Soviet Experimental AK-Based Designated Marksman Rifle

Hrachya H
by Hrachya H
Soviet Experimental AK-Based Marksman Rifle (7)

In the late ’50s, there was a need in the armed forces of Soviet Union for replacing the rifles deployed in sniper and DMR roles. By that time they were mainly using scoped Mosin-Nagant, SVT and SKS rifles. All these rifles were outdated and they needed something new that would better integrate with the newly adopted assault rifles.

Soviet Experimental AK-Based Marksman Rifle (5)

One of the first attempts of Soviet engineers in designing a DMR was pretty intuitive. Having the newly adopted AK-47 rifle, they tried to design a marksman rifle that would be chambered in the same caliber ( 7.62x39mm) and would have a high rate of parts compatibility with main assault rifle. The same concept was used when designing the RPK light machine gun.

This experimental rifle is pretty reminiscent of RPK and it was designed at around the same time period as the RPK. The rifle has a stamped receiver with a bulged front portion to accommodate the larger reinforced front trunnion. In the image embedded below, you can clearly see the two safety selector notches on the receiver and the full auto sear pin. The rifle was possibly intended to be select fire.

This prototype rifle has an AK-length gas system with a longer barrel. There is no muzzle device on the rifle, but the muzzle is threaded and has an AK thread protector.

Soviet Experimental AK-Based Marksman Rifle (6)

This prototype rifle also has a side scope mounting rail shown in the image below.

If in the case of RPK this approach was successful, the AK-based DMR project was dropped for unknown reasons. Probably, the main reason was the insufficient ballistic characteristics of the 7.62x39mm cartridge for the mentioned applications. Another reason could be the start of trials (in 1958) of designing a completely new 7.62x54mmR sniper rifle which ended with the adoption of SVD rifle.

The concept of an AK-based intermediate caliber DMR was later embodied in Iraqi Tabuk rifle.


“100 лет «Красной Армии»: Снайперская винтовка на базе АКМ, опытная”. (2018, April 6). Kalashnikov Media. Retrieved from

Hrachya H
Hrachya H

Managing Editor Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying the history and design of guns and ammunition. Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at

More by Hrachya H

Join the conversation
6 of 65 comments
  • Colonel K Colonel K on Apr 14, 2018

    A 7.62x39 DMR is DOA, no matter how long you make the barrel. Sniping is all about three things: ballistics, ballistics, ballistics.

    Looking at the photos, are you sure this puppy was chambered for the assault rifle round?

    • See 3 previous
    • Colonel K Colonel K on Apr 14, 2018

      @Elijah Decker Elijah, nothing you said affects anything I've said. I've shot factory built HK94s that were set up as short-range sniper rifles. It's still a limited capability firearm. I know the Designated Marksman (DM) is not a sniper, but if he is pressed into that role or used in a counter-sniper role, he is woefully under-gunned. I'm basing my argument on the lead-in statement of the article where the author claims the Soviets needed a replacement for their aging sniper rifles to fill the sniper and DM role. Perhaps he unintentionally mixed these two duties, or maybe the Soviets wanted a single firearm for both functions, or perhaps the prototype rifle was actually chambered in 7.62x54R (it looks big enough). Either way, I don't see how a 7.62x39 rifle beats a 7.62x54R in the DMR or sniper role because you don't always get to pick the range and cover you must operate against. Why would any DM want to limit the ballistic capability of his rifle? I would think he'd want to maximize it to the extent practical. Nor do I believe ammo interchangeability is as critical of a factor as performance, at least in the US military, otherwise the M240 would not be issued to rifle platoons.

  • TomasEdwardChristian TomasEdwardChristian on Apr 20, 2018

    Reminds me of the "Tabuk Sniper Rifle"