Tabuk Sniper Rifle
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|Tabuk Sniper Rifle|
An Iraqi Army soldier assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, readies his 7.62 mm Tabuk sniper rifle while conducting a raid in Sadr City in September 2005.
|Type||Sniper rifle, designated marksman rifle|
|Place of origin||Iraq|
|In service||1978 – current|
|Wars||Iran-Iraq War, Persian Gulf War, 2003-present Iraq War|
|Barrel length||600 mm|
|Muzzle velocity||804 m/s|
|Effective range||800 m|
|Feed system||10–20 round box magazines|
|Sights||Telescopic sight and Iron sight|
The Tabuk Sniper Rifle is an Iraqi designated marksman's rifle, made from a modified version of the Zastava M70 assault rifle, itself a variant of the AKM. The Tabuk Sniper Rifle, like all the AKM and Dragunov SVD derivatives made in Iraq, was manufactured at the Al-Qadissiya Establishments using machinery sold to Iraq by Zastava Arms of Yugoslavia, at a time when power was still firmly in the hands of Saddam Hussein.
Zastava Arms of Yugoslavia originally developed this rifle from its experience in making its M70 rifles (a variant of the AKM with some minor differences from the original), particularly the M76. All of the rifles in the M70 series share what is traditionally considered an RPK style receiver, that is the receiver is made with a thicker gauge of sheet metal formed over a larger and heavier trunnion. While this does add to weight, it has a positive effect on durability which is why the modification came about. The Yugoslavian version of the RPK, the M72, is a longer barreled member of the M70 family and is the weapons upon which the Tabuk is based.
The barrel length of the Iraqi Tabuk rifle is 23.6" – slightly longer & thinner than a Yugoslavian M72 barrel, but much longer than a traditional AKM or the M70 (16.25"). The Tabuk, like the M72, has a provision for muzzle attachments in the typical Russian thread pattern of 14x1mm left hand thread, which means that it can accept several variations of Soviet flash hiders and muzzle brakes, as well as Soviet designed sound suppression devices.
Design Details 
The differences between the Tabuk and the Yugoslavian M72 are few; the semi-auto-only mechanism of the Tabuk is not a visually obvious difference, but is perhaps the most important. This feature dictates the rifle's role as one of precision fire and not suppressive fire. It is also important as it prevents lesser individuals from subjecting the barrel of a rifle intended for precision to full-auto fire, which would shorten that rifle's useful life.
A more visible difference is the much lighter barrel fitted to the Tabuk. The M72's barrel is finned at the rear near the hand guards and is far heavier than that of the Tabuk (or that of a standard AKM). The thickness of the M72's barrel exists to facilitate heat distribution via mass and cooling via surface area. Since the option to fire full-auto has been omitted (and it is not typical of eastern bloc long range precision rifles to use heavy barrels for accuracy) the Tabuk, like the SVD and the PSL, has a relatively light barrel.
The Tabuk differs from the M72 in some other ways. It has provision for mounting optics, though this is not an unusual accessory on eastern bloc weapons, and it has a skeletonized buttstock with a cheek piece. A third difference, and perhaps the most important (though not definitive) visual cue when identifying the Tabuk, is the conspicuous lack of a bipod. The M72's bipod, which is not detachable from the M72 (though sometimes removed by undisciplined troops), is quite obvious from afar when attached. It was likely removed from the Tabuk design to enhance mechanical accuracy and reduce weight, though had it been retained it might have added useful stability (practical accuracy) for long range work.
Since it is essentially an accurized, scoped M72, the Tabuk is chambered for the M72's primary caliber, 7.62×39. This is advantageous as it allows the Tabuk to use the same magazines as the AKM, and AKM Magazines are well made, plentiful, and easy to replace if lost.
Because the Tabuk is chambered for the Soviet M43 or 7.62×39mm cartridge, it cannot technically function as a sniper rifle (by western standards). With a maximum effective range of only 600m (based on trajectory), the Tabuk should instead be considered a designated marksman's rifle. That said, and considering the urban terrain upon which these rifles are typically fielded, this quibble is purely semantic.
The Tabuk is, within its given range, every bit as effective as the Dragunov or PSL if used precisely. At the far end of its effective range it is decidedly less lethal than its higher velocity counterparts due to the round's combination of stability and low velocity, giving it less reach than the 7.62x54R caliber SVD. It visually resembles an RPK, which may make identifying enemy snipers more difficult. Likewise, its acoustic signature mimics that of an AKM.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Tabuk|
- Iraqi Sniper Rifles. Pmulcahy.com. Retrieved on 2012-12-26.
- Tabuk 7.62 mm sniper rifle (Iraq) – Jane's Infantry Weapons. Articles.janes.com (2011-11-21). Retrieved on 2012-12-26.
- Iraqi sniper rifle- Made in Iraq – (Tabuk).flv. YouTube (2010-06-24). Retrieved on 2012-12-26.
- 其他国家生产或仿制的AK. Retrieved on February 3, 2008 (Chinese)
- Iraqi Al Qadissiya Tabuk Designated Marksman. Retrieved on August 26, 2008.
- Tabuk 7.62 mm sniper rifle (Iraq), SNIPER AND SPECIAL PURPOSE RIFLES. Retrieved on August 26, 2008.