Point of Impact
By Stephen Hunter

< 1999
By Condor

Bob Lee Swagger is Hunter's main character in this book. Swagger is a Vietnam vet, a prior Marine with three tours of "the 'Nam." His kill record stands at 87 confirmed kills, second only to "Carl Hitchcock's" record of 93 confirmed kills.

Swagger is a man of few words, a man who speaks more often with his Remington rifle (chambered for .308 Winchester) than anything else. He is deadly, but not without cause.

I found the book intriguing and captivating. Technically - that is, from a shooter's perspective - I could find only one glaring error, on page 56 of the paperback version I was reading. I won't tell you what it is - you'll have to read the book - but, if you're a shooter, a "real" shooter, the error should hit you right between the eyes like a 168- grain .30 caliber Sierra Match King. (Note: I wrote to the author and requested he correct the error in future printings of the book... for what little good it'll probably do.)

A particularly enjoyable quality of the book, to me, was Hunter's practice of using false references to identify actual people or things, which the author handled by meagerly "disguising" their true identities. Cases in point are "Carl Hitchcock" the Marine sniper and "Accuracy Shooting" magazine. I really wanted to gag over the obvious, intentionally-poor attempt to avoid directly mentioning Carlos Hathcock, but I genuinely got a kick out of Hunter's off-handed reference to the magazine Precision Shooting, to which I subscribe.

Also pleasing was the frequent mention of "shooting stuff" like brass preparation, reloading recipes, and little things like paper-patching bullets and the use of sabots.

If you enjoy sniping, lots of killing, a healthy dose of conspiracy, and don't mind a book with an honest-to-goodness plot, you'll enjoy this offering from Stephen Hunter. According to the cover of the book, Point of Impact is "soon to be a major motion picture." The book was published in 1993, so the movie - if, indeed, there really is one based on this book - may already have been released. Perhaps it's even in the videotape rental stores. I could only hope the movie is as good as the book. I would imagine, though, that Hollywood will have "corrupted" the rather fine "weapons integrity" that Hunter exercised when writing the book. Don't wait for the movie; buy the book and read it. Lots of action, long shots, plot twists, and excitement!

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