Soviet- Made Marksman Rifle
The Dragunov SVD is a semi-automatic rifle developed by the Soviets in the early 1950/60s by Yevgeny Dragunov. It was built to replace the already obsolete 1891/30 Mosin Nagant which had been the Soviet staple since even before the Russian Revolution. This rifle differed in three ways: it was semi-automatic (the Mosin was a bolt action), it fed from detachable magazines (the Mosin fed from stripper charges), and it was built upon the already well understood and dependable AK platform (the Mosin was a unique design). Although these similarities were present, both rifles fired the same cartridge, the 7.62x 54R, which was long obsolete by the time even World War II had come around. Needless to say, the Soviets were not interested in developing a whole new rifle for its military then. The Dragunov was built as a squad support weapon which enabled its user to inflict precise fire upon the enemy with a mounted scope. Ever since the advent of close-quarter combat, the ranged rifle has seen less and less use. This rifle however and a few others have stuck around to fill this squad support role. Other rifles include the modern day M21 EBR or the SCAR H.
The Dragunov itself had an effective range of 987 yards. It also featured a molding on the stock for comfort when firing. It used the standard Soviet PSO-1 optic but also featured standard iron sights. Like I said before, this rifle was built upon the AK platform which is very obvious in the receiver and bolt assembly. The only real difference is the cartridge- the AK fires the 7.62x39 round. The Dragunov features a very long barrel (24 inches) to assist with the increased range but had a total length of 46 inches. It was a gas operated, rotating bolt design that lent itself well to its role.
The Dragunov did not see major combat usage in Vietnam until the very end. The VC and NVA were supplied with these rifles from Soviet aid and stayed in their arsenals well after the war. Officially, the rifle was only licensed to be produced in the Soviet Union, but was unofficially produced by China as well using copies made by ones supplied through the military aid given by the Soviet Union. The length, lack of firepower, and unusual cartridge made them undesirable for the Vietnamese which found other rifles more suitable. Currently, this rifle is still the Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) for Russia and has many copies worldwide, including Iran, China, Finland, Bangladesh, and more.