Choosing a sniper rifle is the most important decision any sniper will have to make. There many different kinds of sniper rifles to choose from. You can choose anything from a 7.62mm Russian SVD to an American made Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, but it all depends on what kind of weapon you need to get the job done. These requirements will be different between the military and law enforcement communities.
1. Know exactly what your assignment is. Whether it is long range, short range, or gathering intelligence, this will be very important information. Knowing this information will greatly help you when it comes time to choose an appropriate sniper rifle.
2. Be aware of the location you will be working in. It may be an urban or rural location. This fact will have a direct effect on the type of weapon you choose, as well as the weapon itself. In an urban environment, a smaller caliber rifle would be more desirable and easier to carry, because the rifle would be lighter and the rounds smaller. Shots in this type of area are usually a short distance. A rural location would tend to have larger open and wooded areas that would require a larger caliber rifle for longer distance shots.
3. Have an idea of the population density. This is going to be a factor in choosing your sniper rifle. In a densely populated area, which is where law enforcement usually operates, smaller caliber rounds are preferable, so something that fires a round like the 7.62mm or 308 calibers is a good choice. There is less likelihood of collateral damage due to passing completely through your target and hitting an innocent bystander with smaller caliber rifles. In a location with little or no population, .40 and .50 caliber heavy weapons are more desirable for their absolute stopping power and ability to penetrate defensive positions. This type of area is all most exclusively operated in by the military.
4. Consider weather conditions. When choosing the correct sniper rifle, this will be an important piece of information. Most sniper rifles have been weatherproofed against things like condensation, water, or even desert type conditions. The worse the conditions, the more rugged the weapon you will require. Weapons like the Russian SDV and Mosin Nagant are perfect examples of all weather, all conditions weapons. It’s also important to remember that the higher the wind is the heavier the rounds you fire will have to be.
5. Pick your sniper rifle. Once you know exactly what your assignment, area of operation, weather, and terrain are going to be, then you can choose the sniper rifle that best fits your needs. Fortunately there are a wide variety of manufacturers and weapons systems to choose from. The popular nameplates in the business are companies like Barrett, Hawkins, Winchester, Mosin Nagant, Ruger, and Armalite. Make sure that the weapon you do pick is both easy to use and carry. Consider weight, length, and maintenance of the weapon, as you will have to carry and properly maintain your rifle.