Russia’s Dragunov-replacement DMR will go into production next year

Almost exactly one year ago, we reported on Kalashnikov Concern developing a relatively clean-sheet rifle with the intent of pitching them as a sharpshooting platform for the Russian military.

Now a year later, Russia’s legendary brand name producer of military rifles has announced that their gun, the SVCh Chukavin, will indeed enter production sometime next year, indicating that a customer — more than likely the Russian armed forces — has inked an agreement on buying the new gun en masse.

While the Russian military undergoes an overhaul of large proportions, its small arms arsenal has been largely ignored over the years, carrying on with remnants from the past including the standard-issue AK-74 service rifle and the 1960s-era Dragunov SVD designated marksman rifle.

The Chukavin aims to replace the latter as a DMR, albeit with a slight twist that makes the gun appear to be operationally on par with a number of its western NATO counterparts, letting go of the ages-old AK-style architecture for a considerably modernized look.

Essentially built with the guts of an AK, and utilizing a short-stroke piston gas-operated rotating bolt setup, the Chukavin is designed to fire the standard 7.62x54R round and can be modified to fire the 7.62x51NATO cartridge as well.

It was also earlier reported that Kalashnikov had plans to produce an alternate version of the rifle called the SVCh-8.6, built to fire .338 Lapua Magnum. However, this variant seems to have been sidelined — at least for the time being.

According to Russian news agency TASS, the initial batches of Chukavins will only be chambered for 7.62R. The rifle will feed from 10-round Dragunov box magazines instead of purpose-built proprietary mags, allowing the Russian military to make use of their existing hardware and cut down on induction costs.

The SVCh is chambered for the 7.62x54R cartridge, but can also fire the 7.62×51 NATO round.
The SVCh is chambered for the 7.62x54R cartridge, but can also fire the 7.62×51 NATO round.

Unlike the Dragunov, the new DMR comes with a 12-o’clock full-length Picatinny rail that allows armorers and end-users to mount a slew of different scopes as well as the ability to field various electronics — presumably on the handguard.

Kalashnikov claims a 1 Minute of Angle or better accuracy with the rifle at 109 yards, and earlier indicated that the Chukavin offered shooters a max effective range of around 1600 yards.

It’s still unclear who’ll be getting their hands on the new DMRs first, be it a conventional infantry unit, or a special operations “Spetsnaz” outfit.