"Top Sniper" Questions


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nachosgrande
March 28, 2009, 03:51 AM
While watching the Military Channel program "Top Sniper" the other day, I became interested in the profession, but could not find the answer to a few questions through Google. Was hoping there was some expertise on the board that could help. The first thing I noticed is that there does not seem to be a "standard issue" rifle or caliber. Is the sniper allowed to choose whatever rifle they want? I would assume different calibers for different applications, but it seems that might be a waste of resources to make them learn to shoot several different rifles accurately. The next question is where do they get their ammo? I would assume they use handloads, but it looked like factory ammo from the camera angles I saw.

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GregGry
March 28, 2009, 03:54 AM
You were watching teams from all over the world competing. Thats the primary reason the teams had completely different weapons.

General Geoff
March 28, 2009, 04:05 AM
A sniper who works for a nation's military, will generally be issued a weapon of a specific type. For field operations, at least most US snipers are issued match grade factory ammunition. There may be other countries or specific applications where handloads are used. Rifles used in a competition are stipulated by the competition rules.


Also, remember that anyone can shoot an accurate rifle; few can shoot a rifle accurately. Once you learn marksmanship, the skills are mostly transferable between all types of rifles. A trained sniper with an off-the-shelf AR-15 should be feared more than an average infantryman with a tricked-out bolt action in .338 Lapua Magnum.

BhmBill
March 28, 2009, 04:44 AM
Snipers in various military branches may use several different rounds. The US military mostly uses .338 Lapua, .50BMG, .308 Win, .223/5.56, they even got some in .22lr thats used for taking out lights or guard dogs. Thats all I can think of off the top of my head.

Alot of countries use a common round, like the 7.62 NATO/.308, which seems to be the most common for snipers I believe.

Other countries have calibers like .300 Win and .300 Win Mag, 7.5x55mm Swiss, 7mm Rem Mag, 7.62x54r, .243, 7.92x57 Mauser.

stickhauler
March 28, 2009, 04:52 AM
First off, you have to understand that though other countries employed snipers as a normal part of their units, the United States employed them in an on and off basis, so weapons weren't developed for snipers. Our best in Vietnam was a Marine, Carlos Hatchcock, who used if I recall right, a Remington 700 with the barrel free floating and bedded in glass, his spotter used an armorer tweaked M-14.

Infantry units usually held a lesser respect for snipers, as their kills weren't done up close and personal like the normal infantryman did, they saw it as less than honorable to take out the enemy at long range.

Even today's sniper rifle for military use was a civilian built weapon that was adopted for military use, the Barretts was originally a civilian rifle, designed for the high power competitions.

Most infantry unit commanders had no idea of the proper use of a sniper unit, as that concept wasn't taught as a normal addition to an infantry unit. They are best utilized as a specialty unit, to be deployed as needed for special purposes rather than a usual addition to the unit.

DRYHUMOR
March 28, 2009, 05:25 AM
http://www.usmcscoutsniper.org/hogsden/becoming.htm

http://www.specialoperations.com/Schools/Army_Sniper/Default.htm

Unless a shooter comes along, and clarifies, you may look over these 2 sites and find some additional info.

Oro
March 28, 2009, 05:58 AM
The other obvious issue that has not been addressed is that if you look at the production dates, the current "Snipers" series was shot over the course of nine years. Yep, the first one was recorded and in the can in 2000, the most recent is dated 2009. This is entertainment, not a documentary. Where along the way did you get confused between entertainment and amusement?

I will defer to above posters about factual details in URL's they post, but I have to ask why you thought a documentary that sat in the can over almost a decade has some internal coherence?

roach68
March 28, 2009, 11:47 AM
Maybe I misunderstood what some of the guys were saying but I believe the competition has been ran once a year for the last 9 years. They even mention that last year they only had 17 teams and this year they had 30 something teams.

chuckusaret
March 28, 2009, 12:32 PM
Infantry units usually held a lesser respect for snipers, as their kills weren't done up close and personal like the normal infantryman did, they saw it as less than honorable to take out the enemy at long range.
Bull!!!!!. My unit snipers were armed with Remington 700's (M21 or M40)and they were well respected by all for what they did.

BacSi67
March 28, 2009, 06:54 PM
Sorry to burst your bubble but Carlos Hathcock's record of confirmed kills was eclipsed by Adelburt Waldren (not sure of the spelling) of the 9th Inf. Div in VN.
Not saying Hathcock wasn't a superb marksman and I don't want to take anything away from a great patriot but Waldren had 109 confirmed kills to Hathcocks 96. Just trying to keep the records straight.
Go to Google to verify.
BacSi

jakemccoy
March 28, 2009, 07:58 PM
Infantry units usually held a lesser respect for snipers, as their kills weren't done up close and personal like the normal infantryman did, they saw it as less than honorable to take out the enemy at long range.

That doesn't make sense to me. I can't imagine that being a prevailing mindset of people with average knowledge about sniping. Snipers certainly put themselves in harms way. Also, skilled snipers help save lives of normal infantrymen. How can you have anything but the utmost respect for a skilled sniper?

sernv99
March 28, 2009, 08:14 PM
Infantry units usually held a lesser respect for snipers, as their kills weren't done up close and personal like the normal infantryman did, they saw it as less than honorable to take out the enemy at long range.


oh really? post your credentials for you to make such a bold statement. Otherwise if this is just "book" smarts obtained from your Barnes and Noble monthly Book of the Month club, I'd say you are way off point.

Most infantry unit commanders had no idea of the proper use of a sniper unit, as that concept wasn't taught as a normal addition to an infantry unit. They are best utilized as a specialty unit, to be deployed as needed for special purposes rather than a usual addition to the unit.

oh really? now I'm thinking you speak from no experience, unless you surveyed all unit commanders of line infantry units in their employment of snipers within their units. What you see and hear on the Military Channel and from reading books is not what happens in reality.


on another topic, I'm fond of the semi-auto Knights Armament sniper rifle they were showing on this show. Looking around the 'net, something like this costs quite a sum of $$$. Any comparable clones from the other AR makers that comes close to build quality and performance to the Knights Armament rifle?

Eagles6
March 28, 2009, 10:41 PM
I'm pretty sure that Carlos used a Model 70 Winchester in 30-06. Don't have his book handy but that's my recollection. The modern US sniper rifle is based on the Remington 700.

stickhauler
March 28, 2009, 11:00 PM
Was the book written about Mr. Hatchcock's life, and the utilization of snipers in Vietnam described by the author, based on the comments by both Hatchcock and his unit CO. I'm sure some infantry commanders, and some units, used the snipers as they should have, but his own description of how he and his unit was used in his first tour tells a much different tale. He felt as senior NCO of the teams that he should be in the field with his guys. His company first sergeant felt much differently, believing he should be in camp anytime the "Top Kick" wanted to talk with him. But I'm sure he told the guy who wrote his biography a lot of lies that can be dispelled by other folks, or at least according to your assessment of picking up information from reading.

But thanks so much for claiming my entire background to speak about this subject came from picking up a book at Barnes & Noble, you ain't the only one here that served in the military, or who served in combat.

Hatchcock was the top shooter as far as I knew, I stand corrected if he isn't the top shooter from Vietnam, I've never researched the subject further after reading his life story. Had he not been injured in an attack from burns when the APC he was riding caught fire in the early part of his final tour, his numbers likely would have been higher.

USASA
March 29, 2009, 01:17 AM
From my experience...there's truth in each of the replies posted here.

nachosgrande
March 29, 2009, 02:30 AM
Well, Oro,
I looked back over my original post several times and still can't find any reference to me not believing that a reality show is anything other than entertainment. But would it not be logical to assume that what the snipers use for the events are the same weapons they train with professionally? I'm an engineer, not a sniper, but if I was a contestant on a reality show that tested my professional talents, I would certainly consider myself at a disadvantage if I used a calculator or computer program that I wasn't familiar with.

Rifleman 173
March 29, 2009, 04:38 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Mawhinney

Well, nobody got it right. Chuck Mawhinney was the top USMC sniper in Viet Nam. Mawhinney even beat out Hathcock for number of confirmed kills over there. Adelbert Waldron III of the U.S. Army led all the snipers over in Nam for confirmed kills in that he had 109 of them.

Now the next little thing... U.S. Army snipers did more over all damage than the USMC snipers in volume of total confirmed kills. Keep in mind, however, that there were many more Army snipers over there than USMC snipers so the end result is natural: more snipers = more kills.

http://www.snipercentral.com/snipers.htm

And also keep in mind that among servicemen there is "a sport" where one military man's service is better than any other serviceman's military group. This "sport" extends to snipers too. While I was taking my training at An Khe to be a sniper, I overheard one veteran sniper from the Army talking to a sniper from the Marine Corps...

Army Sniper, "So you're a Marine Corps' sniper?"
Marine, "Yep."
Army, "How long you been sniping?"
Marine, "About 8 months."
Army, "Do any good?"
Marine, "Of course! I'm a Marine sniper."
Army sniper, "So, how many do you get with each blast of your shotgun???"
The Marine's mouth dropped open with that last question...

DRYHUMOR
March 29, 2009, 07:36 AM
Years ago, I shot a 1000 yd match at Quantico. I stayed at the Scout Sniper School. All the guys I met were class acts. Memento from the visit, 27 years ago.
If you think about the PC "hearts and minds" statement heard quite often, you can appreciate the irony of the poster.

Jenrick
April 2, 2009, 01:00 AM
Back to the OP's question: US military snipers shoot M118 special ball 7.62, which is much better then stock 7.62 ball. It is not however Federal Gold Medal Match.

I know of no service or major LE agency that uses handloads. I suppose a foreign army possibly could.

Far as rifles goes, the US currently has about 6 (M24, M40, SASS, SASR, M21, M25) different precision rifles in the inventory. Knowing how to shoot one rifle accurately transfers rather easily to another. Most foreign nations will have at least 2 or three precision rifles in their inventory as well, at a minimum an anti-personal and an anti-material. To add to all that, the spotters were almost all carrying a carbine or regular "non-precision" (ie not a .5 MOA gun) for force defense. That of course means that almost all the primary battle/assault rifles for each country were on display.

If you'd like to know more about Sniping, I recommend www.snipercentral.com . It's runs by an former ANG sniper, Mel, and has a lot of good info.

-Jenrick

731rogers1962
April 2, 2009, 02:36 AM
Hello,
Just adding my .02.
Gunny Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam. Although, like most combat snipers, he probably had a lot more unconfirmed. He used a Winchester Model 70 in 30-06 with a Unertl scope. He was instrumental in developing the M40A1 sniper rifle. In fact, the first one made by the Marine armorers at Quantico was presented to him.He never claimed to be the top sniper in Vietnam, but he was the most successful and most feared by the enemy. They actually put a bounty on his head! He helped Marine infantry commanders learn to utlitize snipers correctly.
I served as a Marine sniper in STA Plt 2/3 from 1979-1983. Gunny Hathcock was a role model to all of us in the unit and he personally trained our platoon sergeant.

Gryffydd
April 2, 2009, 02:58 AM
Most infantry unit commanders had no idea of the proper use of a sniper unit, as that concept wasn't taught as a normal addition to an infantry unit.
Due to the military's repeated cycle of training up snipers and then disbanding them every time a conflict ended this was true to varying extents at various points in time.

C-grunt
April 2, 2009, 05:05 AM
Not very relevant to the OPs question but is a good Vietnam sniping story. This was told to me by my friends uncle who served several tours in Vietnam as a Marine. He always says this is the best show of marksmanship and skill he has ever seen.

My friends uncle was part of a unit that was search and rescue for people or squads that went missing. He always makes fun of me for being in the Army (vets know of the "rivalry" we all have) and always says he rescued more Army guys than anyone.

So one day they get orders to go escort a sniper team back to base. They meet up with the sniper/spotter team and start back to friendly territory. They were paralleling a large river when a enemy patrol boat comes into view. His team fans out into defensive positions incase they get spotted and have to fight. Well the boat doesnt see them but decides to go ashore right where they are located.

The boat is coming near and they can see it has 5 enemy soldiers on board. They are getting ready to ambush the boat when the sniper tells him to let him "take care of it". The sniper is armed with a bolt action rifle.

When the boat is almost to shore the sniper starts firing. My friends uncle said that after the first guy was hit the others started scrambling for their weapons. The sniper quickly dispatched 3 more guys. At this time the snipers rifle is empty but hand loads one more into the chamber and gets the last guy.

He said the most amazing thing was the sniper shot 5 guys, all with head shots, on the move, with a 4 shot bolt action rifle, all in the span of about 15 seconds.

possum
April 2, 2009, 06:01 AM
i do know that one of the teams was 2 buddies of mine, men who i have cross trained with and been to war with. I keep in constant contact with both of them and one of them atleast once a week. they made up one of the regular army infantry teams and they did very very well for themselves, they were on the show, glimpses of one and quite a bit of camera time was spent on the tl. these guys used 2 personal m24's that they had built. why? it was hard enough for the bn to let them go, get a tmp, and ammo in the first place. for 2 guys that have little time to work together, and for guys who don't get to shoot thier rifles nearly enough they did great. they beat out several special operations teams. it made me feel great when they asked me to help train them for and pistol work that might come up which i did. since then they have gone thier seperate ways, but they will be competing again next year.

futhermore i know that the amu team had tricked out guns and they were among the best and most accurate shooters, but what would you expect that is all they really do. when it comes to the real world sniper craft techniques and skills the guys with the real world experience always come out ahead as my 2 buddies did in those particular events.

USSR
April 2, 2009, 09:14 AM
Back to the OP's question: US military snipers shoot M118 special ball 7.62, which is much better then stock 7.62 ball. It is not however Federal Gold Medal Match.

M118 special ball hasn't been used for years. It was replaced by M118LR, developed by Lake City in 1997. M118LR uses the Sierra 175gr MatchKing bullet, which was developed by Sierra to replace the old 174gr FMJBT bullet used in M72, M118, and M118SB ammo. M118LR is quite a bit more accurate than M118SB.

Don

possum
April 2, 2009, 10:29 AM
ussr is correct, i know that is what the team from my unit used at the comp, and that is what we use in the 24's when we go to the sniper range.

jto2009usmc
April 2, 2009, 10:57 AM
.308!

HarleyFixer
April 2, 2009, 12:02 PM
Gunny Hathcock held the record for the longest confirmed kill (2460 yards) until a Canadian sniper bested that in Afganistan.

n00b
April 2, 2009, 12:15 PM
And remember that 2460 yard shot was with a machine gun .50-caliber M2 Browning Machine Gun (ofcourse it was modified). That is just amazing!

jbech123
April 2, 2009, 12:23 PM
I'm pretty sure that Carlos used a Model 70 Winchester in 30-06.
That is correct, but I do seem to remember he used a 700 near the end, or on the second tour. Mostly the Win 70 though.

Jenrick
April 2, 2009, 10:27 PM
USSR: You are correct, it had been a long day when I posted. What I was getting at was that the military doesn't use match ammo, and even the good stuff that's not plain old MG ammo still isn't match ammo.

-Jenrick

woodybrighton
April 3, 2009, 07:16 AM
snipers regularly come in and out of fashion. when the british army was facing off against the red hordes in germany sniping was out of fashion.
exactly what precsion marksmanship is going to achieve against the soviet horde ordered west to kill anything in its path with the kgb at its back to encourage it I don't know:D
Falkands brought it back into focus very keen on it now buy a copy of sniper one for an insight into modern britsh sniping.
if there isn't an officer intrested in sniping and snipers the battalion will not employ its snipers effectivily if at all one CO I had thought snipers were irrelevant.
got severly annoyed when a set piece attack on exercise went to rat**** in less than half hour with all his command group company commanders platoon commaders senior ncos became casualities battalion ended up being commanded by the newist 2nd lt.
when questioned why he was'nt shot 2thought it would be cruelier to leave him in charge sir":D
got to love the laser tag sets:D
to be fair learned his lesson and got behind getting more snipers

helz_mcfugly
April 3, 2009, 10:29 AM
join the military and post back on here after you get your issued rifle. :p

adam500
April 3, 2009, 12:17 PM
nachosgrande,

I am not sure how much you like to read but there is a great book that will answer most of your questions. The title is "Shooter". It is an autobiography of a USMC sniper in Iraq. (Gunnery SGT. Jack Coughlin). The book was a very good read and I would suggest it to any one that is interested in the military/sniper arena.

Here is a link [http://www.amazon.com/Shooter-Autobiography-Top-Ranked-Marine-Sniper/dp/0312336853]

Adam

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