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Book Review
Sniping Rifles
Sniping Rifles on the Eastern Front 1939–45
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

Originally published on:

Martin Pegler is a former Senior Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds. He is currently a firearms consultant and has written a number of articles and books, many for Osprey. He lives in France. Johnny Shumate works as a freelance illustrator living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his career in 1987 after graduating from Austin Peay State University. Most of his work is rendered in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq monitor. His greatest influences are Angus McBride, Don Troiani, and Édouard Detaille. Born in Malaya in 1949, Alan Gilliland studied photography/film and architecture, and spent 18 years as the graphics editor of the Daily Telegraph. He now writes, illustrates and publishes fiction as well as illustrating for a variety of publishers. He lives in Lincolnshire, UK.

Johnny Schumate works as a freelance illustrator living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his career in 1987 after graduating from Austin Peay State University. Most of his work is rendered in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq monitor. His greatest influences are Angus McBride, Don Trolani, and Edouard Detaille. Johnny completed the battlescene illustrations in this book.

Born in Malaya in 1949, Alan Gilliland studied photography/film and architecture, and has worked as a photojournalist and cartoonist. He also spent 18 years as the graphics editor of The Daily Telegraph, winning 19 awards in that time, including numerous UK Press Awards. He now writes, illustrates and publishes fiction (www.ravensquill.com), as well as illustrating for a variety of publishers (including Osprey, the Penguin Group, Brown Reference Group, Ivy Group and Aurum), architects and developers, such as John McAslan (Olympic Energy Centre) and Kit Martin (Prince Charles’ Phoenix Trust advisor on historic buildings). www.alangilliland.com. Alan completed the cutaway illustrations for this book.

    The Soviet Union had developed a significant sniping force by 1939, but the extraordinary skill and cunning displayed by Finnish snipers during the Winter War forced the Soviets to innovate. Following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, German sniping was initially hampered by a lack of standardization of weapons and a shortage of snipers. There were few heroes in the conflict, but among all the combatants, the snipers were idolized – especially on the Soviet side, where the gained almost mythical status. As well as traditional bolt-action firearms, both German and Soviet snipers used several types of semi-automatic rifle, such as the SVT-40 and the Gew 43; offering greater firepower at the expense of long-range accuracy, such weapons would be profoundly influential in the post-war world. Towards the end of the conflict the Germans also experimented with using their innovative assault rifles in a sharpshooting role. Fully illustrated, this absorbing study investigates the development of sniping weapons and techniques on World War II’s Eastern Front.
** Quoted from the back cover of the book.

Osprey Publications Ltd has released Sniping Rifles on the Eastern Front 1939–45 as Number 67 in their Weapon series. It is a soft cover book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, cut-away view illustrations, detailed captions and more. It has a 2019 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-2589-6. The book details the development, use and impact of German and Soviet sniping rifles on the Eastern Front during World War Two.

    - Introduction
    - Development
    - Adaption and Innovation
    - Use
    - Sniping rifles in combat
    - Impact
    - The verdict of history
    - Conclusion
    - Glossary
    - Bibliography
    - Index

Author Martin Pegler covers various models of different sniper rifles used on both sides of the Eastern Front during the time frame of 1939 through 1945. As one can assume the main two countries discussed are Germany and the Soviet Union but Finland is also discussed. Pegler discusses all aspects of both countries sniping rifles in great detail. Obviously as one can guess by the title of the book the main focus is on the rifles themselves. However, Pegler also goes into great detail in regards to the various scopes used by both the axis and the allies as well as the various types of scope mounts used to attach the scopes to the rifles. Another area well covered is the ammunition types used by both sides, including exploding ammunition and its effects. There is a two-page section dedicated just to discussing the various ammunition as well as providing images of all of the types discussed. The above-mentioned subjects are well discussed as to their strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures. As well as the weapons and their accessories, Pegler also goes into great detail in regards to the training the German, Soviet and Finnish snipers received, specific snipers from all three countries and their individual stories and weapons of choice, the affects the cold weather had on the snipers and sniping rifles and equipment as well as sniping during the warmer months, sniping in urban areas is discussed as well as sniping during night time, rifle maintenance is discussed and an area I have always found to be an interesting argument is the comparison between using bolt action versus semi-automatic rifles is well discussed. The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed.

As I read through the text, I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on sniping rifles on the Eastern Front during the World War timeframe of 1939 through 1945 to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

There are 46 black and white photographs and 37 color photographs in total. The photographs range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable; however, a few have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and others appear too light. This is typical for the discussed periods of history and consideration needs to be given to the fact that some of the photographs are several years old and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. I appreciate the fact that there are several photographs of just the weapons themselves as opposed to photographs that feature the weapons in a broad generalized military photograph. In my opinion it makes it much easier to study the various weapons and their details. There are several up-close photographs of various telescopic scopes and their mounts and their attachment to the rifle. The remainder of the photographs are of various rifles used as sniper rifles and military archive photographs showing snipers in action and staged photographs, etc. As well as showing the various sniper rifles the photographs also provide excellent details such as the various uniforms and items used by the various snipers on both sides of the conflict. Author Martin Pegler stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to the firearm enthusiast due to the details they contain.

Some of the various sniper rifles and accessories shown and discussed are:
    - German Kar 98k with High Turret mount with Zeiss Zielvier scope
    - German Kar 98k with Zf 41 scope
    - German SS marked Kar 98k with Opticotechna scope
    - German Gew 41(M) semi-automatic rifle
    - German Gew 43 semi-automatic rifle with Zf 4 scope
    - German MP 44 with Zf 4 scope
    - Soviet Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 rifle with PEM scope
    - Finnish m/27-37 PH rifle with Physica scope
    - German StG 44 with Vamir night-sight
    - German FG 42 with Zf 4 scope
    - Soviet PTRD-41 anti-tank rifle fitted with a Lyman target sight
    - Soviet SVT-40 with PU scope
    - Czechoslovak-manufactured Romanian vz.24 rifle
There are 5 color illustrations by illustrators Alan Gilliland and Johnny Shumate. The illustrations are of:

- The Gew 43 Exposed
- A two page cut-away view illustration showing the internal workings of the German 7.92x57mm Gewehr 43 semi-automatic rifle.

- The SVT-40 Exposed
- A two page cut-away view illustration showing the internal workings of the Soviet 7.62x54mm SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle.

- Dnyester front, summer 1941
- An illustration showing a camouflaged female Soviet sniper armed with a Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle collecting documents from two German causalities while being covered by two fellow Soviet snipers.

- Germany, April 1945
- A two-page double illustration. The first illustration is of a German Waffen-SS sniper using his Kar 98k sniper rifle to search for the Soviet sniper that has just killed his comrade. The second illustration is of a Soviet sniper using a TR trench periscope to watch for enemy movement.

- Ylimaa, Finland, October 1944 (See attached scan)
- An illustration showing a Finnish sniper armed with a Finnish m/43 VKT sniper rifle targeting a German position where two Germans are using a captured Soviet PTRD-41 anti-tank rifle as a sniping weapon. There is an additional illustration within the illustration showing the view of the Germans through the Finish sniper’s PEM scope.

The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown. The captions go into very specific detail as to the specific individuals shown, country of origin and specific types of rifles shown, clothing, equipment, dates and locations and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Martin Pegler’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

There are 4 notes included in this volume and they are:
    - The NRA Museums
    - Dedications
    - Acknowledgements
    - Editor’s Note
As with the other Osprey Publishing titles I was impressed with this book. This is a very nice reference book that contains a well written informative text, many subject specific photographs and illustrations, well detailed captions and more, all detailing sniping rifles on the Eastern Front during the World War timeframe of 1939 through 1945. As with the other Osprey Publishing titles, I would have no hesitation to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal reference library.

Osprey Publishing also offers Sniping Rifles on the Eastern Front 1939–45 as:

eBook (ePub)
eBook (PDF)

Sniping Rifles on the Eastern Front 1939–45 is also available as a Kindle version through Amazon.


The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII
Ian V. Hogg
Saturn Books Ltd.

Guns of the Reich
Firearms of the German Forces, 1939-1945
George Markham
Arms and Armour Press

Live Firing German Automatic Weapons of WWII
Robert Bruce
Windrow & Greene

German Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918
Robert Kirchubel & Ramiro Bujeiro
Concord Publications Company

The German Sniper 1914-1945
Peter R. Senich
Paladin Press

Mauser Military Rifles
Weapon 39
Neil Grant
Osprey Publications

German Automatic Rifles 1941–45
Gew 41, Gew 43, FG 42 and StG 44
Weapon 24
Chris McNab
Osprey Publications

Special Forces Sniper Skills
Robert Stirling
Osprey Publications

Out Of Nowhere – A history of the military sniper, from the sharpshooter to Afghanistan
Martin Pegler
Osprey Publications

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.


UK £13.99 / US $22.00 / CAN $29.00
Highs: Well written text and captions. Subject specific photographs and illustrations.
Lows: Nothing to mention.
Verdict: An excellent volume by Osprey Publishing. Definitely beneficial to the sniper and military small arms enthusiast.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-4728-2589-6
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 10, 2019

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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2020 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Armorama. All rights reserved.


Another god read for the reference library.
MAY 10, 2019 - 09:26 AM

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