British Sniper With More Kills Than Chris Kyle (and His Rifle)…

L115A3_sniper_rifle

Granted it is only 13 more (Kyle: 160, Brit: 173), but still.  And not that it is really a competition.  In any case the article at Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2935918/The-world-s-deadly-sniper-Royal-Marine-said-173-confirmed-kills-coming-one-six-month-tour-Afghanistan.html) is an interesting read.  It sounds like he was at the wrong place at the right time to rack up 90 kills in one day.

What I found more interesting, though, was his rifle, the L115A3, made by Accuracy International.  I admittedly know very little about other countries’ military hardware, and reading through the callout brought back memories of a book series I had in an earlier life “Combat & Survival”.  I dug around a little more on the rifle, chambered in .338 Lapua, and read that the platform is also credited for the 2009 record of the longest kill shot at 2,475m (also performed by a Brit).  An article with some interesting facts and history is at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accuracy_International_AWM).

Does anyone here have any experience with this rifle?  I’m starting to get more interested in precision rifles.  To date, my only real experience has been with the M40, and M82, we had in Iraq, and that was only really familiarization.

I know this is not a hugely “meaty” post, but I genuinely would like to hear some thoughts about the rifle platform… 🙂

Nod to Greg A for the article find.



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


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  • Riot

    I wouldn’t call the M82 precision – it gets its range in same manner as an artillery shell 😛
    AI are a top notch manufacturer and they did help design the .338 Lapua.

    • Robert

      I don’t care if it has the trajectory of a laser beam or of a little league outfielder, if you can point the lead where it needs to be it will do its job when it gets there.

      • FarmerB

        Well, I’ve some experience with the M107A1, and my impression is that pointing the lead (or bronze) might not actually be enough to get it hit something. Although I’ve never tried M33/M1022 or the Raufoss in it to see if the accuracy was any better.

  • The Forty ‘Twa

    I own an AI AW in .308 Winchester, the AWM is a scaled up version of the AW really. Not the lightest rifle to carry about on the hill all day by any means but a “tack driver” as I believe you would say over the pond!

  • DM

    It along with the Sako TRG are the most widely utilized and respected purpose-built military sniper rifles in use by developed countries outside the US. Jacob Bynum of Rifles only is said to have an AW .308 variant with 10+ barrel changes and over 100k rounds fired and the ONLY issues was a broken bolt release…around 80-90k if I recall. They are highly regard in the precision rifle community.

    They allow for barrel changes at the user level and even the bolts can be swapped and maintain headspace and acceptable accuracy. They are nothing short of incredible. Their biggest criticisms are price and weight. Some complain about ergonomics and lack of configuration options. I own 2 of these rifles at current.

    When paired with the .338 LM which itself is a purpose-built sniper round, the results (as you note) can by very, very effective in trained hands

  • Wetcoaster

    The US is kind of late to the party in adopting the .338 as a long-range sniper round (is the army going to adopt Remington’s M24A3?).

    It looks like many (most?) Western countries use it (and the round has certainly been earning its keep in Afghanistan).

    Some of the more common rifles seem to be:

    PGM 338/PGM Mini-Hectate .338
    Sako TRG-41/42
    Accuracy International AWM
    Blaser R93 Tactical

    There are some smaller rifle makers too, like the PGW Timberwolf from Canada

    • FarmerB

      Swiss use the TRG-42 (SSGw ’04) but with the slower twist and lighter bullet.
      I have one with the faster twist and use 300 HPMK out of it.
      It’s an awesome piece – and considering how accurate it is, surprisingly light.
      Australians use the Blaser Tac-2 in .338LM – also a very interesting and accurate rifle (my shooting partner has one).

      • iksnilol

        The TRG-42 is a gun I am interested in if I ever start long-range shooting. What I wonder about it: What’s the barrel like? Is it a heavy profile or is it a lightweight profile? Since the rifle itself is pretty lightweight (5.3-5.5 kg or something). Was wondering how much weight I could save by using an aluminum wrapped barrel (Lothar Walther makes them)? Wouldn’t be cheap but if the profile is heavy it should save me a decent chunk of weight.

        • FarmerB

          I would have to go and remeasure it to be sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s almost 22mm at the muzzle (i.e. BIG). But that’s the thing about it – it almost seems like it’s carbon fibre wrapped and not steel. You don’t feel the weight. I don’t know how they do it – although I suppose a large .338 hole down the centre helps. Especially when compared with Remington Varmint profile 26″ barrels in .224 calibre (which are appallingly front heavy).

          • iksnilol

            22-8.6= 13.4

            13.4/2= 6.7

            Is 6.7mm wall thickness a thick barrel? I really don’t know. Also, is yours the one with the phosphorized metal parts? Maybe that’s why it feels strange.

            But I agree, 5.3 kg is lightweight for a long-range gun. The rifle I use (Sauer STR 200) is 5.5 kg and it is chambered in .22 lr, 308 and 6.5×55 (there are rumors of conversion to 5.56 but haven’t seen one).

          • FarmerB

            I checked – yes 22mm.

            So, I did a quick calculation with some nominal numbers:

            Remington Varmint = .820″ = 20.83mm (mine is actually .840 but aftermarket)
            .224 = 5.69mm

            Cross section Area steel = Pi(R2 – r2)
            = 341 – 25 = 316 mm2

            TRG-42 = 22.0 mm
            .338 = 8.585mm
            Cross section Area steel = Pi(R2 – r2)
            = 380 – 58 = 322 mm2

            Not what I expected!!

          • iksnilol

            That is good, right? Math isn’t my strongest suit and I am really tired now.

            From what my groggy brain is understanding: you are saying that the Sako barrel has a higher (pretty close actually) area cross section than the varmint barrel?

            So can we count the Sako barrel as a varmint or bull barrel? As in count it in the heavy barrel crowd?

            Long range and math aren’t my strongest sides, both of them at once is pretty embarassing.

          • FarmerB

            Yeah – the Sako has more steel cross section – which I didn’t expect – although close.
            Sako is definitely a big barrel – bigger than the Remington “Varmint” contour – and it’s 690 mm long.

          • iksnilol

            So that means we could save some weight going with the aluminum wrapped barrel. Should be able to save more than one kilogram.

            Argh, it is so annoying when you have found out exactly what you want but you need to wait some years before you can have it. At least 3-5 years in my case.

    • RAMTEC

      forget the Blaser R93…. they advertise it as tactical but it is unserviceable…

      • iksnilol

        What is unserviceable about it? I am a bit curious since they are somewhat well liked here in Norway. I see at least that the barrel is easy to remove.

  • West

    Jesus 90 kills in one day?
    Makes Billy the Kid and Jack the RIpper look like Martha Stewart.

    • ruinator

      You just made my Monday sir

    • iksnilol

      That is almost 4 kills an hour (presuming he doesn’t sleep). Presuming he didn’t fight for 8 hours he was racking up 5.6 kills an hour.

      In other words, DAYUUUUM!

      • West

        I know hes just doing his job but I think that might mess with my head. Damn thats a lot of killing to be personally and directly involved in.
        But he probably saved four times that many of his own guys so who knows maybe that balances it out.

        • John Daniels

          “…just doing his job…”

          Where have I heard that before?

          • Fruitbat44

            “I was only doing my job,” New Zealand SAS NCO on being awarded the Victoria Cross for recovering a wounded comrade under fire?

          • Work?

          • West

            Oh god, do not bring up nazis.

          • pbla4024

            I believe you are mistaken here. The quote you refer to is ‘I was just following my superior’s orders’.

          • Nicks87

            I have more respect for prostitutes than I do for snipers.

        • iksnilol

          I guess I am cold but I have no qualms killing people shooting at me. I would be more worried about not seeing somebody coming. Whole affair would make me paranoid.

          • West

            Nor do I but in many cases the sniper is not being directly fired on. Im not criticizing the guy im just saying that shooting 90 people in one day would probably get to me. I do not claim to be especially tough.

          • iksnilol

            You have a point. I am not particularily tough, it is just that I lost a part of my humanity. Sometimes I want it back, sometimes I am glad I don’t have that “handicap”.

            But seriously, 90 people. That is more than the people you kill per level in a FPS game.

          • West

            Fair enough, I have never served in the military so I wouldnt know.

            But yeah, 90 people is unbelievable. Im sure he saved a lot of lives and hopefully is suffering no ill effects.

          • iksnilol

            I haven’t served in the millitary either, I hope I didn’t give that impression. It is just that I have done some stupid things and some dangerous/criminal things in my life (though I don’t regret them).

        • HappyHarvey

          How many (as he referred to them) “hamburgers” did Carlos Hathcock obliterate in the rice paddy? It’s been years since I read his story, but I can vividly remember him saying it was a whole passel that him and his scout pinned down for 3-4 days and eventually had to call in arty because they were out of food/water. No confirmed kills for Hathcock after the dust settled…

      • LCON

        I think only the Black Plague has a higher kill per day

  • iksnilol

    What I know about AI here in Norway: Expensive, but also really good in regards to accuracy and durability. Though it’s popularity (at least in Norway) is more from its legendary status than its capabilities. A Sako TRG is cheaper and easier to find and it does pretty much everything the AI does.

    Here in Norway the AI is together with the Sako TRG and the DSR-1 on the sniper rifle throne. The Sako is the most reasonable of them in regards to price IIRC (even then it is a bit expensive). The DSR-1 is super expensive here, like 13k USD (100k NOK), and that is without a scope. The AI is about half the price (6.5k USD). The TRG-42 can be had for 40k NOK. If you are going the .308 route it is significantly cheaper (30k NOK instead of 40k). But I presume you are more interested in .338 Lapua (as you should be).

    Also, the M82 isn’t a precision rifle. I know some people who would find it insulting to call the M82 a precision rifle.

  • cplklink

    James Holmes is jealous. 90 in one day? Wonder what movie was showing? Maybe a madras full of terrorist like the one Adam Lanza neutralized? I know there are lots of drone pilots that have higher numbers. Lots of us firearm enthusiasts prefer to distance ourselves from acts of war and politics.

  • EHW2

    And yet AI discontinued the AW series last year and replaced it with the butt ugly AX series.
    Why would they ever do such a thing?

    • Giolli Joker

      I can’t judge on performance (I’d bet it improved, more modularity and such…), but aesthetically they went from elite race gun to funky nerf gun… It’s really a shame.

  • BryanS

    What modern gunfighter has come close to Simo Häyhä’s numbers and tenacity?

    • whskee

      That man deserves his legendary status. Not only sniping, but getting eyes-white close. Getting shot in the face and still going. I don’t know how the hell he managed it and lived so long.

      • Eric S

        Maybe he had divine protection from the Valkyrie because they thought it would be too cruel to send him against the frost giants?

        • whskee

          He must have gone out on a mission without his Valkyrie air support the day he got face-blasted then…

  • Lt M

    Had the chance to get some hands on time with the L115A3 in Helmand – the sniper in my platoon was kind enough to show me the ropes. In hands more capable than mine, it’s an absolutely deadly asset. The farthest I shot with it was 500m on a hastily built practice range, but out in the PB it really shone, several attacks on our base ended with our sniper taking out the numerous RPG-slinging Terries and mortar positions out to 1200m with astounding accuracy.
    There’s a small part of me deep down that wishes I’d been a soldier rather than an officer just so I could get more time on the AWM 😉

    • iksnilol

      The L115A3 is the .338 version? Right?

      • Lt M

        Correct. The British Army also fielded the 7.62 AW, designated L96A1 and later L118A1, replaced/augmented now by the 7.62 L129A1 (LMT 308)

  • HonkyTonkHale

    I am not saying this article is false, but the Daily Mail is not exactly a reliable institution. Has anyone seen this confirmed in any other source?

  • uisconfruzed

    I can tell you one thing about the AI, I’ll give you $200 for one!

  • Paul Prochko

    Any serious long range shooter should be versed with Accuracy Internationals rig. In a word, supurb. Unusual chassis, but it works…and works well…it’s been around quite awhile. Expensive though.