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A sniper rifle is a man-portable, high precision, shoulder-fired rifle, for military or law enforcement use, designed to ensure more accurate shooting at longer ranges than other small arms. A typical sniper rifle is built for high levels of accuracy, fitted with a telescopic sight and chambered for a military centerfire cartridge.

The military role of a sniper (a term derived from the snipe, a bird which was difficult to hunt and shoot) dates back to the turn of the 18th century, but the true sniper rifle is a much more recent development. Advances in technology, particularly in telescopic sights, and more accurate manufacturing allowed armies to equip specially trained soldiers with rifles that enabled them to deliver precise shots over greater distances than regular infantry weapons. Some sniper rifles are based on the designs of standard rifles, and some of the most recently designed sniper rifles use semi-automatic fire, for example the M110.

Sniper rifles manufactured for military service are often designed for very high durability, range, reliability, sturdiness, serviceability and repairability under adverse environmental and combat conditions, at the sacrifice of a small degree of accuracy. Military snipers and sharpshooters may also be required to carry their rifles and other equipment for long distances, making it important to minimize weight. Military organizations often operate under strict budget constraints, which influences the type and quality of sniper rifles they purchase.

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