Longest recorded sniper kills

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Royal Marine snipers with L115A1 rifles. These rifles are similar to the L115A3 Long Range Rifle used by Craig Harrison but outfitted with Schmidt & Bender 3-12x50 PM II telescopic sights.

Reports regarding the longest recorded sniper kill that contain information regarding the shooting distance and the identity of the sniper have been presented to the general public since 1967. Snipers in modern warfare have had a substantial history following the development of long distance weaponry. As weapons, ammunition, and aids to determine ballistic solutions improved, so too did the distance from which a kill could be targeted.

Although technology such as electronics has improved optical equipment such as rangefinders and ballistic calculators have eliminated manual mathematical calculations to determine elevation and windage, the fundamentals of accurate and precise long-range shooting are the same as throughout the history of shooting, and the skill and training of the shooter and his spotter where applicable are the primary factors. Accuracy and precision of ammunition and firearms are also still reliant primarily on human factors and attention to detail in the complex process of producing maximum performance.

The modern method of long-distance sniping (shots over 1.1 kilometres or 0.7 miles) requires intense training and practice. A sniper must have the ability to accurately estimate the various factors that influence a bullet's trajectory and point of impact, such as range to the target, wind direction, wind velocity, air density, elevation, and even the Coriolis effect due to the rotation of the Earth. Mistakes in estimation compound over distance and can cause a shot to only injure, or to miss completely.[1] Any given combination of firearm and ammunition will have an associated value, known as the circular error probable (CEP), defined as the radius of a circle whose boundary is expected to contain the impact points of half of the rounds fired.[2]

If the shooter wishes to improve accuracy and precision, wishes to increase range or wishes to do all of these things, the accuracy of "estimates" of external factors must improve accordingly. At extreme ranges, extremely accurate "estimates" are required and even with the most accurate estimates, hitting the target becomes subject to uncontrollable factors. For example, a rifle capable of firing a 1/2 MOA (approximately 1/2" center to center of the two holes furthest apart) 5-round group (often referred to using the verb "grouping") at 100 yards will fire a theoretical 12.5 group at 2700 yards. Unless the group is centered perfectly on the target at 100 yards, the 2500- yard group will be centered 25 times the off-center error at 100 yards. This example ignores all other factors and assumes "perfect" no-wind shooting conditions and identical muzzle velocities and ballistic performance for each shot.

USMC Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock's confirmed 2500-yard kill in Vietnam was primarily due to the enemy soldier stopping his bicycle on the spot Hathcock had fired at while sighting in his Browning M2 heavy machine-gun.

Devices such as laser rangefinders, handheld meteorological measuring equipment, handheld computers, and ballistic-prediction software can contribute to increased accuracy (i.e. reduced CEP), although they rely on proper use and training to realize any advantages. In addition, as instruments of measure, they are subject to accuracy errors and malfunction. Handheld meteorological instruments only measure conditions at the location they are used. Wind direction and speed can and do vary dramatically along the path of the bullet.

History[edit]

The science of long-range sniping came to fruition in the Vietnam War. Carlos Hathcock held the record from 1967 to 2002 at 2,286 m (2,500 yd).[3] He recorded 93 official kills before an injury halted his service on the front lines.[4] After returning to the U.S., Hathcock helped to establish a school for training Marine snipers, the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School, at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.[5]

In addition to his success and performance as a USMC Scout-Sniper during multiple deployments to Vietnam, Gunnery Sergeant Hathcock competed as a member of multiple USMC shooting teams. Gunnery Sergeant Hathcock also won the 1966 Wimbledon Cup, which is earned by the winner of the U.S. 1000-yard high-powered rifle National Championship. The competition is held annually at the Camp Perry Matches and the finest civilian and military marksmen in the world compete. Even after being severely burned during an attack on an amtrac on which he was riding and his efforts to rescue other soldiers, and after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Hathcock continued to serve, shoot and instruct.

During his Vietnam service, Hathcock also completed missions involving a "through the scope" shot which killed an enemy sniper specifically hunting him, and performed a multiple-day solo stalk and kill of an enemy general officer in his compound.

Hathcock's record stood for over thirty years until Canadian Master Corporal Arron Perry of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry beat it with a shot of 2,310 metres. Perry held the title for only a few days as another man in his unit (Corporal Rob Furlong) beat Perry's distance with a 2,430 m (2,657 yd) shot in March 2002. Perry and Furlong were part of a six-man sniper team during 2002's Operation Anaconda, during the War in Afghanistan.

The current record is held by a British soldier Corporal of Horse (CoH) Craig Harrison, of the Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry, who recorded a 2,475 m (2,707 yd) shot (confirmed by GPS) in November 2009, also during the War in Afghanistan, in which he hit two Taliban insurgents consecutively.[6] CoH Harrison killed the two Taliban machine gunners with shots that took the 8.59 mm rounds almost five seconds to hit their targets, which were 914 metres (1,000 yd) beyond the L115A3 sniper rifle’s recommended range. A third shot took out the insurgents' machine gun. The rifle used was made by Accuracy International.

Confirmed kills 1,250 m (1,367 yd) or greater[edit]

This list is not exhaustive, as such data is generally not tracked nor managed under any official procedure. For example, the Canadian Army 2002 sniper team that saw two soldiers (Arron Perry/2,310 m and Rob Furlong/2,430 m) set consecutive new records, also made a number of kills at 1,500 m that are not counted here.[7] The list also shows that, in some cases, an armed force command may choose to withhold the name of the actual sniper for security reasons. The United Nations Security Forces, such as in the Balkans, also had one American sniper (name withheld) attributed with a 1271-metre shot.

While not on the list due to the range being less than the minimum distance used to compile it, USMC Gunnery Sergeant's second-longest confirmed kill was 1200 yards (1097 m) using a "standard" USMC sniper rifle chambered in .30-06 Springfield. At the time of Hathcock's service, snipers had essentially been eliminated from the USMC and its sniper rifles were a hodgepodge mix of commercial Remington 700 and Winchester Model 70 rifles chambered for multiple cartridges. The major challenges and efforts of Hathcock and other scout-snipers was improving the performance and reliability of their rifles and ammunition.

Sniper Date Distance Weapon Ammunition Nationality Military Unit Conflict References
Corporal of Horse (CoH) Craig Harrison November 2009 2,475 m (2,707 yd) Accuracy International L115A3 .338 Lapua Magnum LockBase B408 bullets  United Kingdom Household Cavalry War in Afghanistan [6][8][9][10]
Furlong, RobCorporal Rob Furlong March 2002 2,430 m (2,657 yd) McMillan Tac-50 Hornady A-MAX .50 (.50 BMG)  Canada 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry War in Afghanistan [7]
Master Corporal Arron Perry March 2002 2,310 m (2,526 yd) McMillan Tac-50 Hornady A-MAX .50 (.50 BMG)  Canada 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry War in Afghanistan [7]
Sgt. Brian Kremer October 2004 2,300 m (2,515 yd) Barrett M82A1 Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 BMG)  United States 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, United States Army Iraq War [11]
Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock [A 1] February 1967 2,286 m (2,500 yd) M2 Browning machine gun .50 BMG  United States 1st Marine Division, United States Marine Corps Vietnam War [3]
South African Special Forces sniper (Name withheld) [A 2] August 2013 2,125 m (2,324 yd) Denel NTW-14.5 14.5×114mm  South Africa South African Special Forces Brigade [A 3] United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [12][13][14][15]
Ranstad , NicholasNicholas Ranstad January 2008 2,092 m (2,288 yd) Barrett M82A1 .50 BMG  United States 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, United States Army War in Afghanistan [16]
Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle [A 4] August 2008 1,920 m (2,100 yd) McMillan Tac-338 .338 Lapua Magnum  United States US Navy SEAL - Team 3, Charlie Iraq War – Sadr City [17][18][19]
Corporal Christopher Reynolds August 2009 1,853 m (2,026 yd) Accuracy International L115A3 .338 Lapua Magnum LockBase B408 bullets  United Kingdom 3 Scots – The Black Watch War in Afghanistan [20]
Staff Sgt. Steve Reichert April 2004 1,614 m (1,765 yd) Barrett M82A3 Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 Cal)  United States 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps Iraq War- Latifiya [21]
Billy Dixon June 1874 1,406 m (1,538 yd) Sharps .50-90 .50-90 Sharps  United States Civilian Buffalo Hunter American Indian Wars [22]
Norwegian sniper (Name withheld) [A 5] November 2007 1,380 m (1,509 yd) Barrett M82A1 Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 Cal)  Norway Norwegian Army 2nd Battalion War in Afghanistan [23]
Sergeant Vladimir Ilyin 1985 1,350 m (1,476 yd) Dragunov SVD 7.62×54mmR 7N1  Soviet Union 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment (Soviet Union), Soviet Army Soviet War in Afghanistan [24]
Sgt. First Class Brandon McGuire April 2007 1,310 m (1,433 yd) M107 (M82A1) Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 Cal)  United States 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, United States Army Iraq War [25]
Confederate sniper (Name unknown) December 5, 1864 1,271 m (1,390 yd) Whitworth Rifle .451 caliber hexagonal bullet  Confederate States South Carolina Troops American Civil War - Fort Sumter to Morris Island, South Carolina [26]
Staff Sergeant Jim Gilliland [A 6] September 27, 2005 1,250 m (1,367 yd) M24 rifle 7.62×51mm NATO  United States 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, United States Army Iraq War – Ramadi [27]
Carlos Hathcock in 1996
Notes
  1. ^ During the Vietnam War Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills of North Vietnamese Army and Viet-Cong personnel. During the Vietnam War, kills had to be confirmed by an acting third party, who had to be an officer, besides the sniper's spotter. Hathcock himself estimated that he had killed 300 or more enemy personnel during his time in Vietnam.
  2. ^ Longest confirmed kill using 14.5×114 mm ammunition
  3. ^ Serving as part of the UN Force Intervention Brigade
  4. ^ Christopher Scott "Chris" Kyle (April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013) was a United States Navy SEAL who claimed to be the most lethal sniper in American military history with 160 "confirmed" kills out of 255 claimed kills. This figure has been corroborated by the Department of Defense, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command.
  5. ^ Longest confirmed kill using 12.7 mm multi-purpose ammunition
  6. ^ Longest confirmed kill with a 7.62×51mm NATO chambered rifle

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Plaster 1993
  2. ^ Circular Error Probable (CEP), Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Technical Paper 6, Ver 2, July 1987, p. 1
  3. ^ a b Henderson 2003, p. 181
  4. ^ Gaijinass (May 6, 2010). "The way of the Gun: USMC S/S". Gaijinass.com. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  5. ^ Henderson 2003, p. 283
  6. ^ a b Smith 2010
  7. ^ a b c Friscolanti, Michael (May 15, 2006). "We were abandoned". Maclean's. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  8. ^ Chandler 2010
  9. ^ Alpert 2010
  10. ^ Drury 2010
  11. ^ Sheridan, Michael (May 3, 2010). "British sniper Craig Harrison (The Silent Assassin) breaks record, kills target from 1.5 miles away". Daily News. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  12. ^ Gibson 2013
  13. ^ Helfrich 2013
  14. ^ Hofstatter, Stephan; Oatway, James (22 August 2014). "South Africa at war in the DRC - The inside story". Times Live. Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  15. ^ Murphy, Jack (26 August 2014). "South African Special Forces Sniper Takes Out Congo Rebels (2125m shot!)". SOFRep.com. SOFREP. Retrieved 23 September 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ Goldstein, Joseph (2010-05-30). "How to shoot someone from a mile away". NYPOST.com. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  17. ^ Buiso, Gray (January 1, 2012). "Meet the big shot - SEAL is America's deadliest sniper". New York Post. Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  18. ^ Zennie, Michael (2 January 2012). "255 confirmed kills: Meet Navy SEAL Chris Kyle... the deadliest sniper in US history". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  19. ^ Sanchez, Raf (2 January 2012). "'The Devil of Rahmadi' named America's deadliest sniper". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  20. ^ Jennings 2011
  21. ^ D'Alessio 2005
  22. ^ Souter 2012, p. 40
  23. ^ Johnsen 2008
  24. ^ Sohail 2015
  25. ^ Cannon 2010
  26. ^ Charleston Courier 1864
  27. ^ Harnden 2006
  28. ^ Brownlie 2003, p. 63
  29. ^ Westwood 2005, p. 212
  30. ^ "Герой Советского Союза Зайцев Василий Григорьевич :: Герои страны". Warheroes.ru. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  31. ^ Fredriksen 2010, p. 306

Bibliography[edit]