Last December an anonymous British sniper managed to kill six Taliban fighters with a single shot. From a distance of 900 meters the 20 year old lance corporal hit the trigger of a suicide vest, setting off an explosion that killed the would-be-suicide-bomber and five others in the immediate vicinity.
The likely weapon of choice was the L115A3 sniper rifle, which has effective range up to 1,100 meters. The kill(s) were recently disclosed to media as the U.K. prepares withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. The amazing feat of sniping brings to mind other similar achievements of military lore.
Here are 7 legendary snipers who would be proud fighting next to the British soldier:
7. Chris Kyle
The Navy SEAL deployed to Iraq four times and has 255 confirmed kills on his dossier. His deadly skill earned him the nickname “Devil of Ramadi” and insurgents put a $20,000 bounty on his head. When the enemy has a bounty on your head as a sniper, you’re doing something right.
In 2008 Kyle scored his longest shot killing an insurgent armed with a RPG from over a mile away (1920 meters). His weapon of choice was the bolt-action .300 Winchester Magnum, although the record kill was accomplished with a .338 Lapua Magnum.
6. Craig Harrison
Cpl. Harrison was forced out of the British military after his identity became known and made him an Al-Qaeda kidnapping risk. Why was Harrison a high value target?
Only because he has the longest confirmed kill in the history of combat. In 2009 Harrison fell two Taliban machine gunners from a distance of 2,475 meters in the Helmund Province of Afghanistan. The after action report stated Harrison and his spotter took 9 shots before first hitting their target.
The weather was perfect that day, allowing Harrison to be on target well beyond the typical range of his sniper rifle. At that distance, the round took approximately 6 seconds to reach target. Like the soldier with six kills in one shot, Harrison’s weapon of choice was the L115A3. His military service put him in the Guiness Book of World Records, where his record for longest kill still stands.
5. Matt Hughes
Another British sniper, another incredible shot. While serving in the Royal Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Cpl. Matt Hughes struck an enemy combatant under less than ideal conditions. Firing into high winds, Hughes curved his 7.62 round 56 meters in the air before striking his target perfectly in the chest. In essence, Hughes had to gauge ballistics and aim at an unrelated target to make the shot. Incredible.
Hughes later compared the shot to soccer player David Beckham taking a free kick. Bend it like Beckham indeed.
4. Simo Häyä
Häyä is a legendary figure in his home country of Finland. In 1939 the Russians invaded Finland, forcing Häyä into hiding with a prized possession. His iron sighted, bolt action rifle. Disguising himself in the snow, Häyä killed more than 500 Russian invaders in just 3 months.
The Ruskies called him “White Death” for a reason.
3. Adelbert F. Waldron III
109 confirmed kills for the Staff Sgt. who served during the Vietnam War. The book Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam details an incident in which Sgt. Waldron hit a Vietcong soldier hiding in a coconut tree from 900 meters away with a single shot. Just too make things challenging, Waldron scored the kill from a moving firing position, a Tango boat.
2. Carlos Hathcock
Carlos Hathcock was such a good sniper he ended up having a rifle named after him. He also is the man behind the famous ‘scope kill’ where he hit a fellow Viet Cong sniper with a shot through the scope. He’s also credited with killing a high ranking General on a dangerous solo mission, which involved living in the mud for three days on no sleep.
Hathcock estimated that he killed over 300 Viet Cong during the war including the infamous female sniper named “Apache” known for torturing U.S. Marines. His war stories could fill a novel; in fact, they have. Hathcock has been the subject of three books detailing his sniping exploits.
1. Chuck Mawhinney
Sgt. Mawhinney is a humble hero who didn’t even know how good of a sniper he was until 20 years after the fact. After leaving the Marine Corps in 1970 with 103 confirmed kills in Vietnam, Maywhinney never mentioned his tour, not even to his wife. He gradually became recognized for his sniping skill when the men he served with began providing accounts of his accomplishments.
The historic rifle Mawhinney used in war is prominently on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
He likened his 16 months in Vietnam to an ultimate hunting trip, where it was hunt or be hunted. Chuck Mawhinney was the type of sniper who found the enemy first.