Dragunov Bounty

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In the course of the Vietnam War, an unusual adversary fielded against American forces was the latest of Russian sniping arms - the Dragunov rifle. Designed to replace the aging bolt-action Mosin-Nagant scoped rifles that had served in the war against Germany, the semi-automatic 7.62x54mm Snaiperskaya Vintovka Dragunova (SVD) rifle incorporated a semi free-floating barrel, an unusual skeletonized stock and a novel optical sight with passive infrared detection capability. Few were seen, but rumors abounded.

Information about the new rifle was keenly sought by Western intelligence agencies, which offered an impressive $20,000 bounty for the first example to be recovered for study. This later imported Chinese variant NDM-86 rifle, reverse-engineered from the original Russian snipers sent to Southeast Asia, and isolated examples still being recovered from battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq are ample proof the long-barreled Dragunov rifle is still an intriguing military design.

Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, June 2004