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Steve Reichert on the 2815 Meter Shot

Former Marine Steve Reichert posted his take on the recent claims that two Australian Snipers made a 2815 meter shot within seconds of each other on his Facebook wall. He isn’t saying it was impossible, but rather letting the science speak.

I recently came across a news article stating that two Australian Defense Force snipers had killed a Taliban “commander” at a distance of 2815 meters. They were using a Barrett M82A1. I thought the story was a little fishy; after all trying to get positive ID on a person at said distance is extremely hard with conventional optical devices. The question stuck in my mind… was the shot even possible? Let’s look at the math involved, after all physics don’t lie.

•Rifle: M82A1
•Ammunition: Unknown, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and use a plug in a match grade 750 grain Lapua @ say 2700fps
•Scope: Unknown, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and use a S&B 5-25×56 PM II/LP/MTC/LT
•Scope base: Unknown, let’s give them the advantage and use a base with 30 MOA built in
•Zero Distance: Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and use 900 meters
•Altitude: Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and use 5000ft MSL

If the rifle didn’t have a 30 MOA base, and was zeroed at 100m like most sniper rifles are, then you would need a total come-up of 67.85 mils (233.25 MOA). That’s a lot of mils, and most scopes do not have half that adjustment range. Suppose that they did have a 30 MOA base on the rifle… and they were only interested in making an extremely long shot, so they zeroed at 900 meters. Doing this would drop the total come-up’s required to hit at 2815m by a little over 7 mils, to 60.29 mils (207.26 MOA). Now subtract the 30 MOA ramp angle and you get the actual remaining, real scope come-up of 51.56 mils (177.26 MOA). This is still outside the available travel of most scopes. The S&B 5-25×56 lists only 26 mils of total elevation travel, so it would most likely be impossible to dial on enough elevation to make a shot at 2815m. This would mean they would have to hold…. But in order to see the target they would have to power the scope down. The FOV specification for the S&B is 5.3 meters at 100 meters with the scope at minimum magnification and 1.5 meters at 100 meters with it at maximum magnification. Field of view is all the way across the scope, so the maximum hold you can accomplish optically; going all the way from center to the rim is half of these values. So, at minimum magnification we can hold up to 0.5 x 5.3 / 100 = 0.0265 radian or 26.5 mils all the way to the rim. At maximum magnification this is 0.5 x 1.5 / 100 = 0.0075 radian or 7.5 mils. As stated earlier, since the scope has a maximum vertical adjustment of 26 mils and the shot requires a total of 67.85 mils, the optical hold required would be 41.85 mils. Even at minimum magnification, the available field of view would only allow about 63 percent of the required hold. At maximum magnification, it would only allow about 18 percent of the required angle.

Bottom line: Using the gear they more than likely had, and assuming they had smoking hot match grade rounds, the best optics and ramped scope bases… it’s highly unlikely this shot was pulled off…

Special thanks to Dr Lyman R. Hazelton at Empyreal Sciences for his contribution to this article.

Semper Fi
Steve

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45 Responses to “Steve Reichert on the 2815 Meter Shot”

  1. mike says:

    I’m always in awe of people who can do calculations like these. Great read, Steve!

  2. Jay says:

    I see from the original article that there has bee no confirmation of the shot from the Aussie military. Curious as to what the math says about the other longest sniper shots recorded lately- such as Corporal Harrison’s 2,475m kill with a .338 Lapua?

  3. Mom says:

    Wow! That’s a lot of math. Great calculations…

  4. Bill says:

    So your calling the ADF liars? Pretty sure they wouldn’t publish this with out conformation.

  5. W7 says:

    I do not believe Mr Reichert is sniper qualified from an MOS or SQI producing school, just to clarify.

    • Guerrilla says:

      What does that have to do with math?

      • W7 says:

        Nothing, it’s fine math. Just saying he isn’t a sniper as the article states.

        • Viper1 says:

          W7: I don’t believe he’s calling himself one, the 1st paragraph is an introduction from SSD not part of the article. If you look over Mr. Reichert’s website he does not state anything other than his time as SNCOIC of the pre-sniper course (he was one of my instructors in 05’ when I went through it).

        • Guerrilla says:

          Ahh. Got it.

  6. Peter Ek says:

    Why do I get the distinct feeling that had it been two American snipers, no calculations would have been considered necessary by Mr Reichert?

    No saying it absolutely did happen as advertised of course, but…

  7. Eric says:

    Is there a rig currently used by the Aussies that makes the math on this shot feasible? Clearly Mr Richert shows it its unlikely to have been from a Barrett with the equipment predicted, but how COULD this shot have been accomplished?

  8. Greg says:

    Very good calculations and in theory it would be hard to confirm that the shot was possible. But in fact the shot was made at the distance given and confirmed by a ground clearance force from 3 different nations. Special thanks to the author for trying to add theoretical deniability to a ground truth but in future probably keep your thoughts to yourself. Yes there was probably a hell of a lot more luck involved in the shot than actual skill but the shot was made in near perfect conditions where everything aligned to see a first round hit at 2815m.

    • Guerrilla says:

      Well you seen to know alot about it. What was the set up? Bullet, scope and base? I could give 2 F***S about it being confirmed from 3 different nations. I just want to know how a scope with the elevation dialed all the way up and not even enough holdover in mils with it dialed down to 5X (5x at 3K?) is possible. Only way I see it happening is with offset aiming, picking a holdover point to use as an aiming point that you precisely measured in mils above your target. In this case, putting your intended target out of your own FOV.
      I dont think anyone would be calling BS if this was a .375 CT, but everyone knows 1st round LR shots like this with the M82A1 are hard to come by. It took Reichert 9 to hit that dude at a mile. But then again, as it was pointed out above, he’s not a sniper.

  9. MTW says:

    Regardless of who reportedly made the shot (Aussies, Americans, Brits etc..), any shots reportedly made in combat much beyond 2,000 Meters typically raise speculation among the long range shooting community. It’s not an issue of pride regarding who made the shot. It’s strictly a numbers game. Mr Reichert didn’t call names, he simply looked at the math. This math is not rocket science. It can be found and learned by anyone with a little extra time and a web browser. This math is common to most in the long range shooting community. Modern optics, canted bases and ballistics just do not add up.

  10. micah says:

    Who uses a lapua barret???…first incorrect assumption

  11. ALD says:

    There have been a number of kills made in Afghanistan during the past 10 years with the Barrett M107’s, M82A1’s, M82A3’s etc. The Marines have drilled guys out to 2400m on a number of occasions but almost NEVER on the 1st shot. Pulling off a shot at 2800m and making a 1st round hit is very hard to do given the ballistics, and optics involved. The difference in the trajectory curve at 2400 vs. 2800 meters is huge! I’m not even going to bring up prismatic aberration, a factor they would be dealing with if they were holding over. Is this shot possible? Yes Is a 1st round hit possible while holding off target and outside your field of view likely with such inherently inaccurate semi-autos? I think not. Steve, great job looking at the math involved, just wish you would have mentioned all the additional factors that would have had to have been calculated in order to get the 1st round even close to the target.

    • mikko says:

      Outside your field of view? Not if the target is down below on a valley and the shooters are on higher ground – something that occurs a lot of times in Afghanistan.

      • ALD says:

        @ Mikko The height above or below your position would not put the target inside your field of view. IF they were shooting straight down at 90* and the distance to the target was still 2815m the field of view would be the same as if they were on the same level at 2815m. Ballistics 101

  12. Aron says:

    there are an awful lot of unknowns there… heck I bet Tom Selleck made the shot with a Sharps and open sights

  13. Nick D says:

    While the math is infallable, and I am very impressed by the calculations, I am wondering if, given the assumed criteria above, would it be possible to have an effective hold over to compensate for the remaining mils by calculating a hold over on n object that was x amount of mils above the intended target? I have no experience with long distance shooting over 500 yards, but I remember as a kid trying something similar with my .22 out past 200 yards to varrying degrees of success, and I know from experience how ingenious Australians can be when they have their minds set on something.

    • W7 says:

      Spoken like someone who didn’t go to sniper school.

      I treated trauma but I didn’t go to med school. Am I a fucking Doctor?

      • You Don't Know Me says:

        None of which invalidates his point about the seeming impossibility of this shot occurring the way it is being reported.

        I guess if you can’t attack the facts, attack the man, right?

      • Angry Misha says:

        So, W7 I’m gonna ascertain that you are a Combat Diver correct? As far as Reichert’s comment, I can see his point. WAAAY back in the day when I went through school (when the 1-3 was THE Bible lol) there was this huge rift between not only Pigs, Slugs and Hogs but schools also. I went to 1st MarDiv and looked down on anyone who went to “The gentlemen courses” on the east coast. The problem with his comment is that in order to claim the term “Sniper” you actually do have to attend training. And as shocking as this may seem, it actually doesn’t need to be at an MOS producing school. If memory serves me correctly, Gunner Galinas who was a Scout Sniper Instructor and two more Instructors ran a course in Okinawa and awarded MOSs to those who completed it (much to the chagrin of the community). However, it was legit because they covered the required coursework, events and hours of instruction. Unfortunately Mr. Reichert’s basis for claiming the status of “Sniper” based on a check the block from the definition is flawed also. Every Infantry Marine who’s seen combat has probably delivered “Long Range, precision fire on select targets from concealed positions”. Heck, I personally observed Devil Dogs getting first round hits at 500 meters with M16A4s in Fallujah. Were they Snipers? No. Were they effective? Yes. The Marine in Mr. Reichert’s story seems like an ass. He reminds me of the ass clowns who got 1st MarDiv’s school shut down. Anyone who went through that course in the 90’s can attest that it was a “Thrash Ex” and most of the instructors sucked and seemed more intent on letting the Slugs know how cool they (Hogs) were vice imparting knowledge. In regards to his math, it is what it is… math. That is the beauty of shooting portion of sniping. It’s pretty much the same thing as hitting the moon with a rocket. And because it’s math it’s a universal truth. Was the shot possible? Sure, crazier stuff has happened. However, even though he didn’t claim being a sniper, Mr. Reichert misunderstands what it means to BE a Sniper.

      • Viper1 says:

        W7, in full agreement with you nevertheless if the definition of a Doctor in any branch of services was a service member who treated trauma then I’d have to say yes. If meeting the definition of a Marine Sniper is so easy then why don’t they change the official definition? I have seen a few Marines over the years who were also referred to as snipers, they too never went to the school however since they were severally wounded while overseas no one berates their actions as snipers, they seem to just look the other way for certain individuals.

        • Guerrilla says:

          So I’m confused is it the media that’s saying he’s a scout sniper or is it him saying that he’s a scout sniper?

          • Viper1 says:

            The Marine reporter who did the 1st article for DOD back in 2005 assumed he was in fact a sniper and attached to the sniper platoon of his unit. The reporter obviously did not do his homework, for he even got his company wrong (Fox Co not H&S). A good AAR from that day in history along with comments from both the BN/CO Commanders http://stevereichert.com/bad-friday-the-mile-long-kill-shot/ . I think this is a case of a reporting not doing his homework, and everyone jumping to conclusions. As stated above already “I guess if you can’t attack the facts, attack the man, right?”

          • Guerrilla says:

            So if it’s the media, this site included, who gives a rats ass? But I am curious to know how the hell an infantry platoon got an M40 and a Barrett.
            Not that any of this has anything to do with the price of tea in china.

  14. 2-BPM says:

    I fully understand why Chuck Mawhinney kept silent for so long.

  15. Caleb says:

    The comments section here is almost pure ad hominem.

    Physics & mathematical formulas are either true or not true. It doesn’t matter who plugs the numbers. It could be that fat airsoft kid in the picture that’s posted everywhere or for that matter a retarded baby seal.

  16. Dan says:

    So end state is:
    The shot is possible although not probable

    The main problem seems to be that he isn’t a marine ‘sniper’ who apparently are the only marksmen capable of shooting at extreme distances without doubt… Pull your heads out of your assess.

  17. SPQR476 says:

    I’m no sniper, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so correct me if I’m wrong, but my quick math says a 750gr AMAX at 2750fps, zeroed at 100m, needs about 130MOA to get to 2815 with a 7000ft Density Altitude–certainly reasonable for many areas in Afghanistan.

    The Barrett M82A1 has 27MOA built in to the rail, so if you add a 30 MOA base, you get 57, and you can’t really zero at 100 at that point, although a 900m or 1000m zero is entirely do-able, say with the S&B above.

    That gives you about 80 MOA left in the turret out of 108 more that you need to go, so 28 MOA left, or about 8mils, which you technically could hold at just under max power.

    The math seems to work for me, but the part that makes me skeptical is that the tightest 5 shot group that I know of ever recorded in competition (perfect conditions) with an M82, using single loaded, long OAL 750gr AMAX loads, is around 1.2MOA at 1000yds. Add to that the fact that a wind call in error by 1mph is a wide miss…

    So…I’m in the camp of mathematically possible, but damn lucky if it happened.

    • Guerrilla says:

      You got me thinking. I opened my mouth before I did my homework. I just ran it on a few different ballistic modes too. On some it falls into the FOV. I stand corrected on my earlier post. I think it’s doable with the target in the FOV. Good work you bastards.

  18. No Math Wiz says:

    Put this in a ballistic computer.
    BH 3.00
    BW 750gr
    C1 1.050
    MV 2700
    ZR 100m (Easy range to zero at)
    Alt 6000ft
    Tmp 50F
    Since it is the Aussies, most likely in Uruzgan, 6000ft would be the lowest altitude, but with 50degrees a fair low end for density altitude.

    I am getting a hold of 39Mils

    Looking at a the S&Bs 5-25s (TremorII) or premier 5-25s (H57s) which are dime a dozen over here, you could dialing all the way up, you could make the shot at 20 power on the premier and 12-13 power on the S&B. Still an amazing shot even after a couple of mags, but I think actually possible.

    I am no sniper, but we have guys pushing 300win mag out past 1800 in combat, and alot of guys have pushed 16 inch 7.62 guns out to a mile in training (Accuracy First). PID can come from numerous manners and may not have been done by the shooters. They could have picked him up with a slew of light weight thermals, or an old fashion spotting scope.

    I would prefer to use a javelin since I am not fiscally conservative, and it is about the same weight. Bombs are also a good choice and at that range I would probably weight for the aircraft before risking spooking the target.

    • Longwayhome says:

      Amen, brother.
      Checked some figures and I agree.
      Hell of a long way though and it calls for some luck. 5-6 seconds TOF, that’s enough to run 50-60yards if you’re Jamaican or in any sort of shape at all!
      But, as you said re the 300winmag, guys get good results out of guns in combat. Perhaps they spend countless mags doing it, but it only takes one round of the 000’s that they fire. Especially when it is 750gr, and tumbling through the air like a tomohawk.

  19. AUSSIE says:

    If they were Americans then no questions would be asked and the ticker tape parade down Hollywood Blvd would have taken place already!

  20. Destriate Black says:

    Gentlemen,
    I have just got off the phone and have had some light shed on this matter. As we all know, you cannot dispute mathematics or facts. The dope on the scope is what we already know..ridiculous and in perfect conditions the bullet drift would of been 5-6 meters, so a no brainer on whether any sniper would realistically expect an accurate engagement at that range. Regardless of the factors, that engagement was made and contrary to what has previously been posted there was no conclusive hit witnessed by either the sniper, his number two or any third party (ground forces/ ISR etc etc).

    The sniper, true to his profession did not call a hit and there was no physical “BDA” conducted by anyone. The “call” was made by over zealous intelligence operators and what can only be termed as a professionally immature officer who (for reasons only known to himself) touted this as a kill. Somehow the Australian Army PR machine got hold of this and due to their inexperience in any matters involving combat ran with it.
    I’m sure the personnel involved in this act are not happy that a stab in the dark shot has got blown out of all proportion and like all of us who are in this line of work just want to get back to doing God’s good work against the oppressors of democracy.

    • Longwayhome says:

      Off the phone to who? Someone who was there? Someone from that unit?
      I don’ think so. Or perhaps you deliberately trying to be inflammatory, and push the people’s buttons by claiming the Australian Army is “inexperienced in matters involving combat”? Bet there are a bunch of Aussies that may wish to contest that.
      Thanks for your contribution, but I’ll call BS on your phone call.

  21. Will says:

    Dang you got us. Were only calling BS on this shot that didnt happen because it was AUSSIES. What a moron.

  22. Ripley's Believe or Not says:

    Pretty sure but not positive that despite how unbelievable things can be sometimes they just are. But then again, sometimes individuals just really want it to be true and go out of their way to make it so. Fence sitting is my game on this one.

    Raufoss NM140 has that unique ability to kill despite the fact it doesnt hit, maybe thats the answer at 2815m

    Is anyone here saying that given the right conditions they wouldnt attempt a shot at over 2800 despite not having the perfect set up? Hell I’d have a crack with a .338 if thats all that was available. Current rules and reguations these days in Afgh see the coalition denied the better options available to target insurgents in the green belt, so unfortunately we go with the the non traditional methods of engaging at beyond “normal” ranges and “have a crack” one of these guys may have just had luck on his side or the Ins inversely didnt have luck on his……..In summation, you will never win lotto unless you buy a ticket.

    My two cents suggested that it wasnt worth releasing the info on the shot because no one would believe it anyway. Im still unsure.

  23. Dan says:

    Destriate black you are full of shite. Reference my earlier point, you are not the only country or corps in ‘combat’. It is apparent to me that spouting slander on things you clearly are in no position to ‘call’ and get information on is laughable and unprofessional, if you even are one…

  24. joie says:

    Why o why couldnt the Aussie DoD is issue a PR statement like the Brits, when it happenned