Monday, June 15, 2015

Marine Snipers Losing Gunfight


It was the summer of 2011 in southern Helmand province, Afghanistan, and mission after mission, Sgt. Ben McCullar of Third Battalion, Second Marines, would insert with his eight-man sniper team into the berms and dunes north of the volatile town of Musa Qala.

Sometimes they would fire at a group of enemy fighters, sometimes the enemy would fire at them first, but almost immediately, McCullar explained, their team would be pinned down by machine guns that outranged almost all of their sniper rifles.

“They’d set up at the max range of their [machine guns] and start firing at us,” McCullar said. “We’d take it until we could call in [close air support] or artillery.”


  1. Another matter near and dear to my heart. Weapons development and procurement. The heart of this matter is an inaccurate idea that combat is a one-on-one dual between two ewqually armed opponents. it isn't. Here, the sniper is comparing the .308 to a Machine gun. The machine gun can reach out a little further, but has almost no ability to hit a single target. At that range, it is an area weapon.
    If these same marines find themselves under attack by mortars are they then going to demand sniper rifles that can shoot 4K and shoot over hilltops? The correct answer is to field a set of weapons that fills all the nitches. The nitch the USMC wants fills with snipers is less than 1000 meters and the .308 (actually 7.72x51 but close enough) is perfectly adequate for that. The Marines (and the Army) have plenty of other assets to engage targets at longer ranges. We do not need weapons that outrange EVERY possible combination of enemy action. We already have weapons in our mix that can do that.

    As an aside, Army units in that same operating area were making the same claim about being outgunned since they were using 5.56 rifles and only 2 people per platoon had weapons capable of reaching back at enemy snipers 600m away.

  2. Yeh well... Two sides to everything. . Range of your weapons system isn't the big factor in a sniper fight , how good your fieldcraft is and how accurate your weapon's are the deciding factors. Another point to make. Big bore rifles have a VERY short combat lifespan before needing a big ticket replacement. This sounds a lot more like somebody in the de-fence Dep. , the Fumble Factory, or congress (or all of them) want to hand out a big ticket contract for something the Corp doesn't want.---Ray

    1. Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not a Marine and didn't play one on TV but I live very near to the largest Marine Base on the east coast and know a fair bit about them.

      I think the corps has access to Barrett .50's, .338 Lapua and 300 Win Mag.
      It's just not standard issue. Your comment is correct. A .308 has a barrel life in the thousands of rounds and even at civilian prices the rounds are less than
      a buck each. A .338 Lapua has a barrel life in the hundreds of rounds and each round is about $3.50. Makes no sense for every Marine to have anything more than the trusty 7.62 x 51 (.308)

    2. the largest Marine Base on the east coast

      Thanks, I'm in Cape Carteret and where are you?

    3. Hi Brock, I just forgot to put my CH at the end of the message. I'm in Craven Co. as I think you would have know if I'd ID'd myself.

    4. Thanks and do you ever get up this way?

  3. You can't blame this on the institution. This story is based on nothing more than gadget envy. Marine snipers see other snipers have some thing new and cool so they want it too. I have seen this over and over. It is a story in the media because of the hearline: marines outgunned. When in fact, that isn't even close ot being true.