A member of Britain’s elite Special Air Service has reportedly secured bragging rights for the longest kill-shot ever recorded by a member of his regiment.
After tracking and spotting a cell of ISIS fighters in Northern Afghanistan, this trooper and his unit requested permission to go on the offensive from the special operations task force overseeing their activities.
When the “go-ahead” was given, the trooper — a trained sniper with 22 Special Air Service Regiment — and a spotter set up patiently for what would be one of his unit’s finest moments. After depressing the trigger, the round took several seconds to traverse the 1.5 mile distance, before nailing the terrorist cell’s commander in his upper torso.
Of particular interest, however, was just how that kill-shot was made: not with a highly-tuned and finely crafted sniper rifle, honed for long-distance precision shots... but instead, an M2 Browning heavy machine gun, popularly known as “Ma Deuce”.
That’s right — the 85-year-old standard .50 caliber machine gun that has seen service from before the Second World War to the present day is now responsible for the longest kill in SAS history.
A shot like this doesn’t come without precedent, however.
During the Vietnam War, famed US Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock was widely remembered for utilizing an M2 as his long-distance sniping system of choice — decades before .50 caliber sniper rifles first made their appearance on the commercial and military markets.
By outfitting a scope coupled to a mount of his own design onto the M2's upper surfaces, Hathcock was able to take advantage of the range and stopping power of the large .50 BMG round used by the M2 to great effect. The weight of the gun, in addition to its stabilization on its tripod mount, and barrel length, all combined to make the M2 highly effective in the role Hathcock used it in.
Unlike Hathcock, who had to personally lug his M2 and its heavy tripod around the jungles, hills and paddies of Vietnam (the combination of the two can weigh in excess of 130 lbs), the SAS trooper had the benefit of his gun being mounted to a turret on one of the SAS patrol's vehicles. Like Hathcock, the trooper had an optical sight ready-made for his machine gun, anticipating the possibility of having to make a long-range shot.
As with any sniper attempting to hit a target over such a distance, this trooper had to factor in a number of variables including heat, elevation, wind, and the light (due to the visual distortion caused by the heat).
Setting his M2 to semi-automatic mode by using a lever to lock down the bolt switch, the sniper and his spotter waited nearly 20 minutes before depressing the gun’s butterfly trigger, and the rest, as they say, is history.
While Hathcock’s longest kill (a record which stood for 35 years) was tagged at 1.4 miles, using the M2, this shot was just .1 of a mile longer.
The longest confirmed kill recorded, at 2.14 miles, was made just a year back by a Canadian sniper, also using the .50 BMG round, however with a purpose-built rifle.
Ian D’Costa is a correspondent with Gear Scout whose work has been featured with We Are The Mighty, The Aviationist, and Business Insider. An avid outdoorsman, Ian is also a guns and gear enthusiast.