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Scope Snipe

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In movies and television, it is possible for an extremely good shot to fire a bullet through the scope of a sniper's rifle, with the bullet ending up in the unlucky shooter's eye. In fact, this is the traditional way to end a Sniper Duel. Especially in regards to a ridiculously skilled professional, this will only add to their badass legend as having Improbable Aiming Skills.

In sniper training they are specifically taught to target an opposing sniper through a lens glare. As a result, there are also anti-reflective "kill flash" covers for scopes specifically to prevent Sniper Scope Glint. As well, snipers typically set up in a concealed location where they are shrouded in darkness.

Pulling off this trope runs into one major downside: in order to make this shot the opposing sniper has to be pretty much looking at you in the first place. Which means you should take the shot immediately if you have it lined up; if you hit the scope, you've almost completely disabled that sniper (and if you miss, what's right behind the scope?) Once the bullet does hit the scope, however, there's no real guarantee that it'll make it all the way through, as the bullet has to travel straight down the length of the scope without being deflected by one of the lenses, in which case it will exit through the side at an angle. This is especially true with modern high-quality scopes (which have more than just two lenses and also tend to be filled with heavier-than-air gasses); the one confirmed and one reputed real-life case of this happening each had the victim using a simpler World War II-vintage scope. What makes it even less plausible is that the position of the scope and gravity means that you have to aim a few inches above your target (the bullet falls a bit and the scope is always 2-3 inches above the barrel).

See the MythBusters example below for their testing of this trope. Compare Sniping the Cockpit for a different kind of difficult sniper shot through glass.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Case Closed ally Shuichi Akai managed to do this to stop Gin from killing Conan and Kogoro Mouri. Unfortunately, Gin reacted fast enough to survive with only a scar.
  • Played with in Desert Punk. Sunabozu is out in the desert testing his new, high quality sniper rifle when he gets shot. His opponent, the Shimmer Sniper, deliberately shot to disable the gun without killing Sunabozu. When Sunabozu finally catches him at the end of the episode and it's explained, he says that going for a flashy attack like that rather than simply making a kill shot marks the Shimmer Sniper as a total noob.
    • He pulled this off from 700 meters away on the rooftop of another building at a higher elevation.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
    • A variant appears in the episode "POKER FACE", where a flashback has the Major fire a shot down Saitou's scope, blinding him with shards of the lens without killing him. This may have never actually happened, since when Saitou finishes telling the story, someone calls him out on stealing the plot of a movie. But the ending of the episode hints that maybe it was true after all. Or at least the Tachikomas think so.
    • In Solid State Society Saitou hacks into an assassin's cybernetic eye to find out about his position. He then overrides the assassin's view with his own, showing him a scope aimed at his head. The assassin is not impressed though, and both of them unsuccessfully try a genuine Scope Snipe. This also ties in to the Stand Alone Complex episode and its maybe-a-flashback, as Saitou is now using the sniper rifle that the Major was depicted as having shot him with.
  • Josuke does one to a Stand user in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. Forced into a Sniper Duel while Jotaro acts as the bait, he has Crazy Diamond fire rifle bullets by hand to take out the super-intelligent rat using a miniature sniper cannon Stand that fires corrosive needles which turn anything it strikes into organic mush. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is weird.
  • Frequent in Jormungand thanks to the team's crack snipers, Lehm and Lutz. For example, Lutz easily snipes an opposing sniper in Iraq when the Excalibur PMC attempts to set up an ambush.
  • In one of the openings for Lupin III Jigen does this to an assassin.
  • In an episode of Trigun Vash does one better and counter-snipes a sniper down the barrel of his own gun — thus destroying the weapon without hurting the sniper. Too bad the sniper is a fanatic who promptly pulls out a sidearm and shoots himself.
  • Also done by resident sniper and war veteran Rudra in Viper's Creed episode 5.

    Comic Books 
  • G.I. Joe:
    • One issue of Marvel's G.I. Joe comic has a character initiate a sniper's duel toward the end of the story. Predictably, the Nazi-like bad guy loses.
    • Almost subverted in the IDW sequel, where Stalker snipes the Cobra sniper's spotter though the lens of his binoculars.
  • The first The Punisher story in The Nam depicts Frank Castle as a sniper in Vietnam. The entire two-part story is plagiarized verbatim from Carlos Hathcock's experience, including the Scope Snipe finale.
  • In Preacher, an ex-Spetsnaz bodyguard almost pulls this off against someone trying to snipe his principal. Careful inspection of the panel in question will show the sniper being shot in the middle of his forehead, not his eye. Also, there's no damage to the scope.
  • Robyn does this to a police sniper in Robyn Hood: Outlaw #1: non-fatally putting an arrow into his scope to spoil his shot, ruin his gun, and serve as a very effective warning.
  • Sin City:
    • Wallace manages this in the yarn Hell and Back: A Sin City Love Story. With a semi-automatic handgun, no less. Hand Waved in that he's an ex-navy SEAL.
    • Another Sin City yarn, The Big Fat Kill, has Miho throw a metal rod into Jackie-Boy's gun — when he fires it the slide blows backward through his head.
  • An early issue of Transformers Infiltration had Optimus pull this off on Megatron. Of course, they were both in robot form, so the "scope" was actually the barrel of Megatron's Fusion Cannon.
  • In one of The Ultimates annuals, Nick Fury did this to a guy- with the stipulation that the guy had been provided with one of two specially modified prototype sniper rifles whose bullets were intangible between when they left the barrel and when they hit flesh. In a pretty awesome moment, Fury explains to his dead victim that he had the other one. Chekhov's Gun indeed.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Condor arc of Forward, a Firefly Fan Fic, Jayne kills the Operative by doing one of these from two kilometers away while riding on Serenity. It's even called a Scope Snipe in the story (the author is a troper).

    Films — Animated 
  • A variation in Injustice (2021). Jimmy Olsen is using a camera with telephoto lens to photograph some criminals in the midst of a crime when The Joker shoots him dead through the lens. However this was done at close range.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mr. Anderson does it in Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia.
  • Averted, ironically enough, in sniper-centric Enemy at the Gates. Despite the film being based around a sniper duel and featuring a supporting cast of other snipers - a number of whom are killed in spectacular fashion - no one is shot through the scope.
  • In Eraser one of the (kinda) good guys is aiming at one of the railgun-toting baddies. Said baddie notices this, proceeds to aim his railgun through the super-sophisticated computerised x-ray scope, but just before he fires the "good" guy's bullet goes through the scope and right in his eye. Meanwhile, the "good" guy's buddies are talking about how terrible of a shot he is. They shut up after that.
  • The Hero from The Good, The Bad, The Weird manages one with a Winchester rifle.
  • RoboCop 2 features a pistol shot (albeit one hell of a pistol, and computer aided) through a sniper scope.
  • Barry Pepper's Bible quoting sniper from Saving Private Ryan saves his pinned-down unit by nailing a Nazi sharpshooter clean through his scope.
  • Shooter (2007). The protagonist kills one of the counter-snipers in the mountaintop scene this way.
  • Sniper:
    • In the original movie, the protagonist is being stalked through the Panamanian jungle by a former student, now working for the rebels. After leaving his sleeping partner as bait, he puts a bullet through his opponent's Draganov rifle scope.
    • It happens in each of the sequels as well, possibly making the titular sniper the only marksman in reality or fiction with three scope snipes. This is especially ridiculous in the third movie, where he didn't have time to do a carefully aimed shot against the sniper attacking him while he tried to snipe someone else.

  • In one book of The General Series, a Brigadero was looking at the opposing Civil Government forces through a telescope... right until a shot from a Skinner (barbarian mercenary for the Civil Government) plows right through the telescope and into the user's eye.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Oliver does this by accident against Deadshot, who wears a sniper scope over his eye in this continuity. Oliver takes cover behind a wall and Deadshot pins him down with gunfire. Oliver fires an arrow around the corner without aiming and the firing suddenly cuts off. He goes to see what happened and finds Deadshot's "corpse" with an arrow sticking out of his aiming lens.
  • In the U.S. Army Rangers vs. North Korean Special Forces episode of Deadliest Warrior, the Rangers representative pulls this off in the sniper test. Unlike the more cinematic examples on this page, the bullet goes diagonally through the walls of the scope rather than straight down the lenses.
  • Mashin Sentai Kiramager: Tametomo pulls off a scope shot against an enemy sniper in one episode, though it only destroys the enemy's scope and doesn't hurt the sniper. The sniper continues attacking without his scope, but has to attack them from closer range.
  • MythBusters declared such shots to be impossible outside of a Million to One Chance after frequent attempts to recreate the shot under the best of circumstances. However, in their original experiment they used a modern style scope that was very narrow and had six lenses for calibration. Additionally, all their test shots were made at very close range, with the rounds impacting at a much higher speed than they would have done further downrange, which may have altered their behavior. In a retest, they used an archaic Vietnam-era scope that was wider and had fewer lenses (and therefore matched the conditions of Hathcock's encounter), and an armor piercing bullet, it was indeed, very possible, and extremely lethal. Hathcock was always very plain about admitting that it was a lucky shot, since he saw a glint of sunlight on the VietCong sniper's scope lens and aimed above that.
  • The Profiler episode "Shoot to Kill".
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Sam fires a shot with his handgun that shatters the scope of a sniper on the roof.
  • The final episode of Walker, Texas Ranger has Chuck Norris do this to the Big Bad, though he dodged just in time to avoid getting hit in the eye.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, during the boss fight against The End, you can spot him by the glare off his sniper scope. Unfortunately, he can spot you the same way - and even more unfortunately, he can also spot you by glare off your binoculars, even though they have special lens covers designed to prevent this.
  • In Overwatch, this was how Widowmaker defeated Ana Amari during a Sniper Duel. While Ana survived the encounter, she lost her eye and had to get an Eyepatch of Power.
  • This is possible, though unlikely, in Sniper Elite V2 and its sequels (you're more likely to get a bog-standard headshot if you try). It's also possible to snipe an opponent down the barrel of the rifle.
    • If you want to master the Gewehr 43 rifle in Zombie Army 4: Dead War after unlocking its upgrades, you have to do this. 10 times.
  • A nonlethal variation happens in the Spider-Man (2000), when the webslinger senses The Punisher watching him through a sniper scope and webs it up.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 promotional video "The Sound of Medicine", Sniper takes an arrow to the eye from his robotic counterpart straight through the scope of his rifle.
  • In Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Anna William's ending, Anna is targetted by Nina who has a rifle. Just as Nina is sighting her through the scope, Anna tosses a throwing knife through the scope, taking out Nina before Anna goes to beat down a few other Tekken girls.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens in the final season of Rose Guns Days, when Rose and Wayne are Pinned Down by a sniper at the entrance of a hotel. Then Leo uses the bullet hole in one of the entrance's glasses and a parasol to determine Keith's position, and snipes his scope with the rifle he picked up. Keith manages to move his head out of the way at the last moment though.

    Web Animation 
  • Madness Combat video DISSENTER features Doc, the titular dissenter, doing this to an ATP Soldat through his binoculars with a VSS Vintorez. Impressively, he not only gets the shot through the binoculars, but through the ATP's monocule lens too.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Butters does one through a pair of binoculars in the South Park episode "Going Native". With a golf ball, no less.

    Real Life 
  • Some accounts from the Battle of Stalingrad have Vasily Zaytsev, the USSR's top sniper, performing this shot on the top German sniper of the war. Although the scope in question supposedly sits in a Russian museum, the story must be taken with a grain of salt; the Russian government calls the sniper "Major Konig", Zeitzev's biography calls him "Heinz Thorvald", and the Germans say neither man existed.
  • The real-life example that inspired the MythBusters episode involved Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock, a legend in the sniping community. In a real-life subversion of the trope, Hathcock's shot was an admitted fluke: he was tracking a Vietnamese sniper who was hunting him and, just before the light faded for the day, caught a glint where he figured the enemy was likely to be, and fired a "What the hell" shot to see what would happen. Frequently an enemy sniper would only see and aim for the glint of sunlight off of the scope's glass, and the only reason that the shot was even possible was that the enemy sniper in question had Hathcock right in his sights. If Hathcock hadn't gotten on the trigger before the enemy, the enemy would have had him, as his skill as a sniper was comparable to that of Hathcock himself. According to the account, Hathcock's spotter, John Burke, retrieved the rifle with its scope, but it subsequently vanished without trace from the company armory into which it had been checked.
  • Falling halfway between this and its super trope, Israeli General Moshe Dayan got his trademark Eyepatch of Power while conducting reconnaissance in Vichy France-controlled Syria during World War II: a French sniper shot him through one side of his binoculars. The binoculars' bulk probably saved his life, although the glass and the bullet left his eye a mess.
  • Figuratively, this is what fighter planes that specialize in anti-radar duty (known as "Wild Weasels" in the US Air Force) do: they hunt down the radar installations used to coordinate enemy anti-air defenses. And it's just as dangerous for the pilots as it is for snipers, as those radars could easily end up aiming those anti-air assets at them. Frequently, they were. A number of older anti-radar weapons would "ride" the radar beam back to the target, which would require the pilots to have the radar locked onto them or at least pointing at them. A common tactic in Vietnam for the Wild Weasels was for a two-aircraft pair to have one plane fly high and deliberately draw the air defenses' attention, while the second plane fires an anti-radar missile at the installation after they reveal themselves by firing. This would be roughly akin to a sniper using his spotter as bait. More modern anti-radar missiles have both significantly longer range, higher speed and the ability to home in on a radar from the side rather than need to approach head-on (due to even the best radars "leaking" some excess radiation in directions other than where they're actually looking), making a "Wild Weasel" mission at least theoretically a lot less dangerous.


German Sniper Killed

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