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Old 01-08-2008, 12:39 PM   #1
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?


I've been asked to define the rifle I'd like to build. Will it be a sniper, a varmint, a target?

Guys, I don't have any idea of the difference.

It seems "sniper rifle" is applied to everything these days.

Can someone help here, please?

One other question: Do sniper rifles, by definition, always have 'scopes, or do they just usually have 'scopes? I've read that some Finnish snipers didn't use them because the cold was too much for the telescopic sights of that time and place.


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Old 01-08-2008, 01:17 PM   #2
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?

Hello, Josh. I am not a rifleman compared to many but a deceased friend of mine was a benchrest shooter and competed quite a bit with a rifle.

Though he had them in different calibers, all had 2 oz. trigger pulls and no safety. They were also single shot, not magazine fed. Whether this describes a target rifle or a benchrest rifle, I'm not sure. Frequently, aftermarket match grade bbls are the norm along with high-magnification scopes. A 1/2" group is "all over the paper" to these guys.

Varmint rifles almost always have heavy bbl's and are in smaller, fast calibers for the "red mist" effect though I guess if one were used against a human target, it could be called a sniper rifle. The bbl's are factory (if they "shoot") but many varminters I've known use match bbl's only. These guns may or may not be magazine-fed and they don't have to be as "accurate" as the benchrest rifle. In other words a half-inch group is just fine, at least that's my understanding. (My "varmint rifle" does about 3/4" in my hands on demand and it's been accurate enough for varmints in my experience. When I've missed, it has not been the rifle's fault!)

As best as I can tell, the sniper rifle is a varmint rifle usually chambered in .308 Winchester, often with a fixed 10X Leupold scope and a Remington 700 is the skeleton on which many are or at least, were built. Some can be had in .300 Winchester Magnum and I think that there's been quite a bit of experimentation in years past with .338 Lapua.

I guess a generic definition of the sniper rifle might be that it is a varmint rifle in a military caliber.


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Old 01-08-2008, 02:12 PM   #3
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?

Fer shootin' varmints of a different variety... Ala Ben Tauber perhaps?

Thanks Mr. Camp.

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Old 01-08-2008, 06:38 PM   #4
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?

Man, that's a good question

sniper rifles vary according to tactics used. in Afgahnastan ultra long range .50 rifles are being used to great affect. in Irac some shooters are aking for semi auto's built from M14's to engage multiples at closer distances. sniper rifle accuracies are generally overstated. Carlos Hathcocks Winchester 70 was not a tack driver at 3-4 moa typical, but was consistant and reliable in a harsh environment. in WWII a lot of Marine snipers ccomplained about the quality of optics used and pitched them for irons. maybe it's a rifle a soldier employing sniper tactics uses?

varmit guns depend on the varmits being hunted. I have a mini-14 on the tractor I use to shoot pests so that's my varmit rifle? sure not any kind of long range tack driver though.

target guns? depends on the game being played of course. a rifle used for three gun matches wouldn't be used in highpower competition, but rifles used in either game could be a dandy sniper rifle!

this confusses me)
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Old 01-08-2008, 08:54 PM   #5
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?

a sniper rifle is a rifle used by trained snipers to kill with. unless you happen to be a trained/skilled sniper, your rifle wont be a sniper rifle no matter how it is configured.

varmint rifles are those used to kill varmints. they run the gamet from skinny barreled small caliber walking guns, to heavy barreled , large cartridged, long distance precision rifle.

target rifle also runs the gamet, depending on which kind of target competition the rifle is to be used for.

pretty much, the use, and the user dictate what a rifle is- not how it is configured. 99% of people calling their rifles a sniper rifle is akin to calling something the color black-tactical.
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Old 01-08-2008, 11:59 PM   #6
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?


I have to agree with leftyo on some points. Sniper rifles are generally "purpose built". On the other hand there is often cross over between what could be used as a varmint rifle and a tactical rifle.

The combination of the rifle, the man, and his training make it a sniper rifle, but I tend to think of those three as a "system".

Varmint hunting is a good way to keep your "tactical" skill honed as is Hi-Power Match Shooting.

A picture of my M70 Winchester Stealth .223. I would consider it a varmint rifle because of caliber. The same rifle in .308 would make an excellent "sniper".

It is more the use rather than the name or caliber that will dictate how a rifle is viewed. The unknowing call anything a sniper rifle or anyone.


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Old 01-09-2008, 07:06 AM   #7
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?

My take and working backward

Target rifles are built with the rules of a particular match in mind. Weight, Trigger pull, position that the rifle will be fired from etc, Rules will often dictate the caliber used, if not it will almost always be the lightest caliber that delivers the required ballistics, The scope can be very powerfull as it is used on formal ranges with well defined targets. 36 X is not uncommon

Varmint guns are general used for small sized targets. They need powerfull scopes 20 x is the rule. As far as barrel weight it can vary according to how the rifle is shot. Some Western Prairie dog shooing is from benches while in the East the rifle is generally shot from hand held positions. This makes a difference in how the rifle is stocked as well as weight, There is no need for a powerful cartridge to shoot most varmits.

Snipers are another thing. Positions will vary widely depending on the situation so the stock needs to be more general purpose. The cartridge needs to have the ballistics required for human targets. Because the target is larger and can be moving or staying in one place for brief periods of time lower powered scopes are used. 10x and 30 caliber are generally what is used for true "sniper" rifles

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Old 01-14-2008, 11:59 AM   #8
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Sniper Rifle vs Varmint Rifle vs Target Rifle?

Hi there all,

Not to be too off topic, but hears a link to an interview with the Canadian Sniper that established the world record of 2430 Meter kill in Aghanistan.

It does indeed present two of the primary weapons in the snipers arsenal.

Watch and enjoy!

Proud member of the Horry County Tokarev Society.
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