Finish army launches development on new K22 sniper rifle family

On 25th May, the Finnish Defense Forces and Sako Oy signed a letter of intent, on the basis of which the development of a new rifle product family for the Finnish Defense Forces will begin, Leevi Larkovuo reports.
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7.62 TKIV 85 sniper rifle of the Finnish army to be replaced by a new rifle family designated K22 (Picture source: TheTruthAboutGuns)

The Defense Forces Logistics Department, together with Sako Oy, entered into a letter of intent for the product development of domestic rifles. The aim of the cooperation is to develop a new rifle product family for the Defense Forces to improve the current performance. In accordance with the letter of intent, the Defense Forces issued precise performance requirements for what the new rifle product family should look like. The K22 rifle system under preparation for snipers includes two weapon configurations: a semi-automatic sniper rifle and a goup support rifle.

“There is a great possibility that the entire production of the weapon could be carried out domestically. In addition to the positive employment effects, the project would improve the national security of supply, which would preserve the know-how and technology of the critical defense material and the manufacturing and repair capability of the weapons system in Finland” explains the infantry inspector, Colonel Rainer Peltoniemi. “The goal is to create a new weapon that will replace most of the old 7.62mm 85 sniper rifles currently in service, and all the 7.62mm AK-57 Dragunov “, Peltoniemi says. For snipers, the gun will have more versatile equipment as well as optics that will allow longer firing distances. Otherwise, the same weapon will also be used by the group's supporters, Peltoniemi explains.

“ Our demand is that the new weapon must be able to penetrate lightly armored vehicles as well as the most modern protective equipment. The caliber of the weapon is 7.62x51mm NATO, which enables a very diverse range of ammunition and offers further development potential for the future, Peltoniemi opens.

According to Peltoniemi, the project is to be implemented on a fairly fast schedule: “The clear goal is for the rifle product family to be ready for delivery in 2022. Quite a straightforward and efficient schedule that includes product development work, field trials and testing. So a busy and busy period is about to start”, Peltoniemi concludes. Although at the moment this is exclusively a Finnish project, it is possible to involve other participants in the development work of the rifle product family.

The 7.62 TKIV 85 sniper rifle of the Finnish army

The 7.62 TKIV 85, short for 7.62 Tarkkuuskivääri 85 (7.62 sniper rifle 85) is a bolt-action designated marksman/sniper rifle used by the Finnish Defence Forces. It is based on the Mosin–Nagant rifle, using the same (in some cases antique) receivers. The Finnish Army has produced such rifles since the nation was founded.

The Mosin–Nagant bolt-action rifles were modified in 1984 by Valmet who also manufactured new barrels for these rifles. The rifles were assembled in 1984–1985 by Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) Asevarikko 1 ("Arsenal 1") in Kuopio, Finland. Though the 7.62 TKIV 85 sniper rifle has been modified extensively compared to the standard Mosin–Nagant rifle, the use of the old receivers in these rifles makes them arguably the oldest small arms in current use by any military. Some of the parts used may date back as far as the 1890s.

Another exclusive feature of the 7.62 TKIV 85 is its 7.62×53mmR chambering. No other currently used military firearm is chambered for this unique Finnish cartridge. The PKM machine guns and other Russian firearms in Finnish service are chambered for the 7.62×54mmR cartridge. The standard operating procedure calls for the use of 7.62×54mmR cartridges in 7.62 TKIV 85 rifles only in emergency situations when 7.62×53mmR ammunition is not available. The reason for this is the bullet diameter difference of 7.85 mm (0.309 in) in the 7.62×53mmR versus 7.92 mm (0.312 in) in the 7.62×54mmR. Some 7.62×53mmR rounds were also loaded with an intermediate 7.88 mm (0.310 in) diameter bullet.