On 15 March a report from Russia’s Federal News Agency featured an interesting semi-automatic sniper rifle – the MTs-566. The report shows a sniper team from Wagner, Russia’s largest private military contractor, in position in Bakhmut. The date the piece was filmed is unclear but the rifle itself is rarely seen and the footage gives us a decent look at the rifle and even of it firing a couple of rounds.
The MTs-566 is produced by TsKIB SOO, the Central Bureau for Sporting and Hunting Arms at Tula. It’s chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO and uses a short stroke gas piston system. It fulfils a similar role to the US M110 series of rifles or Ukraine’s UAR-10s. The MTs-566 was developed from the OTs-129 designated marksman rifle developed for a Russian military requirement. It has a 60cm or 24in barrel, feeds from 7.62 PMags and has a full length top rail. It also has a pair of folding iron sights and a side folding stock. It has a quad-rail forend and a suppressor which partially shrouds the rifle’s barrel. In the civilian version at least the suppressor is more of an empty expansion chamber without baffles, whether that’s the case with production guns or rifles purchased for military use is unclear. If the expansion chamber can is in use here then it appears to help somewhat. TsKIB SOO list the weight of the rifle as 4.8kg or 10.6lbs and its overall length as 125cm or 49in though other sources do vary slightly. Notably, the weapon’s lower receiver is much shallower with the pistol grip positioned much higher than say on an AR-10, suggesting a different firing mechanism requiring less space than the AR-10’s hammer.
It was displayed for the first time in 2018 and was reportedly aimed at the civilian hunting market and due to be on sale in 2020. My good friend Hrachya got a good look at one at the 2018 Russian Arms & Hunting Expo. He wrote up a detailed article on it for TFB. The rifle has some interesting features including integral folding iron sights rather than rail mounted sights – the Russian military believed that these could be too easily damaged so Tula engineers designed integral sights, the rear sight folds back into the hinge of the stock. There is also rail space attached directly to the rifles receiver, seemingly for the mounting of accessories.
The Russian news report says the sniper team is at work in Bakhmut. The sniper describes his rifle and notes its mounted with a 20x optic. The sniper also says that:“I work at a distance of 700-800, sometimes 1000 [meters],” He also briefly talks about the 7.62x51mm round the MTs-566 uses, noting that: it works well and that it’s a pleasant round to shoot, he also says that while smaller they have good velocity downrange. During the clip the sniper fires two rounds in quick succession while his spotter watches the target downrange. It’s unclear what ammunition they are using but the rifle is said to be capable of 1 MOA accuracy but I couldn’t find any figures from TsKIB SOO. It’s unclear how many MTs-566s might be in use in the field but this report represents the best look at the rifle we’ve had so far.
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How Wagner PMC Snipers Work in Bakhmut, RIAFAN, (source)
TsKIB SOO’s archived website c.2021 (source)
TsKIB SOO MTs-566 Rifle, TFB, (source)
MTs-566, Modern Firearms, (source)
Sniper rifle OTs-129, TopWar, (source)
My thanks top Soviet Army Fan over on twitter for some help with translation.