The Sniper Rifle Dragunov (SVD) is a gas-operated, semiautomatic weapon. It fires the Soviet 7.62 x 54R cartridge and uses a detachable 10-round box magazine. Its overall length is 1,225 millimeters, and its empty weight is 4.3 kilograms. (Its loaded weight with bayonet is 4.78 kilograms.) Its bolt mechanism and gas recovery system are similar to those of the AK and AKM; but, because of the difference in cartridges used, parts are not interchangable with the assualt rifles. The most distinguishing feature of the SVD are the open buttstock, which has a cheek pad for ease in sighting, and telescopic sight mounter over the receiver. It has a combination flash supressor/compensator. It may mount the standard AKM bayonet. The Soviets issue it with four magazines, a cleaning kit, and an extra battery and lamp for the telescopic sight.
The SVD fires approximately 30 rounds per minute in the semiautomatic mode. It has a maximum effective range of 1,300 meters with the 4-power telescope or 800 meters without it. The PSO-1 optical sight has a 6-degree field of view. It contains an integral, infrared detection aid and an illuminated rangefinder recticle. Thus, the SVD is effective in daylight against point targets or at night against active infrared emitters, such as night driving aids and weapon sights. It can fire light ball, heavy ball, steel core, tracer and anti-tank incendiary ammunition.
The SVD can fire only light and heavy ball-type ammunition with accuracy. Even though it is equiped with a bayonet, the SVD is not an ideal weapon for close combat because it can fire only in the semiautomatic mode. Its weight and length also limit its maneuverability. The 7.62 x 54-mm rimmed cartridge of the SVD is not interchangable with the 7.62 x 39-mm rimless round of the AKM.
The Soviets developed the SVD in 1965. It entered service in 1967 and is the standard Soviet sniper weapon. One squad in each motorized rifle platoon has an SVD; selected riflemen receive regular, centralized sniper training on it. Largely due to its open buttstock, the SVD is lighter than older sniper rifles.