Under the title «special purpose weapon» one should understand that it means the weapons developed for the needs of special purpose troops, counterterrorist formations and special agencies. Naturally, the very fact of availability of any version adopted by «spetsnaz» does not make it the special purpose weapon. There are special fire tasks or other missions that cannot be performed through common means or they present specific difficulties.
Keeping the above said in mind, the special purpose weapon may be defined as follows:
1. Weapons of hidden or secret use. Here, above all, is permissible to name the weapon with decreased level of the fire crack or noise, which is usually called «silent» or «weapon of noiseless and flashless fire». Such weapon, in principle, execute the typical or standard fire tasks, but in doing so, it displays special quality (silent) that allows to execute tasks under special conditions. The «silent» weapon is the most mass produced and is in various kinds in the inventory of special purpose weapons. The «hidden or secret use» weapon may be referred to so called «weapon of indirect aiming», and to be more precise the weapon intended to fire from behind the cover when the user delivers aimed fire being in the cover or any shelter. We don't speak now about the remotely controlled weapons mounted on tanks, armored vehicles or aboard any aircraft. We speak here about the «portable» weapon and the peculiar feature of the very task and about the way of its execution that allows us to refer it to special purpose weapon. Naturally, even the execution of typical tasks and the use of similar weapon will be for the enemy hidden or secret, if only because the shooter is hidden behind the line of sight and it is extremely difficult to detect the curved barrel and the muzzle of this weapon;
2. The sniper rifles featuring extremely high accuracy of fire. Unlike the Army (universal) sniper rifles the specially made sniper rifles are intended to annihilate the enemy at great ranges (up to 1500 m) or nearer but the target will be defeated for sure from the first shot. The specially selected ammunition and the powerful sight are also noted for the high precision (not infrequently custom made). As a rule, such rifles require from the shooter high skill and proficiency since the requirements of high accuracy and a low dispersion shot pattern demand decrease of the pulling force on the trigger and make a number of other «novelties»;
3. The large calibre rifled weapon. The large caliber long barrelled rifles adopted for service in some armies over the past two decades until now ensue the controversy over their classification. One sources consider them to be the sniper class weapon, while the other sources segregate them into a special class. It would have been more reasonable to classify them according to the fire tasks they perform.
These fire tasks aimed at the destruction of fire and transpiration means, military hardware (including lightly armoured ones), infrastructure facilities at long and short ranges of fire (600 - 1600 m). The
second priority of tasks were assigned to snipers to annihilate manpower at great ranges. The advent
in recent years the large caliber weapon featuring shortened barrels (called in some places by «carbines») are definitely not intended for sniper tasks and developed to execute similar fire task, name
ly, to defeat lightly protected materiel and manpower in individual armoured protection means;
4. The armament of combat swimmers or «frogmen». We mean here the weapon intended for fight ing «above» the water and it is only taken under the water. We speak about the weapon intended for underwater firing. Keeping in mind the peculiar environment of the weapon use special approach must be made in regard to development of the weapon and ammunition. We advertently avoided the term «underwater weapon» in order to segregate versions of special purpose weapon from rifles for underwater hunting.
5. The weapons of hidden assembly. In other words these weapons are called «camouflaged», that's to say, they imitate other familiar objects intended for assembly inside such objects. To camouflage the blade, spring operated weapon, small arms weapon or pneumatic catapulting device camouflaged under disguise of innocent object to which we are accustomed in our everyday life (piece of clothes, accessories, a hand package, tools and instruments and the like) all this means to ensure a surprise effect. The «camouflaged» weapons may be referred to versions intended for hidden carry and surprised use, including collapsible submachine guns or «attaches case machine guns». Some versions of «combined» weapon may be referred to the «camouflaged» devices. The most peculiar case is the camouflaged combat firing knife with the incorporated firing device in it;
6. The portable fire support weapons, including special grenade launchers (jet powered, recoilless, active) and mortars. These are light weight and small size versions intended for use by special purpose subunits, «silent» grenade launchers, and mortars, as well as antisubversion devices;
7. The «assault» portable weapon intended to produce high fire density and ensure high killing effect in close quarters combat. This weapon occupies intermediate position between linear weapon and special purpose weapon.
Below will be presented separate versions and systems of infantry weapons of special purpose
adopted for service in the Russian armed forces.
The special purpose weapons are user oriented and, consequently, intended for specific level of professional skill. The weapon is extremely varied in terms of defeating types and ways of its use.
The weapon of special purpose is «silent» and may be developed on the basis of available versions of combat of civilian and sport weapons with organic ammunition. The newly developed complexes «cartridge weapon» enable to put in line all its parameters with its tasks. Among other things, the requirements of unification are not taken here into account and, as a result, rises the price of the weapon, but relatively small scope of production and importance of settled tasks will compensate the expense.