The OTs-44AS was designed by Tula KPB as an upgrade from the Dragunov SVU rifle, which in turn was a radical re-working of the old Dragunov SVD, reconfigured into a bullpup action. The Dragunov line was designed and implemented to provide a long range soft target interdiction (anti-personnel sniper) rifle package, with maximum effective range, but remaining relatively compact and light (especially compared to the older Dragunov models). When compared to the base SVD, the Dragunov PIR (Product Improved Rifle) replaces the skeletonized wooden stock with a bullpup action with the magazine behind the pistol grip, and a simple metal buttplate as a shoulder stock along with adjustable fittings and furniture. The forward assembly has been entirely replaced with a polymer frame instead of stamped metal and wood. The polymer frame is available in black, dark grey and olive green. The basic design has flip-up iron sights, but is expected to mount an optical or electronic scope. In addition, the bipod is mounted on a swivel so it can be set up horizontally or vertically, so it can be used to secure the rifle in an upright position against a vertical surface such as a brick wall, or on rough or angled surfaces.
The biggest changes for the Dragunov PIR, however, are internal. The rifle's basic mechanism has been rebuilt from the ground up to use roller-locks to delay blowback of the breech during firing. This action is more complex and expensive than the action in the basic SVU and SVD models, but is also very reliable and accurate, however remaining less complicated and revolutionary than the "blow-back shifted pulse" mechanism of more recent Russian assault rifle designs since 1994. The select-fire action is typically used in semi-automatic mode only, but is also capable of three-round burst fire (although not full autofire). The burst-fire mode is of limited use as the Dragunov PIR only has a 10 round box magazine.
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