Technological evolution has increased the range and accuracy of firearms and ammunition throughout history. Just as the use of the minie ball in the Civil War and the rifled bore of the American long rifle during the Revolutionary War, modern weaponry has made today’s sharpshooters the deadliest ever, and the experts agree.
“Global conflicts over the past 25-30 years have taken place predominately in and around urban areas,” said CW3 (US Army Special Forces, Retired) D. Brad Smith. “So, the demand for well-trained sniper teams that are equipped with ‘state of the art’ sniper weapons systems and are fully capable of interdicting threat targets in a setting where both non-hostile civilian and hostile military forces are present and often intermingled, is growing.”
Smith is a 23-year veteran of the US Army Special Forces, a graduate of the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC), now known as the Special Forces Sniper School, and a former instructor for the Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance Target Analysis, among other achievements.
“The U.S. and its NATO allies have committed a considerable amount of funding to expand and improve sniper training over the past years,” he said.
While seven out of eight of the longest sniper shots in history have taken place in the last decade, better technology and training are only two variables in the long-distance shooting equation. Teamwork, natural skill and even luck all factor into the longest kill shots in the military books. The variables when shooting at distances up to one and a half miles can be staggering. It takes more than technology and know-how to tackle crosswinds, elevation and even the Earth’s rotation. Click through the photos to get all the details on the longest sniper shots in history.
- Date: August 2009
Weapon: Accuracy International L115A3
Ammunition: .338 Lapua Magnum LockBase B408 bullets
Military Unit: 3 Scots: The Black Watch
Conflict: War in Afghanistan
Specifics: After sitting atop a roof for more than three days, Reynolds plugged a Taliban commander nicknamed "Mula," and responsible for multiple attacks on UK and US troops, from more than 2,000 yards. The father of one is a member of the 3 Scots: The Black Watch. Scotland's Black Watch is an elite military regiment whose history stretches back almost three centuries. Seems Reynolds might be the most noteworthy of them all. Beware a man willing to wear a kilt.
The Expert: "Another interesting point that I see when reviewing the data is the increased presence of the .338 Lapua on the Iraq and Afghan battlefield amongst NATO/Coalition forces. The .338 Lapua is a great solution for filling the gap between the 7.62 x 51 mm and the .50 caliber-12.7 mm…….Due to size, weight and ease of mobility, a sniper weapons system chambered for the .338 or 7.62 would be my sniper weapon of choice, every time. As it relates to training, one could also argue that the .338 Lapua would result in significant cost savings. This is true because of the diminished affects that climatic conditions such as wind-drift has on the heavier and “hotter” .338 round that’s moving out at around 3,071 ft. per second compared to the M24 with the .175 grain, M118LR that’s moving out at around 2,580 ft. per second." --CW3 (US Army Special Forces, Retired) D. Brad Smith
(Reynolds pictured above receiving Queen's Gallantry Medal)