Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Snipers undoubtedly need a wide variety of gear to give them an edge no matter what situation

  • they find themselves in.

  • Whether it is a sophisticated scope, advanced rifle, or special kinds of clothing, snipers

  • need more than the average soldier in order to carry out their deadly missions.

  • But while the fancier gear that people can see from the outside, such as rifles and scopes,

  • might seem like their only advantage, they would sadly be mistaken.

  • Rather, snipers make their entire loadout better by incorporating some things you can't

  • see so easily- like their ammunition.

  • But how do these special rounds differ from the average rounds fired by infantrymen and

  • what advantages do they offer?

  • To start with, snipers need different ammunition for a variety of reasons.

  • While the average troop on the ground will train to put precision fire on a target up

  • to about 550 meters, this though impressive, pales in comparison to the distance that snipers

  • in today's battlefields engage targets at.

  • It is quite common, especially in places like Afghanistan, that snipers will only begin

  • to engage targets at 800 yards.

  • If that sounds like a lot, when one looks at the past two decades of conflict in the

  • Middle East one will find that snipers during these conflicts have routinely made shots

  • well over a thousand meters.

  • In fact, eight of the top ten and 33 of the top 40 all-time longest sniper kills have

  • been made in the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan with the world record being made in Iraq in

  • 2017 at a mind boggling 3540 meters.

  • At these extreme distances, the forces of nature start to have some drastic effects

  • on the bullet in its flight path.

  • Wind is arguably the biggest factor since it will push a bullet off its course.

  • Over long distances, lighter and less aerodynamic bullets will be more easily pushed off course.

  • Adjusting for this effect is called drift.

  • Gravity also has a say in how a bullet will travel to its destination.

  • If a bullet were fired on a perfectly straight plain it would eventually fall into the earth.

  • While gravity remains a constant, factors such as bullet weight and velocity will affect

  • the time it takes for a bullet to drop into the earth's surface.

  • Adjusting for this effect is called drop.

  • Though some would be snipers might think that merely adjusting for drift and drop would

  • be enough they would be sorely mistaken.

  • Snipers not only have to ensure that their bullet hits its target but also have to ensure

  • their position remains concealed to the enemy.

  • There are two main ways that an enemy soldier can spot a sniper.

  • The first and most obvious one would be the flash.

  • Whenever a rifle fires, it makes a muzzle flash at the end of the barrel that is a tell-tale

  • sign of exactly where the shooter is and gives them a nice target to shoot back at.

  • Making a cartridge that will reduce the flash as much as possible will help snipers remain

  • hidden even after firing a shot.

  • Additionally, enemies can find the general area a sniper fired from by listening to the

  • crack of the rifle.

  • By making the resulting round quieter, snipers can reduce their chance of their foes hearing

  • their shot either from natural acoustics or from the din of battle.

  • Sniper bullets differ from regular ammunition in a wide variety of ways and the first way

  • is what they are encased in.

  • The casings for sniper, also known as match grade, ammunition are painstakingly measured

  • for accuracy and precision measurements.

  • This is important because if a rifle fires cartridges of different sizes, the differences-

  • though even just fractions of millimeters- will degrade and change the performance of

  • a rifle over its lifetime.

  • While these minor changes might not mean much to an infantryman firing thousands of rounds,

  • for a sniper who only gets one chance to make a difficult shot every bit of help is needed.

  • That is not to say that the ammunition mass-produced in a factory is bad or inaccurate.

  • Rather, due to the sheer volume of ammunition needed workers cannot individually measure

  • every casing that goes through the line.

  • Rather, these casings, and the rifles meant to fire them, have a natural tolerance built

  • into them to accept a tolerable limit.

  • But sniper rifles cannot have such a luxury since their tolerances must be incredibly

  • tight.

  • The next major difference for sniper bullets would be the primer.

  • The primer is the main ignition method in the bullet that ignites the propellant to

  • fire the bullet down the barrel.

  • When the firing pin strikes the primer, the compounds inside of it ignite causing that

  • firing sequence to follow.

  • A common problem that will affect ultra-long distance shots that snipers will take is the

  • evenness of the ignition.

  • If a primer does not ignite evenly, such as is common in cheaper or mass-produced primers,

  • the bullet will receive energy unevenly.

  • This dispersion of energy, though incredibly slight, over long distances can have a huge

  • impact in accuracy.

  • By putting in place better primers that ignite evenly, the shooter can rest assured that

  • the bullet will receive an even distribution of energy to make the bullet fire straighter

  • and further.

  • Primers can also be customized depending on thickness.

  • For firearms that have a weaker firing pin, customizing with a softer primer can ensure

  • an even ignition.

  • While this is insignificant for non-precision fire, this is yet another tool that snipers

  • can incorporate into their individual rifles since ultimately they will know them the best.

  • The propellant is arguably the second most important area where sniper bullets and regular

  • bullets will differ.

  • The propellants inside of cartridges are a combinations of chemicals that give the bullet

  • its power.

  • The first major difference here is that sniper rounds are always going to be heavier than

  • their non-match counterparts.

  • A bullet's weight is measured in grains and a single grain is equivalent to one seven

  • thousandth of a pound.

  • A typical sniper round, 7.62 x 51mm (pronounced seven six two by fifty one millimeter) has

  • a standard weight of 147 grains.

  • Match grade ammunition on the other hand typically comes in at 162 grains.

  • The added difference in weight is all about propelling rounds over farther distances.

  • As the bullet leaves the barrel of the rifle it immediately starts to lose energy due to

  • air pushing back on it and from gravity pulling it down.

  • There is not much the shooter or even engineers can do about nature's effects so they have

  • to work around them.

  • The workaround here is simply keeping the bullet in flight for less time than your standard

  • rounds.

  • Taking again the 7.62 x 51mm example again, compared to standard ball ammunition, match

  • grade rounds actually come out of the barrel slightly slower.

  • However, due to intentional slow burn times of precision propellants, though ball ammunition

  • will immediately feel all the effects of nature, match grade ammunition will actually start

  • speeding up.

  • To put this into perspective, by the time a 7.62 x 51mm ball round and a match grade

  • round hit the 1000 meter mark, the match grade one will be faster, have taken less time to

  • get there, and been affected less by the environmentals.

  • The most significant difference between sniper bullets and regular rounds used by the military

  • is their unique shape.

  • Standard rifle rounds are what is called Full Metal Jacket.

  • Full Metal Jacket or FMJ is the wrapping of a copper jacket around the lead bullet to

  • give it better penetration power.

  • These rounds also have bases that are perfectly flat meaning that they create a 90 degree

  • angle when looked at from the top.

  • While this might be good enough for the average shooter, snipers need something even better.

  • First introduced in the 1970s, match shooters started shooting with hollow point boat tailed

  • ammunition.

  • But to understand why this two-punch combination is the best bullet design, it is important

  • to know exactly what they are since there are a lot of misconceptions out there.

  • Hollow point bullets have exactly that: a hollow point in the front of the bullet.

  • The purpose for this is to increase expansion upon entering a soft target, like a human,

  • since this expansion is often deadlier than the raw force of the bullet itself.

  • There is much more to this technology since there is a whole field of science dedicated

  • to wound ballistics but that is the basics for now.

  • As for why hollow point bullets are preferred for accuracy, it's because they have a slightly

  • rearward center of gravity than a full metal jacket bullet has.

  • By having a center of gravity further back, these bullets can resist a natural tendency

  • of some rounds to tumble or wobble in flight if they are too heavy towards the nose.

  • Again, while this is practically negligible for almost all situations, when shooting at

  • the extreme distances snipers have been doing for the past twenty years even these little

  • things matter.

  • The second part of this technology is the boat-tailed base.

  • The difference between a boat-tailed base and a regular base is that a boat-tailed base

  • is curved.

  • When the base is curved, it creates less drag on the bullet than a flat base.

  • Think of it kind of like the curved tips on air plane wings.

  • Through this combination of having a hollow point and a boat tail, the bullet achieves

  • an incredibly high ballistic coefficient.

  • While there are many factors that go into a ballistic coefficient, the most important

  • thing to know about it is that the higher the number the better it will fly through

  • the air since it is more aerodynamic.

  • The ballistic coefficient takes into consideration things like weight, length to diameter ratios,

  • and weight distribution among others.

  • Though simply adding a boat tail to a round adds little benefit in some cases, in others

  • it can drastically improve the accuracy of that round over extreme distances.

  • Take for instance the .224 (pronounced two two four) Valkyrie and .303 (pronounced three

  • oh three) British rounds.

  • The .224 Valkyrie was designed by Remington as one of its newest additions to medium and

  • small game hunting in 2017.

  • It has incorporated years of technologies that make it an already incredibly accurate

  • and sound medium rifle cartridge.

  • In comparing any kind of ammunition, you must use ones that are the exact same weight meaning

  • they have the same kind of propellant used in the cartridge.

  • As for the .224, by comparing the variable of a boat tail versus a regular base in a

  • 55 grain round, the ballistic coefficient only increases from .237 (pronounced point

  • two three seven) to .245 (pronounced point two four five).

  • While definitely better than nothing, this technology works best on older rounds that

  • were developed decades before this technology came about.

  • Take for example the .303 British round.

  • Developed in the late 1800s as the standard British rifle cartridge that would see service

  • through the end of World War Two, this round has obviously seen its fair share of use and

  • study.

  • Though not used by the British military anymore, civilian shooters have taken a liking to the

  • round and wanted to modify it for hunting and sport shooting purposes.

  • It is here that boat tail technology really shows through.

  • Hornady (pronounced horn-a-dey), a premier match grade ammunition manufacturer, makes

  • a regular and boat tailed version of the iconic .303 British round.

  • Each 174 grain round was tested to see which one was more accurate and it was found that

  • the regular round had a ballistic coefficient of .262 while the boat tailed version had

  • one of .470.

  • That is an almost 100 percent increase in accuracy!

  • While this high increase in accuracy might be unusual, it is not unheard of and this

  • is a great example of just how much impact even simple features can make.

  • Snipers, though, need every advantage they can get when it comes to taking ultra-long

  • range shots.

  • Even the smallest things such as how thick their shell casing is or how hard their primer

  • is can mean the difference between success and failure when the mission calls for zero

  • error.

  • Though thankfully your average shooter will never have to worry about any of this stuff,

  • for snipers, any one of these factors in their bullets that is slightly off could mean the

  • difference between life and death on the battlefield.

Snipers undoubtedly need a wide variety of gear to give them an edge no matter what situation

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 bullet sniper ammunition rifle boat primer

What Actually Makes a Sniper Bullet So Different

  • 1 0
    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/14
Video vocabulary