7.62x51mm NATO

American Sniper

? American Rifleman

It takes skill, discipline and dedication to consistently shoot the X-ring on targets. It takes a whole lot more to consistently slot bad guys that can also shoot back.

Six years ago, while fighting raged in Iraq?s cities, I heard that American snipers were racking up phenomenal numbers of kills, possibly overtaking the Vietnam War records of U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock (93), Marine Sgt. Chuck Mawhinney (103) and Army Staff Sgt. Adelbert Waldron (109). The rumor was true.

America?s new record sniper recently stepped from the shadows with publication of his combat memoir, ?American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.? During four tours in?Iraq, former U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle logged 160 confirmed kills and almost twice that many ?probables.?

I spoke with Chief Kyle, a veteran of the West Coast-based?SEAL?Team 3, and learned that, surprisingly, he doesn?t like to swim and has little enthusiasm for parachuting?but he loves to shoot. Since shouldering his first Daisy BB gun during his boyhood in Odessa, Texas, to the .300 Win. Mag. rifle he most often used in Iraq, shooting has been his favorite pastime. Still he would have to attend the three-month SEAL Sniper School in order to develop mastery of the skills necessary to ply his trade.

That is a whole lot of dead bad guys…but somethimes they shoot back:

Kyle usually worked with, or in support of, conventional U.S. Marine and Army forces, providing covering fire as they advanced into insurgent-held neighborhoods in areas such as Fallujah, Ramadi and Baghdad?s Sadr City. Typically his 16-man SEAL platoon seized ?commanding terrain,? often the tallest building in a neighborhood, even if that meant infiltrating ahead of U.S. forces. Because most Iraqi buildings stood only one or two stories high, from a four-story building the platoon snipers were able to dominate an area. The SEAL platoon went in with plenty of firepower: machine guns, grenade launchers, shoulder-fired rockets and lots of ammunition. ?What?s not understood,? Kyle explained, ?is that in an urban area, after that first shot, you?re not going to sneak anywhere?you?d better be ready to fight. When you go into a city, there?s no moving. You?re defending. At times we were really stuck out there; it left us hanging but those guys needed our support. We were in danger, but so be it.? Twice Chief Kyle was hit by enemy bullets?luckily absorbed by his body armor?and shaken by several nearby IEDs.

And his preferred weapons and ammunition?

From these elevated perches, he exploited the great reach of his favorite rifle, a custom-built?Remington?Model 700 bolt-action chambered in .300 Win. Mag. During his final tour his favorite rifle became a .338 Lapua Mag., which offered great reach and impressive barrier penetration.

Like a golfer picking the best club for a given situation, SEAL snipers could select among a variety of?rifles?that best fit their tactical setting. For long-range precision Kyle brought his bolt-action .300 Win. Mag.; for closer-range shooting, when quick follow-on shots were likely, he had a 7.62×51 mm NATO Mk 11, the Navy?s version of the semi-automatic Stoner SR-25; and for assaults, he had a short-barreled 5.56×45 mm NATO rifle similar to the Colt M4 Carbine. Only during his final tour did he have a .338 Lapua Mag. bolt-action. His standard .300 Win. Mag. load was a 190-grain match round manufactured by Black Hills Ammunition, which also loaded the 77-grain, 5.56 mm ammunition he fired. He fed his semi-automatic 7.62 mm rifle with 175-grain, M118 Long Range ammunition loaded by?Federal.

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Friday Firepower – Accuracy International L96

I was reading a review of a new book about two British Snipers called?Dead Men Risen: The snipers’ story

Operating from a remote patrol base in Helmand, two British snipers were responsible for killing 75 Taliban fighters in just 40 days. In one remarkable feat of marksmanship, two insurgents were dispatched with a single bullet.

The arrival at the newly-established Patrol Base Shamal Storrai (Pashto for ?North Star?) in late August 2009 of Serjeant Tom Potter and Rifleman Mark Osmond marked the start of an astonishing episode in the history of British Army sniping.

Within 40 days, the two marksmen from 4 Rifles, part of the Welsh Guards Battle group, had achieved 75 confirmed kills with 31 attributed to Potter and 44 to Osmond. Each kill was chalked up as a little stick man on the beam above the firing position in their camouflaged sangar beside the base gate ? a stick man with no head denoting a target eliminated with a shot to the skull.

Osmond, 25, was an engaging, fast-talking enthusiast, eager to display his encyclopedic knowledge of every specification and capability of his equipment. He had stubbornly remained a rifleman because he feared that being promoted might lead to his being taken away from sniping, a job he loved and lived for. Potter, 30, was more laid back, projecting a calm professionalism and quiet confidence in the value of what he did.

Potter had notched up seven confirmed kills in Bara in 2007 and 2008 while Osmond?s total was 23. Both were members of the Green Jackets team that won the 2006 British Army Sniper Championships.

These guys can shoot.

Most of the kills were at a range of 1,200 metres using the 7.62 mm L96 sniper rifle.

The snipers used suppressors, reducing the sound of the muzzle blast. Although a ballistic crack could be heard, it was almost impossible to work out where the shot was coming from. With the bullet travelling at three times the speed of sound, a victim was unlikely to hear anything before he died.

Walkie-talkie messages revealed that the Taliban thought they were being hit from helicopters. The longest-range shot taken was when Potter killed an insurgent at 1,430 metres away. But the most celebrated shot of their tour was by Osmond at a range of just 196 metres.

On September 12th, a known Taliban commander appeared on the back of a motorcycle with a passenger riding pillion. There was a British patrol in the village of Gorup-e Shesh Kalay and under the rules of engagement, the walkie-talkie the Taliban pair were carrying was designated a hostile act. As they drove off, Osmond fired warning shots with his pistol and then picked up his L96, the same weapon ? serial number 0166 ? he had used in Iraq and on the butt of which he had written, ?I love u 0166?.

Taking deliberate aim, he fired a single shot. The bike tumbled and both men fell onto the road and lay there motionless. When the British patrol returned, they checked the men and confirmed they were both dead, with large holes through their heads.

The 7.62 mm bullet Osmond had fired had passed through the heads of both men. He had achieved the rare feat of ?one shot, two kills? known in the sniping business as ?a Quigley?. The term comes from the 1990 film Quigley Down Under in which the hero, played by Tom Selleck, uses an old Sharps rifle to devastating effect.

Most people would struggle to shoot a?stationary?target at 196m let alone two on a motorbike attempting to get out of Dodge fast. The fact that these two regularly knock over bad towel-heads at over 1000m is a?testament?to their skill.

The rifle they describe using is the L96 by Accuracy International. Their skills just go to show that the .308 or 7.62x51mm NATO is a very accurate and hard hitting round out past 1000m.

Coincidentally on The Brigade was a photo of a British sniper using this exact weapon in?the?circumstances explained in the book.

Accuracy International L96 sniper Rifle  in Afghanistan

 

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