The Tactical Rifle Gets A Reality Check

The Tactical Rifle Gets A Reality Check
A Marine hugs his M40 sniper rifle--and he's probably shooting at something beyond 53 yards.

Sure, everyone thinks the tactical rifle and sniper duties are the ways of Carlos Hathcock and mile-long shots. And then there's reality.

A Marine hugs his M40 sniper rifle–and he's probably shooting at something beyond 53 yards.

“I had a Special Forces trained sniper once tell me, “Life begins at the triple zero.” Meaning, it was best to work at 1,000 yards or more.

“This image has so distorted the reality that just getting things done properly became a problem. For instance, the classic Army and USMC sniper rifle was a Remington bolt gun, called the M40 in the Corp, and the M24 in the Army, cambered in .308. On top was a scope of 10X … with a mil-dot ranging reticle in it. …

“Well, when it came time for the police to adopt some kind of counter-sniper rifle, and training, guess what they used as their base? Yes, the .308 bolt gun with 10X scope. Now take a guess, a wild guess, at the average distance of police counter-sniper shots. I’ll wait while you ponder the question. Ready? 53 yards. That’s right, the maximum distance we used to be shooting handguns at … .”—Patrick Sweeney, Gun Digest Book of the Tactical Rifle, from the chapter “Sniper Rifles.


Like this quote? You can buy the Gun Digest Book of the Tactical Rifle by clicking on the title link, but we also think you’ll love the Advanced Tactical Marksman by 2012 American Pistolsmith of the Year Dave M. Lauck.


  1. About a month or so ago you had a article about a 50 cal sniper rifle, and in the article was a review by a sheriffs office that had bought at least one of these rifles, well I sent the article to the city council of the city in Florida asking why would the sheriff office needs such a weapon. Several days latter I received a indigent email from the sheriff. IE “was I aware that bad guys had been known to steal big heavy equipment and that they needed such a weapon.” As far as I’m concerned the sheriff is milking the taxpayer for nice to have toys. Heck I’d like to have one of those 50 cal rifles but what would I do with it. As a retired enlisted man with 12 years riding in tanks I have sent my share of 50 cal ammo down range. we need more articles like this and if I had my way every city council in the US would receive a copy! keep up the good work


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