Craig Harrison is a hardcore, heavily-tattooed British sniper who went completely balls out, tried a couple of utterly-impossible long range shots, and somehow ended up breaking the record for longest kill shot ever recorded in the history of warfare. Twice. On consecutive shots. His nickname, "The Silent Killer", is more than just a clever BBS handle or the sort of ethereal text you see floating over some douchey opponent's head in a multiplayer Call of Duty game – it's a well-deserved, appropriately-badass nickname he received by attacking from such a long range that the sound of his gunshots fell on dead ears.
I suppose I should start by pointing out that I'm not really huge on world records, particularly as they apply to killing soldiers in battle. Sure, I appreciate a totally-righteous noscope headshot just as much as the next red-blooded military historian, but the whole idea of breaking out a tape measure to admire your shot seems kind of morbid and pointless in a lot of ways. The story of Craig Harrison capping a Taliban machine gun crew from 8,120 feet away to save the lives of his comrades, however, is about as close as you can get to the complete opposite of both those words.
Harrison is a Corporal of Horse in the Household Cavalry of the British Army. Nowadays the phrases "household cavalry" and "corporal of horse" obviously don't exactly mean that you're prancing around parade grounds on an oversized pony, slashing cannon crews with sabers, trampling your way through China shops, or shoveling horse shit around a dirty field all day – it's just a cleverly-quirky British ways of saying that these meat-eating nut-crushers spend their days riding from warzone to warzone in one of these crazy-looking armored death-dealing motherfuckers:
Hello, I am the gun-toting Satanic love child of a BattleMech and a backhoe.
Back in November of 2009, Corporal of Horse Harrison (I'm only assuming that this is the correct way to address him, even though it sounds kind of ridiculous) was part of a convoy traveling through a particularly-nasty Taliban-infested stretch of sunny Afghanistan. Harrison was back near the tail end of the column, when all of a sudden he spotted an enemy machine gun crew charging out of a concealed position and setting up a heavy-duty PKM machine gun. Almost immediately, the heavy barking of automatic weapons fire starting bearing down on the lead vehicle – the once carrying Harrison's commanding officer – and it pretty much looked like this guy was about to be cluster-fucked in the head with bullets and gunned down in a brutally efficient, excellently-planned ambush.
Unfortunately for the Taliban, they picked the wrong day and the wrong weather conditions in which to fuck with the wrong commanding officer.
The Corporal of Horse got out of the Jackal 4x4 jeep he was riding in, dropped the bipod on his L115A3 long-range sniper rifle, and rested it on the ledge of a nearby building. He drew a line on the Taliban machine gun crew through the scope of his weapon, quickly trying to assess range, distance, wind conditions, and all the other sorts of things you need to take into account when you're trying to bust a bullet into someone's skull from 1.54 miles away. He got the driver of the truck to spot for him, but I can only assume that spotting for a balls-out sniper as he attempts the longest shot ever taken isn't exactly the sort of skill you can fucking pick up on the fly.
Now the chance of actually hitting anything smaller than the Death Star from this range is, according to the specs of the L115A3 LRR, basically goddamned-near impossible. Not only was Harrison acting quickly, trying to divert the enemy fire as fast and efficiently as possible, but he was friggin' aiming for a target that was 3,200 feet beyond the effective range of his weapon. For reference, the maximum effective range of the standard-issue U.S. Army service rifle, the M4, is 1,500 feet. Total. Corporal Harrison was shooting at moving enemies from 8,120 feet away, and had about as much chance of hitting the Great Wall of China as he did of hitting this Taliban machine gun nest, but he apparently didn't even give a shit. Harrison lined up his sights, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger.
It took the bullet three full seconds to hit the target (!), but Harrison's aim was true. The dude dropped.
As if that isn't so incredibly head-blowingly insane that you kind of want to barf a little bit, I should say that Harrison wasn't even fucking done yet. When the MG operator fell to the turf dead from a bullet stuffed through the vital organs of his abdomen, the gunner's assistant took over the operation of the weapon. So Harrison readjusted his aim and dropped him too. Then he put a third round into the gun, smashing it to shit and rendering it inoperable.
That's right, fools – this guy hit three different targets on three consecutive shots from longer range than anyone has ever shot anything with an infantry rifle. He beat the official record held by also-badass Canadian sniper Rob Furlong by 50 yards, or roughly half the length of a goddamned football field.
What 50 yards looks like to a marksman.
If you value your sanity, you won't even try to follow the ridiculously hard-to-understand Wiki entry for Corporal Harrison, which lists one sentence on the actual man himself and then provides enough miserably-awful calculus to make the incorporeal ghost of Albert Einstein start bleeding ectoplasm out of his ears. The gist of it is that even though he had perfect weather conditions for shooting motherfuckers, when Corporal Harrison hit those dudes he was aiming at a spot roughly 400 feet above his intended targets. That's a 40-story building worth of gravity and muzzle velocity loss he needed to somehow account for in his head while under pressure in a life-or-death situation.
As if this isn't ridiculously hardcore in itself, Corporal Harrison went on to kill or wound twenty more Taliban soldiers in the battles that ensued during his unbelievably epic tour of duty. In a battle a couple months ago he took a bullet off the fucking skull and didn't even miss a day of work from it. Then he broke both his arms when his truck drove over a roadside bomb, but still didn't even give a shit. His first concern was that he may have lost a little bit of accuracy - you know, because of the whole "both of his arms were fucking broken" thing - thereby making him only two to three times better at shooting than your average mortal human, but according to him this isn't really the case. He's still awesome, and the dude's already one his way back out to the front to express mail extreme asskickings from distances inconceivable to even the most hardcore snipers in the world.
NY Daily News