Russian Special Forces Using HK417, AI AW In Dagestan

Russian special forces were spotted recently in the Russian republic of Dagestan, which has been experiencing an insurgency recently. The commandos were equipped with at least two foreign weapons, an HK417 7.62x51mm rifle with an impressively large suppressor, and an Accuracy International Arctic Warfare sniper rifle, caliber unknown, also suppressed. The video from War Clashes is embedded below:

Also visible in the footage is an SR-2 Veresk, a compact Russian submachine gun firing powerful 9x21mm armor piercing ammunition, as well as an AK-74 fitted with a folding stock mechanism similar to that trialed on the new AK-12 rifle being offered to the Russian Army. Also present was a BTR-80A armored personnel carrier.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • G0rdon_Fr33man

    When you want the best, get European 😉

    • Iksnilol

      Don’t let the fanboys hear you!

      • GarryB

        Special forces have always been able to use the equipment they like… and these guys are not military special forces… they are more like ATF special forces in the US.

        Think Waco rather than Beslan.

        BTW those making comments about trigger happy Russians clearly are basing their opinions on western sources about Beslan and the Moscow Theatre Hostage siege… obviously mistakes were made and things could have been done better… like not allowing unconscious hostages suffocate in the street after being rescued, or guards not letting heavily armed men into a school, but from all the professional evaluations I have seen, they made the best of very bad situations against totally ruthless scumbags.

        • Max Glazer

          The guards in that school weren’t armed. They are there to stop an angry parent from going nuts or break up a fight or two between students. They aren’t there to stop an armed hostage taking. The SpetsNaz storming of the school itself began when some parents tried to storm it. SpetsNaz acted with no plan. It was all about saving kids in a totally spontaneous situation. 12 soldiers died by shielding the children and/or squad mates with themselves from fire and grenades.

          The Theatre thing was about the lack of antidote that needed to be given to rescued hostages. No hostages died as a result of the storming itself.

    • Dan

      Nyet! Rifle is fine. Um but can I check out that HK417?

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    The AI rifle looks like it is in .338 Lapua based on the magazine.

  • MPWS

    No sanctions/ counter-sanctions apply here?

    • MR

      Probably already in inventory at the point sanctions would have come into play. Replacements/parts may be difficult to procure, though.

      • Max Glazer

        Considering that all the patents and technical drawings for AR-15 rifle are available on the internet I wouldn’t say that getting parts reverse-engineered for something as a simple assault rifle is something beyond the capability of Russians. 3D laser scan, a good quality aluminium/steel forging, some CNC machining and required parts are ready. Russians a while back, have made their own AR-15 and offered it on civvie market. Not very popular as Russians stick to AK based designs.

  • Bill

    And some of the uniforms looks very close to Multicam/OCP, which will make IFF a lot of fun if we ever have to fight them. We’ll have to plaster ourselves with non-subdued flags.

    And how come the countries with the best scenery wind up being fought over by poopheads?

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      Also, pretty sure I saw an Ops-Core helmet in there…

      • LCON

        the Russians started importing a lot of American Tactical gear before the Ukraine issue and there SF guys wear Multicam, Opscore with Trijicon and Eotech Optics on there customized AK’s with Topco Triggers and selectors. it’s the price you pay for off the shelf.
        Two weeks back A Russian industry Expert announced that 75% of Russia’s Satellite electronics are Made in the USA. Make the stuff on the open market and anyone can get it.

    • Bal256

      There’s a simple solution. They start wearing Mutlicam, we start wearing Ameriflage.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Holding the gun over your head and firing blindly doesn’t look like special forces to me.

    • Carlos V. Quevedo

      Clearly you haven’t seen many videos of Russia’s special forces in action.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        That’s true.

        • Carlos V. Quevedo

          It’s a fairly common tactic provided they don’t care about collateral damage: one guy lays overhead covering fire while a second guy takes careful aim with an RPG.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Probably why Russian hostage rescues are usually a bloody disaster.

          • Rock or Something

            In mother Russia, it is your fault you became hostage!

          • Zugunder

            Well, at least we don’t bomb them with drones…

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I love how terrorists and their apologists whine about how the use of drones is a cowardly and dishonorable form of warfare and how the US is afraid to fight like real men. This from a bunch of people who flew airliners into office buildings and throw down their weapons and hide behind women and children at the sight of US soldiers.

          • Zugunder

            Terrorist apologist? I’m talking about numerous civilians blowed into oblivion along with terrorist. Oh, they hide behind women and children, so that’s must be acceptable, right? Than why for Russians it’s “bloody disaster” (which IS disaster) and for Americans it’s ok? You have no moral ground to judge others for something you can’t do any better.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            They hide behind women and children and get women and children to carry weapons and ammo so that blood is on their hands.

          • Zugunder

            Just… Wow… How someone could even come up with this…

          • lapkonium

            If I ask you to name a Russian hostage crisis with high civilian casualties, you’d probably mention Dubrovka and Beslan. Yet, in both of these cases you can hardly say that the collateral damage is because of the operatives’ poor work. How many civilians could really be saved in the given circumstances? The only terrorist acts including hostage-taking of a comparable magnitude in the US recently were the 9/11 attacks. If only deaths on planes are included, we get a 12.3 ratio of hostage deaths per taker, whereas in the Dubrovka and Beslan cases the ratios are 3.3 and 10.8 respectively – not as bloody now. The comparison is obviously imperfect – but it helps to put things into perspective for a well-organized hostage situation.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            That’s a ridiculous example.
            No rescue attempts were made on 911 unless you count the passengers of United flight 93. Face it, the Russians have a horrible track record when it comes to hostage rescue. Their tactics are blunt and ineffective and seem to emphasize killing the hostage takers as priority number one and then if some hostages are still alive after that then that’s ok too.

          • GuestUser347891

            Track record compared to whom? There are very few historical precedences to be compared to here. Munich comes to mind and you can go ahead and look up how that shit ended. This type of mass hostage-taking by dozens of heavily-armed, suicidal extremists/maniacs is every AT SF guys’ worst nightmare. This isn’t some hit job against a lightly-guarded, sick and old terrorist that’s been planned for over a year (and still nearly botched). You know what’s (unofficially) considered a “successful outcome” for this type of scenario? I’ll tell you: 30% or less death rate among the hostages. The Russian SF achieved that in Beslan and Dubrovka incidents, despite being under-funded, under-equipped and heavily purged in the 90’s. Not that both operations weren’t flawed…I can think of a number of lesser severity operations executed (nearly) flawlessly tho: The Sukhumi Prison Riot, The Aeroflot Hijack, the Moscow Bus Incident and more recently, the flawless Somali pirate Russian hostage rescue incident. By the way, when dealing with people wearing “suicide vests” and/or have wired the whole building to blow, it is a good idea to prioritize their termination above all else. For every hostage used as a human shield that you might kill in the cross-fire, there will be a dozen ones who are alive because that IED wasn’t set off.

          • GarryB


            How many women and children did they even try to rescue from the flames…

          • lapkonium

            There isn’t a better example to compare the two crises to! You’re telling me about a “horrible track record” based on these two well-known cases, but the question is, how could the assault be executed better in the similar circumstances? I don’t know of any successful hostage rescue where tens of well-armed gunmen were holding control of a building with hundreds of hostages inside, ready to detonate the explosives, and kill hostages in case of an attempted assault. What “more effective” and “sharp” tactics would a US special force employ to rescue the hostages in the Beslan case?

          • Brian M

            At Beslan, there wasn’t much they could do. The terrorists got dug in with MG’s at choke points.

            At the Theater, the Chechens were taken without a single civilian or operator hit .What killed the civvies were the EMT’s not positioning them properly to deal with the anaesthetic gas that had been pumped into the theater. Not the force’s fault at all.

            Now, Russia has always been brutal at getting rid of hostage takers. Perhaps that is why it is done to them so seldom.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            My criticism isn’t for Russian SF in particular but Russian tactics in general. The bottom line is 130 hostages died as a direct result of chemicals (the exact chemical is still unknown) pumped into the theater.

            This is a quote from a hostage giving an on air radio interview as the gas was first noticed:

            “It seems to us that the Russians have started something. Please, give us a chance. If you can do anything, please do! … I don’t know which gas it is. But I see [the Chechens’] reactions. They don’t want our deaths, and our officials want none of us to leave alive! I don’t know. We see it, we feel it, we are breathing through our clothes. … It began from outside. That’s what our government has decided — that no one should leave from here alive. “

          • GuestUser347891


            The bottom line is that it was a “no-win” scenario and yet, most of the hostages made it. The Russians were operating under the assumptions that the terrorists had a very large IED in the middle of the room (turned out to be a fake device) which would bring down the roof if detonated. However, the suicide vests on the “Black Widows” were very much real. The use the opiate gas was a calculated risk. It was previously tested and shown to be safe, but not for such a large room. In order to make sure that all the terrorists in that room got incapacitated, they pumped a significant dose to ensure that it spread to every nook and corner. Spetsgruppa “A” and “B” did their job beautifully: went in and engaged and destroyed the terrorists in the atrium (without taking a single loss), terminated the incapacitated terrorists in the main room (to ensure that none of them woke up and detonated anything) and proceeded to evacuate the hostages. Most of the hostages died due to the lack of proper after-care by the first responders under the command of Moscow’s leadership. First of all, because the chemical weapon was still experimental, not enough copies of the antidote existed. Secondly, most hostages died because the first responders transported them to hospitals laying on their backs, which is a really bad position for a person with a respiratory incapacitation. They should have been placed on their sides, so that they air passages were much less likely to get obstructed. Sadly, many simply choke on their vomit. Any way, as far as Spetsgruppa’s use of the gas, it was the correct decision. However, there was a huge screw-up as far as coordination between them and the first responders. Then again, think about it: it all happened when people already had cell phones – if they spent time prepping a bunch of paramedics and fire fighters for this, who is to say that one of them couldn’t have been a Muslim Chechen sympathizer who could call the terrorists and let them know what’s coming??

            By the way, your “interview” sounds like rantings of some paranoid dissident nutter published by Radio Free Europe or another anti-Russian propaganda outfit

  • ColaBox

    You sure these are Russian SF’s? I don’t believe iv ever seen them use anything made outside of Russia, their usually pretty happy using glued piping.

    • Max

      Russian SFs have been using the AI AW family for more than a decade. I remember seeing pics of them using AWMs during the Beslan hostage crisis back in 2004.

      Edit: Carlos beat me to it by a few seconds lol.

    • Carlos V. Quevedo

      That is definitely Russian, likely FSB. Use of the HK is new, but they as well as the MVD have been spotted using AW rifles as early as the Beslan incident ten or so years ago.

    • Dr. Zarkus

      Members of 21-OSN “Taifun” (21-й отряд специального назначения внутренних войск «Тайфун»), part of the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation (ВВ МВД). SF unit.

    • Vitsaus

      Some have claimed that it is in the interest of plausible deniability to use western arms in these sorts of operations.

      • Carlos V. Quevedo

        Not when you also have a BTR-80 knocking at the door.

        • Bill

          You don’t think we could scrounge some Russian armor up if it was in our best interest? Same applies to helos and aircraft.

  • Kev

    The accuracy international rifles have been used in Russia for quite some time however with sanctions and other internal pressure, their seems to be a push for indigenous products like the orsis t-5000 and the Lobaev arms DXL 3, especially now since parts from the west will be hard to obtain.

  • USMC03Vet

    Counter Terrorists win.

  • Lance

    Saw a AKM-47 with one of the solders. That not a AAI sniper rifle the Russian copied the AAI and made the SV-98 sniper rifle. Love the AK-74s in action. As for the HK-417 that may not a be a Russian solder some Russian allies may be sent to combat to get experience in mountain warfare. Who knows? maybe American CIA????

    • That is definitely not an SV-98. It is an AI (not AAI, that’s an American company) AW with the rail block on the barrel.

      • LCON

        Russian SF has a known habit from the Cold war of using foreign arms. as far back as the 60’s and 70’s Some Russian SF were using AR15’s. a few years back Russian MVD Speznats were known users of the SAKO TGR so them importing others should not be a surprise.
        Regular grunts will use Russian only stuff but there Speznats get all the toys

  • Joe

    Hmm Larry Vickers always repping HK, constantly visiting Russia, and recently spotted at Americas largest AI dealer….

  • toms

    Recent news stories indicate that Russia has purchased 417’s 416’s and other western gear in very small numbers via police and shooting supply stores in the Czech Republic meant for civilian and LE sales then distrubting them to Russia for military purposes illegaly. A news story in Estonia followed several captured weapons from AI, Steyr, and HK captured in Eastern Ukraine to a dealership in the Czech Republic (owned by a Russian company) which imported the rifles from Germany for domestic sales. Russia is going to have problems keeping these up logistically with the bans in place and will have to resort to more and more shady stuff to keep their operators equipped with what they want. Seeing stuff like this pokes all kind of holes in the Russian stuff is best peoples’ arguments. The emperor has no clothes and all that. Of course we willingly sold them whatever they wanted until last year. Many westerners are campaining to restart the lucrative arms/tech trade to belligerent hostile countries. Sad

    • Dan

      They could have Just called the ATF for guns.

    • All the Raindrops

      What’s sad is Obama arming Mexican cartels with ak’s whole trying to take guns away from US citizens.

      Control and Corruption…

    • noob

      Hmm. So the much vaunted End User Certificate turned out to have the legal force of somewhere between a web browser EULA and a pinky promise?

    • Max Glazer

      Estonia is a known Russia-hating joint and believing what Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and recently Ukraine are writing is naive at best. Using specific western-origin weapons in Ukraine by SpetsNaz (if indeed it operates there which is at best unproven) is stupid since ammo is next to impossible to come by and using AK-74s is a much more appropriate. SpetsNaz aren’t retards to make such a stupid decision.

      Russia hostile? Pretty sure placing a large armed force right next door and organizing a faschist revolution in a neighboring country is much more so.

  • All the Raindrops

    They have the 7.62x54r and PKM, which is even preferences to this day by some American units.

  • Phil Hsueh

    The Russians have been knocking off our & others camo patterns for a while now, if you look at all of the different patterns that they’ve used over the years you’ll see a number of familiar looking patterns, including something that closely resembles old M81 woodland. If you think the US is bad with a different camo pattern and uniform for each branch, the Russians are worse with different uniforms and camo patterns within each branch.

  • Ripley

    The SVU-A is 7.62x54mmR so why don’t you count that as a Russian battle rifle caliber? And the SVD was developed as a designated marksman rifle, same role as a scoped HK417 would fill. My guess is that if something bad happens to these SOF a SVU-A will clearly identify them as Russian but finding a HK417 will fit into the propaganda deniability.

    • noob

      Remember, No Russian.

  • Max Glazer

    Pretty uneducated comment. What is a “proper battle caliber”? If you talking something like a counterpart to 7.62×51 then that would be 7.62x54R. Pretty sure it’s a PROPER battle caliber.

    AK-12 will likely actually go to broad Russian army while the more “elite” units will get A545 and A762