In the early morning hours of a cold, dark December, a frightening call came through the comms channels at British forward operating base Stega 2 on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border: Intel reports that a large, highly-trained team of Taliban fighters with heavy weapons were planning an ambush on the base, and that the team consisted of at least one suicide bomber with enough explosives strapped to his chest to vaporize sheet metal and craterize the Earth’s crust.
Situated in the rocky southern reaches of Afghanistan’s brutal Helmand Province, an insurgent-packed district that more closely resembles a Mad Max post-apocalyptic wasteland than the sort of place you’d want to spend your Christmas vacation, Stega 2 is nevertheless positioned a critical coalition stronghold overlooking the two major highways through the mountains that link Pakistan to Afghanistan. Basically it’s the I-95 of homemade bomb components and AK-47 replacement parts, so it’s really not a bad idea to have a couple pairs of eyes doping things out through the scope of a high-powered sniper rifle every once in a while.
Roadside rest stop in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
The British Army is hoping to be completely out of Afghanistan by the end of 2015, and even today roughly 95% of counter-insurgency operations in the region are being handled by Afghan Army nationals rather than badass deep cover SAS operatives. The Brits are winding down their mission and getting ready to head home, so, naturally, they weren’t particularly interested in some jerkwad running into their base with a mini-nuke strapped to his chest and blowing the hell out of them just two days before retirement. Stega 2’s commanders immediately scrambled troops to scan for this threat and intercept if possible.
One of the men they called on was a 20 year-old Lance Corporal from the 1st Battalion of the elite Coldstream Guards. The Coldstreams, an English unit formed in 1650 as part of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, are one of the most elite forces in the UK military and the oldest active-service Regiment in the British Army – which is no small thing. Part of the Household Division, you probably know the Coldstream Guards best for being those dudes in the red uniforms with the crazy badass hats who stand around guarding the Queen all day, but in the field the 1st Battalion is an ultra-hardcore force of counter-insurgent light infantry who have served with distinction in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
For security purposes, the Lance Corporal’s name is classified. Probably because if a picture of him made the front page of a newspaper the newspaper would immediately catch on fire and burn down three city blocks. So basically let’s just assume he’s the Snake Eyes, only more British. So like he does backflips and wears a mask but will also slam a pint of room-temperature-ale at eleven AM and then punch you in the fucking face if you talk shit about Man U.
In his tenure serving on the front lines in Afghanistan on his deployment, this particular Lance Corporal had already earned a reputation for being something of a skull-crushing badass who could blast your head into gibbed-out chunks of cantaloupe-like substance from a distance so obscene that you’d be a smear on the pavement before the Speed of Sound even managed to transmit the sound of the gunshot to your location. Equipped with an awesome new bolt-action L115A3 AWM .338-caliber sniper rifle, the same weapon Craig Harrison used a few years ago to cap a dude from almost two miles away, The first time this hardcore human killing machine pulled the trigger in combat he planted a round into a Taliban machine gunner from a range of 1,465 yards.
For reference, 1,465 yards is roughly eight-tenths of a mile.
Here’s a quick photo reference. The target would be the black square on the white target that is the furthest away. At that range, it takes the bullet over a second to reach the target, and the bullet’s trajectory is influenced not only by wind and gravity, but by the goddamned rotational speed of the earth. You think you were the hottest shit since liquid-hot molten volcanic magma because it only took you sixteen tries to snipe that Chernobyl dude in Call of Duty 4? Try this on for size:
All in a day’s work.
Using drones, patrols, and other methods of recon, the Brits patrolled the area all morning in search of the enemy infiltration team. Then, around 9:30am, just a few clicks out from base, our eagle-eyed Lance Corporal dropped to cover and peered out through his scope at a large group of men heading towards his position. Unable to determine if the group was hostile or friendly, the Lance Corporal radioed in for assistance. Soon a squad of Coldstream Guards began working their way cautiously towards the group.
Then, just as the men in his scope climbed over an outcropping of rocks, he saw it – an AK-47, barely peeking out from under the man’s winder scarf when he lifted his arms.
Moments later, gunfire erupted across the valley as the large group of Taliban whipped out assault rifles and opened fire on the Brits, spraying a hellish curtain of 7.62mm lead in the Coldstreams’ direction.
The call came back to the Lance Corporal’s radio. Roger that, you are clear to engage all hostile forces.
Gripping the stock of his rifle as he squinted through the scope, the Lance Corporal flicked off the AWM’s safety, took a deep breath, adjusted his scope, double-checked the wind speeds, and calmly drew a bead on the man he’d been watching. The Taliban fighter drew his AK, peeked around the rock he was using for cover, and then made a break for a nearby ditch to get in a firing position where he would have a better vantage point to shoot at the Coldstream Guardsmen.
But this Lance Corporal wasn’t about to sit there and watch this enemy warrior pick of his guys just a few weeks before they were heading home to their families. Tracking his target as he made a break for open ground, the Lance Corporal lined up the crosshairs, exhaled, and waited. The man crossed the ground, jumping into the ditch, where he linked up with a half-dozen other Taliban fighters who were preparing to organize for an assault.
The British Lance Corporal made one last check, ranging his quarry in at 930 yards. He pulled the trigger.
To the surprise of goddamn near everybody within a mile and a half radius, the enemy soldier completely exploded in a gigantic towering mushroom cloud of fire, shrapnel, and black smoke, bursting into the stratosphere like he’d been making out with a Tomahawk missile and accidently pushed the self-destruct button. When the black smoke cleared, the British realized that there was no more gunfire coming from the enemy positions.
Where the Taliban assault team had been assembled there was now a smoking black crater with six dead fighters.
The Lance Corporal’s bullet had struck a suicide bomb vest strapped with 44 pounds (!) of homemade bathtub high explosives, somehow detonating whatever insane compound he was using, killing him and six of his friends, and sending the rest of the Taliban force wisely running for the fucking hills.
It would have been marginally safer for the man
if he was just wearing a Jager bomb vest.
Yeah. Forget one shot, one kill… this was one shot, six kills, and hey guys I just single-handedly won the battle for us with a single bullet from a bolt-action rifle from nine football fields away. Just to put this shit into perspective, 930 yards is a little over a half-mile. It would take you a good 15+ seconds to drive that distance in a Ferrari 458. If you stood that far away from me and held up an optometrist’s seeing-eye chart I wouldn’t be able to read the second row for your if I had one of those fucking telescopes you use to observe the moons of Jupiter. Yet this insane ultra-robo marksman somehow lit up a bomb vest full of nitroglycerine with a chunk of metal that measures 8.59 millimeters in diameter. I don’t know what the Sabermetrics on this shit would look like, but his K-rate is insane. It’s the sort of shot you only see in a cheesy early-90s FPS where every map, regardless of whether it’s an enemy base or a bustling city dockyard, is completely saturated with giant red barrels that detonate like claymore mines whenever you accidentally hit them with a crowbar.
The battle took place back in December, but the details were only released two days ago. Presumably the shooter received some kind of Olympic Gold Medal for firing it. Hopefully, at some point, his name will be declassified. But I’m OK with it if it never is.