Feeding the Dragon

By David Fortier & Donald Heald

Military small arm collectors and users tend to be a pretty opinionated bunch. You have your .45 or Die crew. Your Big Bore Battle rifle bunch. Your 30 round burst solves most anything thinkers. Your Buckshot is best believers, and your, if half your pistol isn’t plastic it’s antiquated junk preachers. One thing I have noticed though, is that most everybody will agree, sniping rifles are interesting. Few sniping rifles possess the animalistic sex appeal of the Soviet SVD Dragunov.

Known officially as the Snaiperskaya Vintovka Dragunova, the Dragunov is highly sought after by both shooters and collectors. Yet only a handful have come into the country from Red China, Russia, and now Romania. What most people don’t realize is that finding and buying a Dragunov is the easy, although expensive part. If your heart is set on rimmed cartridges, see-through stocks, and punching holes far, far away, then all you need to do is open your wallet, wide, real wide. The hard part is tracking down all the odds and ends you need to let the rifle perform to its full potential. This includes Match grade 7.62X54R ammunition (I’ve seen people feed Dragunov’s junk M.G. ball that would make a Mosin-Nagant puke, and wonder why it would only group into 2 MOA!), batteries for the illuminated scope (an easy one now that Kalashnikov USA has them in stock, call 1-800-784-5677), and ten round magazines. Magazine availability for Dragunovs has been on and off but always expensive.

Recently, magazines for the Romanian FPK/PSL version of the Dragunov have come onto the market at a reasonable price, usually around $39.99. I ordered 5, danced a happy jig when the Brown truck of Happiness arrived and snapped one into my Soviet Tiger Dragunov. It locked right in and looked perfect. When I performed a function check with dummy rounds however, it refused to feed. Confused, I tried another, and another. None would work. Upon closer examination, the Romanian magazines proved to be close enough to the Soviet mags to lock into the weapon, but different enough not to work. Our happy jig turned to cursing and fist shaking. Why are they different? Who knows, but they are different.

So I sat down with one of my cohorts, Donald Heald, and we compared the Romanian magazines to Soviet built ones. We could make them work, we decided. If they were built like flimsy M-16 magazines we would have shipped them back. The Com-block countries generally made their magazines so incredibly tough though there was plenty of meat to work with. Modifying magazines is NOT something I recommend as all to often they simply won’t work. In this instance I was pleasantly surprised. The modified magazines lock in and out of the weapon properly, and they feed FLAWLESSLY!

So if you or one of your friends is wondering why those darn Romanian magazines don’t work, relax. All you need is access to a Mig welder and someone who can run it. Other than the Mig it’s just basic hand tools, and a little patience(a pizza helps too!). So follow along as we show you how to keep your Dragunov happy as we give it a taste of Romanian food it’s sure to like!




This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V4N1 (October 2000)
and was posted online on December 12, 2014


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