ways the receiver and general layout look quite similar, but parts are not interchangeable as a short-stroke piston is used for better balance during firing, thereby leading to higher accuracy. Chambered to take the longer Soviet 7.62x54mm - the AK/AKM takes the 7.62x39mm round - the Dragunov has a ten-round magazine and is only capable of single-shot fire. At 1225mm in length, of which just over half is barrel, the standard SVD is a long and unwieldy weapon which is cumbersome for marksmen deploying by armoured personnel carrier or helicopter. To combat this, the folding stock SVDS model was introduced. This variant has a barrel whic his approximately 100mm shorted, and the folding stock helps reduce overall length to a more manageable 870mm

Although the Dragunov has seen widespread service around the globe, with Warsaw Pact forces and friends of the Soviet union during the Cold War and even further abroad since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it has been almost as rare as hen's teeth in Britain. Even deactivated collector's examples were impossible to find until very recently when Rusmilitary had a batch manufactured at the factory to comply with UK regulations. As these specially made examples have never been intended to fire live ammunition, and cannot be modified to do so, they are field strippable and can be used for training and familiarisation purposes, unlike former live firing weapons which now have to be hacked about and welded up to meet current government requirements. As a result of being essentially specially manufactured in the original factory to suit British laws, the price of these rifles is very high, approaching £1000 apiece. This is several times the alleged price of an illegal assault rifle on the UK black market ,so even if it were possible to convert this single shot weapon back to firing configuration, it is unlikely that any criminal would be bothered to go to the trouble and expense. For the serious collector, however, this small batch of legally inert but perfectly authentic special imports gives them the chance to own an historic, functional and some would say extremely attractive, sharpshooter rifle with pedigree

The two examples which we borrowed from Rusmilitary are latest specification standard SVD (with bright metal sight) and folding stock SVDS. Both have plastic furniture, rather than the more attractive but less practical wood used at the beginning of the produciton run, and they are fitted with working examples of teh correct PSO-1 telescopic sight, which clips onto a rail on the lseft side of the weapon, each rifle also has conventional Kalashinikov sights. A rotating padded cheek piece can be adjusted to suit the firer.Straight from the Izhmash factory to the Rusmilitary armoury, via close customs inspectionat HEathrow to ensure full compliance with UK regulations, each Dragunov comes complete with ten-round magazine, sling, cleaning kit and oil bottle, plus deactivation certificate



Modern Era Militaria

by Bob Morrison

All Soviet and Russian items on these two pages were sources from RusMILITARY .For details telephone 01344 750735 or find them on the web...

..Fitted to the underside of our AK-74M is one of the first half dosen GP-30 under-barrel grenade launchers to be imported into the UK. Straight from Tula Arms Factory, it is fully operational, but deactivated to comply with European legislation so that it cannnot possibly fire a grenade. It comes with the standard issue belt pouch and an inert VOG-25 grenade, minus the fuse. For carriage, the launcher breakes down into separate barrel and sight sections, but it can be assembled in just a couple of seconds and fixed to the bayonet mount of the assault rifle in just a couple of seconds more. Unlike the M203 'Blooper' grenade launcher, that fits beneath the US M16, the Soviet equivalent has quite a complex system, graduated out to 500 metres and with a neat off-setting sight to compensate for the rifling effect on trajectory. Not cheap at £345, though you get £50 discount if you buy your rifle from the same sourse, but this combination should make you the envy of your collector mates


COMBAT & SURVIVAL / December 2003

Kalashnikov for the Collectors

by Bob Morrison

It is several hundred years since mainland Britain was either invaded by a hostile nation or divided by civil war, and as a result there has been no real need for the

citizenry of our island to be armed for defence of home and family. As a result, even before the well-publicised mass murders at Hungerford and Dunblane, which were the catalyst for more recent draconian gun controls, restrictions on firearms ownership pin this country were among the most stringent in the developed world

Politicians and the mainstream media seemed to assume that by making it virtually impossible for the average law-abiding citizen in Great Britain to own a modern firearm, shooting incidents would decline. In reality all that happened was the criminal fraternity tooled itself up with illegal firearms, many smuggled in through Europe's porous outer borders and non-existent internal ones, while law-respecting hunters, target shooters and collectors were forced to turn in their weapons for a fraction of their worth. Today, if you want to collect modern weaponry in Britain, you will have to make do with either deactivated examples, which cannot readily be modified to fire again, or blank-firing replicas that are engineered in such a way that live bullets cannot possibly be fired


This 5.45mm Russian assault rifle is actually brand new and not a decommissioned example, having been manufactured at the Tula Arms Factory (Tulsky Oruzheiny Zavod) as a non-fired version of the real thing. Production of this model ceased in 1993, but in Russian service the compact AKS-74U version, with its folding skeletal stock and short barrel , is still in use, primarily by special forces units, some airborne personnel and a number of law enforcement agencies

The AKS-74U is a derivative of the AKM range, but though it has a similar front sight arrangement to this model, it has a simple two-step folding rather than ramped sliding rear sight. Although this is primarily a close-quarters weapon, hence the simple rear sight, it is technically not a submachine gun as it uses 5.45x39mm caliber rifle ammunition rather than pistol (usually 9mm)ammo

On this weapon, the safety lever can be operated, the bolt can be cocked and the trigger can be fired just like the real thing, but as many internal modifications have been made to the components . it is impossible to convert it to fire either blank or live rounds. If desired, the weapon can be field stripped, though it should be borne in mind that the modifications to the components to prevent firing mean that these are not quite identical to the original. However, the sequence is still authentic enough for drills and for familiarisation purposes. The stock can be folded and an authentic sling is included

COMBAT & SURVIVAL / April 2000

AK-74M Kalashnikov Assault Rifle

by Bob Morrison


The 5.45mm AK-74 is little more than a small calibre versiaon of the ubiquitous 7.62mm AK-47 assault rifle, which has the mainstay of every Communist Bloc army from the fifties, and has been used in virtually every low intensity conflict from Azerbaijan to Zaire. Even the streets of Ulster have not escaped the murderous fire of the Kalashnikov

At face value, the AK-74 is little more than a mid-life improvement to a ageing weapon design, but anyone who dismisses it so lightly does so at their peril. Like its older brother, the AK-74 is exceed-ingly robust and is remarkably user-friendly; after al the Kalashnikov was designed to allow illiterate peasant conscripts to become formidable soldiers in defence of the Motherland. It seldom fails under combat conditions, and it is so easy to strip down and reassemble that Third World child soldiers can master the technique easier than riding a bicycle.In standard form, when fitted with wooden furniture, the 5.45mm AK-74 is visually very similar to the 7.62mm AKM, which was the slightly modernised version of the AK-47 produced in the sixties, and which is still in widespread service with a number of armies. Introduced in the mid-seventies, the wooden stock AK-74 was issued primarily to front line armoured and mechanised troops, but today all non-specialists Russian troops use it. A variant with a tubular folding stock (AKS-74) was issued to airborne forces, and this weapon has recently been seen in Kosovo. However, the weapon that we are concentrating on this month is the later AK-74M model, which has black plastic furniture, including a folding plastic stock, and which has featured in newstreels from Grozny. With butt folded, this weapon measures just 700mm, which is more than 80mm shorter than SA-80, making it ideal for mechanised infantry use.The 5.45mmX39 round of the AK-74 is only marginally shorter than the standard NATO 5.56mmX 45 round, and it has reasonably similar characteristics. However, a small air gap in the nose causes the bullet point to deform slightly on striking a target, resulting in a tumbling motion which can impact greater tissue damage to the victim than the NATO bullet. Thirty rounds can be carried in the curved, black plastic magazine.The plastic furniture of the AK-74M may make it slightly less robust in the field than the earlier versions, but it is by no means as flimsy as SA-80. Indeed first impressions on picking up the AK-74M are that it is a remarkably sturdy weapon. One other advantage of the AK-74 family that is carried through, is the muzzle brake. This near unique design feature has the effect of preventing the muzzle from climbing during automatic fire, and results in a higher degree of accuracy.

For further details on the Kalashnikov family refer to our special identification feature in the December 1996 issue

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