New Russian Sniper Redefines ‘Safe Distance’ For U.S. Troops

Russian arms development has defined the second half of the 20th century. The Kalashnikov rifle has been in service around the world for more than 60 years. But now the Russians are turning away from the die-hard design of the AK platform and taking a page from American long-range rifles.

A new report from the Army details an increase in Russian long-range capabilities. “Common Russian battle tactics,” Popular Mechanics notes, “currently on display in Ukraine and elsewhere, uses three rows of snipers in battle. Although the first two rows present a challenge for even the best marksmen, it’s the back row—which can be around 2,000 yards away from a target—where Russia places its most elite. Now a U.S. Army report says that this last row of warriors have become even more deadly, thanks to a new weapon—the T-5000 Tochnost rifle.”

The Army’s new study is called the “Russian New Generation Warfare Handbook.” In it, the Russian snipers are described as “far more advanced than the precision shooters U.S. formations have encountered over the last 15 years.”

Popular Mechanics notes this increase in range means Russia’s adversaries, including The United States, could easily be outgunned.

Older Soviet rifles, like the Dragunov, had a practical range of 800 yards. This had less to do with the rifle’s round or capabilities, and more to do with the optics that topped the guns, as seen below.

The T-5000 is chambered for the .338 Lapua Magnum, though, which is a well tested long-range round. The speed and weight of a .338 round gives it excellent terminal ballistics, even at extended ranges.

“ORuzejnyje SIStemy (ORSIS),” PM writes, “the Moscow-based designers of the rifle, started production in 2011. The company benefits from expertise from Russia’s hardcore National Federation of High-Precision Shooting and has shown uses the most advanced technology available in the world. ORSIS claims to have unique tools and equipment, including machine tools which can carve metal into very precise shapes, digitally-controlled ovens, a cryogenic chamber, and ‘the only cutter-grinding machine in Russia with a video measuring system.'”

Even so, the rifle relies on global production. The T-5000 sources parts from Austria, Germany, and even the U.S. And the rifle still has to have advanced optics to reach out to that 2,000 yard mark with any reliability.

The guns has been used in Iraq and in Ukraine. Now, PM notes, it is “being bought up by Russian regular army and the Federal Security Service (the old KGB), the Federal Protective Service (like the U.S. Secret Service), and the National Guard. Deliveries were originally due in 2020 but have been brought forward, with some units receiving their rifles this year.”

Facing off against Russians with these capabilities is an obvious dilemma, but the real fear is that these guns will end up in the hands of terrorists and insurgents.

“But the T-5000 is really only beginning,” PM concludes, “even more powerful snipers are currently in the works. Lobaev Arms, claimed a world record with a Sumrak (Twilight) rifle, hitting a target from 3,720 yards away in 2015. Last month, the company topped this with a 4,600 yard shot. Although requiring detailed knowledge of the exact winds as well as a correction for the rotation of the Earth, these snipers will redefine the idea of ‘a safe distance’ and become new masters of the battlefield.”