The Military and Police Sniper
By Mike R. Lau

1997
By Dave Croyle **

The author of The Military and Police Sniper, Mike Lau, is the owner and operator of the Texas Brigade Armory, located in, of all places, Texas. Mr. Lau is a retired Army officer, having served in various positions, including Officer in Charge of the Ft. Hood Army Marksmanship Unit. His name should be familiar to students of the sniper craft, as you will find his name in other modern reference works such as the Chandlers' Death From Afar series and Peter Senich's The One Round War.

The Military and Police Sniper is a large softcover book, on par with MAJ Plaster's The Ultimate Sniper, and running 350 pages. Unlike some other sniper books out on the market, The Military and Police Sniper successfully carves a unique niche for itself.

The book has 15 chapters, and is profusely illustrated with black & white photos, drawings, etc. The contents are as follows:

Preface
Acknowledgments
About the Author
1. The Marine Corps Scout/Sniper and the M40A1
2. The US Army Scout/Sniper and the M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS)
3. Two Call Outs, 10 Days, The Police Sniper
4. The Custom Sniper Rifle and Telescopes
5. Terminal Ballistics
6. Internal Ballistics, Accuracy, and the Development of the 7.62x51mm Sniper Cartridge
7. The .308 Winchester, 5.56mm/.223, .338 Lapua, Caliber .50BMG, and More
8. External Ballistics, Influences on Accuracy, and Ballistic Tables
9. Range Estimation and Sight Adjustment
10. "This Ground Fire Was A Godsend To Us", Uphill and Downhill Shooting
11. "Shoot, Damn It, Carlos", Wind Reading and Sight Adjustment
12. "We'll Take 'Em", Moving Targets
13. Managing The Log/Data Book
14. Tactical Scenarios
15. The Sniper Match: Sustainment Training Through Practical Precision Shooting

About the Contents - The "Preface," "Acknowledgments," and "About the Author" sections are very straightforward. Sniper Country regulars will encounter familiar names in the Acknowledgments such as Chandler, Gauthier, Gooch, Senich, and Hathcock to name just a few.

The opening two chapters cover the M40A1 and M24 Sniper Weapon Systems ("SWS"), including the issue scopes and related gear for these systems. There is an overview of all the components of these SWS, as well as some notes on their history. Readers looking for the depth displayed in books like "The One Round War" will be disappointed as these chapters -- roughly 20 pages each with many photos -- cannot come close to that level of detail. The basics are all covered though, and the chapters include weaknesses of the systems as well as other relevant information. The M24 chapter also includes about 8 pages of info about the Army Scout/Sniper. All in all, these chapters are very good but I was left wanting much more information of the kind provided on these two rifles.

Chapter 3 covers the police sniper. There are good examples of police sniper deployments and some lessons learned. Also covered are equipment and optics, deployment, selection, and so forth.

Chapter 4 covers a lot of detail regarding the custom sniper rifle, including optics and mounts, stocks and bedding, actions, barrels, and so on. Lau goes into some great detail here regarding the rifles he builds (mostly his versions of the M40A1/A3) which make a welcome addition to the information provided on the M40A1 in Chapter 1. A few tips on gunsmithing are included.

Chapter 5 is fairly short and covers terminal ballistics, including types of shots and shooting through glass.

Chapter 6 covers internal ballistics, determining the accuracy of ammunition, Mean Radius and Extreme Spread. The second part of the chapter details the 7.62mm Match cartridges from a mostly US military point of view, including the M118, M118LR, M852, "Mexican Match" and so on. Also included are some interesting photos and information from Lake City (LCAAP). There is actually very little about internal ballistics in this chapter, just a few basic paragraphs.

Chapter 7 covers common sniping cartridges as listed in the title. Although it is not listed, there are a couple of pages covering the .300 Winchester Magnum as well. This chapter provides an overview of currently available rounds and developments. Some other rounds are discussed, such as the .300 Whisper while others like the 7.62x54R are not mentioned at all. This is probably an appropriate choice given the target audience (no pun intended) of this book.

Chapter 8 begins external ballistics. Some of the things covered here are trajectory, mid-range trajectory, maximum ordinate, time of flight, LOS, LOD, BC, come ups, and many more. Also included are such factors as light conditions and barrel lengths. This chapter is just packed with information designed to help educate the reader, and while the number of terms introduced may intimidate a beginner it is tempered with advice on which factors will influence your shot more than others. The explanations are also clear and well organized.

Chapter 9 is about range estimation and the related sight adjustments. The subject is well covered and includes lengthy portions on mil dots and laser rangefinders.

Chapter 10 is about 8 pages that explain uphill and downhill shots, along with the related slope factors.

Chapter 11 covers the wind. This important subject is covered in depth, but can be summarized as wind reading and what to do with the readings once you have them. The "British System" is also discussed as an alternate method of dealing with the wind.

Chapter 12 is a short chapter on moving targets and how to handle them.

Chapter 13 is a real gem. While there are only about two pages of regular text here, there are many more pages of useful examples and tables. Mike urges the reader to keep log books simple and uncluttered. Several examples of logbooks used by snipers are shown, including about a dozen different standard and custom firing record pages. Also present are charts with the sizes of standard objects to aid in range estimation, including an entire chart on aircraft dimensions. There are also tables for mil sizes of objects and personnel; windage rosettes and adjustments; movement; elevation and slope adjustments; and more. The Army, Marine Corps, and USANGSS range cards are also represented. Lau has taken what could have been a very dull, unoriginal topic and put together the best information on the subject I have ever seen by far.

Chapter 14 is half tactical scenarios and half tips for the sniper. The simple scenarios are designed to show how range estimation and other factors are taken into account in the field, essentially pulling together the information from the last several chapters. The tips included range from trivia to important lessons learned.

In the final chapter, Lau very briefly discusses sniper competitions and then has a 35-page "Photojournalist's Diary of the 1997 Wilson Sniper Matches" consisting of images and captions.

What is not in the book - Several topics dear to the hearts of the reader are not present in this book. Space considerations no doubt played a great part in their omission. Handloading is mentioned occasionally but no details are given on this topic. Rifle maintenance, barrel break-in, and similar topics are not covered. Of course, this information may be had (in many forms!) in numerous other places, such as Precision Shooting magazine.

While the M40A1 and M24 are covered in some depth, other rifles are only covered very briefly or left out altogether. There is therefor little or no comparative information to be found. And as I mentioned, I was hoping for still more on the rifles that he did cover.

Ghillie suits, camouflage, and fieldcraft are mostly MIA from this book. In Lau's defense, he mentions that he is planning another book that will cover these topics in depth, a book that I am very much looking forward to.

There are of course a lot of other pet subjects the reader may notice are missing, but no author can cover it all in one book even if they wanted to.

Summary - This is an excellent book, one I view as a great companion volume to The Ultimate Sniper, although it is much more limited than that fine tome. While The Ultimate Sniper, covers the triad of fieldcraft, tactics and marksmanship, The Military and Police Sniper is mostly content to concentrate on the latter. The information is thorough and well presented, as well as prioritized where necessary. The material is "deep" enough that it took me four times as long to read this book as it did to read the similarly-sized Death From Afar V.

There is something here for every student of sniping, and the book surpassed my expectations. I recommend The Military and Police Sniper to all students of the art.


** About the reviewer

Dave is an enthusiastic student of sniping and the related crafts and history. He owns a large library of books on related topics. He is a sworn member of a Search & Rescue team, which operates under the direction of a local police department. He is an NRA Life Member and Certified Instructor, a member of the Gun Owners of California, the California Rifle & Pistol Association, and the Orange Gunsite family. Though he is a graduate of several firearms training schools, he is not and never has been a sniper.



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