CKIB SOO (the Central Design Bureau of Sporting and Hunting Weapons) of Russia designed the VKS ("Vykhlop") heavy sniper rifle to fulfill a Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) requirement. The FSB is a special tactical military-level internal police/security force operated at the government level across Russia and was formed following the collapse of the Soviet Union (1947-1991) in 1995 - taking over the role of the KGB. with production ramping up in 2002, the VKS sniper weapon has been in service since 2004.
The VKS is arranged in a bull-pup configuration with seats the action and feed system aft of the trigger group and pistol grip. This allows a full-length barrel to be used while promoting a slightly more compact overall length when compared to traditional long guns. The rifle fires the massive 12.7x55mm STs-130 cartridge which is highly suitable against "soft" targets (such as enemy infantry, even if clad in body armor) and lightly-armored vehicles. Additionally, the rifle has the power to knock out individual exposed systems on deadlier battlefield vehicles such as Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).
The STs-130 cartridge also appeared in 2002 and forged from the .338 Lapua Magnum rifle cartridge already in existence. The case measures 2.1" in length which, with the 0.50" bullet, makes for a 3.7" long cartridge. The same cartridge is used in another Russian gun - the ASh-12.7 bullpup "battle rifle". Several variants of the base cartridge design have appeared since introduction.
The VKS is manually-operated by way of a bolt-action lever system. Each round, fed from a detachable 5-round box magazine under the shoulder stock, is individually led into the chamber by the action whilst any spend casing is ejected in a single, fluid motion by the operator. The weapon has a smooth frame and exterior black finish, cleared of many obstructions and protrusions. The pistol grip and trigger unit are seated near the midway point of the rifle's length and, over this, is the bolt-handle. Over the receiver can be fitted an optics set along a Picatinny-style rail system. Folding iron sights are also provided. The shoulder stock is padded and the magazine well is angled forward while being set behind the grip handled. Ahead of the trigger unit is a slotted forend housing the barrel. The forward end of the barrel is wholly-encased in a large suppressor which is integral to the design - allowing for clandestine ranged work by special forces units - and is somewhat unique for a weapon of this large caliber.
As it stands, the VKS is a powerful addition to the armory of FSB units, providing much-needed ranged firepower and penetration-at-range.
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