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VSS Vintorez - the most iconic Soviet sniper rifle

The VSS Vintorez is a Russian suppressed sniper rifle designed in the late 1980s for use by special forces units. It is a compact and lightweight weapon with a bullpup configuration, which means that the action and magazine are located behind the trigger, reducing the overall length of the rifle.

The VSS Vintorez fires a specialized 9x39mm cartridge, which is optimized for subsonic velocities and has a heavy bullet for increased penetration. The rifle is designed to be extremely quiet, with an integral suppressor that helps to reduce the sound of the shot and eliminate muzzle flash.

History of VSS

VSS Vintorez sniper rifle, (VSS - Special Sniper Rifle), created in Klimovsky TSNIITOCHMASH by a design team led by Peter Serdyukov.

The intensification of confrontation between the Soviet Union and the West in the seventies of the last century, the expansion of the geography of undeclared wars and local military conflicts required more and more new types of special weapons, including those for fighting at short distances with enemy manpower equipped with personal protective equipment. In 1987, a new Vintorez weapon-cartridge complex was adopted by special forces units of the KGB of the USSR and reconnaissance and sabotage units of the Soviet Armed Forces, and units of internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs under the designation "Special Sniper Rifle" (VSS) index 6P29.

The new weapon, which is a group means of covert attack and defense, was intended to hit targets with sniper fire in conditions requiring silent, flameless firing at open enemy manpower (destruction of enemy command personnel, his reconnaissance groups, observers and sentries), as well as incapacitation observation devices, elements of military equipment and the destruction of unarmored vehicles at ranges up to 400 m during the day with an optical sight and 300 m at night with a night sight.

The silencer

Muting the sound of a shot is based on the integrating principle. When a bullet passes by many holes in the walls of the barrel, the powder gases penetrate through them into the expansion chamber of the muffler not immediately, but sequentially. With such a consistent expansion of hot powder gases, their temperature drops, therefore, the volume and "exhaust" pressure are reduced. In addition, in the process described above, a single sonic exhaust is broken up into many components.

Residual sound waves, reflected from the oblique separator partitions, are superimposed on each other in opposite phases and are mutually absorbed. The rifle can fire both single shots and bursts. For concealed carrying, the sight, butt and silencer are separated from the rifle. All these parts fit into the dimensions of 37x27x4.5 cm and can be carried in an ordinary briefcase.

The ammunition

Shooting is carried out with special cartridges - SP-5 and SP-6. The bullets of the SP-6 cartridges have a steel core and a powder charge reinforced by 20% compared to the SP-5 cartridge. At a distance of 200 meters, a bullet of the SP-6 cartridge pierces a steel sheet 6 mm thick, at a distance of 500 meters - 2 mm thick, with an unconditional defeat of living targets located behind these shelters.

However, it is not recommended to shoot only SP-6 cartridges without the need, as they cause increased wear on the barrel and mechanism of the weapon. For shooting at unarmored targets and for training, the SP-5 cartridge is used. The ballistics of the SP-5 and SP-6 cartridges are different in terms of the height of the trajectory, so the rifle must be sighted separately for each of these ammunition.

VSS Vintorez in the Soviet-Afghan war

Despite popular desire, there is no evidence that VSS was used in Afghanistan. Not a single photo and no mention in memoirs. Which is rather strange, as the VSS Vintorez rifle was primarily supplied to the GRU Spetsnaz units in the first couple of years of its production, and GRU was involved into Soviet-Afghan war in big numbers. Anyhow, until there is a solid proof that the rifle did see some action in Afghanistan, it is not recommended to use it for any Soviet-Afghan war impressions.

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