Special Report

The Classic Long-Range Sniper Rifles of World War II

Hulton Archive / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Simo Häyhä was one of the most famous soldiers to serve in World War II – a Finnish military sniper credited with more than 500 confirmed kills, earning him the nickname “The White Death”. Simo managed this accomplishment with his incredible sharpshooting skills, and is known as the deadliest sniper in all of the Second World War. His influence in the war would give more credence to the importance of the sniper’s role in any military.

The necessity for long-range engagements became increasingly significant as World War II raged on. As a result, various nations developed sniper rifles that were capable of hitting targets from great distances. These were distributed among sniper units that would carry out covert operations taking down high-value targets and slowing the enemy’s advance. These rifles and the men that used them left a mark on modern warfare for decades to come, enabling strategic maneuvers and placing significant stress on enemy ranks through their ability to eliminate targets from substantial distances. (Here’s a look at every sniper rifle currently used by the U.S. military.)

To determine the longest-range sniper rifles of World War II, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the sniper rifles used during that conflict cataloged by Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, arms, and more. We ranked the rifles according to their maximum effective range. Supplemental data on country of origin, first year of service, and caliber, cartridge, and feed of the ammunition used by each rifle also comes from Military Factory.

One of the most notable long-range sniper rifles used during World War II was the German Mauser Karabiner 98k. It was the standard-issue infantry rifle for the German forces, and with good precision optics attached, it had a maximum effective range of nearly 2,000 feet. This was an incredible accomplishment at the time, allowing German snipers to engage enemies before they were within the effective range of most standard infantry rifles. The Mauser Karabiner 98k offered a good counterbalance to the British Lee-Enfield rifle models of the era.

On the other side of the battlefield was the Springfield Model 1903. It was based partially on the German Mauser, which was also copied by a few other bolt-action rifles of the time. Known for its consistency, it was the standard infantry rifle for U.S. troops from 1903 until the mid-1930s when it began to be replaced by the semi-automatic M1 Garand. However, it found a role as a dedicated sniper rifle and in other support positions. (Here are 17 guns Americans used to fight World War II.)

Click here to see the classic long-range sniper rifles of World War II

Most of the sniper rifles on this list made their initial appearance before or during World War I, but as part of their evolution found their way into their specialized sniper role. Telescopic sights and newer versions of each rifle aided in improving accuracy and range as time went on. 

19. MAS 36
> Maximum effective range: 1,125 ft.
> Country of origin: France
> Year: 1936
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.5x54mm, 5-round internal box magazine

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18. Mannlicher Model 1895
> Maximum effective range: 1,320 ft.
> Country of origin: Austria-Hungary
> Year: 1895
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 8x50mmR Mannlicher, 5-round internal magazine

17. Arisaka Type 38
> Maximum effective range: 1,475 ft.
> Country of origin: Japan
> Year: 1905
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 6.5x50mm, 5-round internal box magazine

16. Lee-Enfield
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Country of origin: United Kingdom
> Year: 1895
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: .303 British (7.7x56mmR), 10-round detachable box

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15. M1917 Enfield (American Enfield)
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Country of origin: United States
> Year: 1917
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x63mm, 6-round magazine

14. Mauser Model 1898 (Gew 98)
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Country of origin: Germany
> Year: 1898
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.92x57mm Mauser, 5-round internal box magazine

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13. Mosin-Nagant Model 1891
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Country of origin: Russia
> Year: 1891
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x54mmR, 7.62x53mmR, 7.92x57mm Mauser, 5-round internal magazine

12. Tokarev SVT-40
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Country of origin: Russia
> Year: 1940
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.62x54mmR, 10-round detachable box magazine

11. Type 24 (Chiang Kai-Shek Rifle)
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Country of origin: Taiwan
> Year: 1935
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 8x57mm IS (7.92x57mm Mauser), 5-round internal magazine

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10. Walther Gewer 43 (G 43 / Gew 43)
> Maximum effective range: 1,640 ft.
> Country of origin: Germany
> Year: 1943
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.92x57mm Mauser, 10-round detachable box magazine

9. Ross Rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,800 ft.
> Country of origin: Canada
> Year: 1905
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: .303 British (7.7x56mmR), 5-round magazine

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8. Mondragon Rifle
> Maximum effective range: 1,804 ft.
> Country of origin: Mexico
> Year: 1900
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7x57mm Mauser, 8-, 10-, or 20-round box; 30- or 100-round drum magazine

7. Mauser Karabiner Kar 98k
> Maximum effective range: 1,969 ft.
> Country of origin: Germany
> Year: 1935
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.92x57mm Mauser, 5-round internal box magazine

6. Springfield Model 1903
> Maximum effective range: 2,000 ft.
> Country of origin: United States
> Year: 1903
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 30-03 (7.62x65mm), 30-06 (7.62x63mm) Springfield, 5-round internal box magazine

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5. Enfield Pattern 1914
> Maximum effective range: 2,400 ft.
> Country of origin: United Kingdom
> Year: 1914
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: .303 British (7.7x56mmR), 5-round stripper clips

4. FEG 35M (Mannlicher M1935)
> Maximum effective range: 2,400 ft.
> Country of origin: Hungary
> Year: 1935
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.92x57mm Mauser, 5-round internal box magazine

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3. Arisaka Type 97
> Maximum effective range: 2,500 ft.
> Country of origin: Japan
> Year: 1937
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 6.5x50mm, 5-round internal box magazine

2. Arisaka Type 99
> Maximum effective range: 2,500 ft.
> Country of origin: Japan
> Year: 1939
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 7.7x58mm, 5-round internal box magazine

1. Krag-Jorgensen
> Maximum effective range: 3,000 ft.
> Country of origin: Norway
> Year: 1894
> Caliber/Cartridge/Feed: 6.5x55mm M94 Norwegian Krag, 5-round internal magazine

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