The “Big Guns” – Anti-Tank Rifles

Forgotten Weapons takes a look at the big bore blasters designed for use against early tanks. These weapons have been phased out for rockets today as, while they’re more expensive, they’re far more efficient against improved armor.

The anti-tank rifle has evolved into the “anti-material” rifles of today, a category dominated by .50BMG bolt actions and autoloaders like the McMillan TAC-50 and the M107A1. These weapons can efficiently, and at distance, wreck light vehicles. They can take out sensitive equipment. They can set off ordnance. And they can do so all much cheaper and usually safer than using shoulder launched rocket better saved for contact with actual armor or hardened positions.

In the video, Ian goes over why these were not employed as sniper rifles.

For anyone who doesn’t want to enjoy 12 minutes of technical discussion with Ian (shame on you) here are the highlights

  • Anti-tank rifles are designed to hit tanks
    • Tanks are big
    • Tanks are slow (unless they’re in full motion) and very limited mobility
  • The ammo is also designed to hit tanks and held to that accuracy standard
  • Anti-tank rifles are big and much less mobile than sniper rifles… because they’re for tanks

Now this isn’t to say that larger weapons aren’t useful against troops in the open under certain conditions but they aren’t mobile precision platforms. Snipers aren’t primary weapons that need this massive weapon for effect. They are, primarily, the eyes of a larger force and a special tasks asset to protect that larger force. A well placed sniper team’s most valuable tools are their eyes, optics, and comms to tell the larger force they’re supporting where to send all their much more substantial firepower.

That fancy TAC-50 or Mk13 Mod 7 might make a crucial shot, but the sniper might take their “shot” more effectively by using the 81mm mortar section to drop IDF on an enemy without compromising their ability to observe or move a fireteam, vehicle, or other asset to deal with it up close.

Combined arms is vastly different than video games like Modern Warfare have led us to believe. The MW sniper is just looking for some points to win the game. The real sniper is probably the eyes and part of the IDF fire control supporting 600 people in harm’s way. A critical, detail observing part of how a commander sees the space he is in charge of controlling.

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.