(Pictured: Alt-Market.com founder Brandon Smith)
God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best – Voltaire
For a long time sniper tactics have been consider by many, even in the military, to be akin to a kind of state designated “murder” rather than a legitimate combat strategy. Only in recent years has sniping achieved a certain level of recognition. Centuries of warfare have passed in which snipers were happily recruited for their skills, and then quickly swept under the rug and forgotten once conflict was over. Daniel Morgan and his crack-shot riflemen were instrumental in America’s revolutionary victory over the British. U.S. sharpshooters rained hell down on German troops from over 900 yards during WWI. Snipers have dominated the battlefield in every modern conflagration. Yet, regimented sniping schools were not standardized in the U.S. Army until 1987. All previous schools were abandoned within a few years of their establishment.
Why did it take so long for the sniper to be recognized as essential to victory? Perhaps because snipers are TOO effective, to the point that they become frightening to the establishment.
During the Finnish “Winter War” against the Soviet Union in which they were vastly outnumbered and outgunned, guerrilla tactics, which they called “Motti tactics”, were used to excellent effect. The Finnish devastated the Soviets using hit and run attacks, homemade and improvised weapons, and snipers. The most famous of these snipers was Simo Hayha.
Choose A Caliber
If you want to become a precision shooter it is absolutely vital that you carefully research the caliber of round you will eventually use. The caliber will determine the kind of rifle platform you purchase, not to mention the scope and reloading equipment (if you decide to load your own rounds). Most of us do not have the kind of cash necessary to apply the trial and error method. You have to choose right the first time, otherwise, thousands of dollars may go down the drain.
Choose A Rifle
Once you’ve researched and decided upon a caliber you can afford, the next step is purchasing a rifle platform that fits the stringent requirements of long distance shooting. Here are some guidelines for getting started:
Rifle Accuracy Of 1 MOA (Minute Of Angle) Or Less – The rifle must be able to fire shot groups of less than 1 inch apart at 100 yards. A 1 MOA rifle will fire a shot group of around 10 inches at 1000 yards, and any deviation of a couple inches on a human target could mean a miss. There are some out-of-the-box rifles that easily fire within 1 MOA. Some platforms will need to be re-barreled.
Semi-Auto Or Bolt Action – A few semi-auto rifles do have the accuracy you would need for long distance. The Springfield M1A, the FNAR, certain retooled versions of the AR-10, etc, can all become excellent sniper platforms. Semi-automatics have the advantage of sending more rounds downrange faster, and allow you to acquire new targets without worrying about cycling the bolt. They are, though, designed with looser tolerances than the common bolt action, which means ranges surpassing 800 yards are more difficult. Bolt action rifles tend to have very low capacity mags, and are slower to cycle, but many models do have tighter chambers and heavier barrels which result in more consistently accurate shots at 1000 yards or more. Your choice of rifle depends on the kinds of situations you expect to run into.
Rifle Make And Model – How common are replacement parts and mags for your rifle? How common is the the caliber? Will you be able to procure ammo and parts easily? Will you be able to share supplies with other shooters in your survival community, or is nothing interchangeable? These are some important factors to consider before laying down cash on a rifle system.
Smooth Bolt And Trigger – Your bolt should cycle smoothly without resistance. Your semi-auto should not suffer from any jamming. Your trigger should be light and intuitive.
Floated Barrel – A floated barrel is a barrel that does not come into contact with any part of the rifle stock. A narrow space between the stock and the barrel prevents interference by the stock with the “harmonics” of the barrel. Shots become more consistent, and damage to the stock does not effect accuracy.
Heavy Barrel Or Factory Barrel – Military snipers are often supplied with heavy barrel rifles because the weight of the barrel allows for more consistent shots, less overheating, and better harmonics. However, a heavy barrel is NOT necessary to achieve sniper accuracy. Many factory made barrels can get the job done just as well and for less money.
Choose A Scope
The standard for long range shooting is a mil-dot scope, either fixed power or variable, with 1/4 MOA adjustment knobs. It must also be rated to handle the recoil of the caliber you are shooting. Illuminated reticles, night vision options, in-scope reference and ranging dots, and numerous other bells and whistles should depend upon your defense needs. I prefer an uncluttered scope with a simple mildot reticle like the one below…