If well positioned, a single sniper can nail a whole company and force it to drastically slow down its progress if not even to give up. With just one active sniper, the enemy operations slow down because the troops try to stay as much as possible indoors. The threat is invisible and often deadly silent.
The early beginning
The sniper rifle history reflects a real weapon system made up of a single person with a rifle. The use of the sniper as a real weapon in itself dates back to 1798. In England, the royalty gave the order of forming the first regiment of new-concept riflemen, which became operational four years later.
After the experience gained during the American War of Independence and also of other conflicts in American territory fought against France, the British were the first to understand the strategic importance of this new way of waging war. By adopting tactics that we would call guerrilla today, the various American scouts armed with the first rifles were able to inflict heavy losses on British officers.
The Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were the first test for this new army specialty. Only with the use of modern tactics, and above all thanks to the technological advances made by the manufacturers of weapons, their use subsequently grew. During the Crimean War, for the first time, soldiers had to change strategy. They went from the head-on collision of well-framed formations in the open field to the trench warfare with long-distance shots.
In this conflict, there was the beautiful, epic, useless, and disastrous cavalry charge in Balaclava. About six hundred British cavalrymen attacked the Russian positions. The Russian entrenched themselves and attacked with various pieces of artillery. It was a massacre of men and horses, a tactical madness (as reviewed by thegunsource), that the military tacticians still remember today. The trench game was different and insidious.
After the American Civil War onwards
The American Civil War and the two World Wars marked the peak of application throughout the sniper rifle history.
During the Second World War, generals selected snipers for tactics that the military still uses today. Usually, two people make up a sniper team: a shooter, and an onlooker. Often, they move in hostile territory.
Their goal is to provide cover for the advance of the troops, flank, or rear guards. More commonly, they aim to shoot down precise enemies in the most vital hubs. In simple terms, they go where there is a high concentration of enemy troops or an entire command.
The Germans used bolt-action rifles. In 1936, the Americans used the M1 Garand, one of the first semi-automatic rifles. The evolution of sniper rifle models has never ceased and continues today.
For example, after the Vietnam War, from the M40 A1 model, the current M40A3 was replaced, substituting the original wooden stock with a fiberglass one and the Redfield 3-9×40 rifle scope with the Unertl MST-100 10×42.
All changes aim to improve the performance or adaptability of a weapon to a particular type of terrain or military strategy. The sniper rifle history catalogs thousands of modifications and improvements.