What defines the American marksman? It simply started as a necessity where, on the frontier, a man had to be proficient with a rifle to put food on the table. Then, sharpshooters took up arms to defend freedom and liberty at home and later overseas, with heroes like Alvin York and Chris Kyle captivating national attention.

As kids, we grew up plinking cans with Daisy and Red Ryder BB guns before upgrading to a .22 and later our father’s deer rifle. We learned that being an accurate shooter was not only necessary for harvesting game, but it also taught us fundamentals like patience and the value of hard work. Those are qualities that make marksmanship a coveted quality in many circles in America. Perhaps that’s why snipers have always had a special allure in our culture.

Over the years, Hollywood has churned out many movies chronicling sharpshooters. Some are hardly believable and seem to bend the laws of physics. There are a few that have not only accurately profiled some of history’s most famous marksmen, but portrayed realistic scenarios that we, as shooters, can say are some of the best sniper movies ever made.

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

This blockbuster hit is a fictional story about a Russian and German sniper pursuing one another during the Battle of Stalingrad in Russia during World War II. It is based loosely on Vasily Zaytsev, a Soviet sniper who recorded 225 enemy kills during the battle, which took place between 1942 and 1943. Any lover of World War II-era firearms will appreciate the film featuring the Russian Mosin-Nagant M91/30 and German Karabiner 98k. The movie packs several edge-of-your-seat scenes as the two top-notch shooters attempt to best the other.

Lone Survivor (2013) 

This war film follows a Navy SEALs team on an unsuccessful counter-insurgent mission that occurred in Afghanistan in 2005. The team is ambushed by 35-100 Taliban insurgents. Each SEAL used either an M4A1 Carbine or Mk 12 Mod 1 Special Purpose Rifle topped with scopes capable of long-range and close quarter shots to dispatch the insurgents. The actors realistically display the SEAL’s superior marksmanship as they attempt to extract safely. As far as war movies go, Lone Survivor ranks highly on anyones list. 

American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper chronicles the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, considered the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history. The intensely powerful film delivers a vivid portrayal of the Iraq War and how a superiorly trained and naturally gifted sniper impacts military operations, ultimately saving countless American lives. Kyle’s main rifle was the McMillan TAC-338A, though he also used the MK13, based off the Remington Model 700, chambered in 300 Winchester Magnum. The film also delves into the trauma that Kyle suffered as a result of post traumatic stress disorder.

Shooter (2007)

Military veteran Bob Lee Swagger is framed for murder after aiding corrupt government officials in this thriller. Swagger relies on his Marine Corps special operations sniper training as he attempts to clear his name. Several firearms make an appearance in the film, including the M40A3 sniper rifle, Barrett M82A1M, Cheytac M-200 Intervention and Remington Model 700PSS. There is no shortage of long-range shots and rifle trickery that is sure to pique the interest of avid shooters. Wahlberg definitely plays a convincing movie sniper, with plenty of research going into the role that shines through. 

Sniper (1993)

Aptly named Sniper, this film depicts a Marine, who shoots a Remington Model 700PSS, and a SWAT sniper using a Heckler & Koch SR9TC on a mission in Panama to assassinate a rebel leader. During the trek through the jungle, the duo faces capture and must battle hordes of guerillas as they fight to make it to safety. Despite a few Hollywood dramatizations, this is a fun sharpshooter movie to watch.