Sunday, April 3, 2011

Personal critical perspective - The Dragunov (SVD), PSL, and Saiga

Good ole' Jim at Bison was ruminating about the "Dragunov" rifle, while making some great points he was actually talking abut the excellent choice of the PSL rifle of different design but similar look and application. This is a common mistake because so few Americans bother to learn anything about other countries rifles because "we always give our servicemen the BEST - I tell you what!". We can slog through that utter worthless bullshit later but lets review the Dragunov and the PSL.

For some of the best info on the Dragunov and the PSL check out

The Dragunov SVD and the PSL

A typical example of the Romanian PSL rifle.

A typical example of a "true" Dragunov SVD type rifle

The Saiga out of the box as imported.

The difference - The two rifle models are completely different designs and likely none of the parts will interchange. The Dragunov is a better made rifle (and in my mind a better designed rifle) that is capable of better accuracy than the PSL. The Dragunov SVD is a short stroke piston vs. the long stroke piston of the PSL. The gas piston is connected to the bolt of the PSL like a huge AK, where the Dragunov has a smaller adjustable gas piston that rides above the barrel and is not connected to the bolt. The trigger group of the Dragunov is a removable group inside of a carrier while the trigger of the PSL is basically an AK 47 sized up. The Saiga is simply a AK in a larger size similar to the PSL.

Personal - The PSL is one of types of rifles I have suggested to preparedness minded individuals who have no pre-existing collections of rifles and need an MBR on a budget. While the PSL and Siaga .308 are affordable, the "true" Dragunov rifles are collector pieces with excessive prices. The Dragunov and PSL are the 7.62x54 r and the Saiga is available in .308. The reason for my suggested choice of the PSL is the availability of relatively inexpensive ammunition and magazines. The Saiga will take about 200 bucks of parts and about two days to convert (the first time) over to the standard AK style configuration, the convoluted elongated trigger setup on the standard Saiga is pathetic (first thing to change to AK configuration BTW) and the regular capacity after-market magazines are expensive.

Function - Reliable function on par with the AK 47 or the HK 91.

Design flaws - The PSL and SVD are limited to 10 round magazines, I know of no higher capacity for the SVD or PSL. The Saiga has 20 round magazines available. The true SVD is an accurate adjustable short stroke piston gas system, the PSL and Saiga are long stroke pistons like the AK, while reliable, that lessons the accuracy potential. Many owners of the PSL have shortened the barrels and report better accuracy, so the whip like nature of the long thin barrel is not necessarily an improvement in potential accuracy for the PSL (this is not true with the SVD).

Quality - High quality construction can be expected with the Saiga and SVD, the PSL is often sloppy in fit and finish but is safe and reliable.

Caliber/Ammunition - .308 and 7.62x54 r are accurate and effective cartridges. The .308 versions may have an edge due to higher quality ammunition, but reasonable 7.62x54 r is available. Both .308 and 7.62x54 r are full power rifle rounds and some shooters will find the recoil punishing.

Use - Accuracy is reasonable but the Saiga uses an expensive detachable magazines that are currently only available from a few suppliers in the US. The ten round magazines for the SVD and PSL could be looked at as limiting, but they are solid detachable magazines that are reliable.

Current production - While in current production in Russia there are no current productions of the SVD available for import and the PSL is basically built from surplus parts. the availability of the Saiga is always in question as the current sour relations our stupid government has with the Russians could stop them at any moment.

I consider any of the rifles a good primary choice for a current MBR, price, ammunition and magazines (and their capacity and price) should be your concern and part of your decision process. All are solid rifles while I consider the PSL the best budget choice.

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