Weapons: Russians Build The Ultimate Sniper Rifle

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November 24, 2016: A Russian firm claims to have developed a new sniper rifle, the SVLK-14S that can reliably and consistently hit targets 3,400 meters away. The 10 kg (22 pound) SVLK-14S does this firing the .408 (10.3mm) CheyTac (short for Cheyenne Tactical) round in a very high tech (lots of composites and custom metal work) single-shot rifle with a 90cm (35 inch) barrel. The manufacturer achieved these ultra-long range shots by tweaking the bullet size used in the CheyTac round as well as making adjustments to the SVLK-14S. This included use of electronic accessories.

The CheyTac .408 round had already achieved reliable accuracy by taking advantage of advances in electronic aids for ultra-long range rifles. That began with a tactical computer (commercial PDA with CheyTac ballistic software) that worked with the Kestrel 4000 wind/temperature/atmospheric pressure sensors linked to the PDA. This system provides that extra bit of data needed to hit man sized targets at 2,200 meters or more. The SVLK-14S is achieving its longer range with the help of improved electronic aids as well as the precisely engineered (for very long range shots) rifle.

The first rifles firing this round showed up the same time the .408 did. For example the CheyTac LRRS (Long Range Rifle System) looked like a .50 caliber (12.7mm) rifle, but was actually 10.3mm. The .408 round entered the market in 2001 and resembles a scaled down .50 caliber and was designed mainly for anti-personnel use rather than the oft-quoted, but little used, "anti-material" use of the .50 caliber sniper rifles. The .408 was based on the older .505 Gibbs and the .400 Taylor Magnum elephant gun rounds.

The .408 bullet is a new streamlined design that leaves it with more energy (at ranges beyond 700 meters) than a .50 caliber bullet. The .408 is accurate to 2,200 meters, about the same as the .50 caliber. The CheyTac LRSS rifle weighed 14 kg (31 pounds) with a 74cm (30 inch) barrel and a five round magazine. The equivalent 12.7mm rifles weighed about the same.

The CheyTac .408 was competing with the new 8.6mm (.338 Lapua Magnum) round, which is often fired from a 6.8 kg (15 pound) rifle out to about 1500 meters. Both the CheyTac and Lapua Magnum are marketed mainly to police departments. But British Army has adopted the Lapua Magnum as its main sniper rifle. Current users of the CheyTac include special operations forces in Poland, Turkey, the Czech Republic and others. Apparently the Russian national police special operations units adopted the CheyTac .408 and have been told that current work on the SVLK-14S could eventually allow shots out to 4,200 meters.

 


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