A sniper rifle’s purpose is to destroy targets at a long distance with as little ammunition as possible, much preferably one shot. It must be a high precision, portable weapon that can be fired from the shoulder. A typical sniper rifle is fitted with a telescopic sight. Ammunition fired by these specially designed weapons can penetrate a cinder block wall. Although it takes extensive, intensive training to become a good sniper, the sniper motto “One shot, one kill” would not be possible without the rifles made specifically for this task.
Experienced and active snipers will have been trained in the use of a variety of weapons and know which will best suit the job. Following are the top 10 best military sniper rifles of all time.
10. L42 Enfield – British
This is a bolt action rifle, magazine-fed sniper rifle designed in 1895 and released for use by the British military in the 20th century. It was used in both World Wars and variants are still used today. It was named for its bolt system, James Paris Lee, and the factory, RSAF, or Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. It was chambered for the 7.62mm NATO cartridge which entered service in 1970 until its replacement by the Accuracy International L96 in 1985. It was the last model in the long Lee bolt-action rifles using the rear-locking action that James Paris Lee designed. The original model was made with rear-mounted lugs making the bolt operating handle closer to the operator, over the trigger, so that it was quicker to operate than the traditional design. It was also equipped with a removable 10-round, double-column magazine, which was very modern at the time. The Lee–Enfield line of rifles is the second oldest bolt-action rifle design still in service, secondary only to Mosin–Nagant.
9. SR-25 – American
SR-25 (Stoner Rifle-25) is a semi-automatic with a rotating bolt manufactured by Knight’s Armament company America. It is a heavyweight sniper rifle with a weight of 10 pounds that uses a direct impingement gas system. As much as 60 percent of the parts are interchangeable with the AR-15 and M1. That includes everything but the upper and lower receivers, the hammer, the barrel assembly, and the bolt carrier group. The 24-inch barrel is free-floating, so handguards are attached to the front of the receiver that do not touch the barrel. The designer was Eugene Stoner. This rifle has been used since 1990 and was used in the Iraq War, Afghanistan War, and East Timorese crisis of 2006.
8. AS50 – British
This fifty-caliber sniper rifle, developed by the famous British company Accuracy International Ltd, made its debut in 2005 in the USA at the ShotShow-2005. It was reportedly developed especially for the US SOCOM users and was tested by the US NAVY Special Operations center. The AS50 provides highly accurate rapid aimed fire at a very long range. The rifle is built around a gas operated, semi-automatic action. The two-part receiver is machined from high-quality steel, the barrel is free-floated and fitted with a muzzle brake. The detachable buttstock has a recoil reducing butt pad and with folding rear grip, which also serves as a rear support leg. The folding detachable bipod with adjustable legs is standard. There is an integral rail for mounting optical sights. It uses single stack detachable box magazines, each holding five rounds of ammunition. This weapon is popular for high accuracy, incendiary ammunition and because it can fire five rounds in only 1.6 seconds. The light weight of this rifle also makes it very portable.
7. M24 – American
This is the military and police version of the Remington Model 700 rifle. M24 is the model name assigned by the United States Army after adoption as their standard sniper rifle in 1988. It is referred to as a “weapon system” because it consists of not just a rifle, but also a detachable telescopic sight and other accessories. The U.S. Army made this rifle during Vietnam war at a time they needed a high accuracy rifle. It is a variation of the M14 rifle. It is semi-automatic and uses a 20-round box magazine and has 7.62× 51mm NATO cartridge.
6. PSG1 – German
The PSGI upholds Germany’s image of good manufacturing quality in this semi-automatic German sniper rifle manufactured by Heckler & Koch. It was developed for German police, to engage on terrorists with high accuracy in response to the Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics in 1972 when it was reported that the police units could not engage the terrorists fast enough to prevent them from killing their hostages. It features a large magazine capacity and high accuracy. It uses Leupold Ultra M3A 10×42mm fixed power, or Leupold Mk 4 LR/T M3 10×40mm fixed power scope, detachable emergency Redfield-Palma International backup iron sights, a barrel of 416R stainless steel with bore grooves configured for less bullet deformity, and H-S Precision PST-024 stock, the model with the fixed cheek piece, adjustable LOP, and hinged floorplate.
5. The Dragunov SVD – Soviet Union
Originally a squad support weapon designed in 1958 by the Soviet Union, the Dragunov SVD has been used since 1963, and it has many unique features which make it best suited for military purposes. This is a gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle using a short-stroke gas piston, and the gas chamber has a two-position manual gas regulator. The barrel is locked by a rotating bolt with three lugs. A lever behind the safety is used to disassemble the gun. Later production models may feature polymer handguards. All SVD rifles are fitted with adjustable open sights, and a side rail mount to accept telescopic or IR sights on quick-detach mounts. Standard telescope sight is the 4X fixed magnification PSO-1 with a range-finding reticle. A standard AK-type bayonet can be installed on the barrel. It is 10 round detachable box sniper with 620 mm barrel length and has gas piston system. This weapon is still in service in today with many variants.
4. Mosin – Nagant – Russian
This rifle was developed by the Imperial Russian Army and has used since 1891. It is one of the most mass-produced military bolt-action rifles in history topping 37 million units made. These are cheap, rugged, easy to use, and effective. Some features were borrowed from Nagant, such as the attachment of the magazine spring to the magazine base plate, the form of the clip that could hold five cartridges to be loaded simultaneously into the magazine, the “interrupter”, a specially designed part in the receiver to prevent double feeding. It weighs 8.8lb. Accuracy is 100 % even in terrible condition. The rifle was widely used by Bolsheviks, Black Guards, and their enemies, and White Russians (counter-revolutionary forces).
3. L115A3 AWM – British
The Accuracy International AWM (Arctic Warfare Magnum) is a bolt-action sniper rifle manufactured by Accuracy International designed for magnum rifle cartridge chamberings. This British sniper rifle comes with day and night optics L115A3 AWM. The AWM features a detachable single stack removable box magazine that can hold five rounds. Normal cartridges for this rifle and the ones which have been accepted by NATO for use in AWM rifles are .300 Winchester Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum. Muzzle brakes are fitted to reduce recoil, jump and flash and to act as a base for optional iron sights and suppressors.
Normally, the AWMs have a Schmidt & Bender PM II 10×42/MILITARY MK II 10×42 telescopic sight with 10× fixed power magnification but can accommodate the Schmidt & Bender PM II/MILITARY MK II with variable magnification if the operator wants more flexibility to shoot at varying ranges, or when a wide field of view is required. The rifle is normally supplied in a metal transit case with a telescopic sight, mount, butt spacers, bipod, spare magazines, sling, cleaning and tool kits.
2. CheyTac Intervention – American
CheyTac Intervention is a deadly American 7-round, detachable single-stack bolt-action sniper rifle made by CheyTac LLC. It has a high accuracy rate even at night and is capable of hitting a target at more than 1.429 miles. Its flawless design moves .408 round down range well over 3,000 feet per second. The cartridge was designed for accuracy by balancing the linear and rotational drag, helping the bullet to fly farther. CheyTac Intervention holds the world’s record for best group at a distance of 2,321 yards and the M200 was featured on the TV show “Future Weapons” where a former U.S. Navy SEAL hit a human-sized target at 2,530 yards, 3 out of 6 shots.
1. Barrett .50 Cal – American
Barrett .50 Cal is the best sniper rifle in the world. Manufactured by American Barrett firearms, this sniper rifle has two variants – Original M82A1 and Bullpup M82A2. Barrett has been used since 1989 and is still in use around the world. It has .50 BMG chambering and is known as Light fifty. This bolt action sniper comes with 2600 meters range. It is considered as “one shot, one kill” sniper rifle and outperforms other sniper rifles in terms of range, which is estimated to hit the target, 2,600 meters away. It is so powerful that it can pierce even through a wall and hit the target accurately. It features rotating bolt, automatic-recoil, 10-round detachable box magazine, and adjustable rare sight. It was standardized in the US military as M107.
No matter how talented, trained, and intuitive a sniper is, he puts his job and life on the line each time he goes out to perform a kill. So the weapon that he uses matters. Poor craftsmanship can cost him his life. Quality is everything in the design and manufacturing of these guns. Of course, proper knowledge and meticulous care is required, too.