In this article, we are taking a look at another firearm made in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. A YouTube channel called WarGonzo has recently published a video telling about this rifle which is called Separatist. It is a 23mm anti-materiel rifle made from one of the autocannons of the ZU-23 twin barrelled anti-aircraft weapon system.
The ZU-23 is a really widespread armament piece which is frequently seen in many local conflicts. I am sure you have seen this autocannon mounted in the trunks of pickup trucks in recent and current Middle Eastern wars. Such wide availability of this Soviet autocannon and its ammunition (23x152mmB) is the reason why people are experimenting with these weapons trying to convert and adapt them to different roles in the battlefield. Earlier, we have reported about the projectiles of the 23x152mmB rounds being used as rifle grenades. However, the most frequently seen modification is the attempt to build an anti-materiel rifle based on ZU-23 parts.
When making the Separatist rifle they basically took one of the ZU-23 autocannons and converted it into a single-shot manually operated firearm. Despite being dismounted from the anti-aircraft setup, it is still quite a heavy and big gun that’s why they had to mount it on a tripod. The tripod will ensure a higher rate of controllability and recoil management.
Another component aiding the recoil mitigation is the huge four-port muzzle brake which is presumably a domestically made one. External and terminal ballistic performance of the projectiles fired from this rifle should be close to that of fired from ZU-23.
As you can see in the images, the improvised stock, pistol grip and the scope mount are built into the tripod. The scope mounted on this particular Separatist rifle is a Russian-made SPP (СПП) scope, which was designed for NSV-12.7 and Kord .50 caliber heavy machine guns. In the image embedded below, you can also see the rather large trigger. Note also that there is no trigger guard.
Below you can find the mentioned video, where they shoot the Separatist rifle and test its performance on various targets.