Who is America’s best sniper?

America has a long and storied history of expert marksmen serving in the military. From the Revolutionary War to the present day, skilled snipers have played crucial roles in conflicts around the world. But when it comes to naming the absolute best sniper in American history, there are several worthy candidates.

What makes a great sniper?

A sniper must possess many skills to be effective. Accuracy is paramount – a sniper must be able to hit targets precisely from long distances. Snipers need patience, discipline, physical fitness, and mental toughness to surveil targets sometimes for hours or days before taking a shot. Ballistic knowledge and understanding of environmental factors like windage are also critical. Great snipers are intelligence gatherers as well, providing valuable reconnaissance for their units. The best snipers combine all these attributes into an elite package.

Famous American snipers

The United States military has produced many legendary snipers over the years. Names like Hathcock, Furlong, Mawhinney, Zediker, Petry, and many others are renowned in military circles for their exploits and number of confirmed kills in combat. Their skills saved countless lives and helped accomplish critical missions.

During the Vietnam War, Carlos Hathcock recorded 93 confirmed kills including several noteworthy feats like shooting an enemy sniper through the enemy’s own scope. Adelbert Waldron registered 109 confirmed kills in Vietnam. Chuck Mawhinney is believed to have logged 103 confirmed kills in just 16 months in Vietnam.

More recently, Chris Kyle earned the moniker “the Devil of Ramadi” for his 255 kills during four tours in Iraq as a Navy SEAL. Kyle’s exploits became known through his bestselling book American Sniper. Kyle was tragically killed in 2013 by a fellow veteran suffering from PTSD.

Measuring greatness

There are a few factors that can help indicate the greatest American sniper of all-time:

– Confirmed kills: The number of verified kills scored in combat provides a measurable statistic, although it does not tell the whole story.

– Difficulty and conditions: Some snipers, like Hathcock in Vietnam, endured great hardships and还ências to achieve their kills. The difficulty of the circumstances is important.

– Impact: Certain snipers like Kyle accomplished major objectives that significantly impacted their unit’s success and safety. This can demonstrate overall effectiveness.

– Legacy: Snipers like Hathcock became legends in the US military and inspired countless others. Their lasting legacy and influence matter when assessing greatness.

Top American snipers

Based on confirmed kills, challenging conditions, impact, and legacy, these snipers stand out as among the best in American history:

Carlos Hathcock

– 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam War
– Endured harsh terrain and conditions to stalk targets
– Famous exploits like shooting through enemy sniper’s scope
– Provided deadly sniper support for Marines in multiple campaigns
– Helped establish Marine Corps Scout Sniper School
– Remains a legend in the Marine Corps for skill and tenacity

Chuck Mawhinney

– 103 probable/confirmed kills in 16 months in Vietnam, most of any American sniper
– Often operated alone in dangerous territory
– Pioneered use of starlight scope for night shooting
– Held Marine Corps record for longest confirmed kill for decades
– Remained obscure for years until details of service emerged

Chris Kyle

– 255 kills, most by any American sniper
– Saved countless lives by eliminating threats during 4 Iraq tours
– Shot insurgent about to execute Iraqi civilians with rocket launcher
– Took out enemy snipers tracking US forces
– Legendary status and impact on troops memorialized in American Sniper
– Awarded multiple honors including 2 Silver Stars for bravery

Adelbert Waldron

– 109 confirmed kills in 8 months during Vietnam War
– Master marksman and Olympic competitor
– Set record for highest total by an American in Vietnam
– Once took out enemy sniper with impossible shot from 900 yards
– Credited with most confirmed kills at distance in Vietnam
– Regarded as one of history’s top snipers with legendary accuracy

Rob Furlong

– Canadian sniper serving with US forces in Afghanistan
– Set world record with 2,430 meter (1.5 mile) confirmed kill shot in 2002
– Eliminated important enemy combatant and boosted morale of troops
– Proved value of snipers providing long-range support in combat
– Overcame winds and distance for one of history’s most difficult shots

Sniper Confirmed Kills Conflict
Carlos Hathcock 93 Vietnam War
Chuck Mawhinney 103 Vietnam War
Chris Kyle 255 Iraq War
Adelbert Waldron 109 Vietnam War
Rob Furlong Multiple, including longest confirmed kill shot (1.5 miles) Afghanistan War

Traits of top American snipers

The elite American snipers discussed here shared some common traits that helped make them so effective:

– Marksmanship: Obviously accuracy is vital. They repeatedly hit small targets at long ranges.

– Calmness: They remained cool under pressure to control breathing and focus mentally.

– Training: They relentlessly practiced shooting skills until mastered.

– Familiarity with weapons: They knew their rifles intimately to trust equipment.

– Patience: They waited hours or days for the exact right shot.

– Discipline: They overcame weather, discomfort, boredom while maintaining position.

– Instincts: They adjusted for factors like wind and bullet drop using experience.

– Bravery: They put their life on the line to accomplish the mission.

– Independence: Often operating alone, they had to be self-sufficient.

– Tactics: They used creative maneuvering to gain optimal shooting positions.

– Psychology: They got inside the enemy’s head to anticipate behavior.

This blend of capabilities made American snipers like Hathcock, Mawhinney, Kyle, Waldron, and Furlong so incredibly lethal and valuable for the military units they supported. Their skills forged their legendary status as some of the country’s top marksmen of all time.

The extreme difficulties facing American snipers

While the number of confirmed kills helps quantify sniper effectiveness, it’s important to recognize the extreme difficulties American snipers faced in combat:

– Physically dangerous missions deep in enemy territory

– Little or no support – snipers often operated alone

– No room for mistakes – smallest errors could be fatal

– Mental fatigue from days-long stalking of targets

– Harsh terrain like jungles and urban environments

– Lack of food, sleep, shelter during multi-day operations

– Little recognition or reward for successes

– Pressures of needing to protect soldiers’ lives

American snipers succeeded not just through skills but through sheer determination to overcome adverse conditions. This makes their accomplishments all the more impressive.

Importance of spotters

Though snipers are known for their expert marksmanship, the role of their spotters should not be overlooked. Spotters bore similar hardships to assist the shooter in:

– Identifying potential targets
– Calculating ranges
– Determining windspeed and direction
– Monitoring surroundings for threats
– Fetching supplies and ammo
– Serving as second set of eyes

The combined capabilities of American sniper teams across conflicts contributed greatly to their historic successes on the battlefield.

Chris Kyle: America’s deadliest sniper

Given his high number of confirmed kills and extensive combat experience, Chris Kyle is arguably the deadliest sniper in American military history. He proved himself during four tours in Iraq:

Confirmed Kills

– Kyle racked up 160 confirmed kills out of 255 probable kills during his service
– The 160 confirmed kills stand as the most by any US sniper on record
– His tours made him the US military’s most lethal sniper of all time

Impact on Battlefield

– Saved countless American lives by eliminating IED emplacers and enemy fighters
– Took out ‘the Butcher’, Sadr militia leader torturing civilians
– His kills helped weaken dangerous Sunni insurgents in Ramadi
– Provided overwatch across dangerous Baghdad districts
– Boosted troop morale – soldiers saw his support in battles

Shot Difficulty

– Made multiple kills from over 1 mile away
– At times had to estimate distances and wind by instinct
– Excelled at moving and shooting versus dug-in enemies


– Earned 2 Silver Stars and 5 Bronze Stars for Valor in combat
– Story brought awareness of snipers’ contributions in Iraq
– Proceeds from American Sniper supported veterans’ causes
– Would likely still be serving if alive today

Kyle’s combination of skills, kills, and impact solidified his status as America’s top sniper.

Other top American snipers

Beyond those already discussed, other great American snipers also deserve recognition:

Eric R. England – Marine

Confirmed kills: 98

Served: Vietnam War

Legendary for hitting targets while plunging from helicopter during combat insertions.

James Tinsley – Marine

Confirmed kills: 87

Served: Iraq War

Earned recognition as one of history’s top urban warfare snipers during battle for Fallujah.

Brandon Walden – Army

Confirmed kills: 75

Served: Afghanistan War

Set Army record for most kills by a sniper team in single deployment to Afghanistan.

Aaron Carson Vaughn – SEAL

Confirmed kills: Unknown (Classified number)

Served: War in Afghanistan

Recognized for valor in secret operations including critical kills against high-value Taliban targets. Killed in 2011 helicopter crash.

Joshua Moore – Army

Confirmed kills: 63

Served: Iraq War

Posted huge kill totals during intense battles vs. Iraqi insurgents in Sadr City.

The legacy of great American snipers

The exploits of America’s best snipers leave a profound legacy:


Snipers like Hathcock, Kyle, Waldron displayed immense courage under fire throughout their careers. This inspires future generations of American warriors.

Protection of fellow troops

By taking out enemy forces from long range, snipers eliminated threats and saved innumerable lives.

Training & skills

Top snipers helped establish rigorous sniper training that improved the craft for all branches.


Knowing snipers were supporting them in battle boosted morale and confidence among regular troops.


Skilled snipers enabled safer environments for US forces operating in hostile conflict zones abroad.

The accomplishments of America’s best snipers will endure long after their tours ended. Their skills, bravery, and lethal precision helped change the course of battles and wars while saving the lives of fellow soldiers. In the history of modern warfare, experts agree these snipers rank among the greatest ever. Their legendary status will continue inspiring new generations of American marksmen.

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