Special Report

The 35 Guns Used by Russian Special Forces

Vitaly V. Kuzmin / Wikimedia Commons

The Russian term “spetsnaz” (an abbreviation of special designations or operations) is used to refer to any special forces and is most associated with the special units of the Soviet Union. The first spetsnaz units were formed in the wake of World War II for the purpose of conducting reconnaissance and sabotage activities behind enemy lines in response to U.S. nuclear ambitions.

These forces trained in unconventional warfare and were skilled at tactics such as guerilla warfare, reconnaissance, and even political warfare. As per their operational needs, Spetsnaz have used a variety of weapons. Some of these are standard for the Russian army, but others are specialized for the different missions. (Also see: 17 of America’s most elite special forces.)

To determine the guns used by Russian special forces, or Spetsnaz, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Spetsnaz Special Forces Weapons cataloged by Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, and arms. We excluded guns that are similar to each other and guns that are believed no longer to be in use by the special forces. We ranked the remaining guns according to when they entered service. Supplemental data on the type of weapon, maximum effective range, and the caliber of ammunition used also came from Military Factory.

This list includes a range of weapons, from silenced assault rifles to automatic grenade launchers. Each of these weapons plays a role in special forces missions, including quiet extractions or guerrilla warfare. Interestingly, the guns on this list that are the same type tend to have similar ammunition.

One of the weapons on this list is the RPK-16, an advanced light machine gun. This is one of the most recent iterations from the notorious Russian arms manufacturer, Kalashnikov. First introduced in 2016, it is known as a “Squad Automatic Weapon,” or SAW, which has the suppression capabilities of a machine gun while being chambered for a smaller, assault-style round. This weapon provides for voluminous fire, as the operator is capable of carrying more of its ammunition.

Separately, the Dragunov SVD has made a name for itself among Russian forces as a semi-automatic sniper/designated marksman rifle. Entering service in the early 1960s, much of this rifle is based on the Kalashnikov system, but it has a lighter and smaller footprint that offers improved accuracy. Notably, the trigger provides a smoother response, which made it an ideal choice for snipers. This rifle has a maximum effective range of around 4,200 feet.

Like many other special forces from other countries, Spetsnaz units are renowned the world over for their skill and operational effectiveness. Specifically, Alpha Group is among 20 of the world’s most elite special forces.

Here is a glimpse of what guns this Russian special forces unit uses.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

35. Izhmash RPK
> Year entered service: 1961
> Type: Light machine gun
> Maximum effective range: 3,280 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x39mm M43 / 5.45x39mm M74

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Source: zim286 / iStock via Getty Images

34. Dragunov SVD
> Year entered service: 1963
> Type: Semi-automatic sniper rifle
> Maximum effective range: 4,265 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x54mmR Soviet, 9x54mm, 9.3x64mm Brenneke, .308 Winchester

33. AS Val (Avtomat Special’nyj)
> Year entered service: 1987 (tied)
> Type: Silenced assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 984 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x39mm SP-6

Source: Courtesy of VSS Vintorez via Facebook

32. VSS Vintorez
> Year entered service: 1987 (tied)
> Type: Silenced sniper rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,312 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x39mm SP-5

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31. KBP A-91
> Year entered service: 1991
> Type: Bullpup assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 3,280 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x39mm, 5.56x45mm NATO

30. Izhmash AN-94 (Abakan)
> Year entered service: 1994 (tied)
> Type: Assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,212 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 5.45x39mm

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29. OTs-14 (Groza)
> Year entered service: 1994 (tied)
> Type: Bullpup assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 656 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x39mm, 9x39mm

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

28. OTs-03 SVU
> Year entered service: 1994 (tied)
> Type: Designated marksman rifle
> Maximum effective range: 3,280 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x54mmR

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

27. KBP VSK-94
> Year entered service: 1994 (tied)
> Type: Silenced sniper rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,312 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x39mm SP-5

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26. KBP AGS-30 AGL
> Year entered service: 1995 (tied)
> Type: Automatic grenade launcher
> Maximum effective range: 7544 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 30x29mm

25. Izhmash Saiga-12
> Year entered service: 1995 (tied)
> Type: Semi-automatic combat shotgun
> Maximum effective range: 150 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 12-gauge

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24. KBP OSV-96
> Year entered service: 1996 (tied)
> Type: Anti-material rifle
> Maximum effective range: 6560 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 12.7x108mm

23. Accuracy International AWM
> Year entered service: 1996 (tied)
> Type: Bolt-action sniper rifle
> Maximum effective range: 3,610 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua Magnum

22. PP-19 Bizon
> Year entered service: 1996 (tied)
> Type: Submachine gun
> Maximum effective range: 328 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x18mm Makarov, 9x19mm parabellum

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21. Accuracy International L115
> Year entered service: 1997
> Type: Bolt-action sniper rifle
> Maximum effective range: 4,921 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: .338 Lapua Magnum

20. Izhmash SV-98
> Year entered service: 1998
> Type: Bolt-action sniper rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,968 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.6x54mm R, 7.62x51mm NATO

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19. KSVK 12.7 (ASVK)
> Year entered service: 1999
> Type: Anti-material rifle
> Maximum effective range: 4,920 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 12.7x108mm

18. ASM-DT
> Year entered service: 2000
> Type: Amphibious assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 164 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 5.45x39mm

17. PKP Pecheneg (6P41)
> Year entered service: 2001 (tied)
> Type: General purpose machine gun
> Maximum effective range: 5,000 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x54mmR

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16. Heckler & Koch HK MP7
> Year entered service: 2001 (tied)
> Type: Submachine gun
> Maximum effective range: 656 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: HK 4.6x30mm

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14. SA-24 (Grinch) / 9K338 Igla-S
> Year entered service: 2004 (tied)
> Type: Shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile
> Maximum effective range: 19,680 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 72mm

13. Izhmash AK-9
> Year entered service: 2004 (tied)
> Type: Silenced assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 656 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x39mm subsonic

12. Heckler & Koch HK 417
> Year entered service: 2006 (tied)
> Type: Designated marksman rifle
> Maximum effective range: 2,625 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x51mm NATO

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11. KBP GM-94
> Year entered service: 2006 (tied)
> Type: Pump-action grenade launcher
> Maximum effective range: 984 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 43mm

10. KBP PP-2000
> Year entered service: 2006 (tied)
> Type: Submachine gun
> Maximum effective range: 330 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x19mm parabellum

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Source: blinow61 / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

8. MP-443 (Grach)
> Year entered service: 2008 (tied)
> Type: Semi-automatic pistol
> Maximum effective range: 165 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x19mm parabellum

7. Izhmash PP-19-01 (Vityaz-SN)
> Year entered service: 2008 (tied)
> Type: Submachine gun
> Maximum effective range: 656 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 9x19mm parabellum

6. ORSIS T-5000
> Year entered service: 2011
> Type: Bolt-action sniper rifle
> Maximum effective range: 4,920 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 7.62x51mm NATO, .308 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua Magnum, .408 Cheytac

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5. KBP ADS
> Year entered service: 2013
> Type: Amphibious bullpup assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,650 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 5.45x39mm, 5.45x39mm

Source: aleks0649 / iStock via Getty Images

4. Kalashnikov AK-12
> Year entered service: 2014 (tied)
> Type: Assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 2,000 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 5.45x39mm Soviet, 5.56x45mm NATO, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x51mm NATO

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3. KMZ A-545
> Year entered service: 2014 (tied)
> Type: Assault rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 5.45x39mm

Source: DIMUSE / E+ via Getty Images

2. TekhMash 6G27 Balkan
> Year entered service: 2016
> Type: Automatic grenade launcher
> Maximum effective range: 8,200 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 40mm caseless

1. Kalashnikov RPK-16
> Year entered service: 2018
> Type: Squad automatic weapon
> Maximum effective range: 2,625 ft.
> Caliber/ammunition: 5.45x39mm

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