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Russia’s legendary Dragunov SVD just got another update

Russian infantry snipers and sharpshooters are now in the process of getting their hands on the most modern variant of the Dragunov SVD rifle to date.

According to Army Recognition, the Russian military has already begun receiving the latest SVD, dubbed the SVDM (the M standing for Modernizirovannaya, or “upgraded”).

Currently the mainstay ranged infantry weapon of the Russian military, the SVD has faithfully served since 1963 with few (if any) updates or changes to the overall design and build of the gun.

[Read More: Take an inside look at the Chukavin, Russia’s new sniper rifle]

[Read More: This new rifle might could retire the Dragunov SVD for good]

Designed by Yevgeny Dragunov in the late 1950s, the gas-operated short-stroke piston rifle — which still bears his name —was heavily tested in a wide variety of environments and scenarios before the Soviet Army began inducting it into front line service.

Kalashnikov Concern's Dragunov SVDM (Photo Wikimedia Commons by Vitaly Kuzmin)
Kalashnikov Concern's Dragunov SVDM (Photo Wikimedia Commons by Vitaly Kuzmin)

By the 1970s, the rifle had proven itself in combat and made several appearances in the arsenals of foreign countries across the world, from the Middle East to South America, not including Warsaw Pact nations.

Chambered for 7.62x54R and still manufactured by Kalashnikov Concern, the SVD’s latest update supposedly offers shooters more accuracy, better ergonomics, and the ability to mount a wider range of accessories.

While the maximum effective range of the rifle hasn’t actually changed (800 meters or 875 yards), the SVDM comes with a heavier chrome-lined barrel, as well as a newer muzzle device that boosts the weapon’s accuracy by noticeable margin, and enhances the gun’s overall firing balance.

The SVDM’s new handguard as well as its pistol grip are now polymer-based, offering end-users a reduction in weight, and a much more comfortable grip than before. The stock can be folded and comes with an integrated adjustable cheek rest.

Arguably the biggest difference between the SVDM and the original SVD is the addition of 12 o’clock Picatinny rail, pinned to the receiver’s top cover, and a new front sight. The addition of a top rail allows end-users to drop on a variety of optics, including night vision setups, instead of being forced to stick to the limited range of scopes the SVD was designed to use.

The SVCh Chukavin, which is designed to replace the Dragunov SVD (Photo Kalashnikov Media)
The SVCh Chukavin, which is designed to replace the Dragunov SVD (Photo Kalashnikov Media)

What makes the SVDM especially interesting is that this latest update comes on the heels of last year’s announcement that Kalashnikov’s newest DMR, the SVCh Chukavin, will go into production sometime this year.

Crafted by Kalashnikov as a replacement for the SVD, the Chukavin represents a massive leap forward in terms of the Russian military fielding a modern and considerably more westernized weapon.

It’s possible that the SVDM could very well be an interim solution for Russian shooters, or a continuation of the SVD line with the Chukavin serving as a more specialized and limited solution for some of Russia’s more elite fighting units.

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