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New Sniper Rifles for Russian Airborne Spetsnaz Units

by Marco Vorobiev   |  January 18th, 2012 7

The new Steyr rifles will be purchased in two calibers: the .308 (7.62X51 mm NATO) and .300 Win. Mag. (7.62x63 mm), aligning Russia with other major nations.

Today I would like to continue a series on modern Russian sniping. As I have written before, the Russian Armed Forces have been looking at several new precision sniper rifle from non-domestic sources. Early on, it appeared that British maker Accuracy International was the front runner. After all there are several of the rifles already in service with some of Russia’s anti-terrorism units.

However, they were not the only ones to make an appearance on the Russian sniper scene. In fact, during numerous and now traditional local and international sniper competitions, several other foreign sniper rifles could be spotted in the hands of Russian snipers, including Sako and Steyr-Mannlicher.

Interestingly, most were chambered in .300 Win. Mag. or .338 Lapua Mag. But seeing several rifles at the firing range at some contest being wielded by some uber-special purpose unit with deep pockets does not make these rifles a standard issue. Not until now…

Both newly adopted Steyr rifles, chambered for American cartridges, were featured at recent war games conducted by the Russian VDV Reconnaissance Units.

The latest news is that Spetsnaz VDV (Airborne Special Operations) has adopted for use and purchased more than 30 Steyr-Mannlicher sniper rifles form the Austrian company. The official statement to this effect was made by the Russian DOD VDV (Airborne Forces) representative Col. Alexander Kucherenko. According to him, Steyr sniper rifles are the first foreign weapon systems that were purchased by the Russian VDV. The very first purchase orders for said weapons were placed at the end of year 2010.

All the necessary personnel have already been trained on the new rifle at the regional training centers, as well as at DOD sniper school. What specific models of Steyr rifles were supplied to the VDV Col. Kucherenko did not specify. Currently, Steyr-Mannlicher produces several models of sniper rifles: SSG 04, SSG 08, SSG 69, SSG Elite and HS .50.

Although the model and caliber actually adopted have not been named, it is safe to assume the SSG 04 and SSG 08 in .308 is now the medium-range rifle, along with .300 Win. Mag. chambered rifles as their “Reach out and touch someone” boom stick. Both rifles were on display at recent war games conducted by the VDV.

The first steps are made toward modernization of Russia’s Armed Forces. What’s to follow, no one knows. But I’ll do my best to keep you informed.

The new Steyr Mannlicher SSG 04 rifle was one of the two models officially adopted by the Russian VDV, beating out models offered by AI and Sako.

Marco Vorobiev was a member of the elite Soviet Spetsnaz in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He’s a U.S. citizen now and conducts training courses that draw on his special forces training. He’ll have a new installment every Wednesday.

  • Mike Dixon

    Not bad, but I'll take my rifle by Savage.
    http://www.michelldixon.com/images/Savage10FCP-SR

  • Tom Bender

    Thank you Marco.
    I do love the Steyr rifles.
    I also enjoy reading articles by the Spetsnaz. It is still amazing that many in America have no clue about the Spetsnaz and Systema.
    Keep up the articles.
    I would only add that I am not the biggest fan of the 300 win mag.
    I feel there are better.
    Perhaps I can get an ex-Spetsnaz to look at my blades and give me their opinion .

    Tom Bender

  • Doc T.

    We Americans had better start looking over our shoulders. I wouldn't ever want to be in the sights of a 300 Mag. Myself!
    Doc T.

  • michael douglas

    Sad indeed that Russia did not use a rifle from witin their own country. I am sure they have manufacturers that could field a very capable model.

  • Mark Barnes

    This just does not make sense, the Soviets can make rifles as good as anyone in the world and a lot less expensive than Steyr. Why would they go to the trouble and expense , they are a "COMMOM SENSE" country unlike us. And second , why would ANYONE want a sniper rifle that you CANNOT change the barrels on.?? That's right, these rifles have a pressed in barrel. The 300 Win, Mag is usually worn out at three thousand rounds. Most snipers train that many shots a year or more. I just do not believe this !!

    • Nick Aviles

      Well this is a precision rifle. As far as I am aware the russians have a poor history with making precision weapons. I might be wrong but isnt the mosin pu snipers from ww2 above 3 moa and the svds current in use above 2.

      Meanwhile western rifles eve civilian ones can reach .5 moa easily.

  • nasim panezai

    i want to buy this rifle

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