The VSS (Russian: Винтовка Снайперская Специальная, romanized: Vintovka Snayperskaya Spetsialnaya, lit. 'Special Sniper Rifle', GRAU designation 6P29), also called the Vintorez ("thread cutter"/"tap"), is a suppressed sniper rifle that uses a heavy subsonic 9×39mm SP5 cartridge and armor-piercing SP6 cartridge. It was developed in the late 1980s by TsNIITochMash and manufactured by the Tula Arsenal. It is issued primarily to Spetsnaz units for undercover or clandestine operations, a role made evident by its ability to be stripped down for transport in a specially fitted briefcase.
|Type||Special Sniper rifle
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Used by||see Users|
|Designer||Petr Serdjukov and Vladimir Krasnikov|
|Manufacturer||Tula Arms Plant|
|Mass||2.6 kg (5.73 lb)|
|Length||894 mm (35.2 in)|
|Barrel length||200 mm (7.9 in)|
|Rate of fire||700 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||282–292 m/s (925–958 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||300 m|
|Maximum firing range||400 m|
|Feed system||10 or 20-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights||PSO-1 telescopic sight, 1PN51 night vision scope and iron sights|
The overall operating principle and sound suppression system used on the VSS are derived from the AS assault rifle. The VSS is a gas-operated select-fire rifle. It has a long-stroke gas piston operating rod in a gas cylinder above the barrel. The weapon is locked with a rotating bolt that has 6 locking lugs which engage appropriate sockets machined into the receiver. The VSS is striker fired. It features a cross-bolt type fire selector switch located behind the trigger, inside the trigger guard; the safety lever and the charging handle resemble those used in Kalashnikov weapons.
The weapon has an integral suppressor which wraps around the barrel. The barrel itself has a series of small ports drilled in the rifling grooves, leading into the suppressor which slows and cools the exhaust gases. The suppressor can be easily removed for storage or maintenance, but the VSS should not be fired without the suppressor. The weapon's integral suppressor has a length of 284.36 mm and a diameter of 35.86 mm.
The skeletonized wooden stock is a more rounded version of that provided on the SVD rifle; it has a rubber shoulder pad and can be removed when the rifle is dismantled for compact storage. The forward handguard is made from a high-impact polymer. The rifle is usually fired semi-automatically. Should the operational need arise, the weapon can be used in fully automatic mode using either its original 10-round magazine or the 20-round magazines from the AS rifle.
It uses a subsonic 9×39 mm cartridge to avoid sonic boom. In comparison, the bullet of this cartridge weighs more than twice as much as the 124 gr NATO 9×19mm Parabellum, with the 9x39mm giving twice the muzzle energy of a subsonic 9×19mm NATO bullet fired from a HK MP5SD.
Additionally, the bullet is very effective at penetrating body armor. It is equipped with a hardened steel or tungsten tip and can penetrate a 6 mm (0.2 in) high-density steel plate at 100 m; a 2 mm (0.08 in) steel plate or a standard army helmet can be fully penetrated at 500 m; however, the rifle is typically employed under 400 m.
A side rail is provided, installed on the receiver and used to mount the PSO-1-1 (1P43) telescopic sight. The weapon can also be deployed for night-time use with the 3.46x NSPUM-3 (1PN75), special version of NSPU-3 (1PN51), night sight using an appropriate mount. Back-up iron sights consist of a rear notch on a sliding tangent and forward blade. The rear sight has range graduations up to 400 m, with 100 m adjustments.
For carriage and concealment the rifle is dismantled into three main components carried in a special briefcase measuring 450 x 370 x 140 mm (17.7 x 14.5 x 5.5 in). The briefcase also has space for a PSO-1-1 scope, a NSPU-3 night sight and two magazines.
The VSS forms part of the VSK silenced sniper system. With the system, the rifle can be coupled to the PKS-07 collimated telescopic sight or the PKN-03 night sight. When the rifle forms part of the VSK system the range of ammunition can be extended to include the SP-6 and PAB-9 cartridges.
The VSSM (ВССМ) GRAU 6P29M is the most modern iteration of the VSS rifle featuring an aluminum buttstock with an adjustable cheek and butt pad. Additionally it is fitted with Picatinny rail on the top of the dust cover and sides and bottom of the suppressor. Deliveries started in 2018.
Users and service history
Armenia: a small quantity of weapons were received from Russia among other arms before 2014. Belarus: Used by various special forces. Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Syria: Used by Syrian army Georgia: used by army and police special forces. Kazakhstan Jordan: Special forces only. Russia: Special forces, Federal Security Service (FSB) and OMON. Soviet Union Ukraine: Used by SBU Alpha Group.
- Dolgov, Anna (19 May 2015). "Moscow Admits Two Fighters Captured in Ukraine Are Ex-Russian Soldiers". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
- ИЗДЕЛИЕ 1ПН51 ТЕХНИЧЕСКОЕ ОПИСАНИЕ И ИНСТРУКЦИЯ ПО ЭКСПЛУАТАЦИИ [PRODUCT 1PN51 TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION AND OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS] (in Russian). January 1992. p. 11.
- Neville, Leigh (25 August 2016). Modern Snipers. General Military. Osprey Publishing. p. 190. ISBN 9781472815347.
- Neville 2016, p. 229.
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