A Sniper Rifle is a high-powered and highly accurate projectile or directed energy weapon that is used to attack distant foes and lightly armoured targets at extreme ranges with unerring accuracy. Capable of firing powerful shots with lethal precision, sniper rifles can fell even the sturdiest enemy.
Small sniper teams or even lone snipers can stop advancing troops in their tracks, holding them up for hours while other military assets are called up to deal with them. Sniper Rifles are commonly used by Imperial forces such as Space Marine Scouts who utilise these deadly weapon on missions where disruption of enemy forces is paramount.
Imperial Sniper Rifles
Space Marine Variant
Space Marine Scouts are perhaps the most well known Imperial troops who utilise the deadly Sniper Rifle. Scout Squads are the vanguard of a Space Marine force, infiltrating behind enemy lines and sowing disruption and securing vital strongpoints.
These masters of stealth and reconnaissance utilise a unique model of Sniper Rifle, an Astartes-pattern weapon that boasts a powerful telescopic sight and fires a solid projectile round which allows the wielder to fire at enemy weak points and distant foes with deadly and extreme accuracy.
- Astartes M40/A1 Pattern Sniper Rifle - The Codex Astartes states that a Space Marine must be schooled in every aspect of war, and this includes the use of weapon he may not necessarily go on to use as a fully-fledged Space Marine. The Sniper Rifle is such a weapon, and its use fits the tactical role of the Scout. The rifle fires a small dart made from a deadly neuro-toxin chemical. The liquid chemical is frozen into a dart or sliver within the gun before it is fired. Unerring accuracy is afforded by a low power beam of invisible laser-light which drives and guides the chemical dart to its target. If the target is armoured, the beam automatically pulses when the rifle is fired, punching a tiny hole which allows the toxic dart to penetrate.
- Mark III Shrike Pattern Bolt Sniper Rifle - The primary armament of Vanguard Marine Eliminator Squads is the Mark III Shrike Pattern Bolt Sniper Rifle. The optical sights of this weapon can be tailored for any situation, from thermoscopic vision to precision Auspex scans that can penetrate several metres through solid matter. Once marked, there is nowhere for an Eliminator's prey to hide, and no amount of protective armour that can stop the killing shot. The Bolt Sniper Rifle can be outfitted with special ammunition to deal with different tactical situations, including Hyperfrag rounds, Executioner rounds, and Mortis bolts.
Those Space Marines that are seconded to the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos, often make use of a highly specialised Sniper Rifle pattern known as the Mark IX Ultra Pattern sniper rifle. Just over 2 metres in length and weighing close to 50 kilograms, the massive Mark IX Ultra is as intimidating as it is effective.
The Mark IX is a heavy needler sniper rifle used by the Deathwatch for long-range anti-personnel and anti-materiel work. With its long barrel and powerful scope, the Mark IX allows a Deathwatch sharpshooter to engage targets with incredible accuracy at very long ranges.
The Mark IX is a highly-respected and revered weapon, and it is often selected as the weapon of choice for Space Marine snipers in many Deathwatch Kill-teams. Each Mark IX has the following integral systems:
- Tailor Made - Each Mark IX is tailored to fit the Battle-Brother to which it has been assigned. The weapon’s stock and hand guard are matched to the owner’s size and shooting stance, making carrying, pointing, and shooting the Sniper Rifle as easy and natural as pointing a finger. While this increases the Sniper Rifle’s accuracy, the custom furniture makes it uncomfortable and nearly impossible for anyone else to use it without serious modification. The Mark IX is also fitted with a special security system programmed with the owner’s genetic code. This system, composed of a sensor pad in the weapon's stock, makes contact with a matching pad in the palm of the glove or gauntlet worn on the Space Marine’s shooting hand. The Space Marine’s genetic data is then transferred to the weapon’s Cogitator and analysed. If the Cogitator array senses the genetic pattern of the proper owner, the Sniper Rifle operates as normal. If anyone else attempts to use the weapon, the Cogitator will disable the firing mechanism. This renders the Sniper Rifle unusable until the assigned owner picks it up again.
- 30x Scope - This powerful telescopic sight allows the sharpshooter to engage enemies at extremely long range. Telescopic sights magnify the target’s image, making it easy to see. This is especially useful for long-range shots that need to hit a very specific target location.
- Suppressor - This combination silencer and flash concealer reduces both muzzle flash and the signature report of a needle weapon.
- Highly Accurate - With its long barrel, integral recoil compensators, and under-barrel bipod, the Mark IX is an incredibly accurate and well-balanced weapon. Its turbo-chem needle ammunition is highly accurate and utterly deadly to its victim.
Astra Militarum Variants
Space Marines are not the only ones to make use of these precision instruments of death, as there are many different Sniper Rifles utilised by the marksmen of the Astra Militarum. Some regiments prefer to use Needle Sniper Rifles that fire small darts made from deadly neuro-toxins.
This exotic weapon is highly prized by snipers, as the Needle Rifle offers the perfect combination of range, stealth, and deadliness. The only argument against the use of these exquisite weapons is that they are ineffective against heavily armoured targets.
Others make use of the "Long-Las," a variant of the humble Lasgun with a reinforced barrel and overcharged power cells known as "Hot Shots." Favoured by Imperial Guard and Scout Marine snipers, the Long-Las is a specially modified version of the standard Lasgun for added range and accuracy. As its name implies, a Long-Las also has a much longer barrel than a Lasgun, both to increase range and prevent overheating.
This can make a Long-Las up to twice as long as a standard Lasgun, making it unwieldy in close quarters. The most infamous snipers amongst Imperial Guard regiments are Abhuman Ratlings, who use these highly accurate weapons to snipe enemy commanders and tank crews with contemptuous ease, and who are often deeply amused at the panic and confusion they unleash.
Less advanced than the standard military needle sniper rifle, the Absolution Pattern Sniper Rifle is a solid projectile weapon and is more easily obtainable and very effective against lightly armoured targets. Complete with a tripod brace, silencer, and telescopic sight, in the hands of a skilled marksman it can quickly crush insurrections, put down rebellious natives, or quash labour revolts. The integral noise baffles built into the rifle make it very quiet.
Officio Assassinorum Variant
The Exitus Rifle is the signature weapon of the Vindicare Temple of the Officio Assassinorum. This rifle is amongst the finest examples of Imperial weaponsmithing. Hand-crafted by a Magos-Artisan of the Adeptus Mechanicus, each Exitus rifle is part of a matched set -- both pistol and rifle customised to the specifications of the individual Assassin.
The Exitus weapons contain sophisticated Machine Spirits and utilise ammunition constructed from special heavy-gravity alloys to penetrate nearly all forms of known protection. All Exitus weapons incorporate a silencer and a selector switch. The Exitus Rifle has a built-in telescopic sight.
All Exitus ammunition (including all special rounds) contain miniaturised Cogitator targeting-spirits that make them nearly impossible to avoid. Exitus rounds can also be programmed to self-destruct. The rounds are disintegrated, consumed as if destroyed by a virus, and leave no trace behind.
Special Exitus Ammunition
Vindicare Assassins are normally issued a set of special ammunition when sent on an assignment. These unusual shells are very rare, each extremely difficult and time-consuming to craft. Therefore, the Assassin is usually given a single shell of each type. Occasionally, other special rounds (such as the hyphosphus incendiaries) are issued in their place. The ammunition described below may only be utilised by the Exitus Rifle and the Exitus Pistol:
- Shield-breaker Round - This round is specially-treated with a psychically-charged imprint, and contains a complex circuit of anti-phase technology that is little understood even by the Tech-priests of the Mechanicus.
- Hellfire Round - The Hellfire Round has devastating effects on organic matter -- its core is filled with a vial of mutagenic acid. Thousands of armour-piercing micro-needles inject the target with this acid upon impact, eating away flesh and metal alike with horrific speed.
- Turbo-penetrator Round - The Turbo-penetrator Round is a hypervelocity, Adamantine-jacketed bullet surrounding a special magno-sealed flux needle. These special rounds are renowned for their ability to pierce nearly any armour, and the hypervelocity shell wreaks havoc upon any target, often by the secondary effects of its phasing passage through the target’s molecular structure.
Xenos Sniper Weapons
Xenos species also use sniper weapons to great effect. Aeldari Rangers use their trusty Long Rifles to take out vulnerable targets at extreme distances while remaining hidden. The T'au use teams of semi-autonomous Sniper Drones to take down their targets at long range while T'au Pathfinders possess technologically advanced Rail Rifles that make excellent sniper weapons.
Silencer Sniper Rifle
Genestealer Cult Sanctuses often make use of Sniper Rifles when they want to kill at a distance. For this task, they utilise a marksman Silencer Sniper Rifle converted to fire needler rounds. Each toxin dart carried by the Sanctus is filled with an alchemical serum brewed by their gene-sect's Biophagus. Engineered from a pure sample of Genestealer blood, this mind-affecting poison can render its target a drooling imbecile in solar seconds.
Jackal Sniper Rifle
The Jackal Sniper Rifle is the weapon favoured by Genestealer Cult Jackal Alphuses. So accurate and focused are these fourth generation Neophyte Hybrids upon their task that some members of the Ordo Xenos have even compared them to Imperial Assassins.
- Codex: Space Marines (8th Edition) (Revised Codex), pp. 74-75, 150
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pg. 58
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pg. 29
- Codex: Genestealer Cults (8th Edition), pp. 48, 58-59, 104
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pp. 43, 69
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 66
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 139, 147-148
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pg. 61
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 138-139
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pg. 111
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 130