The VSS is a Russian abbreviation of Vintovka Snayperskaya Spetsialnaya translated as Special Sniper Rifle, also called the Vintorez meaning "thread cutter" in English. The VSS is a gas-operated select-fire suppressed sniper rifle designed for special operations. The rifle was developed in the late 1980s in USSR by TochMash and manufactured by the Tula Arsenal. The long stroke gas piston is located above the barrel. The rotating bolt has 6 lugs and locks into the receiver, which is machined from solid steel for greater strength. The trigger unit differs significantly from AK-47 type firearms, being striker-fired. The safety switch and charging handle are AK-style, but the fire selector is a cross-bolt button, located inside the trigger guard, behind the trigger.
The barrel at the front has a set of tiny holes, drilled in the rifling grooves, which lead into the integral silencer. The silencer is the integral part of the weapon, and while it could be easily removed for storage or maintenance, the VSS should not be fired wit silencer removed. The rifle is fed by a heavy subsonic 9×39mm SP5 cartridge and armor-piercing SP6 cartridge. Feeding is achieved from 10 or 20 round box polymer magazines. Standard sighting equipment consists of side rail on the receiver, which usually accommodates the 4 X PSO-1 scopes, graduated for 9x39 ammo. Any other scope or night vision sight can be mounted on appropriate mount. Backup iron sights consist of tangent rear and blade front. Rear sight is graduated up to 400 meters.
The wooden, skeletonized butt stock can be removed for compact storage and transportation. The stock is a more rounded version of that provided on the SVD rifle; it has a rubber shoulder pad and can be removed when the rifle is dismantled for compact storage.
VSS is in use since late 1980s, but began widely used in the first Chechen war against only. VSS is quite popular among its users for its stealthy capabilities and great lethality of heavy 9mm bullets. The effective range of VSS is limited to 300-400 meters.
Since the first Chechen war "Vintorez" regularly used by Russian Special Forces in all armed conflicts. It is officially in service in Russia and Belarus only. During the Second Chechen War sniper of a Russian special forces, took up a position in the crown of thick wood. Having noticed a group of militants, he waited until they all come out in the open space and opened fire at a range of effective fire and destroyed the whole group before they figured out where the fire is delivered from.
These rifles were noticed in Donbas in the numerous cases highly likely to be used by regular units of Russian army. In favor of regular units plays the fact that this rifle cannot be found within simple "militia" due to high price (10 thousand dollars against 1-2 thousand for standard SVD) as well as rare caliber (9mm), muffler and short-range shooting (up to 400 meters).