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The SVD is not a true sniper rifle. It was designed as a platoon level support weapon to provide infantry squads with firepower up to 600 metres. The rifle is lightweight and quite accurate for its intended role. Compared to true sniper rifles, the accuracy of the SVD is mediocre; however the weapon is far more rugged and reliable than fragile, specialist sniper rifles. Features such as backup iron sights for use in case of scope failure, bayonet mount, carrying sling and relatively light weight all make the SVD well suited to heavy battle conditions.
The SVD comes standard with a PSO-1 scope, a 4x24 device that includes an illuminated reticule and a passive infrared filter. At the time of its development, the PSO-1 was considered one of the most advanced sniper scopes ever designed. The reticule provides multiple aiming points for ranges beyond 1000 metres, as well as a range finder for calculating approximate ranges to the target.
The SVD is chambered for the powerful 7.62x54R ammunition, and is supplied from a 10 round detachable box magazine. It weighs 4.31kg empty with the PSO-1 scope attached. Accuracy is around 2MOA at 600m, but accurate fire is possible out to around 1200 metres.