Infantry: January 14, 2005


During the November battle for Fallujah, a U.S. Marine sniper made the longest range kills so far in Iraq. Reservist sergeant Herbert B. Hancock, chief scout sniper for the 1st battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, shot four Iraqis at a range of some 970 meters. The 35 year-old marine is a Texas police officer in civilian life. The shooting was done with the  bolt action 7.62mm M40A3 rifle. Based on the Remington 700 short action rifle, the M40A3s are hand made to marine specifications. The rifle weighs 16.5 pounds, is 44.25 inches long and uses a 10X scope. The rifle comes with a bipod, and a rail that can also mount night vision scopes. Marine snipers operate in teams of two men, with the other man, who is often also a qualified sniper, acting as a spotter (usually with a 20X scope and binoculars.) A 970 meter shot is difficult for a 7.62mm rifle, especially in Iraq, with its heat and humidity (which interferes with the predictability of the bullets flight). A 7.62mm rifle rarely gets hits at more than (or even close to) 1,000 meters, and anything over 500 meters requires a high degree of skill. Shooting is easier in Afghanistan, where higher elevations provide thinner, drier air, and cooler temperatures. A Canadian sniper made a record shot (2,400 meters) in Afghanistan, using a 12.7mm rifle. 

The U.S. Army has been following the marine example by training more snipers and supplying each infantry battalion with at least half a dozen of them. The snipers are particularly effective in Iraq, where the enemy fighters are generally amateurs, and dont know how important it is to constantly stay under cover. 


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