By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
No less than six different types of Russian marksman rifles, sniper rifles and anti-materiel rifles have reached the shores of Syria since the start of the Civil War, of which the MTs-116M is one. Due to the fact that the MTs-116M is poorly known throughout the world, the sniper rifle's combat debut in Syria has only received little attention.
The presence of the MTs-116M in Syria became publicly known after it was shown in use with a women battalion of the Republican Guard deployed to Jobar for propaganda purposes. Although the video shows the women engaged in an exchange of fire with rebels located just metres away from the frontline, the battalion does not participate in the Republican Guard's incursions into Jobar, and is instead used to guard a calm part of the Jobar front. As a result, the battalion suffered its first and only KIA in Darayya in mid-April 2015.
The first MTs-116M delivery to Syria occurred just months before it was first spotted, and was subsequently used to fill the gap between marksman rifles such as the SVD and G3, and anti-materiel rifles such as the 6S8, OSV-96 and AM-50. A steady supply of the sniper rifle has ensured a solid presence in the embattled nation, and it is mostly seen in use with high-tier units.
Unsurprisingly, the MTs-116M sniper rifle bears close resemblance to the design of its older brother on which it is based; the MTs-116. The inception of the MTs-116M came to be after the MTs-116's accuracy was deemed to be satisfactory to such a degree that a military version optimised for law-enforcement agencies for use during counter-terrorism operations was developed.
Chambered in 7.62x54, the MTs-116M accepts both a five-round magazine and a ten-round magazine (as opposed to the single-shot function of the MTs-116), the latter of which also used by the SVD 'Dragunov'.
The MTs-116M accepts a wide range of Russian optical sights, including night vision sights. When equipped with such sights, the rifle has an effective range of up to 800 metres. While this doesn't offer much improvement over the SVD, the MTs-116M's shots are much more likely to hit their intended targets.
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