The Val was designed in the early 1980s by TsNII TochMash (Central Institute for Precision Machine Building) and is considered a generally inept weapon for conventional combat due to its limited range. However, regular combat was not its purpose; it was built to suit certain needs of Russian special forces (to which it was issued) by providing soldiers with a silenced, sub-sonic automatic weapon that was capable of piercing military-grade body armor. The weapon uses 9×39mm ammunition. It is a more assault-oriented variant of the Vintar BC sniper rifle though much more common as some Duty members use it.
This weapon is the personal weapon of Colonel Skull, and a few Monolith experts who will attack the barrier in the Military warehouses. It is also sometimes used by Spetsnaz units. The VLA Special Assault Rifle is sold by the Barkeep on rare occasions, as well as Petrenko once the player achieves a good status with Duty. It cannot mount a scope though a custom one called Sniper VLA can mount a PSO-1 scope. Oddly, the weapon exhibits absurdly high recoil when firing full-automatic (about twice as much as other assault rifles), so it is not recommended for use at medium-long range fire.
The SA Avalanche is not present in earlier stages of the game though Tooth might occasionally have it in his inventory when you are still neutral to the Bandits (must be that you haven't killed a single Bandit yet) with the price of 21,000 rubles, he will usually have one in his inventory once you've completed the job of bringing Sidorovich's important case back to him or you will kill bandit equipped with this weapon (however, it's very rare to find one). But once you reach the Red Forest it becomes more common. The SA Avalanche is the standard issue rifle to heavily equipped Renegades in the tunnel deep in the Red Forest and the guards stationed in the bridge to Limansk. It is also found on experienced Bandits fighting in Limansk and the standard weapon of veteran Monolith troops. It's recoil is quite heavy when shooting in full-auto. This may be caused by it's bolt mechanism which is similar to the AK-74.
It is probably the best Russian weapon available in game due to it's amazing accuracy, good rate of fire, really strong bullets and low weight (the same as Viper 5), making it very valuable in Limansk when facing with many Monolith members. The only drawback is heavy ammunition, but in Clear Sky it's not that big problem.
The weapon of choice of Duty experts and the majority of Monolith's Veterans and Experts, the AS VAL is most common in Call of Pripyat's later stages — if the player doesn't side with Duty in Yanov the first chance to grab a VAL will likely be in the Monolith ambush in Pripyat Underground, or in combat with the Preacher, however one could be found at a fairly early stage in the game in a stash in Kopachi village or from generic Duty members.
The weapon is versatile with three tiers of upgrades, which allow it to more or less negate the 9x39mm's drop off, while bringing the rate of fire substantially higher. A fully upgraded SA is quite possibly the best stealth weapon available, with its: favorable rate of fire, low recoil, high accuracy, damage, and penetration, is silenced without the 20% stat penalty, and the ability to mount a scope, allowing you to quickly take down enemies at close to medium range. The light weight and excellent handling seals the deal.
The one drawback, however, is that the weapon's durability can degrade rather quickly if used recklessly, simply due to its rate of fire. Thus, while it can do quite well in assault roles, it will quickly be worn out after a firefight or two and jam rather frequently, opting one to instead exploit it's accuracy and use it as a marksman weapon.
Also, 9x39 ammo is much heavier than 5.45 and 5.56 ammo (60 9x39 bullets weighs 1.4 kg, while 60 either 5.45 or 5.56 bullets weighs about 0.25 kg).
If a player acquires a rare Targetting x5 PSS-2X , it can fill in the same role as its sniper rifle cousin with a higher rate of fire and magazine capacity, albeit with a lower zoom.