Russia is reported to have built a rifle with an extended reach, redefining "safe distance". The T-5000 Tochnost rifle now gives elite Russian snipers dominance of over 2,000 yards.
At a time when automated weapons and drones that can spring out of bombs are being developed, this may not look like much of an improvement, but in a battlefield, being pinned down by snipers long enough for rockets and drones to come in and finish the job is still a real threat, notes a report in Popular Mechanics.
The T-5000 Tochnost, made by Moscow-based Oruzejnyje Sistemy (ORSIS) is a major upgrade to the rifle that it replaced. Dragunov, the outgoing rifle, while powerful, is known to have poor optics and had an effective range of just about 800 yards and used ammo from the previous century.
The T-5000 has been made in collaboration with the National Federation of High-Precision Shooting in Russia using some of the most advanced gun-making tools and techniques in the world.
The T-5000 fires .388 Lapua Magnum ammo, delivering 5,000-foot pounds of energy – twice of that from the Dragunov – to a target 2,000 yards away. The American McMillian TAC-338, on the other hand, can reach only 1,700 yards.
The gun is reportedly capable of putting a bullet in a one-inch circle from a distance of 200 yards. The rifle has 0.5 minutes of arc, giving it an accuracy of up to 2,000 yards. The T-5000 is seeing action in conflict zones including Ukraine and the Middle East.
According to a US Army report titled "Russian New Generation Warfare Handbook", that details the capabilities of the rifle, the Russians are "far more advanced than the precision shooters US formations have encountered over the last 15 years". They also cannot be overcome using the tactics that the US Army has so far used to pin snipers in the field.
If encountered in battle, the tactic right now as prescribed by the handbook is to break contact immediately. In other words, if troops are engaged by snipers, they have to run.
One of the ways that troops can effectively defend themselves from such snipers will be to make use of smoke grenades or small, gun-toting drones like the 3D printed Nibbler, the velvet wasp, or even the TIKAD, which can offer ground support in urban environments, according to the report.
Russia has had a long tradition of having some of the most skilled and fearsome snipers right since World War I. There are several stories of Russian snipers terrorising Nazi troops, which were shared by soldiers after the war. One such sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, served in the Russian army in the 1940s. With over 300 confirmed kills, she was one of the deadliest snipers to have ever served in the war. Everything about her story seems to have been written for a summer blockbuster.
After being deemed too pretty to be a soldier and repeatedly asked to work as a nurse, she had to actually prove to her officers that she was a worthy sharp-shooter by killing two enemy soldiers downrange from where they stood. She got rid of over 180 Nazis in her first trip and campaign that lasted 75 days.
In more modern times, the methods, equipment and guns have got a lot better and snipers are able to make kill shots over literal miles. This year, a confirmed kill by a Canadian sniper took down an Islamic State (Isis) terrorist over 3,700 yards away.