November 19, 2017

Keeping The Barbarians Up At Night

This is a story that provides a clue to why we will ultimately prevail over the barbarians that wish to drive civilization back to the dark ages. It’s about determination and skill, but more than anything, it tells the thinking person that all cultures are not, for a moment, equivalent. In fact, not all cultures are remotely civilized. The vehicle is a world-record sniper shot, as told by The Daily Mail:

Canadian sniper has beat the record for the longest confirmed kill in military history by picking off an ISIS fighter from a staggering 11,319 feet.

The bullet was fired from a McMillan TAC-50 rifle set on a high-rise tower and took 10 seconds to travel the 2.14 miles towards the fighter, who was attacking Iraqi soldiers.

This smashed the last record set by a Briton Craig Harrison, who killed a Taliban soldier with a 338 Lapua Magnum rifle at a range of 8,120 feet(1.54 miles) in 2009.

That shot was 3773 yards, the length of nearly 38 football fields. I’ll get into why this is incredible, and what it means shortly. In the meantime, a bit more history:

A military source told The Globe and Mail the kill was verified by video, adding: ‘This is an incredible feat. It is a world record that might never be equalled.’

The third longest kill was by Canadian Corporal Rob Furlong, who shot down an Afghan insurgent from 7,972 feet(1.51 miles) in 2002 during Operation Anaconda.

And prior to that, Master Corporal Arron Perry hit a terrorist from 7579 feet. He was also Canadian and serving in the same operation.

The longest kill from a US sniper was done by sergeant Bryan Kremer, who hit an Iraqi insurgent at 7,546 feet(1.42 miles) with his Barrett M82A1 rifle in 2004.

McMillan no longer produces the Tac-50, now making the Tac-50 A1: 

McMillan introduces a product update to the TAC®-50 50 BMG tactical rifle. Named the TAC®-50 A1™, the new rifle includes several product enhancements over the original TAC-50 rifle that has been deployed by military forces around the world.

The TAC-50 A1 features a new take-down fiberglass stock with a forend that is 5” longer, moving the balance point for the bipod forward. The TAC-50 A1 includes an integral cheekpiece and a monopod on the buttstock with an option for vertical adjustment. The stock incorporates a smaller pistol grip to fit a wider range of hand shapes, with and without gloves.

The TAC-50 A1 reflects input from McMillan’s customers around the world regarding features they would like to incorporate in this weapon. It has a new bipod that is lighter, yet sturdier. The legs adjust vertically, as well as forward and rearward to fine tune the rifle for elevation.

A new magazine system offers a positive, self-locking magazine latch that is easier to operate with gloved hands. The magazine release lever is repositioned ahead of the trigger bow.

As with the original TAC-50, the TAC-50 A1 features a 29” premium selected, hand-lapped match grade free-floating barrel, threaded muzzle brake, detachable 5-round box magazine, tuned 3.5 lb. trigger, and extra-long bolt handle to clear large optics. It utilizes the proven McMillan 50 caliber action and all components are built to benchrest precision tolerances.

The bullet that killed the ISIS murderer was likely a 750 grain Hornady version widely used by elite snipers. The cartridge would have produced a muzzle velocity of nearly 3000 feet per second, and energy of more than 13,000 foot pounds. The 50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) round was invented by authentic firearm genius John Moses Browning in the early 1900s for use in his iconic machinegun–still in widespread use around the world–also invented at the same time. Compare this to a standard military cartridge for the M4 rifle (our AR-15 military variant), which fires a bullet in the 55 grain range at around 3200 feet per second with about 1300 foot pounds of energy.

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The 50 BMG round can travel, obviously, more than two miles, but its effective range is normally considered to be far less. At that range, its speed and energy would be considerably less, but the bullet is still massive and fast enough to do incredible damage. It would have torn the jihadist into pieces. Imagine being one of the jihadist’s fellow savages, when suddenly, in accompaniment to a massive, wet whacking sound, he came apart, spraying you and everyone around with blood and body parts. It’s highly unlikely they would have heard a sound, particularly if the sniper were using a suppressor, which is also relatively common.

Skill? Certainly, but not only the skill of the shooter, the spotter as well. Not only did both have to make and confirm multiple calculations, taking into account not only the wind–over two miles it would vary throughout the bullet’s 10-second flight–but the barometric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, even the rotation of the Earth at that latitude. Ultimately, the shooter would have to anticipate where the jihadist would be ten seconds after he pulled the trigger. He was not shooting at a stationary target, but where that target would be ten seconds later. Take a moment with a watch to experience ten seconds to get some sense of what that means. Ten seconds is far longer than you imagine.

Part of that skill, and a primary factor that made the shot possible, is that the sniper was in an elevated position relative to the target. He was, in essence, shooting downhill, which introduces its own unique calculation into the equation, but would have reduced, to some degree, the amount of holdover the sniper would have been required to hold.

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Luck? Unquestionably. Without a very high degree of sniper skill, and the training and experience that produced and accompanied it, the shot would have been absolutely impossible, but it is unlikely the sniper could make a similar shot again. In virtually all similar circumstances, a shot would be made, it would have missed, and the sniper and spotter would have no idea where it hit, making adjustments impossible. Each subsequent shot would have been made with no more information to guide it than the previous shot or shots.

Why does this demonstrate our cultural superiority and eventual triumph over barbarism? We are fighting people who, as a culture, cannot manufacture toasters. To be sure, some terrorist barbarians have university degrees, but these are people, for the most part, who cannot invent, manufacture or repair the contemporary military weapons they use to slaughter the innocent. It many ways, it is as though Muslim fanatics of the 600s somehow acquired Kalashnikov rifles, which is precisely the state of affairs they seek to produce.

The skill, imagination and engineering prowess of people like John Moses Browning, and the people at McMillan that produce the Tac-50 A1, are beyond the barbarians that wish to be at our gates. So too is the knowledge and ability to apply it of the men that use that rifle and ammunition, the ability that makes such a shot possible.

A month ago in The Mattis Moment, I noted this exchange between a journalist and retired Marine General James Mattis, our current Secretary of Defense:

Dickerson: ‘what keeps you awake at night?’

Secretary Mattis: ‘Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.’

Why would a truly civilized society produce weapons like the Tac-50 A1? Because we understand human nature. We know not everyone is like us. We know some would gladly kill us, rape our wives, mothers and daughters, and wipe freedom from the planet. Actually, they’d rape pretty much everyone, including our animals (yes, they do this in their home countries). We know cultural equivalence is a conceit available only to effete, self-imagined intellectuals in advanced societies protected by rough men and women standing ready to do violence on their behalf that they may sleep soundly in their beds.

Like great societies before us, we may destroy ourselves, but it is moments like that achieved on the battlefield that define us, that tell our enemies just who they’re fighting, and keep them awake at night.

Mike’s Home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor.

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