One of the world’s biggest and most dangerous sniper rifles is operating right now on the front lines in Ukraine. The Snipex Alligator, designed to use the 14.5-millimeter heavy machine gun round, can range out up to four miles and strike with nearly twelve tons of energy. The rifle allows individual Ukrainian troops to target not only enemy soldiers but also their light-armored vehicles, communications gear, and even ammunition and fuel dumps, pushing the invading Russian forces out of the country.
The history of sniping goes back to the Revolutionary War, when colonial sharpshooters, raised to use hunting rifles to procure game, turned their sights on British Army redcoat troops. Until recently, most military sniper rifles were adapted from service rifles, like the M1903 Springfield service rifle of World War I and World War II, or hunting rifles like the Remington 700. Although convenient, this restricted ammunition and caliber development, with sniper rifles stuck using relatively small military- and hunting-caliber ammo.
In the 1980s, Ronnie Barrett of Tennessee invented the Barrett Model 82, the first sniper rifle to use a .50-caliber heavy machine gun round, as opposed to a military small arms or hunting round. The Model 82 was a revelation to the world of precision shooting. The .50-caliber (12.7mm) round was heavier and could inflict significantly more damage than .308 and .30-06, traditional military and hunting rounds.