“Cpl. John Baron aims in on target on an operation in the Que Son Mountains. March 30, 1970.” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
From the days of World War I through today, dedicated U.S. Marine Corps snipers have used a variety of specially modified rifles to reach out and show off their marksmanship.
When the U.S. entered the Great War, the standard rifle of in use by the Marines was the M1903 Springfield, some of which were modified with Winchester A5 scopes.
U.S. Marine firing the “USMC Telescopic Rifle, Model of 1917” which is an M1903 with a Winchester A5 scope. (Photo: National Archives)
By the time World War II arrived, the standard Marine sniper’s gear included the updated M1903A-1 model Sprinfield with a Unertl 8x scope– immediately distinguishable by its long shade on the objective lens– which they designated the M1941 Sniper Rifle.
“Attired in sniper outfits and armed with M1903s, three students of the Marine Corps camouflage School at Quantico, Va., hide in the grass and trees. August 13, 1942” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
Springfield 1903 sniper rifle, Guadalcanal, November 1942.
By the time the Marines became involved in Korea in 1950, the standard sniper rifle was the M1C Garand, a sniper variant rifle rebuilt by Springfield Armory and fitted with a Stith Kollmorgen MC-1 telescopic sight and special Griffin & Howe mount and rings, though some 1903s endured.
“Marine Technical Sergeant John E. Boitnott. Who won fame as a sniper who shot nine of the enemy with nine shots in Korea, takes a prone position behind the cover of tall grass.” Note the M1C. (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“A U.S. Marine Marksman using a telescopic sight and with his Springfield cocked and ready, waits for a troublesome North Korean sniper to pop up so he can pick him off in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea on Sept. 28, 1950. Note the Unertl. (Photo/caption: Max Desfor/AP)
Vietnam saw a scramble for adequate sniper rifles with a small amount of pre-64 Winchester Model 70s– often with WWII-era Unertl glass–pressed into service from the Marine rifle team and other sources as well as some Remington 700s. The latter, chambered in 7.62 NATO and customized with a 3x-9x Redfield Widefield Accu-Trac optic but sill with their walnut stocks, were used as the original M40 sniper rifle. These were augmented by accurized M-14s and Starlite-equipped M16s. The conflict produced legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock and Chuck Mawhinney.
“A Marine sniper from G Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, takes aim while on the approach to Hill 251 during the Operation HARVEST MOON. 12 December 1965.” Note the Unertl. (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“OPERATION VIRGINIA- -Marine Lance Corporal Dalton Gunderson checking the area for Viet Cong snipers, 1966” Note the Unertl-equipped rifle. (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“Sgt. Howard J. Greene sights in his target as he checks his scoped M14 before beginning Operation Prairie II in the Cam Lo Province, February 28, 1967.” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“Sgt. Howard J. Greene, NCOIC 1/9 Sniper Team, taking a break in the Sun during a lull in the fighting on Op. Prairie II near the DMZ. 3 March 1967” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“Pvt. Randall E. Josey, a Marine sniper attached to Co. H, 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, has a bead on a Viet Cong at over 1,000 meters. Using a 3 x 9 power scope, a Remington 700 rifle has accuracy up to 1,100 meters and has been used effectively up to 2,000 meters or more.” June 19, 1967 (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“A sniper of E Co. Second Battalion, Seventh Regiment attached to First Platoon zeros in on a Viet Cong during Operation Arizona 25 miles Southeast of Da Nang. June 20, 1967.” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“Marine sniper, PFC D. M. Taylor, sights-in on an enemy NVA rifleman harassing Marines during an operation south of Phu Bai. Cpl Bruce V. MacDonald helps the shooter to locate enemy troops. August 15, 1967.” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
A Marine sniper with an early M16 equipped with a Starlite scope is silhouetted while taking aim at an enemy target at dusk during Operation Shelby, 15 miles south of Da Nang. September 1, 1967
“Lance Cpl. Robert B. Moore sights in on an enemy soldier. October 9, 1968” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“LCpl Joseph M. Orteg and LCpl Robert B. Moore, two snipers attached to ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, on Operation Nanking Scotland II, October 1968” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
“A sniper of Co. D., 1st Bn., 4th Marines, takes aim at movement up front during Operation Nanking. October 14, 1968” (Photo/caption: U.S. Marine Corps History Division)
Since Vietnam, the Marines have used successive versions of the M40, with the M40A6 being the current model augmented by the .50-caliber Barrett M82A3 and M107 for use in anti-material roles and smaller numbers of Mk 11 Mod 2 and M110 semi-auto rifles.
Lance Cpl. William Pearn, a scout sniper candidate with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, secures a strap to an M40A6 sniper rifle during a pre-scout sniper course at Pu’uloa Range Training Facility aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, August 14, 2017. (Photo: DoD)
Sgt. Johnathan Stamets, with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, looks through his M8541A optic attached to the M-110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System rifle aboard the USS Somerset (Photo: DoD)
Marine scout sniper with the Battalion Landing Team 2 6, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), makes changes to the scope of his M107 Special Application Sniper Rifle (Photo: DoD)
To get a feel for how current U.S. Marine Scout Snipers do things, check out the very moto short video below, showing these more modern platforms at work.