One shot, one kill. That’s the sniper motto. It demands accuracy and precision. And it demands a superior sniper rifle—one that’s specially modified for long-range shooters. Take a look at four that fit the bill.
In the course of the Vietnam War, an unusual adversary fielded against American forces was the latest of Russian sniping arms—the Dragunov rifle. The semi-automatic 7.62x54 mm incorporated a semi-free-floating barrel, an unusual skeletonized stock and a novel optical sight with passive infrared detection capability. Few were seen, but rumors abounded. Information about the new rifle was keenly sought by Western intelligence agencies, which offered an impressive $20,000 bounty for the first example to be recovered for study.
In 1981, Ronnie Barrett designed the M82A1—a shoulder-fire rifle readily capable of firing the largest commercially available cartridge, the .50 BMG. During Operation Desert Storm, the Barrett M82A1 rifle was fielded and provided admirable service. In the hands of USMC snipers, the 10-shot, 30-pound rifle had no peer and soon provided the ultimate in hard-hitting, long-range accuracy. The "desert camp" example shown here was actually used in Desert Storm by the USMC and retains its period military finish.
The Winchester Model 70 bolt-action rifle is widely considered to be the finest bolt-action ever produced in the U.S. Its legendary status among shooters and collectors earned it the nickname, “The Rifleman’s Rifle.” This U.S. Marine Corps-marked rifle in sniper configuration is a civilian model shoulder arm that was drafted for military use. Rifle/scope combinations of this type were used for stateside training and marksmanship competitions, although some may have also seen combat use in Southeast Asia.
Counted among the many U.S. military small-arms developments that grew out of America’s entry into the Vietnam War in the early 1960s are a number of modern-day sniper rifle systems. Both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps eventually developed specific solutions to meet the challenges of the one-shot, long-range war. The Marines’ Remington M40-series rifles earned their reputation as robust, precision battlefield instruments in the skillful hands of Marine scout-snipers and have become a near legendary icon of that era.