The Russians have introduced a new sniper rifle for the second time since invading Ukraine. The most recent one is the MT-566, which is produced by a small firm and offers a unique feature; it only uses Western ammunition. That means the NATO standard 7.62x51mm cartridge rather than the Russian 7.62x54mm round. The “7.62mm” is the caliber (diameter) of the bullet while the “54mm” is the length of the round.
There are several reasons for this. First, Russian ammunition manufacturers have fallen behind with improvements to their ammunition and the quality of Russian sniper rifle ammunition has also declined. Russia has also been unable to upgrade its ammunition manufacturing factories with the latest equipment. Sanctions prevented Russian ammo manufacturers from obtaining new equipment which they had ordered but not received by the time the sanctions went into effect. It is possible to obtain small, but sufficient supplies of NATO 7.62x54 mm ammunition the MT-566 uses. This gives the MT-566 a market and battlefield advantage. MT-566 has a number of other features that are not visible but do much to increase accuracy and ease of use. The rifle has six locking lugs which increase accuracy. The barrels can be screw mounted. The rifle is easy to use by right or left-handed telescopic shooters. The rifle is built to accommodate a wide range of accessories, including various types of scopes and scope accessories.
The MT-566 weighs 4.6 kg (10.2 pounds) and uses ten round magazines. Unlike the Chukavin Sniper Rifle, the MT-566 is not available in versions using the .338 Lapua Magnum (7.62x 69 mm).
The other new Russian sniper rifle in Ukraine is the Kalashnikov Group Chukavin Sniper Rifle. In 2023 small quantities of this rifle were used in Ukraine by special operations troops to determine their performance in combat and compile a list of problems or opportunities for improvements. The new Chukavin Sniper Rifle is intended for use by squad sharpshooters. The new rifle can be equipped with receivers and barrels that use the Russian standard 7.62x54mm sniper round. This is the same round used in the current SVD sniper rifle used by Russian snipers. The Chukavin was designed to provide Russian snipers with a rifle that enables first round hits nearly all the time.
For export markets the Chukavin is available for use with the Western 7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester) cartridges or the more powerful and popular .338 Lapua Magnum (7.62x 69 mm). The 7.62x54mm version is compatible with magazines of the Dragunov sniper rifle (SVD) that the Chukavin will replace.
While many Russian weapons performed poorly in Ukraine, Chukavins are the exception and might become available to export customers. Before the Ukraine War, Russian rifles were popular export items. Once Russia is out from under sanctions and able to export rifles again, the Chukavin is expected to sell well. The Chukavin weighs 4.3 kg (9.2 pounds) and uses ten or twenty round magazines. Those using the larger and more powerful Lapua Magnum round weigh 6.3 kg (13.9 pounds) and are longer at 1140mm (44.9 inches). The other models are 940mm (37 inches) or 1000mm (39.4 inches) long and only use a ten-round magazine.