When American gun enthusiasts think of Russian firearms, the first one that usually comes to mind is the fully automatic AK-47 assault rifle, named for Mikhail Kalashnikov. The Soviet Union also produced another outstanding firearm, not as well known, called the Dragunov. The Dragunov is unique due to the fact that it was not designed for specially trained snipers. It was intended for designated marksmen in the Soviet Union military who had an average of 50% accuracy, and who would not engage in more than 2 targets per minute.
The Dragunov is a sniper rifle with incredible accuracy. Because of this, it has been used in a multitude of wars since 1963 including the Vietnam Conflict, and the Gulf War. Designed by Yevgeny Dragunov, it weighs between 9 to 10 pound, depending on the type, with an unloaded magazine, and an attached scope. The length of the stock and barrel vary between the variations Dragunov SVD, Dragunov SVU and Dragunov SWD-M with the Dragunov SVD being the largest in length. The rifle uses 7.62x54mmR rounds which have a muzzle velocity similar to .30.06 rounds. Many assume the “R” in the round size stands for “Russian” but it actually refers to the round having a rim to it. The rounds sometimes get called the “Russian .30.06” for this reason. The magazine capacity can vary from a 10 rounds for some types, to 20 rounds for other types like the Dragunov SVU-A. Its rate of fire is 30 rounds per minute.
There are several accessories available for the Dragunov include variations of bayonets, scopes and bipods. Original bipods for these rifles rarely go on the market and when they do, they can be quite expensive collector’s pieces. Most come with a carrying case.
Iran, Poland, and other countries built their own versions of the Dragunov. Some countries made changes for improvement in the bipods and built heavier barrels to them. The rifle can be found in many countries but must be imported if it is to be purchased in the United States. Laws for importing any weapons should be checked before purchasing.