ZM Tarnów decided to develop a family of semi-automatic sniper rifles, after the non-automatic guns (7.62 mm, 8.6 mm and 12.7 mm) entered production. The company was responding to the requirements of the military. However, the representatives of ZM Tarnów place a great emphasis on the fact that due to the specific nature of this weapon it was required to adopt entirely new design assumptions. Capitalizing on past experiences was possible only to a limited extent. Thus, the design team based its assumptions on the expectations of the prospective users and on the proven and popular design solutions applied in weaponry of this class. The project is financed by ZMT on its own.
SKW rifles in conventional layout were premiered during the last year’s edition of the MSPO event. The R&D project concerning a semi-automatic .338 Lapua Magnum bull-pup design has been lasting from the turn of the decades. Work on a family of rifles, as we know it now, began in the autumn of 2016. As the project went on it was decided that a conventional design would be adopted and that the weapon should be tailored to shoot a variety of rounds.
Semi-automatic sniper rifles may complement the classic non-automatic guns, in situations when higher rate of fire is required. At the same time, rifles as such make it possible to act against the enemy infantry at distances greater than the effective range of the weapons carried by the individual soldiers. SKW rifles have been designed with the military and uniformed services in mind but they will also be available on the civil market.
SKW is a weapon of modular design with good ergonomics. The barrel is easy to be replaced, and the gun also features a folding stock. The rifle is gas-operated. The bolt is locked through rotation. The rifle features a NAR (NATO Accessory Rail) rail on its top, compliant with the NATO STANAG 4694 norm and with a removable forend, featuring a set of Magpul M-LOK mounting holes that make it possible to accessorize the rifle.
Two variants of the SKW rifle have been developed so far. The lighter SKW-308 system shoots the .308 Win. round which is also a standard NATO rifle round. The SKW-338 variant utilizes the .338 Lapua rounds. Furthermore, the design assumptions also mention variants that would be shooting the 5.56x45 mm NATO, 6.5 mm Creedmoor, 7.62x67 mm (.300 Winchester Magnum) or 7.62x54R mm rounds. All of those variants could be potentially developed in the future.
SKW-308 rifle is available with 16 inch or 20 inch barrel. The whole weapon is 995 or 738 mm long (stock extended or folded respectively) in case of the shorter version, while the longer variant is 1100 and 843 mm long analogously. SKW-308 weighs 5.6 kg with the 16-inch barrel and 200 grams more with 20-inch barrel. The rifle may be fed with a 5-round, 10-round or 20-round magazines compliant with the SR25 standard. It may be used to effectively attack targets at a distance of up to 900 metres.
Meanwhile, the heavier SKW-338 rifle weighs around 7.7 kg, and its barrel is 26 inch long (660 mm). It may be used to act against targets at distances of up to 1500 metres. The length of the weapon is 1300 mm with the stock extended and 1045 mm with the stock folded. SKW-338 uses 10-round magazines.
The weapon features a standard AR-15 pistol grip. The buttstock features an adjustable comb and it may be folded or extended with the use of a single button. Thanks to a proper setting of the stock hinge, there is a possibility to fire the weapon with the stock folded. Butt is also adjustable.
The weapon may also be integrated with a wide range of accessories. The accessory kit includes a bipod (with a Picatinny rail adapter), rear support, extra magazines, muzzle device with an ability to mount a suppressor, optical sights and iron sights. The weapon may be carried in a transport case or a specially designed backpack. There is also an anti-mirage shield available to be put on the suppressor.
The SKW family is still under development. Changes made to the mechanics and elements of the weapon are introduced on the basis of the results of test firing and assessment of the design made by the future users, experts and testers. The recent modifications implemented have been introduced to enhance the reliability of the rifle. During the test cycle involving the technology demonstrators, the goal of which was to adjust the gas flow and its impact on the piston, the level of functionality achieved is close to the one expected in case of the prototype batch.
Both SKW guns are currently at the prototype stage, with series manufacturing planned to be launched in mid-2019. Also, the manufacturer began the first talks with the potential customers - domestic and foreign ones.