The Longest Confirmed Sniper Kill, What a Story (As Explained by a Former U.S. Army Officer): Take a rifle and go to the range. Use iron sights instead of a scope, and try to hit a target 300 meters away. If you hit successfully, that is considered a good shot.
Add a scope and you can take pride in your abilities if you hit from 1,000 meters.
But those distances are nothing for modern snipers.
Imagine being able to hit a target a mile or two away.
That’s what at least three snipers during the war on terror did. They completely disrupted battles with their accurate shots at ultra-long distances.
The Longest Confirmed Sniper Kill, Explained
The longest sniper kill ever recorded came from the hands of a Canadian Special Operations Forces member. The shooter is unnamed due to the classified nature of the operation, but he eliminated a target at 3,540 meters – that’s 2.14 miles – at 795 miles per hour. The Canadian military confirmed the feat in 2017, without giving many details about the operation.
The Canadian special forces did reveal that it happened in Iraq, and the sniper was a member of Joint Task Force Two of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. The command also revealed the shooter was using a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle and firing from a tall building. The shot took almost 10 seconds to hit the target. We also know the shot aimed to hit at least one member of the Islamic State group as the sniper provided overwatch for the Iraqi military during a battle. The Globe and Mail said the shot was confirmed with a video.
British Shooter Eliminates Machine Gun Crew
The Canadian sniper broke the record of British shooter Craig Harrison, who in 2009 took on a Taliban machine gun crew in Afghanistan from 2,475 meters – upwards of 1.5 miles. Harrison used an L115A3 .338 Lapua Magnum rifle for his display of marksmanship. His rank was Corporal of Horse, serving with the Blues and Royals cavalry regiment.
One of the amazing things about Harrison’s shooting was that he was standing up, not lying prone. It is much more difficult to shoot from a standing, unsupported position. Harrison fired while adjusting his rifle slightly upward. He shot at the first silhouette and missed, but his second shot was on target after traveling six seconds. The third shot also missed, but the fourth hit its mark, eliminating a second bad guy. Another shot took out the machine gun.
Harrison was acting more quickly than he was used to. He wasn’t aware of the distance and later said the winning shots were a “fluke” – that he was just trying to save his teammates, who were engaged in a three-hour battle with Taliban fighters.
A U.S. Army Ranger’s Long-range Feat
The longest American shot was made in March 2004 by Sgt. Bryan Kremer in Iraq, while serving with the Second Ranger Battalion. The details of this operation are also classified, but Kremer reportedly used an M82 SASR .50 caliber rifle to kill an insurgent from 1.42 miles away – or 2,285 meters.
What modern snipers do is amazing. Just attending sniper school is an honor. Shooters learn to take difficult cold-barrel shots after sneaking into position and hiding for hours. Are these record-breaking shots noted above lucky or skillful, or a combination of both? It’s more about skill, with some luck due to all the variables involved. The training a sniper goes through creates muscle memory that guides his actions.
In real battle, it must be difficult to control adrenaline and breathing. Formulating the physics of the shot while taking into account windage and elevation can determine whether an operation is successful. Temperature and humidity can also affect a shot. These snipers should be commended for doing their jobs so well that they overcame adversity in the heat of battle. It is difficult to know just how many of their teammates they have saved during dangerous combat scenarios.
Snipers are indispensable in warfare.
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.