Throughout World War I, snipers were often used in the trenches in an effort to take out enemy soldiers as their heads peered over the top of the opposing trench.  At the start of WW I, only Germany issued scoped rifles to their troops.  The effectiveness of the German snipers resulted in their reputation – which was due in part to their training, but also due to the high-quality lenses manufactured by the Germans – as the deadliest and most efficient sharp shooters during the war.  The lack of Russian counter-parts, also allowed their specially trained snipers to execute their kills with no danger of a sniper counterpart.

Post 1898 Non-functional weapon replicas are now available for purchase at the Armed Forces History Museum’s on-line store by using the link below:

Post 1898 Replicas


As success of the German snipers spread, the British Army opted to begin its own training school, dedicated specifically to sniper training.  Major Hesketh-Prichard founded and headed up this first school and is credited with developing a number of sniping techniques, including spotting scopes, working in pairs and developing observational skills.


Sniper Rifles of WWI

Though rifles were used throughout the infantry, they were a critical component for a sniper. Below is a list of some of the more common rifles used by snipers throughout World War I:


  • German Mauser Gewehr 98 – In service from 1898 – 1935

  • British Pattern 1914 Enfield – Designed 1914-15 – declared obsolete in 1947

  • British Lee-Enfield SMLE Mk III – SMLE:  1907 – present day

  • Russian M1891 Mosin-Nagant – 1891 – present day


Sniper rifles in WW I were noted for their range and accuracy.  However, despite the sophistication of the weaponry, they were not a substitute for the training, dedication and marksmanship of the sniper.  The history of the sniper dates back as far as the American Revolutionary War, and their story continues on to present day.  Snipers have been an integral part of wars throughout history – World War I snipers are no exception.


9 Responses to World War I Snipers and Their Rifles

  1. Mark says:

    I would like to know who wrote this article please.

  2. Sasha says:

    not enough info

    • alon2392 says:

      Thank you Sasha! We appreciate your input. The article was intended to be a brief overview. We do have additional detailed articles about some of the rifles listed here, they just haven’t been linked to this article yet. Will do that shortly!

  3. matthew evans says:

    thanks this site really helped in my life long journey

  4. Geoff says:

    “•British Lee-Enfield SMLE Mk III – SMLE: 1907 – present day”


    “The lack of Russian counter-parts,”

    Words fail me as they and a bit of basic research have failed the original writer…

    • alon2392 says:

      We would gladly accept any information you would like to provide on the Lee-Enfield SMLE Mk III. We do have other articles where this is written about. This is but one perspective and we are always open to learn more from those who visit our web-site. Thank you.

  5. neil Smith says:

    The SMLE did not exist before 1903
    So typical that the Ross MK III used by both the British and Canadians until at lest 1918 is not mentoned.

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