Recently, quite often there is information that a manufacturer began to develop a new ammunition, or even finished it, which will replace one of the common cartridges by transferring weaponusing it to a new level. Against this background, our “breakthroughs” in weapons business look a little pale, but we also have something to boast about. However, in most cases, you can boast of what was developed during the Soviet Union and for various reasons was thrown into the far corner. Nevertheless, if you clean up everything that has accumulated in the attics and basements of a great country, then you can find a lot of not only interesting, but also useful things that they themselves ask for revision and immediate launch into mass production. One of such examples can be our domestic sniper rifles caliber 6 millimeters, which I would like to talk about in this article.
It’s probably worth starting with a description of the ammunition used in this weapon, because it is the cartridge that forms the basis of any weapon, giving it basic characteristics, and the weapon itself is only a means of realizing the potential of the ammunition. So if the cartridge is not initially the best, then you can’t jump over your head with all the effort, but you can always “kill” a good ammunition using weapons of not the best quality, which has already been repeatedly proven by many unfortunate gunsmiths. So, the cartridge caliber 6 millimeters, designed for use in self-loading sniper rifles. This ammunition has a caliber of 6 millimeters, has a sleeve, the length of which is equal to 49 millimeters, is a clear competitor to the cartridge 7,62х54, while, despite its more compact dimensions, it has a distinct advantage in all parameters, except for the damaging effect, but it copes well with personal tools body armor, but more on that below. The idea of creating such an ammunition was born a long time ago, the main prerequisite for this was the samples of Japanese production, which retain their rather high characteristics from the beginning of the twentieth century, even by modern standards. For one reason or another, all this advantage was seen, but they could not do anything, only in the 80-s of the last century was the ammunition created, which was even more successful than its counterparts. Possessing a 5 gram bullet weight, this cartridge accelerated to a speed of 1150 meters per second, which made its ballistic characteristics much better than the 7,62. The trajectory of the bullet has become more flat, and the high speed of movement made it possible to more accurately hit moving targets. In addition, it was possible to reduce the impact of errors that are allowed by the shooter in determining the distance to the target and the speed and direction of the wind, which in total significantly increased the accuracy of shooting. Probably, this is one of those few cases when the ammunition itself makes possible a more accurate shooting of the shooter insufficiently prepared. Well, provided that in the event of the start of any large-scale hostilities, those who held it 10-20 for the last time will receive weapons, this can only be noted as a positive quality of ammunition. It is also important that the cartridge 6x49 showed significantly higher penetration performance of individual armor in comparison with 7,62x54, but the striking effect of the bullet of this cartridge was lower, which, of course, is a minus, but against the background of the rest, the question arises why so far this ammunition and weapons to him are not in service with the army. However, examining other cases where promising developments rested on the fact that they need to be restructured for production or even some other reason prevented them from getting at least minimal distribution, nothing surprises anymore. But back to the ammunition, which has a clear superiority over the 7,62x54.
This cartridge has been developed in the walls of the Central Research Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (the Central Research Institute of Precision Engineering), it is noteworthy that VN became the designer of the new cartridge. Noblemen, who previously engaged in the creation of a sniper version of the cartridge for the SVD sniper rifle. As it was written above, the result of his work really turned out to be impressive and many people predicted this ammunition the most bright future, both when used in sniper weapons and when used in light machine guns, in other words, this cartridge had to completely replace 7,62x54 in the army. But not everything turned out so smoothly as we would like. Despite the fact that sniper rifle samples and even a manual machine gun were created for this munition, all the samples showed the most remarkable characteristics, although they needed little file processing, no one became interested in such a weapon, although it could help to make quite a big step forward , well, or at least show all the prospects of weapons using similar ammunition. The difficulties that the country experienced at that time, closed the doors to both ammunition and weapon models using it, as a result, these samples are not even remembered now. I think that it will not be a secret for anyone that domestic gunsmiths were always ahead of their time, as it happened in this case, because our “probable enemy” spoke about new cartridges much later, and the existing models appeared recently. It turns out that even now the time for the 6х49 cartridge and weapons has long arrived for it, and the samples still remain samples. At least, it would be possible to take at least the basis of ammunition and weapons and create a new sample on their base that would meet absolutely all the requirements, but forgetting the existence of the cartridge and the weapon is probably easier than developing it, because for some reason no one is interested in development. Although for the fact that such samples are forgotten and do not receive development, you should not even plant it, in my opinion, but put it to the wall, so as to bury a promising development, without even trying to give it at least minimal distribution, you can safely equate to treason. However, it is clear that no one will punish his “colleagues”, at least until the road is crossed. In the end, if according to the results of a full-fledged analysis of weapons and with the maximum efforts made to improve them, there would be no obvious advantages, which in this case is unlikely, or a replacement would be inappropriate due to the small superiority of weapons, there will always be a civilian market and export. In general, I personally do not understand how you can forget about the old developments in weapons that retain their relevance now, and at the same time to say that there are no talented designers, no bases, and so on. If not, then why not take advantage of what is and still can be used? Or you need to wait until all this is implemented by others, and after biting your elbows, wondering how, we all had and we didn’t do anything? Sadly somehow from all this.
While TsNIItochmash was working on a new ammunition 6х49, in Izhevsk the work on a weapon for this cartridge was in full swing. The new weapon was not taken from the ceiling at all, it was created exactly for the requirements that were sent to the designers, that is, this sample was indeed planned to be made basic and replace the SVD rifle in service, but, as we know, did not grow together. The main requirements that were imposed on the new weapon concerned mainly its dimensions, and these requirements were quite tough and the designers had to sweat to meet them. Thus, the length of the weapon was limited to the entire 1225 millimeters, and this despite the fact that the barrel length should have been 720 millimeters, for optimal use of the potential of the new ammunition. Initially, it was planned to adapt the SVD sniper rifle for a new cartridge, but in fact it turned out that it was impossible with such a barrel of this length, since the weapon’s circuit did not allow reducing the length of the receiver. With a barrel length of 620 millimeters, the SVD has a total length of 1220 millimeters, but the trunk needed was 10 centimeters longer, respectively, and the overall length of the weapon increased. For this reason, they decided to abandon adaptation and create from scratch their own sample of weapons, which turned out to be quite interesting and, of course, in some moments exceeded SVD even without taking into account the use of 6x49 munitions.
This is exactly how such weapons as the SVK and SVK-S sniper rifles, the model of a rifle with a folding butt, appeared. The work on creating a new type of weapon was immediately entrusted to 4 by the designers: A. I. Nesterov, V. Yu. Symonenko, A. S. Lomaev, and O. N. Kivamova, each of these designers introduced something of his own, and despite the fact that the rifle did not wait for mass production, its individual elements can be found in other samples. Since the main task was to meet the requirements for the length of the weapon, then this issue was given a lot of attention. The length of the barrel and butt designers could not reduce, for obvious reasons, but the rest of the parts were subjected to careful processing. The basis for the new rifle was the automatics scheme, built on the discharge of powder gases from the barrel, with the bolting of the barrel bore into two lugs. The weapon shop was as close as possible to the chamber, which reduced the total length of the weapon by a couple of millimeters. A few millimeters were saved due to the fact that the bolt carrier in the receiver is mounted on the guide lugs in the rear part of the receiver, and has a hole in the front through which the return spring of the guide rod passes. Thus, the total length of the receiver was only 273 millimeters, compared with 315 SVD millimeters. But this is not all that affected the total length of the weapon. In principle, it was possible to stop after reducing the length of the receiver, but it’s not so interesting. Therefore, a new slotted flame arrester has been developed for the new weapon, the working length of which is equal to the entire 29 millimeters compared to the same SVD - 78 millimeters. It is also important that the 6x49 ammunition itself has a total length less than that of the 7,62x54, which also had a positive effect on reducing the length of the weapon. That's it, millimeter by millimeter, the designers reduced the length of the new SVK sniper rifle and its emerging version of the SVK-S. Thanks to these millimeters, it was possible to shorten the length of the weapon to the maximum, and it was 1188 millimeters, and for the SVK-S with a folded 960 butt of millimeters. So, the designers were able to meet the basic requirements that were imposed on these weapons and even make the weapons more compact than they were originally demanded. But this is not all that has been done to ensure that the new sniper rifles look better than the SVD.
In order to improve the accuracy of weapons, the designers have done the work, which initially may seem completely absurd. The fact is that the barrel of the SVK and SVK-S rifles is strengthened only in the receiver and never touches the forearm, that is, it is, in fact, “freely hung”, but the weapon is self-loading and built according to a scheme with removal of powder gases from the barrel bore, that is, above the barrel is also located a device for removal of powder gases. In other words, the barrel of rifles cannot be called “freely hung out,” and the fact that it does not touch the gun shank is a whim of designers. All this is true in the surface theory, but in practice such a move significantly increased the accuracy of the weapon, which is especially noticeable when firing at a distance greater than the average. So, you can give these numbers, which are taken from field tests of weapons.
At a distance in 630 meters, the SVK sniper rifle showed itself to be 1,33 times more accurate than the SVD. At a distance in 770 meters, this parameter increased to 1,73. At distances in the 970 and 1030 meters, the weapon showed 3,89 times more accurate shooting in comparison with the SVD. The overall advantage over SVD was 2,32. Of course, the merit here is not only the rifle, but also the ammunition that is used in it. In addition, at distances to 400 meters, the accuracy advantage over SVDs of the SVK is not so noticeable that, against the background of a smaller damaging effect, the bullet somewhat smoothes the weapon’s performance; nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with increasing the effective range of fire and cannot and bulletproof vest bullet cartridge 6x49 works more efficiently than 7,62x54, which has recently become more and more important. Since we have touched on the topic of precision weapons at closer distances, then the following indicators should be noted when shooting. At a distance of 100 meters, there were three series of 10 shots each. All bullets fit into a circle with a diameter of 5,5 centimeters, while 50 percent of hits fit into a circle of 2,3 centimeters, which is quite good results. It was also noted that in the case of improving the quality of the cartridge 6х49, these figures improve significantly, but, in my opinion, for a self-loading rifle of this class and these results are quite good, especially since the weapon itself has not been finalized yet, but was presented as a prototype whose characteristics could still change. True, they could change for the worse, as usually happens during mass production, but we will think positively.
However, not everything in this weapon was as smooth as we would like, there were also negative points that were visible in comparison with the same SVD sniper rifle. One of the main negative qualities of the weapon was its weight, which was equal to 4,2 of a kilogram of SVK and 4,3 of a kilogram of SVK-S, while of SVD the same weight is equal to 3,8 of a kilogram. Of course, if it were a slightly different class of rifle, you could simply miss the measly kilogram 0,5, but in this case the difference in weight matters. On the other hand, it can be said that the only parameter of the weapon, which you can poke a finger with and say “badly”, everything else causes only positive emotions, here and the length of the aiming line of the open sighting devices, increased by 80 millimeters, which makes it possible to more effectively use weapons in the event that the optical sight in the battle was damaged, and a more effective range of use of weapons and so on and so forth. So there is no doubt that if it were not for the rather difficult economic situation in the country at the end of 80, this weapon would have seen the light already in the form of a production model, it is not clear why, when the situation more or less settled, about this weapon they do not remember and do not even take as a basis for something new.
In fire control, the SVK sniper rifle and its variant with the folding butt SVK-S are in many respects similar to the SVD. Despite the fact that the designers have significantly reduced the length of the receiver, they left the location of the main controls in places where they have become familiar to many shooters. On the right side of the weapon there is a slightly reduced switch of the weapon’s safety lock, which in its lower position removes the weapon from the safety device, but in the upper one it’s impossible to fire a rifle. Also, a small window for ejection of spent cartridges looks somewhat unusual, but the shutter handle is located at its usual place and those who have “communicated” with the SVD can intuitively find it. Rifle magazine lock located immediately behind the store, which is also quite familiar and can not cause any complaints. The weapons shop itself is made by stamping, has a capacity equal to 10 cartridges, while in size it is smaller than the SVD store, which also only has a positive effect on the usability of the weapon. The rifle hilt looks a bit strange in the version with a folding butt, the fact is that the handle does not have a completely neat appearance and it seems completely uncomfortable, but the weapon is not a Christmas tree to be beautiful, so there can be no complaints about it either . Quite an interesting point is that many people point out that the rear sight is mounted on the rifle forearm as a negative weapon quality. In fact, this is not true. The rifle rear sight is mounted on the receiver of the weapon, and the plastic handguard just passes under it, which creates the illusion that the targets are set on the plastic forearm. Naturally, now this rifle looks outdated, it was nevertheless created almost thirty years ago, and then no one thought about what kind of "picatinny" slats that hung from all sides with modern weapons, nobody even thought about creating the most simple weapon that was it is suitable only to shoot, and not to impress with the beauty of the townsfolk, by the way, for some reason it is such a weapon that personally seems to me more beautiful. Despite this, the main parameters of the weapon are still quite good today. Well, to make possible the installation of a wide variety of sighting devices and other things, in my opinion, is not a particularly big problem, especially for weapons not commercially produced before, but Kalashnikov automatic rifles have developed separate kits that can significantly expand the number of additional devices being installed.
According to the results of field tests conducted after the presentation of the ICS and ICS-S weapons were noted as quite promising and sent for revision, the same was true for the cartridge 6х49, which though could argue with 7,62х54, but had some drawbacks that were most quickly associated with accuracy at distances up to 400 meters. Still, the weapon that was supposed to replace the SVD, was to "beat" it in all respects. Despite the fact that there were prospects for the weapon and the cartridge, all further work was stopped due to a decrease in funding. Moreover, they covered not one project on the SVK and SVK-S sniper rifle, but also on the 6x49 munition as a whole, that is, on other types of weapons, many of which have just begun to be designed. They covered it up temporarily, but, as can be seen now, forever, at least nothing is heard about the further fate of either the rifles or the 6x49 cartridge. In the future, the constructors were used to create the flame arrester for the Bison-2 submachine gun, butt received the SVD-S, and the same flame arrestor is also used in the civilian Tiger-9, but this cannot be considered as the use of the constructions of designers. In fact, it can be said that all the money that was spent on the development of the weapon itself and its ammunition was simply wasted, since these costs did not bring tangible benefits. Moreover, it should be noted once again that there was no benefit through no fault of the weapon, but simply because at first all the work was postponed until better times, and then they simply forgot or did not want to remember what was likely. Honestly, I will never be surprised if this weapon and this cartridge, but already in another wrapper will emerge in ten years, as an offer from some "friendly" private weapon company to replace the SVD sniper rifles in the army, although Someone comes to his senses and, instead of searching for national talents, he will take an interest in what is available in the bins of scientific research institutes, and there are a lot of interesting and most importantly useful things, but they are wasted.
However, speaking of the fact that ammunition and weapons were completely forgotten, I was somewhat misleading. In fact, the continuation of this stories there is, really, the continuation is quite short and with a rather sad ending. The fact is that the 6х49 munitions were attempted to "reanimate" in the late nineties in the Tula TsKIB, but this attempt was rather modest and ended back only with an experimental model, which, however, managed to make war, though not for long. This is a sniper rifle TKB-0145K, all under the same cartridge 6x49.
The “father” of this weapon is the designer A. B. Adov, he decided in his own way to make the new weapon more compact, and most importantly lighter, however, the SVD weapon did not become easier. The main “trick” of this weapon is that it is made in the bullpup lineup, which gives more freedom to the mechanisms while maintaining the minimum length of the weapon. Thus, the length of the rifle is equal to the entire 1060 millimeters, which allows without special difficulties to transport it in armored vehicles, and directly by the shooter. The weight of the weapon is exactly 4 kilogram without sights and ammunition. The length of the barrel has remained the same as that of the CCD - 720 millimeters, in order to ensure the most efficient use of the cartridge 6 x49. This decision to reduce the length of the weapon has both its positive and negative sides. On the one hand, the reduction in length is quite significant, on the other hand, the bullpup layout has a number of drawbacks that could not be solved in this weapon. On the other hand, the sniper rifle is one of those types of weapons in which the bullpup layout is most acceptable, since the low rate of fire makes it possible to exclude such an unpleasant drawback as irritation by the powder gases of the mucous membrane of the shooter. However, despite the low rate of firing, using such a weapon when shooting from the left shoulder is rather difficult, not only will the spent cartridges flicker before your eyes, and the controls are located only on the right side of the weapon, so also the bolt handle will be in close proximity to the shooter , and this is at least annoying, and makes you think about your security.
Apart from the fact that the TKB-0145K sniper rifle is made in the bullpup layout, it also has a number of features that are not inherent in other weapon models. Thus, an interesting feature of the weapon was the way the powder gases are discharged to ensure the operation of the weapon’s automatics. In the majority of weapon models that use an automation scheme with removal of powder gases from the barrel bore, removal of powder gases occurs from the barrel bore through the hole in the barrel, which at the moment when the piston starts and moves, affects the accuracy of the gun. In the case of TKB-0145K, removal of powder gases from the barrel bore occurs at the muzzle of the weapon, which virtually completely eliminates the influence of the operation of automation on the accuracy of fire. Due to a similar system of removal of powder gases, the use of a gas regulator turned out to be impossible, which, however, is not necessary in this case, since ensuring the normal operation of automation in a variety of operating conditions is achieved by a mass of individual elements of the weapon mechanism, which is the reason that the TKB-0145K sniper rifle on 200 is heavier than the SVD. But in my opinion, this is a fully justified price for higher precision weapons and the fact that it will work flawlessly in a large range of temperatures and other conditions. An important role in the reliability of the weapon was the fact that it is maximally protected from dust and especially sand inside the receiver. It feeds a rifle from detachable box magazine with a capacity of 10 6x49 cartridges. In addition to the open sights, the weapon is completed with an optical sight POPP 8x42 or PSO-1, of course, the possibility of installing other devices is not excluded.
All weapon controls are located on the right side of the rifle, which creates an additional obstacle to the use of this left-handed weapon. In addition, the fuse switch is located on the right side of the weapon, but far beyond the store, which makes it switch to very convenient, so there were some drawbacks to this weapon. The remaining elements do not cause any complaints: the trigger, safety clip and magazine holder are quite usual, naturally adjusted for the weapon layout. In general, for ease of use, this weapon does not cause any complaints, except for the fuse switch, which is almost under the shooter’s armpit, since it doesn’t need to be switched after each shot.
If we compare the TKB-0145K sniper rifle with the SVK sniper rifle, then it is quite difficult to give unconditional preference to any one sample, if only simply because there is very little information on these weapons, and it is ungrateful to compare experimental models, but you can certainly try. By weight of the weapon, the leader is naturally TKB-0145K, but at the same time, the SVK is more convenient to operate, despite its large dimensions. In the TKB-0145K, the original scheme of powder gas intake at the muzzle was used, which improves the accuracy of the weapon, while the same result is obtained by the SVK due to the designers' attempt to hang out the barrel of the rifle. According to their combat characteristics, the weapons are very, very close to each other, so in principle we can say that both models are equal to each other, if not for one “but”. SVK and its version with a folding butt SVK-S is more convenient when shooting from the left shoulder, and such a need may arise not only because the shooter is used to eat with his left hand, but also because his shelter turned out to be right from it, and you can only fire on the left side. That is, when shooting from the right shoulder in such a situation, the shooter will be in full view of the enemy in the sight, but it will be much more difficult to hit it if he shoots from the left shoulder. In addition, the SVK-S with a folded butt is shorter than TKB-0145K, which can be quite critical in certain situations. In general, in my humble opinion, ICS is a more suitable weapon for widespread distribution in the army in comparison with TKB-0145K. However, here TKB-0145K has one indisputable advantage in the form of combat experience and positive feedback, which the self-loading SVK sniper rifle cannot boast.
In 2001, the TKB-0145K self-loading sniper rifle was involved in the fighting in the North Caucasus, where it received a lot of positive feedback. One of the most important factors than liked this rifle was, as you might guess, the 6x49 munition, which exceeded in terms of its characteristics the 7,62x54 sniper cartridge. It was also important that the high accuracy of the weapon in comparison with the SVD was noted, which was confirmed by the fact that the enemy snipers armed with the SVD were repeatedly struck from TKB-0145K, while they could not respond with the exact fire of their rifles of larger caliber. Separately, it was also noted that this weapon is more convenient for use on moving targets, but here the merit is not weapons, but just the high speed of the bullet, that is, the ammunition that was used in it. Separately, the unusualness of the weapon and its compact dimensions were noted. Such positive reviews rifle TKB-0145K earned during the time from February to September 2001. Based on these reviews about weapons, a proposal was made to set up mass production of this sample in the shortest possible time and arrange for its delivery, first of all, to the battle sites, which would reduce losses among personnel and gain a clear advantage over the enemy. However, neither the reviews nor the recommendations of people who had to entrust their lives to this weapon had any effect, and they both forgot about the weapon and the cartridge. At the time of writing this article, no one remembers that there is such ammunition and weapons, which was one step away from mass production and mass deliveries to the army.
Of course, we can say that the new ammunition and the new sniper rifle are too bold, but, nevertheless, it has been repeatedly proved in history that a sniper acting as part of a company can fundamentally turn the tide of battle and save on his weapon tantamount to crime. However, this can be said about any fighter, so, ultimately, saving on armaments and equipment of the army is a crime. But we have 3-4 promising models of pistols, which we can not decide whom to give and whom to give which one, this is also omitting the fact that one of them, the most advertised in general, can be considered foreign. We have a large-caliber machine gun, whose tasks in most cases can perform a smooth-bore with the correct cartridges. We have a lot of things, just not at all what is really necessary. As a proof, you can give my favorite example - the replacement of AKS74U with submachine guns from the PPS. They promise, they promise, they even call specific models of weapons and deadlines, but they cannot “give up” at all. In the end, you can not promise, but to say directly "now there is no opportunity and financial resources, as soon as the question will be resolved," of course, provided that it really will be resolved. And so it turns out that people are armed with those from which it is impossible to shoot, since a short line in the city is likely to hook someone else in 200-300 meters. Armed with that from which it is terrible to shoot indoors, for fear of ricochets and so on. At the same time, it is especially surprising that “talents” are being sought who will offer ideas for the development of the military industry for free. No, the undertaking is, of course, excellent, and it can only be welcomed, but why not first implement some of the most promising developments that were abandoned until they finally lost their relevance. In the end, because you can stay “with the nose”, the designers offered something difficult and expensive - we won’t do it, the craftsmen offer either the same thing or nonsense - they won’t do it either. Did you forget the saying about chasing two hares?
6X49 cartridge and SVK, SVK-S, TKB-0145K sniper rifles
- Karasik Kirill
- Photos used: