Even though it’s a conventional armor-infantry war with both sides dug in deep in certain locations, we haven’t discussed sniper activity too much during several months of combat in Ukraine.
The last time we covered sniper rifles in Ukraine was in March. But that is about to change if you can believe the Ukrainian military.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s forces are bragging about an ultra-long sniper kill that could put its shooter in the record books. I’m talking about a shot that traveled nearly 1.7 miles to reach its target.
The Occupier Is No More in Ukraine
While other media sources were unable to independently verify the action, Ukraine posted a video to Telegram on November 16 that appears to show what the defenders called an “occupier” walking in the woods.
The target freezes, enters the scope’s crosshairs and then collapses to the ground in an apparent kill shot. Another Russian soldier goes to help the person down and a second shot disabled this combatant.
The Target Was In a Wooded Area
These shots would likely have been in an area of eastern Ukraine with ample farmland separated by wooded areas. The wooded areas have trenches. This would have made the exploits extremely difficult since it appears the incident happened in a forest.
Is this the Second All Time?
The record for the longest sniper action of 2.2 miles is held by an anonymous Canadian shooter from a shot made in 2017. The Canadian sniper was using a McMillan TAC-50C sniper rifle with .50 BMG rounds.
If it is true, the Ukrainian sniper would be in second place, sending British sniper Craig Harrison to third in line from the world record. Harrison made his shot in 2009 in Afghanistan against a Taliban fighter 1.5 miles away.
This Alligator Has Long-Range Bite
Kyle Mizokami of Popular Mechanics believes a large sniper rifle would need to be used to pull off such a feat of shooting. Mizokami wrote that the shooter probably fired a long and powerful Ukrainian-made Snipex Alligator.
These rifles would have sent a 14.4mm round downrange. This would make it a hefty .57 caliber, which is larger than the .50 caliber sniper rifles used in the West for anti-material shots. The Alligator rifle is true to its name in length measuring 6.5 feet long and weighing 50 pounds. So, this thing is a beast.
The Alligator is also an anti-material rifle made for penetrating armored plates that can punch holes in the engine blocks of armored vehicles, for example.
Probably the Handiwork of a Ukrainian Special Ops Sniper
The Ukrainian special operations forces have been firing the Snipex Alligator since 2021. The rifle has a maximum effective range of 1.24 miles, so it is within the realm of possibility that the Ukrainian sniper made such long shots.
The sniper may have used a night vision sight to record his exploits.
It’s Certainly Possible
The video shows the shot lasted three seconds, which would imply that the round would take that long to travel the distance at 3,241 feet per second.
That would compute to roughly 1.8 miles away, which falls in line with the 1.7 miles distance of the shots.
Shots In the Treeline Are Extra Difficult
I don’t think the Ukrainian special ops faked the video, but they may have fudged on the exact distance.
However, if confirmed, this is one impressive feat of shooting with the targets in a wooded area that may have happened at night.
There will probably be more sniper activity as both sides dig in for winter. Sharpshooters will be rewarded with kills and Ukrainians and Russians will have to keep their heads down and refrain from walking outside the trench line, even if they think they are protected by trees.
Expert Biography: Serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.