Now, Russia’s most famous small arms manufacturer has unveiled yet another gun — this time an anti-materiel sniper rifle.
Officially known as the SV-18, this latest creation marks the first time since the 1940s that Kalashnikov has found itself building a new heavy caliber rifle that fits into the anti-materiel (i.e. designed primarily for use against enemy hardware versus enemy personnel).
The lengthy design process which spawned the SV-18 produced a number of prototypes, each more drastically different than the previous. Eventually, Kalashnikov settled on a final design which they rolled out at this year’s ARMY-2019 conference.
Kalashnikov reportedly offers the SV-18 in two calibers — 12.7x108 mm, which is popular with most Warsaw Pact countries including Russia itself, and 12.7x99 mm (also known as .50 BMG), which enjoys considerable usage among NATO member nations.
Immediately noticeable is the rifle’s bullpup layout, which allows for a longer barrel in a more compact frame, offering the end user both added range and maneuverability in comparison to other heavy-caliber sniper rifles. Earlier versions of the SV-18 featured a simpler stock, which later gave way to a somewhat bulkier and more ergonomic setup.
In contrast to other Russian 12.7 mm caliber sniper rifles used by Russian military and police forces, the SV-18 feeds from double-stack magazines (i.e. generally larger capacity).
The final product includes a top rail, which runs from the receiver to the end of the handguard, that allows end users to attach a variety of optics. Additionally, the rifle uses a fairly prominent muzzle brake to offset recoil and muzzle climb.
This could potentially point at Kalashnikov aiming to sell the SV-18 to foreign customers outside of Russia who might be in the market for a competitor to some of the more popular anti-materiel rifles available today, including Barrett Firearms’ various offerings.
While the SV-18 has now made its long-awaited debut, Kalashnikov still needs to complete the rifle’s testing regimen before it can be pitched to the Russian military as well as export customers as a viable weapon system ripe for procurement.