Book Release: The Longest Kill

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Craig Harrison, otherwise known as the current Guinness World Records holder of the longest confirmed kill, has recently come out with his account of his time in the service, “The Longest Kill”. I first learned about it at SHOT while talking to him at the Accuracy International booth. Then it was supposed to come out on February 2nd in the United States, and I have since bought it and read a good portion of it. If you are interested in military snipers, long range shooting, and the affect this has on these snipers, I would absolutely recommend it as a necessary addition to the genre of military snipers. As a side note, about 60 of these books were released to the public along with a complete kit set up and Accuracy International rifle for around $12,000 at SHOT. All had been sold by then.

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However, what I think is most amazing about the book, is the fact that Harrison is writing more for his mates, and what it means to go through his service time, especially feeling like he was thrown away at the end, despite his twenty odd years of service. As a veteran of Afghanistan myself (and being at some of the places mentioned in the book, such as Camp Bastion), it especially pained me to read it, knowing full well some of the aftereffects of the things he went through. Soon after he got back to England from his last deployment, a reporter broke the news with his confirmed kill at 2,475 meters, and he and his family were placed under an awful amount of stress from the public, and even were almost the victim of a plan to capture and kill him from Al Qaeda. Due to this, they had to relocate their living accommodations multiple times, live in anonymous quarters, change schools, his wife was fired from her job because her boss considered her too much in “the public eye”. All this led Craig to almost commit suicide, multiple times. Not only for everything he was being put through, but for what his family was being put through. On top of this, he was dealing with a unit leadership that didn’t seem to care, and an MoD that couldn’t seem to bother. In this interview with BBC, you can really see how shaken up he gets, just talking about what he has been through.

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Out of respect for him, I’ve cut the top of the photo off as Harrison is always concerned about potential threats to him, and what he looks like right now.

As shooters, as students of the gun, I think we tend to get extremely mixed up in the physical and mechanical details. The size of the scope, the caliber of the cartridge, the weight of the bipod. But all too often we leave out the human aspect, especially when it comes to the study of long range shooting in war. If for anything else, read this book to see what Harrison has to say about that. I don’t think any other publicly acclaimed sniper has really come out in the way that Harrison has to say about the emotional toll of killing. Not Carlos Hathcock, Chuck Mawhinney, or the Russian Vasily Zaytsev.

And if anything, Harrisons attitude to the longest of his kills is completely professional, even when I was talking to him in person. He treats it as being part of the job, it wasn’t something that was fun or glamorous, but something that was necessary. Indeed, when the reporter who caused so much trouble for him talked to him in person, Harrison kept trying to talk about the guys in his section who were with him. The reporter kept trying to pester him with, “You’re the guy who has the longest kill right?”, and Harrison would reply “Yes, so what? Talk to the guys in the next tent, they’ve got some stories you should hear about what we went through”.

The Longest Kill by Craig Harrison is available on Amazon for $15.84.

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Harrison on deployment.

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Harrison after one of his wounds.

There might be some who believe that this record was broken in 2012 by an Australian sniper team, also in Afghanistan. I’ll say a couple things about why I don’t buy it. For one, the report came out in the Australian Daily Telegraph, which is essentially a socialite tabloid if you look at what else is reported through it. In addition, there have been multiple reiterations of a British sniper team saving the day through eliminating a Daesh suicide bomber, by shooting the bombs on the guys body. When I say multiple reiterations of this story, we can trace similar stories, all on tabloids going back to 2012 or so. Whether or not either of these events happened is in my opinion, up for debate. They might have happened, but I assume the rumor mill must have spun its wheels for both. The second point I want to make is that the rifles used by the supposedly Australian story are Barrett M82A1s. Nothing against Barrett, but Barrett rifles aren’t considered sniper rifles by the Marine Corps, because a factory rifle doesn’t hold 1 MOA, it holds 3. That means, at the distances they reported it, almost 3,000 meters, the rifle would ONLY have been physically capable of holding a group 120 inches in diameter, under perfect conditions. In other words, the rifle could have a chance at getting a round to impact within 10 feet of the point of aim, while a human being is only 6 feet. In addition, Soldier Systems Daily published an excellent review of the simple math involved in this distance, showing that working through the Mil come ups, and adjustments, it would be far too much for what the Australians had at that distance. Now there is a shot that was made at 3,800 yards in the United States, but that was with a rifle tailored to shooting at that distance, with handloaded rounds, and a 200 MOA base, which was also custom made for that rifle. None of what the shooting team did in the US, would have been able to be replicated by a military sniper team, which doesn’t dedicate itself to world records.


Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Giolli Joker

    “a human being is only 6 feet”
    Only some Americans are that wide. 🙂
    You got me interested in the book… although I have to say that when I happened to read (from a photo) the tattoo on the left hand of Harrison I questioned if the war took a toll on him as this article says or if it kind of suited him…

    • To answer that question, is one of the hardest things to do for any combat veteran. First, I would say that Sebastian Junger explains it better than most of us in this TED Talk.
      https://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_junger_why_veterans_miss_war?language=en

      Although many of us go into the military wanting a sense of belonging, a sense of patriotism, or just being young men and wanting to do dangerous/adventurous things… all that goes away on your first deployment, or even quicker, in your first firefight. There is no sense of right and wrong, or for God and Country while death is inches away. What there is a sense of, is you’re there for your unit, your squad, your buddies next to you. Your survival and theirs depend on your actions, and as Junger points out, its not that we miss the physical matter of war, the shooting, the killing, but instead we miss the opposite of it, the connection.
      So what Craig is trying to get across in his book, and what you saw tattooed on his hand about holding the power of God in his S&B scope, is that he did it because it was a job, and because it contributed to the survival of the rest of his section. What he is now left with, is the aftereffects of what he went through, and that is what is shaking him up having returned. PTSD is no joke, several of the guys in my own unit have committed suicide in one way or another from what they went through. Add on top of this the stress of him in the public eye and what that was doing to his family, and I can’t even fathom what he went through, I can only read about it.

      But overall you’re right for questioning it, it’s a very sensitive and convoluted topic that many of us don’t even understand.

      • Evan

        Well put.

      • Budogunner

        I believe this is why Jigoro Kano created Judo and Morihei Ueshiba created Aikido. It is by studying Budo, the Way of War, that we come to truly appreciate all life and desire peace. At least, that’s how I feel about it.

        During a job interview recently one of the interviews notices I’d spent some years professionally as a martial arts instructor. He is a great guy, but started in with the usual, “He’s a ninja! ” and, “can you teach me how to punch this guy? ”

        I listened politely, explained I am not a ninja, and that in my experience most martial artists get to a point where they have learned enough ways to break the human body that they appreciate how fragile it is and become pacifists. That is the explanation I find myself giving most often, but usually I get a confused expression in return.

        I do not claim military service. I honor and respect those that have served. So, I don’t offend them by saying I think they go through something similar. The difference for them is the violence is not in a controlled environment, they don’t have the option to quit, and they carry the pain of harming others or seeing their companions cone to harm. That is a harsh way to learn the meaning of Budo.

        • Core

          Very insightful. We have to remember that the martial arts were based on popular adoption of Chin-fa, and evolved out of necessity: a way for Buddhists to protect themselves from religious persecution. As Buddhism spread throughout Asia, and finally settled in Japan, it became martial. A way to protect yourself, family, and homeland. There is nothing to be ashamed of serving your country, community, and family by living a martial life. People who scoff at this and seek to abolish our martial ways: “…deserve neither liberty, nor safety.” (Ben Franklin)

    • D. Dust.

      Just because he wears a human skull on his skin doesn’t mean he lives for war. Hell, maybe it’s his own skull.

      • Micki

        Not the skull one. Follow the link to the BBC interview to get a better look at the tattoo in question.

      • iksnilol

        Yes, focus on the skull on his side/back and not the half page ot text on his hand.

  • Darhar M.

    I will add this book to my summer reading.
    Having read “Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills” by Charles Henderson many years ago
    I have always had respect for military snipers/teams.

    • Budogunner

      I’d also recommend “American Sniper” by the late Chris Kyle. He was a man of service, even after getting out, and his widow is continuing his legacy through charity work.

      • Nicks87

        Yep, you can find it at your local book store in the fiction section.

  • Matt

    ” I’ve cut the top of the photo off as Harrison is always concerned ..”

    Well, top of the photo is cut, but his tattooed arms identify him even more…

    • Not really, if he was wearing long sleeves, the tats wouldn’t make a difference. He doesn’t have an issue with the tats as they showed plenty of that in the BBC interview, but his face, that’s different.

      • Matt

        He has one on the back of his hand…how long sleeves have to be?

  • 7n6

    There are like 10 youtube videos interviewing him , doesn’t seem to be concerned about it, Appears to be a representative for Accuracy International .

  • Budogunner

    Whether or not he still holds the record for the longest kill isn’t important to me. His service and his story is, though. Given what he lived through for serving his county, I’ll gladly buy the book so he can get royalties. It sounds like it was hard on him writing it, so had my respect all the more.

    While writing about traumas is a commonly suggested therapy, putting it or there for the world to read takes serious courage. Bravo, soldier.

  • Nicks87

    I don’t feel sympathy for him. He knew what he was getting into when he volunteered. He wasn’t forced to become a military sniper and if he didn’t understand the gravity and the impact of what he was doing then too bad. I used to work at a veterans hospital and in my experience most of the guys that had “PTSD” are just trying to get free money from the govt. Plenty of other people that experienced combat seem to deal with it just fine, maybe because they aren’t trying to make money off telling stories about their experiences.

    • I’ve met my fair share of PTSD posers and guys trying to soak the system as well, but that is in no way representative of the veteran population. And as to the “plenty of people deal with it just fine”, I’m not quite sure where you’re pulling that from, as I’d love to be able to say that about my own friends and myself, but I can’t, especially about the ones who committed suicide.

      • Nicks87

        Suicide is a real problem with veterans and not just the ones that served in combat. Statistics show it might be more of a demographic issue than a combat veteran issue. As in, single, male, age 18-34, weapons knowledge, alcohol dependency, personality disorders, etc. Now, be honest, how many of your fellow vets also fit into those categories?

    • cwolf

      We have been at war now for over 14 years. Many soldiers have had 7-10 tours. Living in primitive conditions with little sleep, limited support, and constant battle.

      The military has ignored its own combat stress doctrine and has really failed to adapt to a FOB-based war.

      Nobody knows ahead of time what the experience will be like or how it will affect you. What 18 year old signing up understands war?

      My major objection to paying money is that money doesn’t fix the problem. Indeed in some cases, money makes the problem worse.

      We should spend any amount of time and money to treat and re-train folks who are suffering from the wars we sent them to.

      Who is more responsible? The people who sent him to war (us) or the citizen who goes to war?

      I appreciate your fear, anger, and hate. By your logic, you deserve it because you knew how miserable your life was going to be.

  • ihatelibs

    HE and His Family , ALL need to Come to the UNITED STATES . Good Shooting , by the way