There has been a long standing request by Russian snipers to upgrade their standard sniper rifle from the SVD. There is nothing wrong with the SVD for what it was designed for. But when the snipers need a precision long range rifle, the SVD does not perform up to the modern sniper rifle standard. A formal request for a new bolt action sniper rifle was made, and in 1998 Vladimir Stronskiy designed and delivered to the Arms R&D center of the Izhmash OJSC the Snaiperskaya Vintovka (sniper rifle), model 1998. (SV-98).
The new rifle uses a cold hammer forged heavy barrel and cold hammer forged action. The barrel is freefloating and there are three locking lugs on the bolt. There is a flash suppressor (AK style) and also SVD aux sites. An integral scope mount is on the reciever, and the standard optics sitting on top is the PKS-07, which is a 7x scope, slightly more then the PSO-1 on the SVD. The fibreglass stock is available as an option upon order. The barrels are threaded for a specially designed 23db suppressor that requires the use of subsonic ammunition. The magazine is plastic.
Shooting handloads, the rifle was able to achieve .85 MOA in 7.62x54R form, and .62 MOA in 7.62×51 NATO. There seems to be some minor extrator problems on the 7.62x54R because of the rim on that cartridge, though the 308 version doesn’t suffer the same problems. The rifle was developed by IZHMASH (Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant) and based on “proven” sporting rifle Record-CISM. The SV-98 in 7.62X54R has been “field rated” by the Russian Spez-Natz at 1.15 MOA @ 100 meters distance. The true limiting factor is the ammunition the Russian Military uses for there sniper weapons. The only sniper units that recieve quality ammunition are those of the Spetz Natz. Indipendant testing by Vladimir Gruzchev of the Spez Natz weaponry experimenting unit has stated that with high quality ammunition it can aquire .75 MOA at best. Because the performance is not as good as the military would like, there has been several complaints from the head of the military arms and evaluation center in the Russian Military that the rifle was adopted for political gain for a certain “un-known” person. As it is, the SV-98 is being used by various Russian law enforcement and counter-terrorist forces.
Oh, and for the sake of all the rifle shops out there (to prevent calls to them) this rifle is NOT available for sale in the USA (or any other country that I am aware of).
Thanks to BC for some first hand reporting!