British Army sniper Sgt. Craig Harrison. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.
“The story of Maverick 41, one of the world’s greatest snipers” is written on the cover of Sgt. Craig Harrison’s autobiography, The Longest Kill. In the eyes of his fellow countrymen, he is a hero. In his own words, he was just doing his job.
The British Army sniper sat down with Unilad in November 2020 to recount his experiences in combat, the unsexy side of being a sniper, and his first confirmed kill — and shares his point of view of his world record shot.
In 2009, on a deployment to Afghanistan, Harrison was providing overwatch for a combined unit of soldiers from the British Army and Afghan army. Their mission was to go into a village and clear out the insurgents. He watched his unit move into the kill zone, and in the distance he saw a flicker, which revealed a Taliban soldier with a radio.
“I looked up and I could see two guys with a PKM belt-fed Russian machine gun and they were hammering down on the lads,” he recalled. “It was a long way, it was 2,475 meters away, which is just over a mile and a half. My rifle only shoots 1,500 meters, so I had to, I call it lob in, I lobbed a bullet in.”
Watch as Harrison describes his world record shot fired from his .338 Lapua Magnum rifle:
Afterward, Harrison didn’t even know he had broken a world record until his medals parade. Harrison also speaks about his most dangerous mission, when his unit was nearly overrun at the “Gates of Hell” in Iraq near Saddam Hussein’s Basra Palace. He then takes us through his journey coping with post-traumatic stress and how it continues to be present in his daily life.
“It was like a wall got shattered, and when that wall of ice got shattered, everything that I have experienced in my tours through Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghan[istan],” Harrison told Unilad, “I couldn’t stop it.”
He credits his wife, Tanya, and his dog, Betsy, for helping him move past his darkest moments of depression.
The previous world record holder was Cpl. Rob Furlong, a Canadian sniper who achieved the feat in Afghanistan in 2002 at a distance of 2,430 meters (1.5 miles). The current world record holder is another Canadian sniper from Canada’s elite special missions unit known as the JTF2. The 2017 world record shot was fired with a McMillan TAC-50 rifle at a distance of 3,450 meters (2.14 miles), targeting an Islamic State terrorist.
Matt Fratus is a history staff writer for Coffee or Die. He prides himself on uncovering the most fascinating tales of history by sharing them through any means of engaging storytelling. He writes for his micro-blog @LateNightHistory on Instagram, where he shares the story behind the image. He is also the host of the Late Night History podcast. When not writing about history, Matt enjoys volunteering for One More Wave and rooting for Boston sports teams.