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|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Used by||Spetsnaz, MVD Internal Troops|
|Wars||Soviet war in Afghanistan, Chechen Wars, 2008 South Ossetia war|
|Manufacturer||Tula Arms Plant|
|Weight||2.6 kg (5.73 lb)|
|Length||820.72 mm (32.312 in)|
|Barrel length||200 mm (7.9 in)|
|Rate of fire||800–900 rounds/min|
|Muzzle velocity||290 m/s (951 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||600 m|
|Feed system||10 or 20-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights||PSO-1-1 telescopic sight and iron sights|
The VSS (Russian: Винтовка Снайперская Специальная, Vintovka Snayperskaya Spetsialnaya or "Special Sniper Rifle"), also called the Vintorez ("thread cutter"), is a suppressed sniper rifle 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.
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 AK-pattern 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 weapons integral suppressor measures 284.36 mm in length 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 VSS is normally fed from a 10-round magazine and 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 heavy subsonic 9×39 mm SP-5 cartridge. Subsonic ammunition is used to avoid a sonic boom. The bullet is very effective at penetrating body armor. For this purpose it is equipped with a hardened steel or tungsten tip to 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.
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