This is a nicely balanced history of the art of sniping detailing the equipment and operations. The sniper has grown in importance over the years, from a handful of good shots in the early days of firearms to the highly polished and considerably more numerous sniper teams of today. – much recommended.
NAME: Snipers at War, an Equipment and Operations History FILE: R2629 AUTHOR: John Walter PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Naval Institute Press, Greenhill Books BINDING: hard back PAGES: 294 PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Snipers, matchlock, flintlock, percussion lock, bolt action, self-loading, smooth bore, rifle, iron sights, optical sights, sniper team, observer, shooter, concealment, long range ISBN: 1-78438-184-4 IMAGE: B2629.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/y7n2mnw2 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This is a nicely balanced history of the art of sniping detailing the equipment and operations. The sniper has grown in importance over the years, from a handful of good shots in the early days of firearms to the highly polished and considerably more numerous sniper teams of today. – much recommended. The sniper pre-dates the availability of firearms. Archers fired from concealment, usually as assassins rather than as special forces units, the crossbow being favoured because it aided concealment. They were relatively rare because of the limited range that a highly trained archer could achieve. Firearms opened a whole new avenue for combat. When James the Bastard was assassinated in Scotland, in the Sixteenth Century, he fell as victim to a concealed sniper firing from ambush with a hackbut, a match lock smooth bore long gun, equipped with a match lock. History does not record exactly what that hackbut was, but it could have been a German-made long gun firing a stone ball. There were probably earlier snipers successfully using long guns to ambush a high value target but history has been poor at recording them. As the latch lock was succeeded by the wheel lock, and the snaphance and then the flintlock, the typical firearms were becoming increasingly suitable for sniper use. The flintlock could be cocked easily and was reasonably weatherproof for a shooter who might have to lay in wait for some time, exposed to the elements. As the methods of firing a gun became more reliable, not much changed in the basic design of stocks and barrels, or in the sights fitted. The American backwoodsman had to be able to take down dangerous game and the Kentucky long rifle developed into a formidable long range gun, but was still little different from the muskets and sporting rifles of the time, employing a flintlock and lead ball, with iron sights. What marked it out, apart from its unusually long barrel and use of greased patches to improve the muzzle velocity, was the shooter who became highly skilled at concealment and use of weapon. Kentucky long rifles were frequently used in the American War of Independence to take down British officers from long range. The British began to adopt the Baker rifle, initially in very small numbers, eventually creating The Rifles, as a unit for crack shots. In the Peninsular War, Wellington made much use of Chosen Men armed with Baker Rifles. These marksmen were generally scattered through his musket- equipped regiments and were employed as skirmishers and as snipers to take down French officers and NCOs. The introduction of the metal cartridge and optic sights was to revolutionize the equipment available for snipers. In America these new features were applied to drop breech and lever action guns to great effect. In Europe, the trend was to use the new bolt action, with some form of box magazine, often simply adopting standard military rifles that may have received greater attention during manufacture and employing much more effective iron sights and optical sights. WWI saw great use of snipers in the trench lines, picking off the unwary from across No Man's Land. WWII saw a further development of snipers, particularly in the Commando Special Forces units that were becoming increasingly important military units. Again, the rifles were still largely more carefully manufactured standard military rifles that would be fitted with improved sights and sound moderators to help the sniper remain concealed. Commonly, snipers operated singly, choosing a place of concealment and waiting for a target of opportunity. German and Russian snipers became the stars of Stalingrad. From that point, the sniper has received much better consideration in the availability of equipment. Special rifles and ammunition are now commonly used, although often being based on a sporting rifle or a standard military design. Calibres have increased and .50 calibre weapons are now becoming common with targets being routinely taken at ranges above 1 kilometre. The sniper is now likely to be one member of a two man team, being supported by a spotter who is equipped with special optical ranging equipment and also serving as bodyguard to watch the back of the sniper as he concentrates on the target. The author has presented an engaging book that brings the story of the sniper to life, supported by a fine selection of images through the body of the book.