The Chukavin sniper rifle will replace the Dragunov SVD in Russian Army service.
The Russian Army is about to get its first new sniper rifle in decades. The Chukavin sniper rifle, or SVC, replaces the Cold War–era Dragunov SVD. A fully modern rifle, the Chukavin comes in a variety of calibers, with a maximum range of more than 1,600 yards.
For decades, the Russian Army has relied on the Dragunov SVD rifle for its sniper and designated marksman duties. Introduced in 1963, the Dragunov is a semi-automatic rifle designed to provide accurate aimed fire. The Soviet Army issued them on a wide scale to compensate for the AK-47’s relative lack of accuracy.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Army inherited large stocks of small arms, and has coasted on that inventory ever since. The SVD rifle, although good by the standards of the early 1960s, is woefully obsolete for today’s battlefield. The Russian Army needed a new sniper weapon, and a new weapon had the potential to become a hit on the international arms market.
The Chukavin originally debuted at Russia’s 2017 ARMY exhibition. Like the SVD, the Chukavin is chambered in 7.62x54R, but also comes in the Western equivalent .308 Winchester and the high-powered .338 Lapua Magnum. The Lapua-chambered version has an estimated effective range of 1,640 yards. According to Army Technology, the new weapon utilizes a “gas-operated short-stroke piston with rotating bolt,” making its internal operation similar to that of the AK-series of assault rifles.
In addition to new calibers, the Chukavin features a full-length Picatinny rail on the upper receiver and hand guard for attaching optical scopes, iron sights, and other aiming aids. The Chukavin also features what appears to be a U.S.-made Harris bipod, laser designator, sound suppressor, and barrel-mounted flashlight. The barrel appears free-floated within the hand guard, meaning its only point of contact with the rest of the rifle is where it attaches to the upper receiver.
Earlier this year, Russian president Vladimir Putin visited Kalashnikov Concern, the manufacturer of the Chukavin, and fired several rounds. (Of course he did.) Here’s the video. Putin’s rifle is equipped with a German-made Schmidt and Bender riflescope, which will probably not equip Russian Army rifles as they are very expensive.