After World War 2 and the introduction of the Kalashnikov Russia needed a new sniper rifle. Many designers started to work on different designs. The Kalashnikov based design of Evgeniy Dragunov was selected.
The new rifle was not designed as sniper rifle, but as an accurate rifle for ranges up to 400 metres. Such a rifle was needed while the Russian service rifle, the AK-47, has an effective range of only 100-200 metres.
The new rifle was called SVD, which at first stood for ‘Semipolarnya Vintovka Dragunova’, Russian for ‘Dragunov semi-automatic rifle’, but when it was discovered that the SVD could also be used as a sniper rifle the name ‘Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova’, Russian for ‘Dragunov sniper rifle’ was adopted.
The SVD is better known as ‘the Dragunov’.