The Cold War proved the ultimate market for firearms of all sorts though things became decidedly restricted for manufacturers in the West when the standardization in NATO occurred. Steyr Mannlicher developed a local 7.62mm-based bolt-action sniper rifle as the "SSG 69" during this period and the weapon when on to stock the inventory of the Austrian Army as its standard long-range precision system. As its designation would suggest, the gun found its official role in 1969 and has been in service ever since while also being adopted by many armies and special forces groups of the world in turn.
The SSG 69 has proven a highly accurate and robust battlefield weapon of typically excellent Steyr quality. A composite stock made up its body with high tolerance metal workings inlaid into the design. The buttstock was padded for recoil comfort and the grip handle well-curved in a most ergonomic fashion. A forward-thinking, cold-hammered barrel was used which aided accuracy and the barrel's length ran deep into the receiver for improved inherent strength. The bolt featured a six-lug-locking (rear-mounted) arrangement for strong sealing characteristics. Overall weight of the standard model became 8.8lb with an overall length of 44.9 inches showcased when using a barrel of 25.6 inches long.
The SSG 69 was chambered solely for the (non-magnum caliber) 7.62x51mm NATO standard rifle cartridge - a proven performer at range. The action of the gun relied on the tried-and-true, manually-actuated bolt-action arrangement and fed from a 5-round internal rotary-style magazine configuration. The rotary magazine was of particular note and a distinct quality of the rifle, its five cartridges sat within a J-shaped hold when viewing the rifle from its front or rear profile. A 10-round box was also made available. Effective ranges reached out to 875 yards with a maximum range as far out as 4,045 yards. Unlike other sniper rifles, the SSG 69 retained its back up iron sights while a telescopic sight was typically fitted over the receiver in the usual way. A bipod could be fitted at the end of the fore-end as a frontal support. Slings provided areas for attaching a shoulder strap for transporting/marching the system.
Beyond its use by the Austrian Army and special forces, the SSG 69 was adopted by the forces of Argentina, Chile, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia (special forces), Ireland, Jordan, the Netherlands (marine units), Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Russia (special forces), Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey (special forces), Togo, and the United States (border patrol).
The base rifle model became the "SSG 69 PI" and this was followed by the longer, 9.3lb "SSG 69 PII" (.22-250 Remington). Then came the shortened "SSG 69 PIV" of 8.4lb weight.