The 35 Guns Used by Russian Special Forces

The Russian term “spetsnaz” (an abbreviation of special designations or operations) is used to refer to any special forces and is most associated with the special units of the Soviet Union. The first spetsnaz units were formed in the wake of World War II for the purpose of conducting reconnaissance and sabotage activities behind enemy lines in response to U.S. nuclear ambitions.

These forces trained in unconventional warfare and were skilled at tactics such as guerilla warfare, reconnaissance, and even political warfare. As per their operational needs, Spetsnaz have used a variety of weapons. Some of these are standard for the Russian army, but others are specialized for the different missions. (Also see: 17 of America’s most elite special forces.)

To determine the guns used by Russian special forces, or Spetsnaz, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Spetsnaz Special Forces Weapons cataloged by Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, and arms. We excluded guns that are similar to each other and guns that are believed no longer to be in use by the special forces. We ranked the remaining guns according to when they entered service. Supplemental data on the type of weapon, maximum effective range, and the caliber of ammunition used also came from Military Factory.

This list includes a range of weapons, from silenced assault rifles to automatic grenade launchers. Each of these weapons plays a role in special forces missions, including quiet extractions or guerrilla warfare. Interestingly, the guns on this list that are the same type tend to have similar ammunition.

One of the weapons on this list is the RPK-16, an advanced light machine gun. This is one of the most recent iterations from the notorious Russian arms manufacturer, Kalashnikov. First introduced in 2016, it is known as a “Squad Automatic Weapon,” or SAW, which has the suppression capabilities of a machine gun while being chambered for a smaller, assault-style round. This weapon provides for voluminous fire, as the operator is capable of carrying more of its ammunition.

Separately, the Dragunov SVD has made a name for itself among Russian forces as a semi-automatic sniper/designated marksman rifle. Entering service in the early 1960s, much of this rifle is based on the Kalashnikov system, but it has a lighter and smaller footprint that offers improved accuracy. Notably, the trigger provides a smoother response, which made it an ideal choice for snipers. This rifle has a maximum effective range of around 4,200 feet.

Like many other special forces from other countries, Spetsnaz units are renowned the world over for their skill and operational effectiveness. Specifically, Alpha Group is among 20 of the world’s most elite special forces.

Here is a glimpse of what guns this Russian special forces unit uses.

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