Soviet sniper doctrine (unlike western, NATO doctrine) prescribed sniper in every infantry squad. Naturally, these snipers (more accurately name would be designated marksmen) are not specially selected and trained soldiers, but rather infantrymen with good results on firing range. Lack of screening process and training dictates that their rifle should not be overly complicated, nor for combat application nor maintenance. Semiautomatic rifle fits this description perfectly. Dragunov constructed SVD (Sniperskaya Vintovka Dragunova- Dragunov’s Sniper Rifle) which was adopted as official sniper rifle of Soviet Army in 1963. Combat application in Afghanistan, Chechnya and thousand minor conflicts around the world confirmed SVD’s ruggedness and superb performance. Footnote: Iraq manufactured domestic copy of SVD, called Tabuq, which is taking its sad and deadly toll in the Sandbox.
Despite SVD’s passing resemblance to AK, they are worlds apart. This passing resemblance was and still is exploited in airsoft, as -until year or two ago- conversion kits were simplest, cheapest and really only viable way to own an airsoft SVD. Marui’s AK were used as base and while resemblance was there, it wasn’t quite right. Experts frowned upon wrong magazines and receivers, both donated by Marui (compatible) AK replicas.
G&P released beautiful, but flawed replica SVD. Lack of HopUp limited its usefulness and until ATOZ (also A2Z or A to Z) unexpected introduced a spring replica of SVD our choices were severely limited. AtoZ is located in the south of Korean peninsula and their only product is for time being is SVD replica. Atoz is constantly upgrading their SVD replicas- reviewed model is from the 3rd series.
When you first lay your eye on the AtoZ SVD you are bound to be impressed. You gaze upon long, black, sleek replica, which looks exactly as those, seen on TV news. As mentioned, it is long. In fact, it is very long, all together impressive 122 cm (48 in). When you pick it up you notice nice weight and annoying squeaking of the fore arm. It is made out of black, textured plastic material with correct ventilation holes. Reasons for squeaking are partially attributed to its length and partially to rear sight. Rear sight is positioned deeply into the fore grip and prevents full fixing ring to fully enclose the fore arm. If you are really annoyed, you probably could tinker around and fix the squeakiness.
With notable exception of stock and fore grip (both made out of black plastic) everything is metal. Owners of Atoz V1 and V2 SVD’s complained over thick and squeaky skeleton stock, which is remedied in V3. Stock ends with metal cap, sling swivel is also metal and located almost all the way to the back of the stock.
Cheek rest is fixed to the stock with metal clamp. It is almost impossible to use scoped SVD without cheek rest. And on the contrary, if you use it without optics, it is impossible to aim trough sights, as you head rest too high. Caution is advised- cheek rests are hard to come by and I doubt that metal clamp secures cheek rest safely enough.
Receiver cover is secured with lever, which is simply swung downwards in order to remove it. Removal of receiver cover is not frequently needed, only when adjusting HopUp or changing the spring.
Magazine is inserted just like magazine in the AK- front end first, magazine release secures the magazine. Magazine is seated in the well very securely with no wobble. And now feature which I don’t particularly care for- magazine is made out of plastic. It is tough, it looks fabulous, but I would still prefer a metal magazine. Capacity is 25 BBs with effective capacity of 23 BBs (2 BBs are not fed and fall out when changing magazine). Magazines have another rather annoying feature: magazine must be empty in order to remove it from the magazine well.
We tested original Belarus optics and all markings are stenciled in Cyrillic letters. Touch of originality, if you will.
There is some confusion about diameter of installed barrel: I was certain that diameter of preinstalled barrel is 6,04mm, since accuracy is superb. However, several of our readers who have access to equipment warned me that diameter is bog standard 6,08 mm. Nevertheless, accuracy is superb, even with standard barrel. Cocking the replica is much less strenuous than cocking usual bolt action sniper replicas. Namely, cocking handle forward on the receiver and cocking demands much less strength unlike replica bolt action snipers, with bolt handle located at the end of the receiver.
Even with M160 spring is cocking of the replica smooth and it is possible to cock it without too much strain- even when prone. In order to keep tension of the spring it is not wise to keep replica cocked for prolonged periods of time.
Trigger pull is stiff, but the point of piston release is clearly pronounced. It takes several magazines to exactly know the point, where the piston is released.
Naturally, it would be a sin not to try this replica in airsoft skirmish. Although AtoZ SVD is very solid, I didn’t indulge myself with sling. Again, replica is sturdy enough and can be easily compared to the metal replicas- it was a personal preference of a very clumsy person.
If you have already seen AK replica you already know basic operation of replica SVD. Safety lever is located on the right side of the receiver. Replica is secured with safety lever in upper position. All you need is to move the safety lever into the lower position, cock the replica, aim and fire. While it is possible t cock the replica while safety is on, I advise against.
One of the most impressive features is how easy is to cock the replica- yes, it is worth to mention it over and over again. Due to relative smallness of the cocking handle your fingers will hurt after several magazines’ worth of shots. You will need good gloves.
Shooting with AtoZ SVD is quiet affair; operator will hear only vibration of the spring and slam of the piston, target won’t even hear that. When tested in actual airsoft combat everyone was extra careful not to show himself as it was quickly punished. We used .28g BBs, with effective range of 65-70 meters (213-229 feet), which is considerable range.
Naturally, it means that airsoft sniper have to obey the sniper rule, with no-fire zone. Secondary replica is a must- it would be glorious if somebody introduced replica of AP Stetchkin…
Yes, it is not perfect. If anything, lack of markings is one of the more easily corrected problems. Magazine should be upgraded to metal. And if we follow that train of thought, cocking it for every shot is tiresome. But than again- in the current form it is very good replica with excellent performance. Ultimately, this is exactly what we want.
Test item provided by ActionSportGames