The sniper is one of the most feared opponents on the battlefield. They can make their presence felt far beyond a common soldier’s assault rifle, cutting down enemy leaders, heavy weapons operators, as well as damaging enemy equipment at significant distances. This requires an optic and weapon capable of extreme accuracy. So, here are 5 of the most common and effective sniper rifles.
M40A5 Sniper Rifles
The M40A5 sniper rifle is the latest in a long line of M40 sniper rifles which are used by the U.S. Marine Corps. We are speaking of a highly modified Remington 700 hunting rifle which is chambered in .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO.
The M49A5 model comes equipped with a custom, 1–12 twist twenty-five-inch Schneider barrel. This sniper rifle is topped off with a Schmidt and Bender Police Marksman II 4-16x50mm rifle scope on a thirty minute-of-angle base designed to stretch the legs of the .308 round to maximum 1,000 yards.
The M40A5 is accurate to within one half-inch minute of angle, which means that under perfect conditions, shots taken at 800 yards should land within a four-inch circle.
M24 Sniper Weapons System
The U.S. Army’s M24 Sniper Weapons System (SWS) dates back to 1988 when it replaced the older M21 sniper rifle.
Just as the M40 series, the M24 sniper rifles are based on the commercial Remington 700 hunting rifle and chambered in .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO. The M24 sniper features a custom-made twenty-four-inch Remington barrel and uses a Leupold Mark IV M3 fixed 10x scope.
L115A3 Sniper Rifle
The sniper rifle of the UK Armed Forces, the L115A3 sniper rifle is in use by the British Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Marines. This model is an adaptation of the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Super Magnum rifle. Just as the M40 and M24, the L115A3 is a bolt action rifle, but unlike the American rifles it is chambered in .338 Lapua with a 5-round box magazine. The rifle optic is a Schmidt and Bender 5-25x56mm scope.
Sniper rifles need to shoot large distances to kill targets that believe themselves immune to enemy fire. The heavier .338 Lapua round gives the L115A3 a maximum range of 1,600 yards, 60% greater than the .308 round of the M24 and M40A5. In 2009, this was used to great effect when a British Army sniper working with the Household Cavalry Regiment neutralized a Taliban machine gun position at 2,700 yards by his L115A3.
Barrett M82 Sniper Rifle
Although the idea of a .50 caliber sniper rifle isn’t something new, the legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock made a long-range shot of a scoped M2 Browning machine gun in the Vietnam War. Barrett Firearms invented the M82 anti-material rifle, who fires the exact same .50 BMG cartridge that is used in the heavy machine gun. These days, the M82 is used by armies worldwide, from the States to Ukraine. This model is equipped with a 20-inch barrel and weighs a hefty 29.7 pounds. Although powerful and capable of hitting targets at substantial distances, the .50 BMG round tends to quickly lose its accuracy after 900 yards.
Sniper rifles are often very useful not only against human targets but also to destroy communications equipment, or some vulnerable supply targets or even disable shielded vehicles. The model is particularly useful in this regard, knowing that it only drops below supersonic speeds at 1,700 yards while yet hitting with the force of 1,800-foot-pounds.
Zijiang M99 Sniper Rifle
The standard sniper rifle of the People’s Liberation Army, the Zijiang M99 is a semi-automatic rifle, very similar to the Barrett M82. The difference is that the M99 is being chambered for the 12.7x108mm Soviet cartridge and use a gas impingement operating system which is very similar to the one used by the M16 and M4 carbine family of weapons. The twenty-six-pound rifle takes a 10-round magazine and is reportedly competent of accuracy to within 1.6 minutes of angle.
The M99 sniper rifle has mysteriously shown up in the hands of rebels in the Syrian Civil War, where it has proven effective against Syrian Arab Army forces. The weapons are thought to have come from Sudan by way of Qatar.