I found a top 10 sniper list from 2nd world war which contains 9 soviet soldiers, and only 1 Finnish soldier. Namely:

  • Stepan Vasilievich Petrenko
  • Vasilij Ivanovich Golosov
  • Fyodor Trofimovich Dyachenko
  • Fyodor Matveyevich Okhlopkov
  • Mikhail Ivanovich Budenkov
  • Vladimir Nikolaevich Pchelintsev
  • Ivan Nikolayevich Kulbertinov
  • Nikolay Yakovlevich Ilyin
  • Ivan Mihailovich Sidorenko

  • and the only Finnish man on the list: Simo Häyhä

The page claims:

The Soviet Union was the only country that had expressly trained sniper units in the decade leading up to the World War Two, and their superiority (with the obvious exception of the top-ranked sniper on this list) is clearly displayed by the numbers beside the names of its marksmen.

What were the key factors of Soviet sniper warfare success? Only training? Equipment? If any of these factors matter, why other countries didn't do the same tactics?

  • 1
    What's wrong with the proffered answer?
    – MCW
    Nov 14, 2014 at 17:33
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    I think the first thing is to decide if the Soviets really had that much success. They certainly advertise themselves and poured resources into it. But snipers had been active in every army for nearly 100 years before this. They just didn't form them into units and keep score.
    – Oldcat
    Nov 14, 2014 at 17:37
  • I hate people that ask a question so that they can answer it themselves. Nov 14, 2014 at 17:55
  • 3
    Technically asking so you can answer is approved SE behavior. But as I've documented in another comment, I hate questions that are asked and answered without any meaningful challenge to the proffered answer.
    – MCW
    Nov 14, 2014 at 19:19
  • 2
    @TylerDurden This is a difference between the soft and hard stacks. In the hard stacks, blog-style Q&A posts are verifiable and not particularly prone to rhetoric or debate. They can also be voted up/down like any other content. In soft stacks, there is a risk of it being abused - but amusingly most people who post forum-style crap are too lazy to split it into a Socratic exchange. Nov 14, 2014 at 22:30

2 Answers 2


The Soviets encountered the Finnish snipers in the Winter War (the number one in your list is - Simo Häyhä - fought there) and saw their effectiveness first hand, so they heavily invested in training snipers right before and during the war. They also had (and still have) good starting material for training - the relatively large number of professional hunters (mostly in Siberia). Note also the Ворошиловский стрелок program, whose goal was general improvement in shooting abilities, not specifically snipers.

Other lists of snipers lists snipers from many countries, not just the Soviet ones.

  • Hmm this would be believeable and logical, since the list shows the real master of sniper rifle was the finnish one in the winter war, is there record on this impression? On wiki you linked they don't say so. Nov 15, 2014 at 13:53
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    I just have to point out that Simo Häyhä most likely got his name in the record books because the Soviets were woefully unprepared for war (army purges!). I'm sure he's a great shot, but the Soviets did not even wear white coats for most of the Winter War!
    – DrZ214
    Aug 1, 2015 at 5:54
  • @DrZ214 I encourage you to read up on him before you jump to that conclusion. Simo Hayaha is almost universally recognized as the greatest sniper in history, and also considered one of history’s greatest soldiers. For instance, he had another 200+ kills with a submachine gun. Mar 2, 2020 at 20:30
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    How many of those on the list were hunters, even 'professional hunters', before enlisting and how many were from Siberia? Apr 27, 2020 at 16:37

There were a number of reasons why the Soviet Union produced a large number of good snipers.

1) The Soviet Union had a population of 170 million, more than that of the United States, Germany, Japan, or Britain. They had a larger manpower pool to draw from than the other main combatants.

2) Many of the Soviet snipers came from Siberia, which was much like the American "Wild West," where people had to be wary about wild animals (and other people) all their lives, before the war began.

3) The Soviets had experienced the effect of Finnish snipers in the Winter War. Finland's population was 1/40th of the Soviet Union, so for them to have "one in ten" meant that they were "overrepresented.

4) For most of the war, the Germans were able to outfight the Soviets in combined arms operations. The Soviets had the advantage only in "urban" settings such as Stalingrad, where snipers could be used to best advantages. "Sniperism" was one of the few ways that the Soviets could reduce the long odds against them.

  • 4
    I think the fact that the Eastern Front had more sieges probably contributed to the statistics. Nov 14, 2014 at 22:20
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    I gave a +1 for the point 2, I also saw on the list numerous siberians, but I didn't connect this fact to the efficiency, it is a good point Nov 15, 2014 at 13:55
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    @CsBalazsHungary: General Chuikov made this point in "The Battle For Stalingrad."
    – Tom Au
    Nov 15, 2014 at 21:51
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    @LateralFractal: Your point ties in with my point 4, "urban settings."
    – Tom Au
    Nov 15, 2014 at 21:52
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    @Oldcat yes but don't forget psychological factors. Snipers had a profound demoralizing effect over time, especially with tactics such as sniping the field leaders. No German wanted to be a field leader anymore!
    – DrZ214
    Aug 1, 2015 at 6:00

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