The Deadliest Snipers in History

Here are the deadliest snipers of all time. We’ll show you the best snipers to have ever joined the military as they take on deadly missions throughout the world armed with nothing but their rifle.

3: Lyudmila Pavlichenko

July 12th, 1916: in the small town of Bila Tserkya (50 miles south of Kiev, Ukraine), one of the deadliest females to ever pick up a sniper rifle is born. Her name was Lyudmila Pavlichenko. In 1930 at the age of 14, the Pavlichenko family moved to Kiev, where Lyudmila began working at the Kiev Munitions Factory as a metal grinder. There she joined a youth shooting club that also doubled as a paramilitary organization teaching young adults the etiquette of using deadly weapons. Pavlichenko competed in a number of shooting competitions at an amateur level and exceeded standards. Then in June of 1941, after hearing that Hitler separated from Stalin and began invading the Soviet Union, she went straight to volunteer for her country. Recruiters initially denied her, as the army didn’t believe that a female had the knowledge of handling a rifle. Even after showing them her certificates from the youth shooting club, the recruiters still suggested she become a nurse instead. She eventually was able to get them to give her an “audition”. But the audition was different than what most would think. The audition, in fact, involved killing two Romanian officers who had worked with the German army. She swiftly shot them down with the sniper rifle they provided her; all the while shocking her recruiters by demonstrating to them that she could use a weapon with such ease. By the age of 24, she was finally accepted into the Red Army’s 25th Rifle Division. Pavlichenko used a Tokarev SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle for her first two kills, then went on to Odessa and had another 187 confirmed kills over the course of two and half months. She was swiftly promoted to lieutenant by the Southern Army Council in May of 1942 for taking the lives of approximately 257 German soldiers. Lyudmila was injured several times during the war, but she was able to recover each time to kill more Germans…except for one particular incident. In June of 1942, Pavlichenko was pulled out of the battlefield for the last time when a mortar explosion severely wounded her. After her recovery, she went on to train a number of snipers until the end of the war. She was also promoted to Major for her excellent services in the war. By the end of her career, Major Pavlichenko had a total of 309 confirmed kills, 36 of which were enemy sniper kills. This was the highest ever recorded number of confirmed kills in the history of female snipers. She was also one of the 500 female snipers to survive the German invasion, 2,000 of which entered the war. Additionally in 1942, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was the first ever female Soviet Union soldier to be invited to the White House under the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt while on a historic tour of Canada and the United States. The Major went on to serve at the Soviet Navy Chief Headquarters as a research assistant from 1945-1953. She was also part of the Soviet Committee for Veterans of War as well. The deadliest female sniper in the world died at the age of 58 and lays buried in Moscow.

2: Carlos Hathcock

Arkansas, 1942: born during the years of World War II in Little Rock, Arkansas, Carlos Hathcock was bound to become a war hero. As a child, Carlos would run around with his father’s mauser in their yard, pretending to be on the battlefield shooting Japanese soldiers, who were America’s enemy at the time. He was also taken on many traditional hunting trips with his family at a young age, where he instinctively learned how to handle and use a rifle. He’d sit alone in the woods and—no matter how long it took—would wait for his prey to trot along for his kill. In 1959 at the age of 17, Carlos Hathcock was quick to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He quickly climbed the ranks by winning a variety of shooting competitions. One cup he won in particular was in 1965, when he took down the nationally renowned Wimbledon cup as a Lance Corporal. The Wimbledon cup was a 1,000-yard shooting competition held every year in August at Camp Perry, Ohio. A year after his famous win, Carlos was deployed for his first mission in the Vietnam War. But his impressive shooting skills led for a push to have him join 1st Marine Division Sniper Platoon at Hill 55 in Da Nang, Vietnam. One effective sniping tactic he used on the battlefield was sticking a white feather onto his boonie hat while lying next to his spotter in the fields at their shooting position. The white feather was strategically placed on top as bait for the Vietnamese snipers to be able to locate him first. But Carlos knew that once the enemy saw his white feather, they’d have to turn their sniper rifle in order to set their sights on him; thus giving away their position, as Carlos would have already seen the flash on the enemy sniper’s gun due to the sun’s reflection on it. This gave him a huge advantage over his enemy snipers. Due to his killing spree during the war, the Viet Cong finally accepted the fact that Carlos Hathcock was the deadliest and fastest sniper in the Vietnam War. They gave him the nickname “lông trắng”, which translates to “White Feather”. The Viet Cong also put a $30,000 bounty on his head. This was no problem for Hathcock, as he was able to kill every single enemy sniper that was sent after him. He also shot down two of the Viet Cong’s best snipers in the war, nicknamed “Cobra” and “Apache”. “Cobra” was killed by a bullet that went straight through his telescope. When asked about this specific shot, Carlos Hathcock said, “I took his old spot, he took my old spot, which was bad news for him because he was facing the sun and glinted off the lens of his scope, I saw the glint and shot the glint… I was just quicker on the trigger otherwise he would have killed me.” He explained further “I shot right straight through his scope, didn’t touch the sides… And it didn’t do his eyesight no good either.” On another famous mission to kill a high-ranking officer, Carlos had to crawl 1,500 yards to get to a comfortable shooting point. With his target still 700 yards away from his spot, Carlos fired his sniper rifle and hit the Vietnamese General straight through the heart. This mission took him 4 days and 3 nights. Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills in which another witness was present at the time of the kill. But Carlos himself believed his true number of enemy kills was closer to 300-400 in total. He returned to United States in 1967 looking for more deployment opportunities. While on a mission two years later in September of 1969 (the same year Carlos he was promoted to Platoon Commander for a sniper team), his train was smashed by an anti-tank mine, setting the whole train in flames. He managed to save several marines, but in the process ended up being severely burnt himself. He spent many months in recovery but he could no longer perform on the battlefield, as his health had deteriorated. “White feather” was finally forced to retire from the Marine Corps in 1979. Hathcock taught many young snipers in the Marine Corps right up until his retirement; providing with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and tips. For his illustrious career in the Marines, he was honored with the Purple Star, and later on in 1966, a Silver Star for rescuing seven marines. After retirement, Hathcock went on to found a sniper school in Quantico, Virginia where he gave many young snipers new perspectives on shooting. In addition, he was asked to give lectures to both police departments and military units. Carlos “White feather” Hathcock spent just short of 20 years of his life dedicated to the military before finally passing away in Virginia Beach in 1999 due to multiple sclerosis. His name is now engrained in America’s history as one of the deadliest snipers to ever have lived.

1: Simo Häyhä

Finland, 1905: the number one deadliest sniper in history–Simo Häyhä—is born in the town of Rautjärvi. Growing up, his favorite hobbies were farming & shooting, so it was natural for him to eventually become a sniper. He had a total of 7 brothers & sisters, one of whom was killed in the Finnish Civil War. This, along with the influence of his family members, inspired him to join the Rautjärvi Civil Guard at the age of 17. It was during this time, which he became well known, winning many top marksman trophies. Simo followed up his service in the Civil Guard by enrolling in the military in 1925 at the age of 20, joining the Bicycle Battalion 2 at Raivola & serving for 15 months until 1926. He was then promoted to Lance Corporal and later became an avid fox hunter from 1931 to the beginning of the Winter War of 1939. Luckily, his hunger for shooting and sniper training in the year 1938 prepared him for what was to come. During the Winter War, which lasted exactly 105 days, the Soviet Union invaded Finland. It was Simo’s duty to protect his country. Coincidentally, the year 1939-1940 was one of the worst winters Finland had ever seen. Simo used this to his advantage by hiding in the snow while wearing a white camouflaged suit. His main targets were the soviet soldiers who marched in mass groups into his shooting vicinity. Häyhä ingeniously used the technique of shooting them during the loud machinery sounds in order to hide his gun noise. Additionally, he did not want to use a scope sight because they would reveal his hideouts from the Sun’s reflection. Instead, he was more comfortable using an iron sight, which he had practiced using all his life. Although he switched to his submachine gun and light machine gun at certain times, the main sniper rifle he used was the Mosin-Nagant M91. Over the next 100 days in the war, he sat camouflaged in heavy snow while varying his hideout locations; all the while collecting over 700 confirmed kills, with at least 500 kills coming from the sniper rifle alone. Soviets tried many times to kill him by sending in heavy artillery and teams of snipers, but none worked. With 11 days left in the war, an exploding bullet injured Häyhä in his jaw, sending him into a coma. Doctors were able to take pieces of a hip bone during his surgery to help restructure his jaw line. He later awoke from his coma slightly disfigured on the exact day of the Winter War’s peace declaration. He earned the nickname “White Death” for his outstanding performance in the war. Simo received a total of seven medals for his killings and services in the Finnish military. To further honor him, the military named a marksmanship contest the “Simo Häyhä Sniper Competition.” After being asked about his shooting nature, he explained “I didn’t feel anything towards the enemy. I just fired and loaded and continued as long as there were enemies.” White Death passed away at the war veteran hospital in Hamina, Finland at the age of 96 years old.


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