Death From 1,600 Meters Away? Iran's Snipers Would Like You to Believe It

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Key point: Iran undoubtedly has good snipers and decent weapons. But the claims of super long-range weapons are often just another form of propaganda.
Iran regularly exaggerates its military technology and in some cases displays improper propaganda equipment. The Iranian military industry is also imaginative and produces interesting weapons, which the Islamic Republic then increases to very real conflicts.
As a final example, in April 2017, Iran unveiled the .50 semi-automatic Heidar sniper rifle at the annual Iran Army Day, an event to showcase new hardware. The weird-looking weapon is an anti-material rifle designed primarily to destroy equipment and vehicles. It's not the most impressive entry in this genre. State-owned Iranian news agencies reported that the Heidar had an effective range of 1,600 meters, 200 meters below the U.S. Military's Barrett M82 and French Hecate II. The U.S. Army's Foreign Military Studies Office noted and described the Heidar in its newsletter the weapon as "curious".
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Curious not only because of the range, but also because of the weight. The Heidar is very heavy with more than 38 pounds fully loaded, eight pounds heavier than a Barrett M82. The cumbersome design is not the most practical weapon, but it is of secondary importance whether it is good enough for the paramilitary work supported by Iran, for example.
The Heidar is a hybrid that has a handle and release mechanism copied from the MG 3, a modernized version of the MG-42 in a German design. Iran already produced its own version of the MG 3 before the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The Heidar also has a side-mounted magazine and a recoil-reducing muzzle brake, the latter being pretty much a requirement with such a powerful cartridge.
But the rifle doesn't look very comfortable. See for yourself - Iran has released a video in which a soldier fires the Heidar while clumsily fighting to get a cheek weld on the short shaft, although the weapon appears to have an adjustable attachment at the rear.
The reported .50 caliber designation could be technically incorrect, as it may fire the Russian-style 12.7-millimeter cartridge, which is similar. The 12.7 millimeter round is more accessible to Iran and Iranian weapon users, so this is possible.
Still, don't be surprised if the Heidar soon appears outside of Iran, which has exported anti-material rifles to allies in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. Miles in the Firearm Blog indicated that Iran may have an export focus for the Heidar, as Iran does not use it itself - at least not yet.
(This first appeared in late 2017.)
Picture: Iranian press.
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