Rare Russian MTs-116M Sniper Rifle Seen In Use By Syrian Army Female Fighters

Russian and Arabic language news sites are reporting that the Russian MTs-116M sniper rifle has been seen in use with Syrian Arab Army forces, specifically female fighters. The rifles, based on the successful MTs-116 target/hunting rifle, are equipped with 5- or 10-shot detachable box magazines, similar in pattern to those used in the famous Dragunov SVD designated marksman rifles. Accordingly, the sniper rifles are chambered for the 7.62x54mmR Russian cartridge, the oldest military small arms cartridge in the world that has been continuously in service with its parent country.


A Republican Guardswoman looks past the telescopic sight of her MTs-116M sniper rifle. Image source: ajel.sa



Image source: ajel.sa



Two Guardswomen overlook a position with an MTs-116M rifle. Image source: shaamtimes.net



Syrian Army female fighters overlooking a position. A Kalashnikov AKM rifle is propped up against the wall to the left, while the fighter on the right is using an MTs-116M sniper rifle. Image source: 2.ch.hk



Shots of what appear to be a different pair of female fighters with the MTs-116M rifle. Image source: nk.org.ua


The fighters are reportedly members of one of the women’s divisions of the Republican Guard of Syria, fighting outside Damascus, near the village of Jobar.

According to Ajel.sa, Al-Assad’s government began allowing women to serve in the Republican Guard in 2014. Women fighters reportedly have a great effect on ISIL/Daesh forces, as they apparently consider it a dishonor to die at the hands of a woman. As a result, numerous highly publicized units containing or comprised entirely of women have been formed by the enemies of Daesh.

The Syrian civil war has caused numerous strange and wonderful weapons to come out of the woodwork to be used once again. We’ve reported numerous times on the weapons used in the conflict, including a homemade 23mm rifle, remote-controlled StG-44, and weapons from WWII turning up to fight again.

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 nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Esh325

    I wonder when sniper bolt actions will finally go the way of the do do bird for military use and be replaced completely by semi autos?

    • stephen

      Probably after the battle of Armageddon.

    • Sgt. Stedenko

      When semi autos can replicate the accuracy of a bolt action probably.
      Anschutz doesn’t make semi auto competition rifles for a reason.

      • Dracon1201

        Modern AR10 are damn close to that level of accuracy. The idea a semi can’t be on the same level is a lie. Nowadays.

        • micmac80

          A .308 sniper rifle is a dying breed limited to some 800y now ,.308 is now a DMR , .300wm and even more 338LM is becoming a standard for bolt action sniper rifle. Semi auto is way to heavy and unreliable when made to precision tolerances needed for bolt action grade accuracy.

          • Dracon1201

            Really? Because at 10.9lbs the Nemo Arms Omen shoots below 1moa regularly. The semi auto .338s will only decrease in weight. They already shoot at bolt-gun levels. Sorry, but believing only a bolt gun can do the job is silly.

          • Max Popenker

            I have no doubts that many semi-autos do wonders accuracy-wise at the range
            however, how they would perform reliability-wise out in the real Middle Eastern desert, or in the Arctics, or, say, in jungles during a monsoon season?

          • FarmerB

            Exactly. Accuracy, cost, reliability and weight. Pick any two.

          • Dracon1201

            Who knows? Since the platform isn’t taken out there we don’t know. I know that Alexander Arms is testing the Ulfberht in at least the cold you describe. I can’t speak to any other conditions other than the fact that no rifle on earth enjoys the sand of the Middle East. This has been consistent through all testing I’ve witnessed.

            However, we don’t know how these will perform. Perhaps TFB would like to obtain one and test this for us.

          • Kivaari

            .308 does peter out around 900 yds. It is a long shot and hard for those that have not been well trained. Even 500 yds. is a long shot if you can’t dope the wind. On a clam day real 400 meters is easy with 7.62mm NATO and 5.56mm M193. Good glass makes the biggest improvement you can make. That said, an old friend hits those same 400 m targets using a Winchester M1895 take down, in .30-40 (.30 US) having an aperture sight. And it rattles when shaken.

    • micmac80

      Never especially in larger longer ranged calibers (50bmg is antimaterial and is actualy ouranged by smaller calibers) you are gaining to much weight with any kind of semi auto mechanism fo no gain what so ever.
      Plus why ? its the first round that should do it

      • CommonSense23

        The first round is rarely the first hit on anything past a thousand. Its a nice myth the sniper community likes to keep going, but its far from the truth when it comes to actual long range shooting.

        • micmac80

          even at 1000y 1st rd hits are rare .but when you have people that can actually shoot back (not guy with an AK) but one with as or more capable sniper rifle, then repeat shots are dangerous . No need for semi auto .

          • CommonSense23

            Curious have you been trained as a sniper?

          • micmac80

            I have shot enough military sniper comps ,done the craft and shoot and hit torso sized targets up to 1600y.

            But more importantly designed and built own actions and rifles and sniper gear to know what is important.

          • CommonSense23

            Well as someone who actually has been trained as a sniper, going to disagree. The hardest part of sniper school was the stalks. Pretty much comes down to take your shot. And a walker come to within 10 yards, signal a spotter who can be from 300 to 600 yards away and have a large spotting scope. They search for you, if they can’t find you. You fire another shot. If they can’t find you again, you pass. Not having to work the bolt is nice. But overall not really worried about giving away my position to someone who is 800 yards away.

          • Joe Schmoe

            I agree with common.

            As another sniper here, the first shot hardly ever hits the target past 500m/600m (at least with an M24), there are just too many variable that come into play outside a shooting range. The important thing is to do a fast follow up shot.

            To be honest, I would have loved a semi-auto instead of my bolt M24, would be so much more practical for the modern warfare environments we were in.

  • SP mclaughlin

    Utay Hussein would be rolling in his grave at the sight of Republican Guardswomen.

  • John

    >Women fighters reportedly have a great effect on ISIL/Daesh forces, as
    they apparently consider it a dishonor to die at the hands of a woman.
    As a result, numerous highly publicized units containing or comprised
    entirely of women have been formed by the enemies of Daesh.

    Honestly, this sounds like a propaganda method to make Assad/anyone field lots of women, so you can try and capture them. If they die, less soldiers to fight. If they live, you can transport them away, then enslave, rape and torture at your leisure.

    Also interesting that Russia gave them wooden stocks instead of polymer ones. Might be an upgrade over what they currently have, but it’s not necessarily the best Russia has to offer.

    • hanndn

      Surprised they didn’t say they were also virgins, (nice forbidden fruit bait for ISIS)

  • topcommenter

    Oowa oowa

  • tony

    Them chicas are so cute, rifle is fine too

    • Marco Antonio Gonzalez

      Guess you´re trying to say: those are nice girls, rifles too

  • Hokum

    The way they put the barrel out of the cover is… remarkable.
    In reality it’s probably some kind of propaganda photo/video session.

    • Tom

      Quite possible that its staged propaganda. Or they may not be that well trained, the war has taken its toll on the Syrian armed forces after all.

      That said when the choice is between Assad and ISIL I can understand why plenty of women would be joining Assad.

      • KestrelBike

        No way they’d be in an actual warzone with hair that looked so put together. I can practically smell the Pantene from here. Not to mention there’s not a smudge on their faces/uniforms. Their kit is pristine. Not buyin’ that they’re out in the field killin dudes.

        • Evan

          They are kinda hot though. I’d like to show them my “sniper rifle”.

          • Marco Antonio Gonzalez

            Somehow a comment that reminds me a latin actitude. You beat me to it

          • lifetimearearesident

            Will you show them your SBR tax stamp too?

    • Tritro29

      It’s a PR shoot, it’s just propaganda/Show. If you actually want to look at the “rare” MTs in action, there’s plenty of blogs pointing them out since 2012 (at least) although these rifles are thought to have gone into Syrian use in the same time as the AK74M’s around 2007.

      the Oryxblog has a nice article on them along with pictures.

    • El Duderino

      First thing I noticed too. I’m not a sniper.

    • J.T.

      It probably is a propaganda shoot, but the bad habit of sticking the barrel out of cover seems to be prolific over there on both sides.

  • Sgt. Stedenko

    Girls with guns = hotness
    Killing CIA funded ISIS knuckleheads with Russian made weapons fired by girls = sweetness.

    • Kivaari

      CIA funding ISIS? We are supporting the other side. Turkey killed 102 of the guys on our side yesterday.

      • Turkey is just bombing Kurds. They have no problem providing covert support to the islamic state.

      • BattleshipGrey

        Rumor has it that the US started ISIS. There’s nothing new to the idea of starting/funding rebel groups. If it’s true that the US started ISIS, it probably went rogue or grew faster than anyone anticipated.

        • Kivaari

          We are blamed for a lot of things that went wrong. Osama Bin Laden was “our guy” when the Soviets were in Afghanistan. Just like Uncle HO was “our guy” fighting the Japanese in French Indochina. Plan B can go wrong. Unless you are a Muslim, there is nothing w have in common with any of the combatants. Like the Christians In Action (CIA) during the Angola punch up, we sent 35,000 M1911A1 pistols to the region. That was more pistols than combatants on both sides. The CIA said “They were cheap”. They should have sold them to us.

      • Sgt. Stedenko

        You’re hopelessly naive if you dont realize these non-nationalistic boogeymen du-jour aren’t part of the PNAC/CFR agenda.
        Turn off the teevee.

        • Kivaari

          Well, I don’t fall for all the conspiracy theories like some do. I find most conspiracy buffs base their thinking on articles from fruitcakes. I bet you think WTC 7 was blown up and a Global Hawk painted like an American Airlines passenger jet, flew into the Pentagon.

          • Sgt. Stedenko

            I’ll let the upvotes in my original post decide who’s right and who’s wrong.
            Enjoy your CNN/Fox News/MSNBC BS.

          • Kivaari

            Up vote from the under educated don’t mean much. Ignorance is allowed to flow freely in America. Put up a comment about Oswald and Kennedy and mention how many shooters were involved. I suspect many people would for total nonsense as they always have.

      • Giolli Joker

        Hard to tell who’s backing whom in that mess… Assad is no angel, but his pre-war Syria was a decent country, not religiously oriented and open to foreigners, I can’t remember Assad’s government being particularly vocal against the West either.
        Whether they’re ISIS or not, the rebels will aim to create another Muslim state…
        But yeah, kinda politics…

        The rifle looks cool and definitely capable to do its job… I like the old school/target look given by the adjustable wooden stock.

  • Cal.Bar

    They may not be around much longer if they keep sticking the barrel of the rifle out the window like that. Watch a sniper movie girls…. quick.

  • Maro Vlasic

    long live dr. BASHAR AL ASSAD, long live SYRIAN ARAB ARMY, long live SYRIA!!!!!

    • Just Sayin’

      Firearms, NOT politics please.

    • Evan

      Bashar al-Assad is a horrible savage and a mass murderer. Just because the Islamic State is worse doesn’t make him at all an acceptable human being.

      • Maro Vlasic

        IF ONLY YOU KNOW WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT………but you do not!! forza BASHAR!! ….ps…no more politics,sorry!

        • Evan

          So, you’re supporting an Iranian puppet, murderous thug, and terror sponsor, and I don’t know what I’m talking about? Good one.

          I’ll give Assad this, he does have a smoking hot wife. That’s really the only positive thing there is to say about him though.

          • Max Glazer

            You don’t know jack about Assad. So do yourself a favor and stop talking out of your excrement disposal organ.

          • Evan

            I clearly know more about Assad than you do, which is to say that I know enough not to believe he’s actually a good guy. While there’s an argument to be made that he’s the least horrible solution in Syria (one I don’t buy, simply because it advances the interests of bad actors Iran and Russia far too much for my tastes), there is not an argument to be made that a man who uses sarin gas on his own citizens is actually a force for good (as opposed to slightly less horrible than the opposition). There are zero good guys in the Syrian conflict. None. Assad is awful, the so called “secular, moderate” rebels Obama likes, who all have highly Islamist names like Jund al-Aqsa, al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and IS are worse, Hizballah, Russia, and Iran are all up to no good, the Turks aren’t quite as bad as IS et al but have the same general ideas, and the Kurds are the least horrible of the bunch and STILL an Islamo-communist terror group, they’re just pro-western because all the local governments hate them.

          • Max Glazer

            Clearly know zero. Drinking western media kool-aid by barrel-loads and asking for more. Know even less about who does what in Middle East too.

            Bye-bye ignorant.

          • Evan

            You sound like a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime, and you accuse me of drinking the kool-aid. How ironic.

  • micmac80

    Japanese manga artists are going bananas over wet dreams these images provide them.

  • Just Sayin’

    So, THAT’s what happened to all our BDUs.

  • Fruitbat44

    Cute picture. Certainly a posed picture. Is it a propaganda picture? Or is that getting too close to politics? 🙂

    Interesting rifle though. Hmmm . . . interesting debate about the differences between a sharpshooter/designated marksman’s rifle and a sniper rifle. I’m getting the impression that main difference is deployment and tactics rather actual design.

  • William Taylor

    It is interesting to me that these female soldiers are dressed sensibly for their occupation, with no sign of the ridiculous full length black tents so many of them wear (are forced to wear?). Singling out half the adult human race for such restrictive clothing is ludicrous.

  • Richard

    Yep poor training of an arab military they probably all put the barrel out the window or a hole in the wall. That said at least they are not using a window to shoot through.

  • Leigh Rich

    They are so young…

  • John

    Either its a photo op or they are horribly trained, you do not put the rifle barrel outside your cover, always a few feet in. Its like advertising you are there.