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The VSS (Vintovka Snaiperskaja Specialnaya) "Vintorez" (Thread Cutter) was designed at the same time as the AS "Val", for similar purposes and with similar construction. Unlike the AS "Val", however, the VSS "Vintorez" was designed as a sniper rifle. Both weapons, however, were not identified by Western forces until the early 1990s.
Its development began in the late 1980s, when the Spetsnaz command requested the development of specialised weapons to suit their undercover and clandestine operations. Before that time, the Spetsnaz had used AK-47/AKM with detachable silencers and special subsonic ammunition and Stechkin APSB pistols. In 1980s, however, it was decided that those weapons were not adequate.
The VSS "Vintorez" had been designed around a proprietary cartridge, designed solely for stealthy shots in the presence of enemy forces, the SP-5/SP-6. Measuring 9x39 mm, it is loaded with a heavy bullet, which travels with subsonic speeds thus carrying considerable more energy that smaller and faster rounds. The SP-5 is the standard ammo, while the SP-6 is a special armor-piercing round.
Technically, the VSS "Vintorez" is a gas-operated silenced rifle. The rifle has a separate safety lever and fire mode button like the AS "Val". However, automatic fire is intended only for emergency situations, and puts inordinate strain on the gun.
The VSS "Vintorez" is intended for sniper duty, and therefore, is usually equipped with a scope. Scope is mounted on a side rail to faciliate easy replacement of the scope to fit the current environment. The rifle is usually fitted with 10-round magazines, but can accept a 20-round magazine often found on AS "Val".
Currently, the VSS "Vintorez" is employed by Spetsnaz, MVD and FSB. It had been employed against Chechen separatists, and operators affirm that it is a formidable and reliable weapon if used correctly.
Some have noted that rounds fired from the VSS "Vintorez" take a moment to reach the target after the gun was fired.