23 October 2014

FWS Armory: The Sniper Rifle

Few jobs in the military have met with such fascination, dread, and scorned as the sniper. They are the tools of assassinations, intelligence, and confusion. People in the military rely on them and their weapon to gather intelligence and support operations on the battlefield. In the civilian world, the term sniper is loaded one with all manner of preconceived notions coupled with deep respect and memories of November 1963. One element of the sniper is also met with deep fascination, respect, and terror: the sniper rifle. This type of firearm is almost like the term "ninja", it just adds coolness by the using the term. Say the word "sniper rifle", and gun-nuts and military geeks wet their panties collectively. This tool of the sniper is both understood and misunderstood, and it doesn't help that the term is very liberally used by civilians, gamers, and shooters. In the continuing firearms serial, this is FWS Armory blogpost on the Sniper Rifle. On a personal note, this was a very difficult blogpost to create with everything going on in my life at the moment...more on that later.

What is an Sniper Rifle?

In most of the FWS Armory blogposts, the question of “what is” a certain weapon is often easy, and serves as a simple definition section…but then we got to sniper rifles. There seems to be no real answer to the question of what an actually sniper rifle is. The idea itself is hotly contested online, and answers vary. Is the "sniper rifle" merely an specialized accurized rifle that truly does not become an "sniper rifle" until an actually sniper uses it? Or is it an elite class of specifically tailored weaponry designed for the purpose of long distance accurate shooting, designed to be used by a highly trained professional shooter? In terms of this blogpost, I will content that there is indeed an out-and-out sniper rifle that is designed for a specific military purpose. 
While there are similarities between the sniper rifles and other firearms, the sniper rifles is a unique piece of military hardware. For the sniper rifle to function as expected on the battlefield, the weapon must be used by a highly trained soldier that specializes in long-distance shooting. On the technological end, out-and-out sniper rifles, the real ones, are basically a rifle with specialized barrels, advanced optics, specialized ammunition, specifically developed bipods and stocks. All of the technological elements are geared to one end: killing accurately at a long range. One shot, one kill.

The Role of an Sniper Rifle
This type of military firearm is specifically designed around the core concept of being a platform for engaging targeted at long distances with reliability of action while being used in harsh conditions with long-term exposure to the elements. Given this role, sniper rifles must be powerful and accurate enough to engage and destroy targets in one shot. These targets can range from humans to vehicles to important military equipment. One of the roles not applied to snipe rifles is as an personal defense weapon. If and when the sniper is engaged by hostile fire, the sniper rifle does not make a good weapon to defend themselves with. Often, the sniper's spotter will use an LMG or assault rifle to protect the team. At times, the sniper themselves will carry another more standard infantry weapon into the battlefield until they are in the correct position.

The Relationship Between Man and the Machine: The Sniper and His Rifle
It seems that the overused common phase "guns don't kill people, people kill people" applies here. Sniper rifles and their mission are a marriage between the man and his machine. One cannot function without the other. While that is true of most machines and even weapons, it is more so with the sniper rifle. Any one with a brain can fire an sniper rifle, but it takes the honed skills, extensive training, and natural abilities of the sniper to truly utilize the rifle in its intended purpose. In addition, the sniper rifle is often customized and modified for a certain shooter, and this also is a marriage between the shooter and the weapon.

Some Terminology
  • Sniper-A professional trained military or law enforcement shooter that is high skilled in long-distance accurate shooting as well as field-craft  for stealth and observation. 
  • Sharpshooter/Marksman-A soldier or law enforcement officer that receives extensive training in precision shooting and uses specialized firearms. Unlike snipers, marksmen/marksmen are not normally trained in fieldcraft. Also, military sharpshooters/marksmen are tasked to specific units, while snipers work in two-man teams independent of the main force.
  • Anti-Material Rifle-An accuarized rifle system that fires cartridges over 12mm and engages in anti-personnel and anti-material roles on the battlefield.
  • Accurized Rifle-A general term that can be used to describe any time of weapon developed for precision shooting or an base rifle retrofitted to increase the accuracy.  
  • Twist Rate- the distance the rifling of the barrel takes to complete one revolution
  • Match Grade- high grade ammunition designed around competition usage.
What Separates Sniper Rifles from Hunting Rifles?
The connection between some sniper rifles and hunting rifles is very strong, given that their missions are similar. The hunting and the sniper rifle are purpose driven in design to engage a target and bring down that target with one good aimed shot. Some of the earliest “sniper rifles” were in fact hunting rifles due to military firearms of the time not being constructed for long-distance shooting. Even today, some of the out-and-out hunting rifles and accuarized rifles used by the military and law enforcement are the same weapon with some modifications. The excellent Remington 700 and the USMC M40 are nearly identical in their basic form and caliber. Of course, the M40 is customized by the shooter, especially the optics and barrel, along with specialized ammunition. 

What Separates Sniper Rifles from the DMR/SPR?
At their core, the DMR is an battle rifle or even an assault rifle that has been modified for accuracy and precision shooting. DMRs are often chosen from the battle rifle due to their chambering a sizable cartridge over assault rifle. Weapons like the M14 became the M14 Mod 0 EBR, the H&K G3 became the MSG3, and the Stoner Rifle became the British Army's L129A1, and the AR10 became the SR25/Mk. 12 Mod 0/M110. The DMR can and has been see being used by snipers, marksmen, and sharpshooters, while use of the real sniper rifle is more confined due to the needed training to get the best out of those weapons. Another factor separating the DMR from the sniper rifle is range and technology. DMRs are designed for effective range at around 800 meters, the sniper rifle is designed for shots over a 1,000 meters. On the technology side, the DMR still maintains its battle rifle roots, while the sniper rifle was constructed from the ground up to be long-range shooter that has all the attachments and sights for that purpose, while DMRs are less so.
Also in  the realm of the DMR is the SPR concept that dates back to around the early 2000's. This can be an antonym for: "Special Purpose Rifle" or "Special Purpose Receiver". At the time of the development, the Navy SEALs were prototyping an "Recon rifle" or "recce rifle" that was an flat-topped M16 with an 16inch barrel that could be attached with various setups. This was grown out of the Colt M4 carbine and SOPMOD project. The SEAL Recon Rifle project was moved over to the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division, and the M4 "SPR" was born, leading to the the current Mk. 12 Mod 0/1.
Originally, the concept of the SPR was similar to the M4 CQBR, a specialized receiver for the new M4 carbine that could be swapped out to fulfill a certain tactical role or situation. The SPR was intended as a hybrid between an assault rifle/carbine and an DMR or even sniper rifle. Confused yet? All of this is muddy, but there is on different between the SPR and the DMR: caliber. The decedents of the SPR project, the Mk.11 Mod 1 is an 5.56mm, while the decedent of the KAC SR-25, the M110 SASS chambers the 7.62mm round.    

What Separates Sniper Rifles from Anti-Material Rifles?

While both are accurized rifles intended for long-distance shooting, the sniper rifle and the anti-material differ in two ways: size and type of the bullet and the target. The average military sniper rifle fires a 7mm to 8mm cartridge, while the average AMR fires an 12mm round, extending all the way up to 25mm. Most sniper rifles fire normal anti-personnel rounds, the ARM fires high explosive incendiary armor piercing (HEIAP) rounds, which allows for greater effectiveness against military equipment.  Then there is the intended target of each weapon. The sniper rifle is normally designed to kill humans (anti-personnel), while the anti-material rifle is used to kill humans along with vehicles, deteonation of IEDs and other explosives, along other military equipment. 

Bolt Action or Semi-Auto?
When the institution of sniping became an accepting military practice, bolt action rifles were all the military had, and they became the accepted norm. By the time of the Second World War, semi-auto battle rifles were being modifited for an DMR-like role, like the Gewehr-43, the SVT-40, but bolt action sniper rifles continued to be the accepted type of action for out-and-out sniper rifles. Semi-auto sniper rifles began to gain acceptance in the late 1970's with weapons like the H&K PSG-1. Originally, semi-auto sniper rifles were envisioned for counter-terrorism roles in urban areas, but soon, mainstream snipers began to use the semi-auto rifles.
Today, the semi-auto sniper rifle is taking over, and bolt-action are a dying breed. In the US military, the USMC is committed to the doctrine of "one-shot-one-kill", and the US Army wants more target acquisition with more kills. An bolt-action forces you to be more careful, while an semi-auto allows for the sniper to hop from evil-doer-to evil-doer. Some snipers, like the SEALs, blend both bolt-action and semi-auto. Some say it is price, an Remington 700 that specially constructed at the USMC sniper school in Quantico is cheaper than Knigth's Armament M110 SASS.
Other say it is accuracy. The bolt in an bolt-action rifle does not move until the shooter opens and closes the bolt for unloading and reloading, the semi-auto is just that, semiautomatic. However, the semi-auto sniper rifle would not be as popular and widely accepted by various services if it was not as accurate. Then there is the complexity issue. Bolt-action rifles are much simplier to maintain in the hostile field conditions that snipers finds themselves over an semi-auto rifles.

Bullpup Sniper Rifles?
In the 1970’s, with the development and acceptance of the semi-auto sniper rifle, also came the idea of using bullpup architecture to create a less bulky rifle. One of the earliest bullpup sniper rifles was the Walther WA 2000 that was begun after the 1972 Olympics terrorist incident. Today, over twenty bullpup sniper rifles exist, like the DSR-1 and the Chinese QBU-88 in all manner of calibers, including up to 12.7x99mm. The advantage is similar to all bullpup firearms, full or even greater barrel length without the same amount of bulk. Bullpup anything is popular in sci-fi or near future war stories, and often sniper rifles seen in those works are bullpup layout. That being said, most bullpup sniper rifles are actually more DMRs, like the QBU-88 and the re-purposed British L86 LSW.   

Public Perception of Sniper Rifles
It was only recently in society that the term "sniper" might something that inspired awe, respect, and terror and not something dishonest and dishonorable. Often throughout history, snipers and their weapons are seen as violent agents-of-change those shadowy tactics branded the sniper as less than honorable. This perspective was also reinforced due to the sniper's historical role as assassins, especially after the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. King, and the UT clock tower shooting. Today, that public perspective of snipers and their rifles has been altered. Now, snipers are cool alpha-warrior-hunters, and their guns are some of the most celebrated gun-porn there is. Often recreational shooters spend serious cash and time on constructing their own civilian legal version of the military sniper rifle. Then they invest money in training and private ranges specializing in long-range shooting. In popular media, snipers and their weapons are glorified and romanticized with films like Sniper, Shooter, and Lone Survivor.
This change is also reflected in the culture of modern shooter online video games. Sniper classes with kitted out sniper rifles have become the hunters of the maps, hiding and shooting. The use and popularity of snipers in military shooters has skewed the perspective on snipers in the mind of these young gamers. In the real world, snipers are not "quick scoping" and engaging in close quarters battle onboard yachts and indoor shopping malls. Some games have swung the other way, and attempted to show the reality of snipers with games like Sniper Elite. With the upcoming release of the Chris Kyle bio-pic American Sniper, we can see the progress that snipers and their weapons have made in the public mindset. 

Examples of Sniper Rifle Cartridges

7.62x51mm (NATO)
Effective Range is 800 meters

Without a doubt, the .762x51mm NATO cartridge, is the most popular sniper rifle round. Why? Snipercentral.com says that because the round is not taxing to shoot, is a winner in the ballistics department, and has consistent behaviors in all manner of conditions. The NATO 7.62mm is also the best of both worlds. It is not a massive round that forces only a few rounds to be carried, or some oddball round either, NATO 7.62mm can be found the world over. It is powerful, but more compact the cartridges of World War II. 

.300 Winchester Magnum
Effective Rang is 1,110 meters
The .300 Winchester Magnum (7.62x66mm) is quickly becoming a major player in the military sniper rifle cartridge game in the last few years. The round features great ballistics, range that extends pass 1,000 meters and is similar in size to the 7.62x51mm NATO round. However, there have been reports that the .300 Winchester Magnum round is hard on barrels, produces heavy recoil, and punishes the shooter. In the US military's next-gen sniper rifle, the Remington MSR, the .300 WM will be chambered.

7.62x54R (Russian)
Effective Range is 800 meters
This Russia round is used in one of the world's most popular sniper rifle/DMR weapons, the Dragunov SVD, and was also used in Russia's older bolt-action rifle, the Mosin-Nagant. Both of these weapons would be used in the DMR/sniper rifle role. This .30 caliber round can trace its origins back to 1891, when the Russian Empire would first issue the Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle. Given the performance, the 7.62x54mmR was transformed into a sniper rifle round and serviced with grim effectivness during the 2nd World War. Today, the 7.62x54mmR is still in service the world over in the Dragunov and the Mosin-Nagnat precision rifles.

.338 Lapua Magnum
Effective Range is 1200-1500 meters
While the 7.62x51mm NATO had dominated the sniper rifle cartridges since the 1960's, the emerging cartridge that could take its place: the .338 (8.6x70mm) Lapua Magnum. Noted former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle said: "A relative newcomer, the .338 is considered by many one of the finest choices for a modern sniper. It has good stopping power and a longer range than all but the .50" More and more sniper rifle manuflactors are developing rifles that chamber this round, and it since has become popular with civilian hunters and shooters as well.

12.7x99mm (.50 BMG)
Effective Range is 1500-2000 meters

The 12.7x99mm was originally an heavy machine gun round that had excellent ballistics but not the right mechanism to delivery it. Legendary Vietnam War sniper Carlos Hathcock attached an scope to an M2 Browning machine gun, and "sniped" at targets at 2,000 meters. This believed that this led to the development of the .50 BMG sniper rifle round we know and love today. While not suited to all battlefield sniping missions due to the size/weight of the weapon (30lbs!), report of the weapon, along with the fuck-all damage of the round, this is a round that is here to stay that has spawned a number of other .50 BMG sniper rifles.  

 Examples of Current Issue Sniper Rifle

The Remington M40A5 (7.6251mm)
The current bolt-action sniper rifle of the US Marine Corps traces its roots back to the Vietnam War in 1966. The USMC took off-the-shelf Remington 40X, a variant of the Remington 700, and modified it for the grim work. The A5 came out in 2009 and the A6 is planned with some more modifications to the stock. The M40A6 will be the last of the breed; the Remington MSR has been approved to replace the aging M40 series. The M40 is an iconic of military sniper rifles, and is one of the rifles that established the classifications. 

The KAC M110 SASS (7.62x51mm)
At its core, the Knight’s Armament M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System is an AR10 that chambers the 7.62x51mm cartridge. Since the adoption of the AR15 into US military service, there have been DMR/Sniper rifle variants that have been constructed out of the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm models, but since the 1990’s, there has been an active attempt to develop a full-fledged DMR/sniper rifle. Weapons like the M110 and the Mk.12 Mod 1 own their existence to the KAC SR-25. Currently, the M110 is being used by all branches of the US military in active combat situations and it is believed that it was the sniper rifle that was used in the Maersk Alabama incident. During some missions, a new variant of the M110 will be used in the coming years: the CSASS. This more compact version of the M110 will be used by the spotter as an backup weapon when the shooter is using the Remington MSR, and it is likely that the CSASS will replace the M14 EBR. 

The McMillian TAC-50 (12.7x99mm)
The Arizona-based firearms company, McMillian, has become a celebrity in the world of snipers recently12.7x99mm bolt-action rifle. Several of the longest combat shots that are above 2400 meters, were done with a McMillian TAC-50. Not only are the TAC-50 used for human targets, EOD uses the McMillian sniper rifles to detonate explosives at a safe range. The McMillian series of modern bolt action sniper rifles are the fusion of the traditional technology and the modern advancements.

The Accuracy International Arctic Magnum Warfare (various calibers)
Named for the impressive abilities of this weapon to operate in extremely cold regions, the Accuracy International AMW series of sniper rifles as been a mainstay of military sniper rifles since the mid-1980's. Great Britain adapted this British made sniper rifle as the L96A1 in the 7.62mm cartridge in 1988, and this weapon has been seen on the Iraq and Afghan battlefields. Despite its widely international usage, the AI AMW is not in official use by the US Military.

The M107 Barrett (12.7x99mm)
This is the bad mother fucker of the list, the fifty caliber Barrett M107 anti-material rifle. Barrett Firearms company has been around since the early 1980's, and the first M82 .50 sniper rifle was completed in 1982. The founder of the company specifically developed his M82 to chamber the 12.7x99mm round that was normally only found in the iconic M2 .50 machine gun. By 1986, the Barrett M82 was improved into the basic state that we know it today.
Originally, the M82 was to be used against vehicles, building, and equipment, but given human nature and the extreme power of the round, it was a strongly effective human sniper rifle. The first sale of the M82 was to the Swedish Army, and 125 were bought by the USMC for use in Desert Storm. The British SAS used the Barrett against SCUD missiles during their risky mission to stem the tide of SCUD launches into Israel. By the end of that conflict, the US military was ordering the M82 in good numbers, The weapon would been seen in the hands of Special Forces during operations in Mogadishu, and by the time of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the M107 Barrett was a full-fledged porn star. Presently, the M107 Barrett is in service will all branches of the US military and the majority of their allies. Over two dozens nations have bought this monster, especially after it was seen in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. After the success of the M82, Barrett would develop an .338 Lapua chambering variant along with the .416 round tat is attempting to delivery the power of the .50 in a more compact cartridge. An even larger big brother to the M107, the XM109 that fires the 25x59mm round.

The H&K PSG1 (7.62x51mm)
During the 1970’s, with the prospect of urban terrorism and hostage situation, like the 1972 Olympic Terrorist Incident, H&K began working on a semi-auto 7.62mm sniper rifle. Based on the vendible H&K G3 battle rifle, the PSG-1 quickly became the first widely accepted semi-automatic sniper rifle in the West, and was regarded as the standard by which most are set to. The PSG-1 is currently under production, and still seen throughout popular media, but not as popular as it once was that partly could be due to the price tag: $10,000 and other (cheaper) semi-auto rifles have caught up with the PSG-1.   

The M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle (.300 Winchester Magnum)
Original called the Remington Modular Sniper Rifle, this sniper rifle was the winner of the US military’s Precision Sniper Rifle program and will replace the other bolt-action sniper rifles, including the M40A6 at a cost of $15,000 per unit. The M2010 ESR is availed in .300 Winchester Magnum, the .338 Lapua Magnum, and the 7.62x51mm. The MSR was made popular to the public when it was featured in COD: MW3

Famous Snipers' Weapon-of-Choice

Carlos Hathcock
US Marine Carlos Hathcock was gifted natural to be a sniper, and attended some of the best sniper/scout schools at the time. During the Vietnam War, Carlos would officially rack up 93 kills and some say that he had over 400 unconfirmed kills. The primary tool of this legend is the Winchester Model 70, chambering the .30-06 round that was used in the World War II M1 Garand rifle. This Winchester Model 70 was fitted with an Unertl 8x scope. In the field, Carlos also carried the standard issue Colt 1911 .45ACP pistol. One several occuisons, Carlos would outfit an M2 machine gun with an Unertl scope, and fire single-shot 12.7mm rounds at targets over 1,000 yards away.

Rob Furlong
Candian sniper Rob Furlong would make one of the longest sniper shots in the combat during Operation: Anaconda in the Shah-i-Kot Valley. The weapon-of-choice for that 2,430 meter shot was the McMillian TAC-50 12.7x99mm sniper rifle. The cartridge itself was an Hornady A-MAX 750gr very low drag .50BMG. This record would stand from 2002 to 2009, when British sniper Craig Harrison would achieve the record.

Craig Harrison
In 2009, British sniper Craig Harrison would kill an Taliban machine gun team at over 2,475 meters or 1.5 miles. This still stands as the longest sniper combat kill in history. The weapon was the L115A3 fitted with an Schmidt & Bender MILITARY MKII 5-25x56 0.1 MIL RAD parallax, illumination, double turn scope and chambered the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge. The L115A3 is British designation fro the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Magnum.

Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle was the deadest American sniper with 160 confirmed kills. This Navy SEAL would serve mainly in the Iraq War as an sniper in urban settings with SEAL Team 3. Given the unit he severed in, the SEALs, Kyle had access to a number of sniper rifles, and he would would use several in his tours of duty. These included the Mk. 12 5.56mm DMR, the Mk. 11 7.62mm DMR, the McMillian TAC-338. However, his favorite was the .300 Winchester Magnum. In the recent trailer for American Sniper, the McMillian TAC-338 is features.

Gary Gordon
At the time of his death on October 3rd, 1993, Master Sergeant Gary Gordon was a member of the US Army's elite DELTA Force as a sniper. Given his elite status and the black nature of DELTA, little is known about Gary Gordon's service. What we do know is that MSG Gordon came from the US Army Special Forces, and would be accepted into the folds of DELTA in December of 1986. At some point, MSG Gordon became an DELTA sniper, and would likely use every major sniper rifle out during this timeframe. During the Battle of Mogadishu, MSG Gordon and 1st SGT Shughart were tasked with covering sniper fire from Super Six Two, the160th SOAR  Blackhawk helicopter. During the battle, Mike Durant's Blackhawk was downed, and with all of the confusion, no help could arrive on-site. Given the danger level, both Gordon and Shughart asked to be inserted at the crash site. In the hands of the DELTA sniper was what author Mark Bowden would describe as an "CAR-15" and mentions that it set on burst mode when Shughart handed Gordon's weapon to him after Gordon was killed defending the crash site. Was it really an CAR-15? Sadly, we will never known. No released photos of MSG Gordon during the time of Operation: GOTHIC SERPENT have been released. However, there are photos of accuarized M16 carbines used by SPECOPS personnel at the airport base from the operation...it is likely that these are similar weapons.
Given the level of involvement on the 2001 film by personnel that were actually there, it is believed that the film camo'ed Colt Model 733 version with an Aimpoint scope, flashlight, and sound suppressor is pretty correct. Why was MSG Gordon using an shortened M16? Some believe that semi-auto "sniper rifles" are a better fit for the conditions when sniping from an helicopter platform. Some also believe that what most of the DELTA operators were carrying on that faithful day was an prototype Colt M4, and it is possible that MSG Gordon was carrying an prototype M4 DMR. However, it is just a rumor. On May 23rd, 1994, President Clinton would award MSG Gordon with the highest award, the Medal of Honor. This honor was presented to MSG Gordon's widow Carman Gordon at the White House. This was the first MOH given since the Vietnam War. He survived by his wife and two children.

Randy Shughart
At the time of his death on October 3rd, 1993, 1st Sergeant Randy Shughart was a member of the US Army's elite DELTA Force as a sniper. Given his elite status and the black nature of DELTA, little is known about Randy Shughart's service. What we do know is that 1st SGT Shughart came from the US Army's Ranger Regiment, and also earned an Ranger tab. After three year in the reseverse, 1st SGT Shughart would return to active duty, and pass selection for the US Army Special Forces, and would be accepted into the folds of DELTA in June of 1986. At some point, 1st SGT Shughart became an DELTA sniper, and would likely use every major sniper rifle out during this timeframe. During the Battle of Mogadishu 1st SGT Shughart and MSG Gordon were tasked with covering sniper fire from Super Six Two, the160th SOAR  Blackhawk helicopter. During the battle, Mike Durant's Blackhawk was downed, and with all of the confusion, no help could arrive on-site. Given the danger level, both Gordon and Shughart asked to be inserted at the crash site. In the hands of the DELTA sniper was the 7.62mm M14 Vietnam War era battle rifle that was possible an M21 semi-auto sniper system rifle. From pictures of various SPECOPS personnel at the Mogadishu airfield base from the operation, we know that M14/M21s were in use.
Given the level of involvement on the 2001 film by personnel that were actually there, it is believed that the film's M14 version fitted with an Aimpoint scope is pretty correct. Why was 1st SGT Shughart using an M14? Some believe that semi-auto "sniper rifles" are a better fit for the conditions when sniping from an helicopter platform. On May 23rd, 1994, President Clinton would award 1st SGT Shughart with the highest award, the Medal of Honor. This honor was presented to 1st SGT Shughart's widow Stephanie Shughart at the White House. This was the first MOH given since the Vietnam War. He survived by his wife .

Vasily Zaytsev

The Soviet snipers of the 2nd World War have incredible kill numbers behind their names, and one of the most now well-known is Vasily Zaytsev.  Prior to the 2nd World War, Vasily was an clerk in the Red Navy, and it wasn't until Nazi Germany invaded that Vasily became a combat soldier. During the battle of Stalingrad, he would killed 225 Germans, 11 were snipers with his sniper variant of the Mosin Nagant M91/30 that chambered the 7.62x54mmR with an PEM scope. Like most people, I'd never heard of this Red Sniper until the film came out, which I saw on my Honeymoon, and some historians have questioned elements of the story behind Vasily Zaytsev, especially the infamous "sniper dual". Others believe that Zaystev receives too much attention and drowns out other WWII Soviet snipers.

Simo Hayha
505 kills. 505 confirmed kills! This man is a machine with skills that most of us do not possess. This Finland military sniper would fight in the Winter War, just prior to World War II when Soviet Russia invade Finland. During this brief conflict, Simo would kill 505 Soviet soldiers with his Finnish copy of the Mosin-Nagnat, the M/28. The M/28 was used by the White Guard militia and chambered the 7.62x53mmR cartridge, and amazingly enough, Simo did not use a scope...open iron sights only. Some of his kills were made with the Suomi KP/31 9x19mm SMG. During an interview with an Mosin-Nagnat website, Simo stated that he also used the M28/30 rifle as his primary.He was also given a scoped Mauser that he did not like that much, and a wealthy Swedish man gave him an Husqvarna hunting rifle as well. This man is one hell of a natural shooter.

Francis Pegahmagabow
This Native American Canadian Sniper that fought in the hell that was World War One used an unusual rifle: the Ross Rifle. The Ross rifle does not enjoy the enduring reputation of the Lee Enfield Rifle of World War One and Two, despite chambering the same .303 cartridge. Developed by Sir Ross Charles for the Canadian military after fallout of the 2nd Boer War caused the Lee-Enfield rifle to not be licensed to Canada. It was believed, at first, that the Ross Rifle was superior to the Lee-Enfield rifle due to tool-less dis-assembly, being one pound lighter, and straight pull-back when cocking the bolt-action. Snipers, like Francis Pegahmagabow in the 1st CEF, used the Ross Rifle Mk.III rifle with various optics. The weakness of the Ross Rifle was revealed when the hellish conditions of the western front jammed up the Ross Rifles due to their close tolerances. This rifle was so poor received by the Canadian Expeditionary Force that they took Lee-Enfieds off of wounded British soldiers. However, the Ross Rifle was excellent as a sniper rifle, and Pegahmagabow used it to killing 378 German soldiers, earning some of the highest medals awarded by the Canadian military.

The Near Future of Sniper Rifles
There is little doubt the sniper rifle is here to stay, and in the short term, there will continued improve in the scope/sight technology, coupled with improved, more powered and smaller ballistic computer systems, along with the rifle being constructed out of lighter weight material (carbon nanotubes), and stabilization equipment with all manner of advancement of ammunition.One element that could enhance the sniper and their primary weapon is the drone. 
It could be possible to tie the drone's feed of the situation to the spotter and even piped into the sniper's scope...like a picture-in-picture setup. Of course, we could also see remote sniper rifles, as seen in COD: Ghosts, where the operator is far away from the action. This will not just be the static platform, but remote sniper offensive systems could be mounted to UAVs and UGVs, and the flesh-and-blood snipers would miles away drinking coffee and engaging targets. Of course, who said that the remote sniper rifle needs to be limited to just one auto-rifle? I can imagine several remote sniper rifles being positioned around a central target area, and via the operator, precision fire can be rained down. When it comes to the type of ammunition, the near future sniper rifle will continue to fire traditional ammunition, with small adjustments. Some military planners have concluded that the most popular sniper rifle cartridge, the 7.62x51mm, will be surpassed by the 12.7mm round. Some have thought that the 6.8x43mm will find a niche between the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm. 

One of the certain technological revolutions in sniper rifles is the so-called "smart bullet" and the "never miss" sniper rifle.Texas based company, TrackingPoint has developed the first precision guided "sniper" rifle. While the rifle is currently legal and available in a number of calibers, it costs $27,000! The rifles use guided triggers, networked scopes that can update its software, along with barrel reference system. 
This allows the ballistic computer and gun hardware to work together to achieve a prefect shot without much intervention from the human. This could be pared in the near future with DARPA’s smart (fire-and-forgot) bullet technology: EXACTO. This system is a 12.7x99mm round that uses fin and spin stabilizers tied a computerized flight program and power source. It is believed that the rifle feeds data to the bullet, allowing for course-corrections, and greater hitting targets on the move. The prospect of these two systems combining could rise the abilities and effectiveness of the sniper on the battlefield. Of course, if these systems are as good as they say, they could "dumb down" the sniper, making them more reliant on this technology, and not that inner hardwired skill. Time will tell.    

Directed and Kinetic Energy Sniper Rifles
One way for a creator to side his/her fictional universe into the future is by having their characters use laser blasters or even advanced kinetic energy weaponry. Killing with Science! Sniper rifles in sci-fi are no different, but could these types of advanced weaponry be used for futuristic sniper rifles. Directed energy weapons (DEW) are the staple of science fiction, and in the real-world, there are two usable forms of militarized directed energy: lasers and the charged particle beam. First, let us address the basic issues with a DEW as field weapon: energy source, cooling, lethality, and in-field repair. 
Any DEW sniper rifle will have to be powerful enough to engage the target, and kill the target, will means heat management via cooling, and a good power source. Heat will be a tattletale for the sniper’s position. Given the low-tech complexity of most conventional bullet firing sniper rifles, the sniper can maintain their weapon in the field, but could they service a DE sniper rifle? When it comes to laser or charged particle beam sniper rifles, I believe it would be more logical to be the charged particle beam. While lasers will be mounted to US Navy ships by 2015, and are very useful in long-range engagements, by burning holes into the target, they will not have the instance lethality of kinetic energy projectiles. Lasers require dwelling time to tunnel through the target, and in humans, that could take too long to be useful as a sniper’s weapon. That is not true of particle weapons. Charged particle beams, which are used in endoatmospheric conditions, can kill with kinetic, thermal, and disruption damage being delivered on target. Nasty. However, like laser DEW sniper rifles, the CPB DEW sniper rifle will require large sums of energy, slow recharge times, and the other length of the linear accelerators.
Kinetic energy weaponry or KEW, is a likely choice for future sniper rifles, given their lower power demands, in-field durability, and instance lethality. These futuristic KEW are Gauss (coil) guns and rail guns. It is likely that Gauss rifles would be the KEW of choice due to the compactness of the coils, energy efficiency, and the rails on the rail gun due wear out due to thermal buildup and damage. That is not to say that an sniper rail gun is not a good choice, especially on larger platforms, like mecha or powered armor. Gauss guns would be more fitting for a man-portable sniper weapon.        

Mecha Sniper Rifles?!
The concept of combining mecha with a sniper rifles has been around since the Jenova M9 "hitman" mech from early 1970's anime series Mazinger-Z, and has endured throughout media, including my own military sci-fi book Endangered Species. Combining mecha with a sniper rifle is like Jack Daniel's Whiskey with Coke, or Transformers with Dinosaurs, or even Batman with an Lamborghini Aventador, or Christina Hendricks with a too-small bikini: it is great upon great.
Mecha and/or powered armor would have the advantage of allowing the sniper cannon be carried into battle without taxing the shooter, and keeping them from being exposed to the elements, allowing for greater on-site time. The only issue is that much of the fieldcraft of the sniper is lost when they are encased in armor. This idea also makes sense if powered armor and/or mecha became dominate on the future battlefield. As snipers are hunters of the human infantry, the mech sniper is the hunter of the mech. In my upcoming book Endangered Species published by Forker Media, I feature British powered armor snipers and an American sniper serving in the MCAG. I must confess that I used my main character, Captain Jorja Leeds, to explain the promise and the perils of using powered armor snipers.     

The Sniper Rifle and Science Fiction

One of the most difficult aspects of this blogpost was the connection between science fiction and the sniper rifle.  For much of the history of science fiction, the weapon-of-choice was a laser blaster, and few other types of military grade weaponry were seen. Also, creators were mostly attempting to show the futuristic “space age” sensibility of their setting, and sniper rifles were seen as contemporary. It was not until the advent of pen-and-paper RPG games that creators began developing diverse sci-fi weaponry, and sniper rifles were included. Also during this time, more military sci-fi anime and manga were being developed, often including the occasional accurized rifle. This confusion can be clearly seen in works like Star Trek: Enterprise and 1997’s Starship Troopers. Some of this confusion was cleared up by science fiction games that added some of the duties of the real world snipers and their weapons to an futuristic setting. This was only increased when games like HALO came along to develop the sci-fi sniper rifle further into the icon of gaming today. Some of this more recent appearance of sci-fi sniper rifles is owned to the public's renewed interest in more specialized military units since the beginning of the War on Terror. 
One interesting futuristic element seen in sci-fi snipers is the abilities to fire through walls. EraserPerfect Dark, and the TR-116 from DS9 were all gifted with the able to engage targets or just see targets through solid matter. I mean, what could be more sci-fi tacticool than a sniper rifle that assassinates some poor bastard while they are many rooms away from you? However, besides the few examples like these, the sci-fi sniper rifle is more or less based on current sniper rifles, and few stray outside those lines. With the continued popularity of online shooter games, sci-fi sniper rifles will continue to be developed. 

The Misriah Armory SRS99 Series UNSC Sniper Rifles from the HALO Universe
 Due to the legendary status of the HALO video games, and the time period in which they emerged onto the world of video games, the UNSC Sniper Rifle System 99 series sniper rifles have become one of the most iconic sci-fi sniper rifles of all time throughout all media. This weapon would appear in every HALO game with modifications each time, but the SRS99 series was, at its core, an 14.5x114mm sniper rifle designed to kill alien bastards. Bungie patterned the SRS99 series after the South African Mecham NTW-20 that fires an either an 14.5mm or 20mm round.
The SRS99 series has a magazine of four 14.5x114mm armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarded sabot that are often one-shot-one-kill in the game and online. There is debate on if the SRS99 series was developed for use against the alien Covenant species or if it was in service prior. Some believe that their was an .450 original version that is referred to in The Fall of Reach book and upscaled when the alien invasion occurred. The lastest variant of the SRSS99 is the HALO 4 SRS99-S5, and in strongly believed that the SRS99 will return in HALO 5 and 6 as well as the live-action Xbox One TV series. Despite the number of variants to the base SRS99, it is basically the same weapon with some modifications and prettier graphics. This video game has become one of the icons of video game sniper rifles and the bane of some HALO players (like me) existance.

The Armat Battlefield System CMC M42A Caseless Sniper Rifle from the ALIENS Universe
In the 1986 movie, the Colonial Marine rapid response unit carries nothing like an sniper rifle. However, in the 1996 ALIENS: Colonial Marine Technical Manual, the author created an caseless sniper rifle used by Colonial Marine scout/snipers and was designed by Ian Mitchell. Armat battlefield systems would use the successful M41A1 Pulse Rifle to pattern an compact bullpup semiautomatic sniper rifle that chambers the familiar 10x28mm caseless round and feeds from an 15 round box magazine. The 31inch barrel features an integrated bipod and flash suppressor.
With the demands of long distance shooting, several custom 10mm rounds were designed to allow the M42A to have an effective range of over 2,000 meters. The standard 10mm round is the HEAP M252, and for engagements over 3,000 meters, there is an stabilized ball projectile. In a pinch, the sniper can load the M250 M56 Smart Gun LMG round, however, the range is lessened and the pulse-fuse system has to be reset. While the action of the M42A is based on the M41A1, the multi-function scope features 20x zoom, and display targets in all manner of spectrum. Including in the funcation of the scope is an ability to link into local Sentry Cannons, and direct their behavior. This classified system, called PARGET, is one of several classificed systems. Gearbox Studios was considering using the M42A Scope Rifle for their botched 2013 Colonial Marines video game, but it was replaced by the M4RA battle rifle. M42A designer Ian Mitchell said that designed the 22nd century sniper rifle from Walther WA 2000 sniper rifle and the M14 DMR, the M24. He flipped the name, and created the M42.  

The C-10 Mk. VI Canister Rifle from the Starcraft Universe
If we had been able to play Starcraft: Ghost on our original Xbox systems, it would have players using the primary weapon of the elite Ghost commandos: the C-10 Canister rifle. Used by the Ghosts and other Terran SPECOPS units, the C-10 is an precision fire weapon with a nicely designed futuristic scope/aiming assembly, and is able to be sound suppressed. The weapon can fire a variety of ammunition, including the 25mm Canister round, and appears to be able to bring down Zerg in one shot. What is canister shot? While I could not find anything on the Starcraft wiki, but canister ammo general is anti-personnel that uses grapeshot or some other type of spread shot. While this weapon has been seen in some of the most iconic Starcraft art and videos, there is little technical data on the C-10,

The KiSteer 1284 Projectile Rifle from Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones

In the opening to SW:ATOC, paid assassin Zam Wesell uses an interesting slugthrower sniper rifle to take down her assassin droid bearing an Jedi Master hanging onto the droid. This weapon is the KiSteer 1284 Projectile Rifle that is designed for long-range accurate fire by using specially constructed projectile rounds. The KiSteer 1284 is similar to the Tuskian Raider rifle and the Adventurer slugthrower used by Aurra Sing. Sadly, this interesting looking sci-fi sniper rifle was another victim of being the SW curse of a cool sci-fi prop being lovingly designed and seen on-screen for less than 30 seconds.

The Z-750 Special Application Sniper "Binary" Rifle from HALO 4
During the Forerunner's war with the Flood, the Promethean Knights were armed to the fucking teeth with all manner of advanced weapons technology, including this sniper rifle, the Z-750 or Binary Rifle. This appears to be something like an railgun with the twin parallel rails that are used to form the deadly ionized particle shot. This weapon can easily take out an target with one shot, and that is a good thing, too, because only 12 round can be carried for the Binary Rifle, and the rifle itself is single-action with two shots per magazine. This is a very cool design that is fun to use in the game. There is no word if the Binary Rifle will be returning for HALO 5.

The Starfleet TR-116 Projectile Rifle from ST: DS9 "Field of Fire"

In the 1999 episode (7x13) Field of Fire, a murder of an young Starfleet officer is committed onboard the station. While is not not normal, it is the method of murder that is most unusual: chemically propelled projectile. It is believed that the murder weapon was the cancelled TR-116 rifle that was designed to operate in toxic environment that a phaser discharge could be dangerous. While the TR-116 was carried all the way to prototype, it was rejected when regenerative phasers were developed. While cancelled, the pattern of the TR-116 was uploaded to Federation databases with Officer-only restrictions. During the murder investigation, it is revealed that a micro-transporter was used to teleport the bullet within a few centimeters of the victim, allowing for the kill to engage from anywhere on the station. Of course, being Star Trek it gets odd and uses the new Dax as the focal point for the whole plot, and the overall episode is weak, but has some interesting elements.
This full sized battle rifle like weapon fires an believed .30 tritanium caseless bullets (no shell casings are never mentioned in the episode, along with curved magazine design). The TR-116 seen in "Field of Fire" is parred with an monocle exographic targeting system and a micro transport on the barrel, allowing this TR-116 to have x-ray scanning abilities along with engaging targets behind walls.   While TR-116 rifle is an interesting sci-fi weapon, is not an out-and-out sniper rifle, but is unique a futuristic vision of precision weapon, and could be used as the basis for a creator, and the end dual-of-the-snipers is cool.
Fansites have called the TR-116 and its x-ray targeting system an MacGuffin that was developed for the story only, and it doesn't help the case of the TR-116 that it ever seen or heard from again in the series, but has been in video games, toys, and some ST:DS9 books. Beng Star Trek, the core of the TR-116 prop was based on the Breen DE assault rifle. Personally, I think an opportunity for a cool little-discussed Federation weapon and a even cool story to feature the TR-116 was missed here. This is one of the many reasons I stopped watching DS9 back in 1998.   
The Helghast VC-32 Sniper Rifle from the Killzone Universe

Patterned after the iconic Helghast army StA-14 assault bullpup rifle, the VC32 is the most common sniper rifle of the Helghan military. Chambering the .338 Lapua instead of the 7.62x51mm cartridge and fitted with a 2x-5x scope and heavier longer barrel. This makes the VC32 closer to the M110 or L129A1 than the M40. After the failed invasion of Vekta, the  VC32 replaced the StA-52 SLAR seen in the first PS2 Killzone game and was used throughout Killzone 2 & 3. While this maybe an Helghast weapon, ISA personnel have been seen using it. The studio used elements of the SL8, the civilian variant of the H&K G36.

The Klingon Sniper Disrupter Rifle from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
In the last film with the original Enterprise crew, the turning point in Klingon/Federation relations is nearly derailed by a secret conspiracy of rouge Klingon leaders and Starfleet officers. During the final act, an "Klingon" warrior who was really Starfleet Colonel West under an Mission Impossible mask, attempted to use an directed energy sniper rifle to assassinate the Federation President at Camp Khitomer, thus scrapping the peace accords. The Enterprise and Excelsior crew beam in and Captain Scott kills the assassin, saving the day and intergalactic peace.
Being that ST VI: TUC was filming prior to the renewed interest in snipers and their weaponry, the portrayal of the sniper is as an assassin waiting in the shadows for a moment to alter history with a single bullet, or beam in this case. The film was also mining the Cold War and the use of an assassin with an sniper rifle is a nod the assassination of President Kennedy.
The weapon itself is never given much explanation or screen time. It seems to be of Klington design and is assembled from a carry conceal case, as was common in films of the time. This features a futuristic scope and stock, and seems to fire a red DE beam or even bolt. There were two props made for this cinema sniper rifle; one was the Klingon version we all saw on-screen, then there was another sniper rifle constructed around with the new Federation "assault phaser" with all manner of sniper attachments to accuarize the assault phaser pistol. This was due to a change in script, according to Phasers.net. Originally, Colonel West was not be masquerading as a Klingon warrior, and utilized the assault phaser accessory kit.

The Storm PSR Sniper Rifle from COD: Black Ops II
How could there be an COD game without their iconic (and bullshit) sniper rifles? In the Black Ops: II near future setting, the US SPECOPS units are seen using an unique futuristic sniper rifle, the Storm PSR with an X-ray scope. The inspiration for the Storm PSR partly seems to be the bullshit EM-1 Railgun sniper rifle from 1996 film Eraser. The Storm PSR uses a unique break-open design to load a box magazine of 30 "rounds", and the shooter can use the X-ray scope to target victims under cover, then engage an power function to fire more powerful rounds, taking out targets behind cover. The weapon features the ability to fire different types of ammunition without switching and uses an electronic firing system.While this sniper rifle was featured in the campaign in a limited fashion, it was not placed into the multiplayer. This was an entirely fictionized sniper rifle and appears to borrow some aspects from the defunct Metal Storm system.

The EM-1 Railgun from Eraser (1996)
In this film, the EM-1 Rail sniper rifle is the most advanced weapon on Earth, and has the ability to fire an aluminum projectile at close the speed of light (186,000 miles-per-second) and is featured within an X-ray scope. Sounds cool, huh? This gun was pimped out during the film's release, and inspirited sci-fi creators for decades. The only thing is that the EM-1 is complete bullshit.
The physics do not work out for this gun. The power needed to propel a projectile at those speeds is far too much for an handheld weapon system, coupled that with the aluminum round burn into carbon by the time it left the barrel, with only supraheated plasma exiting the barrel. The shooter would be injured or even killed by the gun being ripped out of their hands, and the target would be hit so hard and so fast that they would not notice. However, the surrounding area would be inflected with radiation and flames. Besides that, why would need an weapon this overpowered? This has to be one of the stupidest fictional weapons.

The COG Longshot Sniper Rifle from Gears of War Universe

One of the oldest weapons in the COG universe is the bolt-action Longshot sniper rifle. Noted for its design, power, and length, the Longshot became a fan favorite online and in the hands of a skilled player, the Longshot was a certain ticket to the respawn. Like many of the COG weapons, it is not an easy affair to load or aim, but the reward is well worth it. Unlike other video game sniper rifles, the Longshot has an aiming icon on-screen, and this allows the Longshot to be aimed without using the scope, allowing for hip-fire kills. Back when I played the original COG online, there were skilled "snipers" that used the Longshot as an assault rifle, and would lay down seemingly impossible shots.

The Sniper Rifle from Team Fortress 2
There is little doubt at the popularity of Valve's Team Fortress 2 shooter, and one of the crazy cast of characters is the New Zealand/Australian Sniper. His weapon of choice besides a big knife is an traditional styled bolt-action sniper rifle with a comedically big scope and laser aiming device. This rifle is believed to have been based off of the 7.62mm M40 sniper rifle and is one of the most famous video game sniper rifles of all time. In the game, the base damage is 50, but the weapon can be charged up to delivery an instant one-hit kill. We shall see if the sniper rifle makes a return in the upcoming TF3. 

The Morita XXX Sniper Rifle from SST: Invasion

In the animated SST:Invasion, the female MI trooper Tia "Trig" Durer uses the Morita Triple-X large caliber sniper rifle in service with A-01 team. Unlike the bullshit Mortia "sniper rifle" from the first film, the XXX seems more like a real sniper rifle, and is used in a more befitting manner than the previous Morita sniper rifle variant. In the 2012 animated film Trig is seen using the XXX in the vacuum of space, which is rare in sci-fi. While the exact caliber is unknown to the Triple-X, it is seen taking down warrior drone bugs in one shot. Given their size, I would bet that the XXX fires 12.7x99mm, 14mm or even 20mm, especially given that the XXX bears some resemblance to the Barrett M82.

The KAC M110 SASS from Clive Barker's Jericho
In the 2007 supernatural shooter, Jericho, one of the elite SPECOPS team members, Lt. Abigail Black, uses an current issue KAC M110 7.62mm sniper rifle. Given her psychic abilities, she can use the M110 to launch "ghost bullets". Okay, there is one of the biggest bullshit aspects of the M110 in the Clive Barker's Jericho, the fucking underslung FN G-1 40mm grenade launcher. Why would you fit this weapon with an grenade launcher? Ugh. This is one of these video game stupid-weapon tropes that floats around.

Isabelle's Blaser R93 LRS2 Tactical from Predators
In the 2010 "real" sequel to the iconic 1987 film, Predators features a motley crue of professional killers from Terra, including an IDF female sniper named Isabelle. Her weapon-of-choice, is the German Blaser R93 Tactical LRS2 believed to be chambering the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge, topping off the package is the Elcan digital hunter scope. As her backup personal defense weapon, Isabelle carries the H&K 45C. While the film is a rocking good time and actress Alice Braga is great in the role, it always bothered me, being a gun-nut asshole, that an IDF sniper is carrying two German weapons. Why? Afterall, the IDF has their own sniper rifle, the "Barak" HTR-2000 or the M89R and their own pistol, the Jericho 941...so, why wasn't Isabelle carrying those? In my opinion, it is stylistic reasons. The Blaser R93 LRS2 Tactical with the scope is very fucking tacticool looking, and Robert Rodriguez is known for doing that in casting his movie firearms (just look at that fucking M16/M203-gun-leg-thing from Planet Terror).

The Sniper Rifles from the Mass Effect Universe
For any modern shooter video game, the sniper rifle is a requirement and Mass Effect is no different. Like all projectile weapons in this fictional universe, a shaved piece of metal is forced down the barrel of the gun via micro-mass effect fields. Sniper rifles feature longer barrels, improved optics, and given the need for greater range over assault rifle class, the sniper rifles generate more heat-per-shot than any other weapon classifications. One shot often over heats the weapon, forces slower shots. In Mass Effect 2 and 3, the thermal clip technology is used to eject waste heat, and the sniper rifle classification uses one thermal clip per shot. In the 3rd game, the sniper rifle was one of the heaviest weapons wore, and I personally jettisoned the sniper rifle for an submachine gun. Never felt that the Mass Effect sniper rifle was very well done save for the overall design.

Sniper Rifles from Warhammer 40K Universe
Nearly every race in the WH40K universe uses some form of sniper rifle, and their basic function is a weapon of assassinations. The Imperium uses their bolter technology, while the Tau use rail gun technology, and the space elves Eldar use crystal-needles that delivery toxins. In the Imperial Guard army, long-range lasers or Long-Las are used in place of bolter weapons technology. Within the human Imperium, the Space Marine scouts, the newbies of the Chapter, are the most common users of sniper rifles within the super-soldier space marines. The mutant human species called the Ratlings are used by the Imperium of Man as snipers in their Imperial Guard.

The Farsight XR-20 Alien Sniper Rifle from Prefect Dark

Do you remember the N64? Man, those were the days! N64 is noted for having one of the first sniper rifles used in mulitplayer gaming in Rare's Goldeneye, but in Rare's Prefect Dark game, there is an interesting alien sniper rifle, the Farsight XR-20. This is one-shot kill alien railgun was inspirited by the EM-1 from Eraser, and it is interesting design. The ammo is loaded on the side, and the gun seems absorb the magazine. Weird. This was the killer app weapon for the N64 game's mulitplayer. All you had to do was finding an empty space, engage the trippy X-ray scope, and then pick off players like a boss. This weapon was a gift from the Maian Grey aliens to Special Agent Joanna Dark. The XR-20 was rated #45 on IGN's 100 greatest video game weapon countdown.

Rudra's Rifle and his "Grim Reaper" Sniper-Mecha Rifle-Cannon from Viper's Creed 
In the 2009 failed military sci-fi anime series, Viper's Creed, the world of mid-21st century is a much different place. Climate Change has flooded the world, and the last remaining cities hire private military companies to defend them. One of the main enemies are leftover combat automated mecha from the last great war, that are malfunctioning, and running amok. One PMC group uses transformable mecha bikes called maneuver blades that feed off of power strips implanted into the highway system. These highways that connect the cities are the lifeline since the oceans are too dangerous, and much blood is spilled protecting them.
In one of the most elite maneuver blade teams, called VIPER, has a mix of vets from the last world war, one of them, Rudra, uses his mecha as a platform for sniping. Rudra was a former military sniper in the war, and quite a good one at that. In the VIPER team, his mecha has an large bore (12.7mm or 20mm?) sniper rifle that could be firing HEAP or HEIAP ammunition and specialized targeting systems. When the need arises, Rudra can dismount and use his personnel sniper rifle, an 7.62mm NATO Walther WA 2000 sniper rifle. In episode five of 12 episode series, "Grim Reaper", Rudra is arrested for an political assassination, and it turns into a dual-of-snipers.

Next Time on FWS...
Military sci-fi can take many forms, and in the literary world, military sci-fi can encompass a number of other sub-genre, like the techno-thriller. Such is the case for Nathan M. Farrugia's Chimera Vector, the first book in the Fifth Column series. In the next installment of the FWS Book Reviews, we will looking at this impressive book and discussing the novel with the author.  


  1. Good article! I was waiting a lot for it.
    Here are my 2 cents
    About to use of laser for sniping – if laser ever become a military tool, snipers will be the first to use it.
    But you don't have to use a laser only for killing; a more frightening use will be aim the laser for your target eyes, blinding the target.
    After all, a blind president is as functional as dead president without the additional Memorial Day (is this the reason why Obama always wear cool sun glass?).
    In one of arthur c Clarke short stories; an African astronomer want to eliminate a tyrant who role his country with iron grip and shaman crazy talk, but how?
    The astronomer constructs an IR laser and places an incest looking mirror; affectively build a gun that shot beyond corners, enable him to aim and shot via the mirror.
    The plan works and the ruler become blind "painlessly" spreading fear and terror among the ruler party members that believe it was an act of black magic.
    In the novel "The Moon is Harsh Mistress" the moon insurgents use laser driller mount as AA gun to blind the pilot of a drop ship while it maneuver for landing, cause it to crash.
    I haven’t seen in MSF any consideration with the stability of Gauss gun slugs.
    Modern bullets gain their stability from spinning cause by the rifle grooves.
    How will Gauss slugs gain their spin?
    One method is to place a rifled barrel from non-magnetized material inside the coils; the EM fields from the coils will force the slug thru the barrel and spin the slug, the disadvantages: barrel friction slow the slug, ware off the barrel and allowed only slugs made of soft material like modern bullets).)
    Other method is design a Gauss gun with rotating breech face; a rimmed slug will be catch by the breech face that will rotate it; then the EM fields will "snap" the slug from the breech face into the coils, throwing toward to the target a spinned slug.
    Rail Gun:
    Can't really see who could the rail gun spin the projectile, the projectile is firmly lock between two parallel conducting rails, maybe if the two frictionless rails will have curved-arc cross section where the round projectile is placed between them and rotate by the breech face before been launch it will work…
    Oddly, a real Gauss/rail gun mechanism might look like Barrett M82; the EM recoil will move the "barrel" coils/rails backward against the breech and the two will move and compress two separate compression springs, the two parts will move together to rearward point, the more stronger spring will move quickly the barrel to forward position, the weaker spring move the breech forward, strip a slug from the feed system into the barrel.
    Such mechanism will result in semi auto fire, less recoil for shooter and simpler gun mechanism.
    Coriolis Effect:
    In long firing the sniper must add earth rotation to the aiming calculation due to the Coriolis Effect. On other worlds the future sniper will have to add the different planet rotation speed and planet diameter to different gravity and air density to hit the target.
    Horizon Distance:
    The max distance the sniper can see & shot is limited by the earth spherical shape, that distance will be change proportional to the square root of the plant diameter.
    For example – horizon distance at sea level on earth is 4.7km. On mars it will be 3.4km.
    Could be a nice story plot – the unprepared snipers "suddenly" discover that their super guns lethal range been decrease on an alien world…
    Supersonic crack:
    When firing a bullet in supersonic velocity the bullet create a noticeable sound that help the target/s located the sniper. Subsonic bullet are quitter but less accurate.
    In Gauss gun the sniper can dial-a-velocity, the slug will leave the gun at the right supersonic velocity needed so when the slug reach the target/s it already subsonic.
    The gun firing computer will calculate the right velocity giving the range, sound speed & air density and aiming correction needed.


    1. I don't think their will ever be a laser sniper rifle fielded due to modern sniper rifles being asked this 1 requirement...can it be suppressed.all modern snipers like the m40a5 & the new xm2010 esr have suppressers on them. A sniper being stealthy is a requirement for a snipers survival. So a suppressor is needed for the future snipers of man. I think it's possible to suppress a gauss gun in some future but not now.

    2. Laser gun don't need to be suppressed, there no sound to suppress at all!
      The two main noise sources at conventional guns are: expanding gases at the muzzle & supersonic crack.
      In laser gun there no hot gases to propel a bullet and no bullet to create supersonic crack.
      Gauss gun bullet can create supersonic crack if it supersonic but the "dial-a-velocity" can handle it.


    3. Many newer tank cannons are smoothbore; Their projectiles don't spin, and their flight is instead stabilized with fins.

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  2. Regarding the "Eraser" railgun, given how much power it would take to fire even a tiny projectile at "near the speed of light" the muzzle flare alone would probably make the Tsar Bomba look like a firecracker, to say nothing of the recoil and what would happen to anything that got hit...

  3. I think we can see a number of Trend emerging to give us a near term view of the sniper rifle from today until maybe 2040. The first are the two schools of thought bolt action vs Semi Auto.
    In the bolt action wood is dead. Fiberglass is dying. Aluminum and steel and magnesium alloys The Sniper rifle is going lightweight with a modular metallic chassis system with a folding stock and multi caliber options using quick change barrels magazine and bolt faces. .308 or 7.62x51mm is fading form the bolt action sniper class although it will remain in service more and more the longer heavier calibers are becoming the basis for the bolt action sniper well .308 and 7.62x51mm is becoming the Nat Semiauto DMR and Semiauto Sniper rifle.
    In some cases... a lot of cases the Sniper is carrying the sniper weapon in a pack as a secondary weapon. this means his sniper rifle needs a shorter barrel often the sniper is firing suppressed making the short barrel a bonus. some want there rifle to break down into a even more compact form and a number of makers are turning that hollywood dream of the sniper assembling his rifle on the scene before the shot reality.
    The other is the semi auto. These newer ones are also lighter then there predecessors. Some are pushing heavier calibers. like the .300 WM. most are sticking to the established right now the AR10 operation is the new black. although both semiauto and boltaction are getting a few bullpups.
    Universally we are seeing the "Education" of the scope. "Semi Smart scopes" are being partnered with ballistics calculators and attachable range finders well "Smart scopes" build them in and "Brilliant Scopes" in the form of Tracking point are emerging. offering precision with integrated rangefinding, ballistics calculation and shot timing. as we move forward larger calibre weapons will also begin partnering with smart rounds. which will adjust there own course to ensure beyond mile shots become boring. as we move past these I feel that caseless will finally emerge we already see the US Army looking at it again in the LSAT and with the need of the sniper to keep a low profile a caseless wound would be a major step up. eventually as I think Rail or Gauss will emerge as sniper and Antitank weapons But My money say this will not happen in my lifetime.

  4. Excellent comments! FWS has some of the smartest readers on the internet! I am not an 100% happy with this blogpost, and I just glad that everyone seems to enjoy it. At the moment, I am very busy with several things outside of FWS. More on that later.
    Gauss sniper rifles are something that I put into my own novel, and I see your point Yoel. I think there has not been enough research on Gauss KEWs to answer some of your questions. But, you rise some good ones. I do not think that Rail and Gauss will not be our lifetimes as well.
    One element of sniper rifles that I did not touch on was optics. I plan on exploring that massive topic in an upcoming blogpost.
    Thanks for the comments!

    1. Designing fictional guns is very fun but I guess there's a fine line between writing a MSF novel and writing a technical manual for 2114 Colt brochure…
      Since I'm an engineer I'll take the later! But I don’t know how many readers you'll find if you start writing future brochures, or as Obi-Wan Kenobi will say as wave is palm in front of your face: "those aren't the readers you're looking for".


    2. having a hard science backing for your work is a good idea, but one has to walk that fine line between systems briefing and drama.

  5. Aw sweet, you mention ed the Farsight! :)

    Perfect Dark is one of my favorite N64 games, and was even better than Goldeneye. It was just so satisfying to frag someone with one of these.

    I always speculated about the "Rail-gun Effect", and wonder if the FarSight actually uses some sort of alien technology other than railguns for those wall penetrating shots, thus having a similar "effect" without the high recoil.

    In any case, another cool article. Thanks.

  6. The Farsight and all the Weapons of the Maians including the Phoenix and Callisto NTG seem to be I would dare say seemed Organic to me.

  7. No matter what fancy sight or mew equipment they put in. A snipers hands, nothing will ever replace the training, skill, & adaptability of a sniper. Due to the bastard known as Murphy's law technology fails a sniper in many situations from bad readings on a rangefinder to many more obstacles in the sinpers way & only a properly trained sniper can overcome that obstacle.

    Snipers were ( still are) the commander's portable UAV. When a officer or any soldier calls for surveillance they send snipers before uavs or any of that fancy tech.

  8. I had to include the Farsight! One of the great, nearly forgotten alien snipers! I also love it because it is organically based technology. I will be talking about the Maians when FWS discussed the Grey aliens. Spec. Davidson, that statement on snipers being "the commander's portable UAV" will be in my discussion of snipers in the future blogpost!
    Oh, I totally agree, Murphy is a bastard.

  9. Great post, the info was realy helpful. It is interesting to note that while sniper weapons, targeting systems, and personal stealth devices are becomeing more advanced, detection technology is catching up. There are systems now which can track and incoming artillery shell, and use computers to estimate the firing position of the enemy, along wiht sound systems that do the same for bullets. It might reach the point where a sniper is no longer used in a offensive military role against well eqipped opponents, but more as a anti-terrorist or intelligence gathering mechanism. Its also notable that with laser point defense bullets can be shot down as easily as missiles, if the beam is strong enough and the targeting reolution good. The sniper's role, while it may be easier to score a kill, is going to get harder.

    In my own work a war is being fought across the surface of a balkanized Mars, with varous semi-nomadic factions. There is constant skirmishing, although few larger fights, and many of the most revered leaders and fighters are snipers. Some of the weapons are gauss rifles, others electrothermal light gas guns. Because the elements needed to build computer circuts are in short supply they don't have any remote reconessance methods, and their are no aircraft, so the snipers are the primary intelligence gatherers.


    1. Mars low G and low air density will favor the sharpshooters, there bullets trajectory will be almost completely flat.
      There are two disadvantages due to mars smaller diameter: Coriolis Effect & Horizon Distance.
      The shift from the planet rotation will be bigger than on earth but it could be manageable using correcting tables for simple optics or computer process with smart optics.
      The horizon distance can expand if the sniper locates on higher ground: hills& mountains. If one of your mars colonies is placed on the plains - no worries, it easier to build a high watch tower on mars then on earth. Low G will reduce the structure weigh and low air density will reduce wind drag/side force.
      You mention before that in your novel energy is cheap, right? If so the colony engineers can design the tower/s with flywheels for every few 50m or so, the main problem with design tall freestanding structure is buckling. Those flywheels will act like mounting points along the tower.
      Such a tower can be very tall, from hundreds of meters to Km.

  10. There might be a way to suppress the report of a gauss sniper rifle. Mount two lasers on the sides of the gauss barrel. These would heat the air along the gauss projectile’s flight path. Heated, the air would be less dense, and in theory, produce a shockwave that is not as loud. This weapon could prove more versatile than a standard sniper weapon. The lasers alone could be used in antipersonnel sniping, while the gauss projectile would be used in an antimaterial roll.

    One munition that was not mentioned is the gyro jet round. At first glance, this wound seem like the ideal weapon for a sniper. Self-propelled, its range would be greater than most projectiles. The problem with the round is that it is self-propelled, and therefore makes noise through its entire flight. The first shot would let the enemy know the sniper’s general position. A second shot would be suicidal. Under certain weather conditions, the gyro jet wound leave a contrail that would point directly at the sniper.

    On the subject of blinding people with lasers; the military has long known about the threat. Modern field binoculars and targeting scopes have filters that remove the color frequency of the targeting lasers of our potential foes. Because most of our foes use old soviet equipment, that color is green.
    Dering the cold war, the U.S. Air Force developed googles that would protect pilots’ eyes against nuclear flash. In an environment where multiple frequencies of lasers could encountered, such equipment could be modified to protect ground troops.

    1. Natick Soldier systems Center has already stated a working on eye protection against lasers.


  11. Lasers, from what I heard, have some other advantages and disadvantages for being used as a sniper weapon;

    The beam is as accurate as anything can be, and its trajectory isn't changed by wind and is only very slightly changed by gravity. The time it would take to reach the target also doesn't need to be accounted for, unless you're sniping over extremely long distances, like halfway between the Earth and the Moon... All this makes hitting the target much easier, and the lack of recoil makes it easier to hit it again. The beam's speed also means that once it is emitted, it cannot be responded to by active defenses until after it hits. The same won't always be true for bullets.

    However, the problems with interference by the atmosphere, fog, and so on would be worse over greater distances.


  12. The Isa have their own sniper rifle. If u played killzone mercenary. They have 2 Isa sniper rifles. The semi auto m33 & the one shot per mag m42. Pretty dope to use.

  13. That thing you've got labelled as a PSG-1 isn't a PSG-1, it's older G3SG/1.

  14. Amazing research for this topic. What do you think about these rifle scopes?

  15. One of these days, FWS will be discussing scopes and sights for weapons and the sci-fi examples of these. One day. Thanks for commenting and reading!

  16. These information are really interesting to know,actually these information are difficult to find. These guns will look more interesting and amazing while they are in the hands of trained professional.
    MA Gun License

  17. The new record is over 2 miles away.



  18. Astonishing exploration for this theme. What's your opinion on these rifle scopes?

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