Two men sit in an opened-top vehicle, scanning the desolate terrain before them. The driver's hands grip the steering wheel. The passenger, a kid in desert camouflage lips a smoke, loosely holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle in the crook of his left arm as he rests his dusty boot on the dash of the jeep.

They laugh, chatting about the weekend and the fun they expect they'll have in town.

From a distant ridge line, a camo-shrouded rifle barrel burps a silent wisp of smoke.

And a 7.62 round speeds to the target - three quarters of a mile away.

The smoker is smacked in the back of the head with a thump, and slumps forward making gurgling noises. Before the driver can react, he joins his comrade in Valhalla. Two men down.

Just another day at work for the sniper.

Don't ask me why, but some stealth weapons just have 'it,' call it sex appeal or eye appeal. Perhaps it's the mystique of the weapon, the rep some guns have - that precede them into battle.

Whatever 'it' is, and the definition of 'it' is not to be confused with a past president's CYA remarks regarding the word, and a romp in the Oval Office, the Dragunov certainly has spades.

The Russian SVD (Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova) is a semi-automatic, gas-operated rifle chambered for Russian 7.62x54mm Rimmed ammunition. This gun was expertly designed by Comrade Evgeny Dragunov and manufactured in Izhmash, home of the Kalashnikov. It has also been borrowed by Comrade Mao and produced in Red China (Norinco). The SVD has seen service in Soviet and Soviet-friendly units, specifically rifle squads, since 1963. With a scope, unloaded, the Dragunov weighs slightly less than 9 1/2-pounds. It measures 48 inches and change with the stock extended.

The Dragunov has a removable, 10-round box magazine and a muzzle velocity of some 2700 feet per second. Its effective range is a cool half mile (2600 feet), but in the right hands, it has a maximum range of 8/10 of a mile or better - up to 3/4 of a mile. That ain't nothing to sneeze at.

It may not be as snazzy - or as accurate - as some of today's fine sniper rifles, but in its day and for most guns, the SVD was seriously BAD. The Dragunov - every rifle squad member's best friend.