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 kills that contain information regarding the shooting distance and the identity of the sniper have been presented to the general public since 1967.[citation needed] Snipers 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. In mid-2017 it was reported that an unnamed Canadian special forces operator, based in Iraq, had set a new record of 3,540 m (3,871 yd), beating the record previously held by an Australian sniper (also unnamed) at 2,815 m (3,079 yd).[5]

Sniper technology[edit]

Although optical equipment such as rangefinders and ballistic calculators have largely eliminated manual calculations to determine elevation and windage, the fundamentals of accurate and precise long-range shooting remain essentially the same since the early history of shooting, and the skill and training of the shooter, and the shooter's 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.[original research?]

The modern method of long-distance sniping (shots over 1,100 m or 0.7 mi) 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 the shooter's distance from the target, wind direction, wind speed, air density, elevation, and even the Coriolis effect. Mistakes in estimation compound over distance and can cause a shot to only injure, or to miss completely.[6] 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.[7]

If the shooter wishes to improve accuracy, increase range, or both, the accuracy of estimates of external factors must improve accordingly. At extreme ranges, highly 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 ½ or 0.5 MOA (approximately 0.5 inch center to center of the two holes furthest apart) 5-round group (often referred to as "grouping") at 100 yards will theoretically fire a 12.5 inch group at 2,500 yards (0.5 × 2,500/100 = 12.5). Unless the group is centered perfectly on the target at 100 yards, the 2,500-yard group will be centered 25 times the off-center error at 100 yards. This example ignores all other factors and assumes no-wind shooting conditions, identical muzzle velocities, and identical ballistic performance for each shot.

Carlos Hathcock in 1996
Carlos Hathcock in 1996

USMC Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock's confirmed 2,286 m (2,500 yd) kill in the Vietnam War 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 vary dramatically along the path of the bullet.

History[edit]

The science of long-range sniping came to fruition in the Vietnam War. US Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock held the record from 1967 to 2002 at 2,286 m (2,500 yd).[8] He recorded 93 official kills.[9] After returning to the US, Hathcock helped to establish the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School at Quantico, Virginia.[10]

In addition to his success as a USMC scout-sniper during multiple deployments to Vietnam, Hathcock competed in multiple USMC shooting teams. Hathcock also won the 1966 Wimbledon Cup, which is earned by the winner of the US 1,000-yard high-powered rifle National Championship. Even after being severely burned during an attack on an Amtrac on which he was riding in his efforts to rescue other soldiers, and after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Hathcock continued to serve, shoot and instruct. In Vietnam, Hathcock also completed missions involving a "through the scope" shot which killed an enemy sniper specifically hunting him, and a multiple-day solo stalk and kill of an enemy general.[16]

Hathcock's record stood until Canadian sniper Arron Perry of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry exceeded it with a shot of 2,310 m (2,530 yd). 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, part of the War in Afghanistan.[4]

Corporal Furlong's record was bested by a British soldier, Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison, of the Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry, who recorded two consecutive 2,475 m (2,707 yd) shots (confirmed by GPS) in November 2009, also during the War in Afghanistan, in which he hit two Taliban insurgents consecutively.[17] Harrison killed the two Taliban machine gunners with shots that took the 8.59 mm (0.338 inch) rounds almost five seconds to hit their targets, which were 900 m (980 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.[18]

In June 2017, an unnamed sniper from Canada's Tier 1 special forces unit, Joint Task Force 2, surpassed the 2009 record by over 1,000 m (1,100 yd), with a 3,540 m (3,871 yd) shot in the Iraqi Civil War. As with the previous two Canadian records, a McMillan Tac-50 with .50 BMG ammunition was used.[1][2][3]

Confirmed kills 1,250 m (1,370 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 (1,600 yd) that are not counted here.[19] The list also shows that, in some cases, an armed force command may choose to withhold the name of the sniper for security reasons.

Rank Sniper Date Distance Weapon Ammunition Nationality Military unit Conflict References
1 JTF-2 sniper
(name withheld)
May 2017 3,540 m (3,871 yd) McMillan Tac-50 .50 BMG API(I)  Canada Joint Task Force 2, CANSOFCOM, Canadian Armed Forces Iraqi Civil War [1][2][3][4]
2 2 Cdo Rgmt sniper
(name withheld)
April 2012 2,815 m (3,079 yd) Barrett M82A1 12.7mm MP NM140F2 Grade A (.50 BMG)  Australia 2nd Commando Regiment, SOCOMD, Australian Defence Force War in Afghanistan [20]
3 Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison November 2009 2,475 m (2,707 yd) Accuracy International L115A3 .338 Lapua Magnum LockBase B408 bullets  United Kingdom Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry, British Army War in Afghanistan [17][21][22][23]
4 Corporal Rob Furlong March 2002 2,430 m (2,657 yd) McMillan Tac-50 .50 BMG  Canada 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Canadian Armed Forces War in Afghanistan [19][4]
5 Master Corporal Arron Perry March 2002 2,310 m (2,526 yd) McMillan Tac-50 .50 BMG  Canada 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Canadian Armed Forces War in Afghanistan [19][4]
6 Sergeant Brian Kremer October 2004 2,300 m (2,515 yd) Barrett M82A1 Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 BMG)  United States 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, United States Army Iraq War [24]
7 Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock February 1967 2,286 m (2,500 yd) M2 Browning machine gun .50 BMG[A 1]  United States 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, United States Marine Corps Vietnam War [8]
8 Special Forces operator sniper
(name withheld)
August 2013 2,125 m (2,324 yd) Denel NTW-14.5 14.5×114mm[A 2]  South Africa South African Special Forces Brigade, Joint Operations Division, SANDF[A 3] United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [25][26][27][28]
9 Specialist Nicholas 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 [29]
10 Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle August 2008 1,920 m (2,100 yd) McMillan Tac-338 .338 Lapua Magnum  United States SEAL Team 3, US Naval Special Warfare Command, United States Navy Iraq War [30][31]
11 Corporal Christopher Reynolds August 2009 1,853 m (2,026 yd) Accuracy International L115A3 .338 Lapua Magnum LockBase B408 bullets  United Kingdom The Black Watch (3 SCOT), Royal Regiment of Scotland, British Army War in Afghanistan [32]
12 Saudi Army sniper
(name withheld)
January 2016 1,700 m (1,859 yd) PGW Defence Technology LRT-3 .50 BMG  Saudi Arabia Royal Saudi Land Forces, Armed Forces of Saudi Arabia Yemeni Civil War [33]
13 Staff Sergeant Steve Reichert April 2002 1,614 m (1,765 yd) Barrett M82A3 Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 BMG)  United States 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps Iraq War [34]
14 Billy Dixon June 1874 1,406 m (1,538 yd) Sharps .50–90 .50-90 Sharps  United States Civilian, buffalo hunter American Indian Wars [35]
15 Norwegian Army sniper
(name withheld)
November 2007 1,380 m (1,509 yd) Barrett M82A1 Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 BMG)  Norway 2nd Battalion, Norwegian Army War in Afghanistan [36]
16 Sergeant Vladimir Ilyin 1985 1,350 m (1,476 yd) Dragunov SVD 7.62×54mmR 7N1  Soviet Union 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment, Soviet Army Soviet–Afghan War [37]
17 Sergeant First Class Brandon McGuire April 2007 1,310 m (1,433 yd) M107 (M82A1) Raufoss NM140 MP (.50 BMG)  United States 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, United States Army Iraq War [38]
18 Sergeant Major Herbert Sleigh February 1918 1,280 m (1,400 yd) M1903 Springfield .30-06 (7.62×63mm)  United States American Expeditionary Forces, United States Army World War I [39]
19 Confederate Army sniper
(name unknown)
December 1864 1,271 m (1,390 yd) Whitworth Rifle .451 caliber hexagonal bullet[A 4]  United States[A 5] South Carolina Troops, Confederate States Army American Civil War [41]
20 Staff Sergeant Jim Gilliland September 2005 1,250 m (1,367 yd) M24 rifle 7.62×51mm NATO[A 6]  United States 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, United States Army Iraq War [42]
Notes
  1. ^ Longest confirmed kill using non-match grade ammunition
  2. ^ Longest confirmed kill using 14.5×114 mm ammunition
  3. ^ Serving as part of the UN Force Intervention Brigade
  4. ^ Longest confirmed kill using a muzzle loading firearm
  5. ^ Unnamed sniper was fighting for the Confederate States of America, an unrecognized breakaway state.[40]
  6. ^ Longest confirmed kill with a 7.62×51mm NATO chambered rifle

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Fife 2017
  2. ^ a b c Murphy 2017
  3. ^ a b c Bunch 2017
  4. ^ a b c d e Kalvapallé, Rahul (June 24, 2017). "Small but mighty: How Canada's military produces some of the world's best snipers". Global News. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  5. ^ [1][2][3][4]
  6. ^ Plaster 1993
  7. ^ "Circular Error Probable (CEP)," Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Technical Paper 6, Ver 2, July 1987, p. 1
  8. ^ a b Henderson 2003, p. 181
  9. ^ Gaijinass (May 6, 2010). "The way of the Gun: USMC S/S". Gaijinass.com. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  10. ^ Henderson 2003, p. 283
  11. ^ Dougherty, Martin J (2012). Sniper: SAS and Elite Forces Guide: Sniping skills from the world's elite forces. Amber Books Ltd. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-909160-38-5. Upon reaching the target area he discovered that his shot had gone through the scope of the sniper's rifle
  12. ^ Sasser, Charles W.; Roberts, Craig (July 1, 2004). Crosshairs on the Kill Zone: American Combat Snipers, Vietnam through Operation Iraqi Freedom. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 76. ISBN 978-1-4165-0362-0. Hathcock's bullet had gone through the cobra sniper's scope and entered his eye
  13. ^ Riegert, Keith; Kaplan, Samuel (June 25, 2013). The MANual: Trivia. Testosterone. Tales of Badassery. Raw Meat. Fine Whiskey. Cold Truth. Ulysses Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-61243-183-3. Unfortunately for the guy behind the scope, Hathcock's shot was clean and true—perfectly passing through the glass scope
  14. ^ Sasser, Charles W.; Roberts, Craig (April 1, 1990). "Their Mission: One Shot One Kill". One Shot One Kill. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-4391-3712-3. Both lenses of the enemy's sniper scope, front and back, were shattered. It was obvious what happened. My bullet smashed through his scope and into his right eye.
  15. ^ "Carlos Hathcock: Famous Marine Corps Sniper". military.com. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  16. ^ [11][12][13][14][15]
  17. ^ a b Smith 2010
  18. ^ Tovey, Alan (2 February 2015). "The company behind the rifle used by the world's deadliest sniper". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  19. ^ a b c Friscolanti, Michael (May 15, 2006). "We were abandoned". Maclean's. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  20. ^ Wahler & Linwood 2014, p. 192
  21. ^ Chandler 2010
  22. ^ Alpert 2010
  23. ^ Drury 2010
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Gibson 2013
  26. ^ Helfrich 2013
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Murphy, Jack (26 August 2014). "South African Special Forces Sniper Takes Out Congo Rebels (2125m shot!)". SOFRep.com. SOFREP. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  29. ^ Goldstein, Joseph (2010-05-30). "How to shoot someone from a mile away". New York Post. Retrieved 2012-09-05.
  30. ^ Buiso, Gray (January 1, 2012). "Meet the big shot – SEAL is America's deadliest sniper". New York Post. Retrieved 2012-01-03.
  31. ^ Sanchez, Raf (2 January 2012). "'The Devil of Rahmadi' named America's deadliest sniper". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  32. ^ Jennings 2011
  33. ^ هاني صفيّان يخبر (May 7, 2016). وراء خطوط العاصفة (in Arabic). Al Arabiya. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15.
  34. ^ D'Alessio 2005
  35. ^ Souter 2012, p. 40
  36. ^ Johnsen 2008
  37. ^ Sohail 2015
  38. ^ Cannon 2010
  39. ^ Evening Public Ledger 1918, p. 4
  40. ^ "Preventing Diplomatic Recognition of the Confederacy, 1861–65". US Department of State. Archived from the original on August 28, 2013.
  41. ^ Charleston Courier 1864
  42. ^ Harnden 2006
  43. ^ being a gamer Brownlie 2003, p. 63
  44. ^ Westwood 2005, p. 212
  45. ^ Haskew, Michael E. (2005). The Sniper at War: From the American Revolutionary War to the Present Day. Macmillan Publishers. p. 74. ISBN 0312336519.
  46. ^ "Герой Советского Союза Зайцев Василий Григорьевич :: Герои страны". Warheroes.ru. Retrieved 2012-09-05.
  47. ^ Fredriksen 2010, p. 306
  48. ^ Buiso, Gray (January 1, 2012). "Meet the big shot – SEAL is America's deadliest sniper". New York Post. Retrieved 2012-01-03.

Bibliography[edit]