Marine Snipers Set Records in Iraq

The Long Shot in Iraq (James Dunnigan, StrategyPage)

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 it̢۪s 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 deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.” – Gen. John J. Pershing

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jeremy says:

    “The dealiest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle”…funny…I thought that was Sgt. Hartman.

    I went to high school with a guy that became a scout/sniper. It takes a special breed.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    My compliments. 7.62mm. Jeez, that’s only .30 caliber in real measurement units.

  3. George says:

    I’ve seen a number of references in the blogs to this sniper story, which is very nice. What I haven’t seen is a blogger commenting about Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who soon will be the first serviceman to be awarded (posthumously) the Medal of Honor since 1993. Now that’s significant! (I probably just haven’t been looking in the right places.)

  4. James Joyner says:

    George: Yeah, there’s been quite a bit about it in the blogosphere, including here.

  5. George says:

    George: Yeah, there’s been quite a bit about it…

    Thanks. I feel better now. It’s a big blogosphere.

  6. Paul says:
  7. Dave says:

    I just wanna know, what sort of time delay is there between the shot and the kill at 970 meters?

    ( BTW, I think we are supposed to call them ‘sharpshooters’ nowadays. )

  8. Brad Quedensley says:

    3.5 to 4 seconds, depending on what the relative humidity was that day, also keep in mind that the Marine Corps estimates range in Yards, so he took that shot at 1,060 yards. BTW, don’t let the sensationalist news media take away the title that many fine warriors have earned with their sweat blood and tears, and give it to a few common criminals who decided to shoot up a few innocent civilians in Virginia. The title Marine Sniper is taken very seriously by those of us who own it.