1. Simo Hayha, 505 kills, Finland
2. Ivan Sidorenko, 500 plus kills, Soviet Union
A school dropout, as a young officer Sidorenko fought in the Battle of Moscow. The mortar team he was assigned to didn’t seem exciting enough, so he taught himself to snipe. One by one he hunted the German soldiers from his Mosin-Nagant rifle. In retaliation, the Germans too posted their snipers in Sidorenko’s area, but failed to kill him. So accurate and effective was he that his superiors called him to train more snipers. The result was a complete annihilation of the Germans at the 1st Baltic Front.
3. Fyodor Okhlopkov, 429, Soviet Union
Another Soviet sniper who fought in World War 2, he first started out as a machine-gunner, then became a commander of a sub-machine gun group, and in October 1942 became a sniper. Since the contributions of indigenous population were not recognised in early Soviet days, his 429 kills were only acknowledged 20 years after the war was over. A military newspaper in Russia wrote about him, “He has the keen eye of a hunter, the hard hand of a miner, and a big, warm heart.”
4. Francis Pegahmagabow, 378 kills, Canada
A Canadian soldier of native American origin, he was thrice awarded the military medal and was seriously wounded twice while fighting the Germans in World War I. He killed nearly 400 Germans and was also responsible for the capture of 300 enemy soldiers. But that’s not all. He also ran through enemy fire to get more ammo when his unit was running low at a time when his commanding officer was also awarded medals for running messages through very heavy enemy fire.
5. Lyudmila Pavlichenko, 309 kills, Soviet Union
One of the most prolific female snipers in history, Lyudmila had a torrid time the first time she faced the enemy. She just couldn’t bring herself to kill the German soldiers in her sights. It was only when a soldier next to her was killed that she went all out against the enemy. She killed two enemy soldiers that day. She would later add 307 more to the tally. She also killed 36 enemy snipers including one of whom already amassed 500 kills. After the war ended, she retired and became a historian.
6. Chris Kyle, 255 kills, USA
Famous for his book American Sniper, he is one of the most successful American snipers. His most legendary shot came outside the Sadr City in Afghanistan in 2008 when he spotted an insurgent with a rocket launcher near an Army convoy - 2,100 yards away. That’s more than 2 kms far. He let one loose from his .338 Lapua Magnum rifle to knock the guy dead. Such was his reputation that the enemy nicknamed him 'Al-Shaitan Ramad', or the Devil of Ramadi. Kyle died in 2013 in a shooting range incident along with his friend Chad Littlefield.
7. Vasily Zaytsev, 242 kills, Soviet Union
People only learnt of the guy when they made a movie about him. Jude Law played Vasily Zaytsev in Enemy At The Gates. Before notching up enemy kills in the Battle of Stalingrad, Vasily was a clerk in the Soviet Navy. After reading about the fighting in the city, he volunteered to be on the front lines, serving with the 1047th Rifle Regiment. Between October and January 1943 he had made 242 confirmed kills. A counter sniper operation from the German side was also on, but not to the extent that is shown in the movie. However, in his memoirs, Zaytsev claims that he killed a German sniper, with whom his duel went on for three days, and claimed his scope as trophy.
8. Zhang Taofang, 214 kills, China
He served in the Chinese Army for only two years during the Korean War and managed to kill no less than 214 enemy soldiers in a span of 32 days! What’s more incredible is the fact that he started with no sniper training and started his stint by firing 12 shots and missing every single one of them and attracting enemy attention. He learnt quickly though and averaged a massive 6.7 kills per day.
9. Ranjith Premasiri Madalana, 180 kills, Sri Lanka
Not much is known about this Sri Lankan soldier, except that he had 180 confirmed kills against LTTE. He would later be killed by an enemy sniper in 2009.
10. Corporal in British Royal Marines, 173 kills, British
The British Royal Marines won’t release the name of the most prolific of snipers who has notched up 173 kills in Afghanistan. It is said that the actual number of kills may actually be higher. One of the most mind boggling stats is 90 kills in a single day!
11. Adelbert Waldron, 109 kills, USA
One of the most accurate shots, Waldron had the highest number of kills in the Vietnam War. It is said that once he and his fellow soldiers, while riding along the Mekong river, were attacked by an enemy sniper from the shore 900 metres away. While the rest of the soldiers looked hard to spot the sniper, Waldron picked up his rifle and killed the perpetrator sitting on top of a coconut tree with a single shot. That this was done from a moving platform is an incredible feat in itself. By the end of the war, he had amassed some 109 confirmed kills.
12. Carlos Norman Hathcock, 93 kills, USA
One of the most feared American snipers in the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese even put a bounty of $30,000 on his head. In fact, they were so scared of him that they sent out missions just to hunt him down. He once attached a scope to an M2 browning machine gun, and recorded the longest confirmed kill in history (2,500 yards), a record that stood until 2002. He also once scoped an area of operation for days, keeping track of the enemy’s movement before taking out the North Vietnamese army general there. He was a fearless soldier too, pulling out seven soldiers off of a burning track after being hit by an anti-tank mine. He was seriously injured while doing this.
13. Roza Shanina, 59 kills, Soviet Union
She joined the army after her brother was killed in 1941, and in a short career, managed to kill 59 enemy soldiers. She soon rose through the ranks and was awarded Orders of Glory and Medal of Courage. And courageous she was. She was killed while shielding her commanding officer in an artillery attack at the age of 20.
14. Thomas Plunkett, 2 kills, British
Clearly, this Irishman is not on this list because of the number of kills. He’s here because he did something unheard of in his day. In 1809, using a Baker rifle which the British Army trained its soldiers to shoot at a range of 50 metres, Plunkett managed to kill a French General at a range of 600 metres. Given the dubious accuracy of the rifles of the time, it’s an incredible achievement. After shooting the General, Plunkett, not wanting his comrades to think he was plain lucky with the kill, decided to make another shot again before returning to his line. So he reloaded his gun and took aim once again, this time at the major who had come to the General’s aid. This shot also hit its intended target. As you can guess, his fellow soldiers were mighty impressed.