CoD4 Astalano's Sniping Guide
If you favor normal sniping ("camp sniping"), refer to the guide directly below this. If you prefer more mobile sniping (note that it is a different type of mobile sniping and does not use the ACOG scope, so if you're looking for a guide on total mobile sniping, look somewhere else) see the guide at the very bottom.
Role of a sniper
A sniper's main task is to take out enemy infantry and materiel from a great distance. By materiel I mean vehicles, such as helicopters, light tanks, APC's, jeeps and equipment, such as ammo depots, explosive crates and barrels, sensitive communications equipment, etc. I am only going to discuss normal sniping, the so called "camp" sniping (even though this is how snipers got their reputation). Sniping is not camping, as snipers frequently change position (just so you know).
A sniper is supposed to recon enemy positions, inform his team of enemy threats, stay in contact with his spotter/team to identify targets, demoralize the enemy and take out high profile targets as well as regular infantry. Snipers thrive on the idea of one-shot one-kill and proud themselves on their accuracy, which makes them brutally efficient and greatly feared, often making them the first target of the opposition. Do not let this discourage you though.
Description of the sniper
One-shot, one-kill. Implemented by the United States Marine Scout Snipers about 100 years ago, this motto has become legendary. Use this to direct your actions and ensure a high kill-death ratio. Snipers are meant to get a decent amount of kills and a low amount of deaths, helping their team to victory and building their reputation.
Also, snipers sometimes wait a whole 5 minutes in a single position to get one kill. If you are not or cannot become a patient person, please leave now. You are not suitable to be a proper sniper. If you can work on your patience though or are a patient person normally, by all means, join the club!
Why would you want to be a sniper
There are many reasons. Firstly, you may just like the feel of a sniper. You might love the idea of one-shot one-kill. You might be a very patient person and it might suit you. Maybe you want high kill-death ratios. There are, as said, many, many reasons. Plus, being a sniper can oddly develop you as a person. Learning patience and correct timing can be a valuable attribute or even a way of convincing your parents that gaming is actually good for you.
Now, I will go over the sniper rifles at your disposal. To begin with, you need to decide whether you want to go with semi-automatic or bolt-action. The difference is quite simple: semi-automatic snipers allow you to take multiple shots and have low recoil, large clips and quick reload times (mostly), making it easier to take down groups of enemies or even the odd enemy you somehow managed to miss with your first shot.
Bolt-action sniper rifles, on the other hand, are more powerful and accurate (with the exception of the Barret 50cal, but its recoil is so huge there is not much difference between it and a bolt-action rifle), but with huge recoil, a slow reload time and small clips, with rounds loaded individually. Note that all sniper rifles do 70 damage, but the multipliers for each vary and everyone has 100 health, except for hardcore, where they have 30. Oh, and never use the ACOG scope, as it decreases your accuracy and removes your ability to hold your breath to steady your aim.
As for the sniper rifles, there are 5 different beasts to choose from:
An absolute beastly all-round bolt-action sniper rifle. The most accurate sniper in the game, but with moderate damage (It kills with one shot with a hit to the neck and head only), which is why stopping power is recommended to ensure one-shot kills. You begin with this sniper and many favour it, especially for normal modes. It sways very little, making it great for beginners and veterans alike.
1.5 multiplier for the neck and head, 1.1 for the chest and 1.1 for the stomach and 1.0 for the limbs.
Here we delve into the realm of semi-automatic killers. The M21 has low recoil, great accuracy, but the lowest damage in the game. It will often take two shots to the chest to kill anyone. However, because of its low recoil, it is very forgiving. Recommended for hardcore modes, as a shot anywhere on the body will kill the target.
1.5 multiplier for the neck and head, 1.1 for the chest and 1.0 for the stomach and 1.0 for the limbs.
This gun has more recoil than the M21, less accuracy and is semi-automatic, but with greater power. It can take down enemies with a single shot to the chest and above. The odd thing though, is that stopping power does not affect this gun, unless dealing with juggernaut users, making it better for hybrid classes with Overkill or stealthy classes using the UAV jammer perk.
1.5 multiplier for the neck and head, 1.5 for the chest and 1.0 for the stomach and 1.0 for the limbs.
Now this is where the real sniping begins. Those who are extremely serious about sniping should invest time in this gun. This is where you start using UAV jammer, because this gun is very accurate, tying in with the Dragunov, and powerful enough to take down any target with a single shot to the chest. Experienced snipers will be able to remain stealthy while racking up a large amount of kills. Plus, it is not as noisy as the Barret 50cal and does not produce the same "OH MY GOD HE THINKS HE'S SO BADASS USING A 50CAL" effect, allowing you to remain more stealthy.
For stealth decide between this or the Dragunov, in my opinion. This gun is more accurate, but the Dragunov has more bullets. Do not think I'm saying that the M40 pales in comparison to this. In fact, this gun has a more psychological effect as well, since it looks great and can teach you to be a real sniper since it is the most difficult to use. So, in theory, it should be the worst sniper. For those who prefer stopping power on their bolt action sniper, use the M40. For UAV jammer, use the R700. But it is, after alI, entirely up to you.
1.5 multiplier for the neck and head, 1.5 for the chest and 1.1 for the stomach and 1.0 for the limbs.
M82 Barret 50cal
Is there really much to say? It's semi-automatic and it shoots bullets that would normally tear you in half, namely 50 caliber bullets. Firing such bullets, it has huge recoil and the accuracy isn't always spot on, but it almost always works beautifully, since after each shot it readjusts nearly perfectly. Debatably the most powerful weapon in the game, it can also be used to damage helicopters with enough hits, having been built more as an anti-materiel sniper rather than an anti-infantry one.
1.5 multiplier for the neck and head, 1.5 for the chest and 1.1 for the stomach and 1.0 for the limbs.
Pistols will be your main weapon, believe it or not. You will use them to traverse areas safely, take down foes in close quarters and kill enemies silently (most of the time). So, no, I do not recommend using the Desert Eagle, but keep your pistol silenced if you can stand it.
There are four of these beauties to choose from:
What it lacks in firepower it makes up for in quantity and accuracy. A massive clip of 15 bullets can be used for those getting aquainted with pistols or for people who just like to spray without fear of running out of ammo before the target is dead. Plus, the recoil is so low you could hip-fire and scare the pesky sniper eyeing you from that far-off balcony with a well-placed shot. Seriously.
The USP 45 is a great all-round weapon.
With twelve bullets, moderate firepower and pretty low recoil, this is recommended for normal modes and hardcore modes alike, but mostly the former. However, one downside is that it takes a while to bring up the sights, but in a close quarters situation, you will probably be hip-firing anyway.
While I settled for the USP, the M1911 just has a great feel to it. However, the 8 round clip size is just pathetic for normal modes. While it has moderate to high damage and a low recoil, it simply does not have enough bullets to save your ass in a normal firefight. Use only in hardcore.
The Desert Eagle or Deagle, as it's usually called, is by far the most powerful pistol.
It cannot be silenced though and has a terrible vertical climb due to the humungous recoil that can prevent any ass-saving. Take into account though that it only needs two bullets to kill and it's actually not that bad of a gun. Use it in any game mode, when not trying to be stealthy. Preferrably in normal. With a 50cal. With an awesome camouflage pattern saying "COME GET ME BITCHES".
Special grenade: I won't even go over this for long. SMOKE GRENADES. Basically because they conceal you, allowing you time to escape, let you move from area to area undetected and the smoke has a huge spread. Stuns and flashbangs are useless, since you won't be clearing rooms or engaging many people in close combat. Even if you do, there probably won't be enough time to use one.
I will go over all perks now, starting with numero uno.
C4 x2 : Perhaps, if you like a laugh and like ambushing people. Good for more open maps where you like to be concealed and wait for targets.
Special Grenades x3: Not advisable, as you will not be clearing rooms.
RPG x2: If you like to be able to take out helicopters ok. However, it leaves a huge smoke trail, makes a loud noise and the rocket launcher itself is very visible on your back when you are trying to be stealthy. Use when not trying to be stealthy.
Claymore x2: Claymores are God's gift to snipers. Use them to cover your back. If you don't know what they are, they're kind of like mines that trigger when their short red laser beams are cut.
Frag x3: Not advisable, since frags give away your position and require close ranges to have guarantees of success.
Bandolier: This is a good option for snipers with very long lives.
Bomb Squad: Again, not advisable, since you won't be clearing rooms.
Stopping power: Recommended at lower levels of skill and on the M40 and M21, for guaranteed one-shot kills from the stomach to anywhere above except the arms.
Juggernaut: Not very useful, unless you expect to be under heavy fire.
Sleight of hand: Snipers don't have too much ammo so this isn't advisable. Plus, you should feed off of the one-shot one-kill rule, so you will probably not be reloading during combat or frequently.
Double tap: Practically useless, since you don't need to fire faster and I don't think even has an effect on snipers.
Overkill: Consider this when you need something more lethal to defend yourself with at close range.
UAV jammer: By far the most useful perk for experienced snipers. Once you reach the Dragunov, R700 and Barret 50cal, you can kill with one shot to the chest. If you're accurate, stopping power will soon become obsolete to you and won't make much of a difference.
Sonic Boom: Useless, since you won't be using explosives to take out infantry and choppers come rarely.
Extreme Conditioning: If you're expecting to be moving a lot, use it.
Steady aim: Snipers are not show-offs and they go for maximum efficiency with their lives. No-scoping is not very useful when compared to most weapons, since it can easily get you killed and is only useful in close quarters, but for hip-firing with the pistol this can be considered useful.
Last stand: As you will be far away from your target or behind a wall, this will not be very useful.
Martyrdom: Again, you will be too far from your target to make this perk worthwhile.
Iron lungs: This was made for snipers, increasing the number of breaths you can take to steady your aim. Highly recommended.
Deep Impact: Very useful when engaging targets in cover-happy places. Advisable.
Dead silence: You won't be close enough to your target to make this perk useful.
Eavesdrop: Not very useful as a perk in the first place, it will be rendered even more useless, as you are too far to hear anything. Besides, people won't be openly discussing their battle strategies for all the world to hear anyway.
As a sniper, you will require a good brain and careful execution. Use your common sense and these simple guidelines and you will succeed. Note that UAV jammer or stopping power is required to pull off some of these tactics.
The enemy will not be waiting for you, YOU will be waiting for the enemy. Waiting in a single position may be boring, but it will save you a whole lot of deaths and allow you to suprise your adversaries.
Move cautiously and slowly
Patience. There is no need to rush. Take your time, use cover, prone and crouch to positions when there is grass available, move slowly in general.
Use the two overlooked stances
Going prone and crouching may take time, but they will save you by making it harder for enemies to spot you. The eye is trained to track movement. When you are not moving fast enough, the eye finds it difficult to pinpoint your location and most times, enemies won't even know you're there, so will be on less of a lookout.
Check for enemies
This can tie in with moving cautiously, but nevertheless, I'm reminding you. Always be on the lookout for enemies that could suprise you as you switch positions.
Switch positions frequently
After each kill or two, while you may feel invincible, never forget that you just pissed off someone. And they're out for blood. Always switch positions to confuse your enemies and gain the element of suprise.
Place claymores correctly
Claymores are used to kill attackers trying to get to your position and alert you to incoming hostiles. If you can help it, avoid using all your claymores in one go, as you will switch positions a lot and need all the help you can get. Plus, place claymores with one red beam parallel to the wall next to the door where the entrance to your position is. This means that when an enemy walks in, they will not be able to avoid your claymore, unlike one placed completely parallel to the wall, where an enemy can just run past unharmed.
Also, place claymores at the top of stairs, as the red beams are not visible until the enemy is just at the top, whereby he can only destroy them by throwing grenades or C4. They will alert you at the very least. Finally, place claymores next to the top of ladders, which are difficult to spot until right at the top and again, alert you to an enemy's presence.
Do not set up in predictable spots, as they are the first an enemy checks.
Use your ghillie suit to hide in bushes, tall grass and behind trees. Also pick appropriate camouflage patterns on your sniper to maximise your camouflage.
Make sure your body is not visible from the entrance to your position
Enemies are not stupid and will shoot you without entering the room.
Stay away from windows
Your barrel can be seen from the front and the left and right, making you more of a target and giving away your position, so do not stick it out of windows. Moreover, stay far back from windows so as to diminish the chances of being located by enemies and making you less of a target.
Use smoke grenades to enter and exit positions
It is safer for you, as you cannot be easily seen.
Use appropriate cover
I didn't mention this before because I thought it was pretty obvious but I'll say it anyway. Trees, concrete blocks and destroyed cars are all good cover. Try not to use thin metal sheets and working cars as cover, as the former barely offers any protection and the latter explodes extremely quickly. However, if you're good and you're confident, you can still use them.
Moving from position to position
While you may not usually think to do this, please do. Use your pistol or secondary weapon when moving from area to area, as you will be able to better respond to suprise attacks. Furthermore, do not sprint. Walk, unless you are in immediate danger, as it takes too long to slow down and take out any enemies that suprise you. Always be prepared.
Know your maps
Knowing your battlefield will allow you to know what positions there are to set up in. Keep at least three positions in your mind, which you must switch as you gain kills. Nearly all maps can be good enough for sniping. I will give some quick positions on each map:
Ambush: The southern, small, two-story building, the southern building with the machine gun, the southern rooftops, the southern patches of grass overlooking the wide left flank, the northern rooftops and building, behind the northern car overlooking the central pass, behind the sanbags on the right flank and behind the low wall or car on the left flank covering the alley.
Backlot: The northern building, the construction site, the two buildings in the centre, the north east building with the turret and the southern position covering the left flank.
Bloc: In any of the two buildings, on top of the crates to get a view over the high wall and the two balconies.
Bog: On the east or west sides and in the west building. Also, use the bus when safe as well as behind the big pile of rubbish.
Countdown: On top of the missile launchers, trucks and on the east side of the map.
Crash: On all the rooftops, the grass overlooking the left flank of the east side and all the buildings with windows.
Crossfire: In both the destroyed and the normal building especially. Use the top floors of all buildings and the bottom floors of some (too painfully obvious to mention), except the small north ones, apart from the one building overlooking the right flank of the eastern destroyed building.
District: The building and low walls overlooking the square. The southern side of the map. Behind the cars of the left flank on the northern side.
Downpour: In the rubbish container on the north eastern end. On the three rooftops. In the south east building.
Overgrown: Loads and loads of grass. Use any building too, but be careful with the small shed next to the wheat field.
Pipeline: All buildings. Grassy hills overlooking the map. Rooftops.
Shipment: Maybe not.
Showdown: Anywhere on either side of the fences facing the opposide side. The scaffolding in place on the south eastern edge. The small position almost in the centre, on ground level, on the north side.
Strike: All buildings. Northern part facing the wide open street. The south eastern side of the map, with the small (but closed) building and a small amount of brown grass.
Vacant: Anywhere not inside the building. Behind the low wall, the east side overlooking the western pass. Climbing on top of the rubbish collectors.
Wetwork: The two buildings, the containers (if you can get on them) and behind the low containers just behind the platforms (this is the same for both sides).
Teams are a frequent nuisance and they attract unwanted attention. You can either choose to help them directly by staying with them or not help them directly. If you are planning on being stealthy please choose the latter. Plus, being too close to your team can mean you get more kills, but you will die more often, you will be a clear target and you will not be able to line up shots well. Being away from your team will allow you to provide intelligence and rack up kills from further distances, as well as getting a better kill-death ratio.
Use a spotter
You can link this easily with team-based gameplay, but I'm talking about a more personalized strategy. Find a friend or join a clan and find someone who can help you snipe. They will usually be armed with a submachine-gun or assault rifle and go around the map, informing you specifically of targets that can be taken out.
Go behind enemy lines
Try go where your enemies aren't. Chances are that the battle will shift, allowing you to ambush retreating and respawing enemy forces. Only attempt this with UAV jammer though, as you will lose the element of suprise otherwise.
Reload after each shot
Do this when all enemies that needed to be taken out have been killed, so as not to run out of ammo in your clip.
Trick the killcam
Keep your scope zoomed in for around 3-4 seconds to make it harder for your target watching the killcam to locate you. Also, try to not include much information on the killcam about where you are, try to block out anything that might give away your position. Plus, you can try to make people think that you're set up in a certain position, then move to confuse them.
Sniping and counter-sniping
To snipe effectively, allow yourself around 5-10 seconds to recon your target and set up a shot. Do not take the shot immediately. Identify any targets around your prey and when ready, ALWAYS aim for the chest to guarantee a kill. This is called shot placement. Aim for the head to demoralize enemies only. Furthermore, shoot through cover when your opponent is hiding. All snipers can penetrate most surfaces without deep impact and cause good damage.
Lead your target if he is moving, moving your scope a little bit ahead of your target, depending on your distance and connection. Bullets take time to travel and lag is almost always a problem. To add to this, always arrange targets in order of importance. Submachine-gun users take priority over shotgun users, assault rifle men take priority over submachine-gun users and snipers take priority over all, as they can hit you from the furthest range with the greatest accuracy and damage.
To effectively counter-snipe, be patient. About 80% of the time your target will not have lined up his shot, so quickly, but efficiently, line up yours and take it when you're 100% sure of success. Do not hurry or you will probably miss and then you will most certainly die. Again, shot placement is important. If you fail though, quickly go prone and crawl away before your target shoots through your cover.
Learn to Retreat
When under heavy fire or at risk from overwhelming enemies, do not stay and fight. You're not equipped well enough to take on multiple enemies with better weapons than you have. Just slowly or quickly (depending on the danger level) retreat to a better position. This will save you countless deaths and help your kill-death ratio tremendously.
As a sniper, you are expected to be respectful towards others. Never gloat, be patient and be decisive. You are part of an elite group. Snipers will always be feared and respected and we're counting on YOU to uphold that.
By the way, snipers are effective on most team-based game modes, especially Search and Destroy and Team Deathmatch.
I hope I've helped then! If you're going to be a professional sniper, I will see you on the battlefield. Welcome and good luck.
Please note that the following extra guide will be a pretty short and not extremely in-depth guide, in conjuction with the above one.
If you have read the sniping guide above then you'll know that firstly, I love sniping, secondly, I'm pretty good at it and thirdly, that I don't approve of mobile sniping. What I didn't tell you about was a different class of sniper.
Personally, I named it the Hunter. This is by far, the most flexible sniper class. The Hunter's objective is always to go behind enemy lines. He uses the less-frequented paths, goes up extremely close to the enemy and considers his sniper as more of a means to an end, rather than cherishing it like normal snipers do. He follows just one motto: do whatever it takes do disrupt the enemy, and do it efficiently.
What sniper to use?
Well, I would personally recommend the Dragunov. Note that Hunters always use the normal scopes of snipers and never the ACOG scope for maximum accuracy and efficiency. You have a pistol or secondary weapon for close ranges anyway. Continuing, going behind enemy lines, you will need the extra bullets of the Dragunov, and great firepower if you're using UAV jammer, so as not to need stopping power. Any sniper can be used though, although I don't exactly recommend the 50cal for this stealthier class. See the guide above for more details.
What perks to use?
Well, nearly any perk can be used, to be honest, since you will be engaging targets at all ranges. Whether it be stopping power, double tap, overkill, all can be useful.
My recommended perks are dead silence, stopping power, overkill, UAV jammer, bandolier, RPG's (since you may encounter many bunched-up enemies), 3 special grenades, bandolier, extreme conditioning, steady aim and sleight of hand. Experiment with different combinations to make the best play style.
I'd definitely go with either the USP 45 or the Desert Eagle. This is a contest between stealth and maximum efficiency and since the Desert Eagle does the most damage, it is the most efficient pistol.
Recommended secondary weapon
If you select overkill as your second perk, you will gain access to a secondary weapon. I strongly suggest using any good short ranged assault rifle or submachine gun. You will need some range and you will need power, but you have a sniper rifle for large ranges. I can't advise you which weapon to get, since everyone is good with different weapons. Personally, the G36C is my favourite assault rifle and secondary weapon, as it can double as an submachine gun because it is so compact, light and has a slightly shorter range than most assault rifles.
Recommended play style
Move around slowly and quickly, depending on the situation. Don't let enemies know where you are until you've struck.
Master your pistol and always move with that. Also, overkill is a recommended perk, so get good with your secondary weapon. Moreover, always pick up any better weapons off the ground and only replace your pistol or secondary weapon. You need your sniper rifle for the longer ranges.
Be constantly on the lookout for enemies. A hunter's need to know what's going on around him surpasses even the sniper's need for situational awareness. Look out for claymores, other enemies and quickly identify high profile targets. For the Hunter, light machine gun users take top priority, followed by assault rifle men, submachine gun users and then shotgun users, since the Hunter will be on his own most of the time and needs to take out the targets that can put the most bullets on him accurately, quickly.
When you have located targets, kill them quickly. Be a bit patient and identify all targets before opening fire. At shorter ranges, use your pistol or secondary weapon and at longer ranges, use the sniper rifle.
Use your ghillie suit or desert suit with a cap on bigger maps and your normal suit on small maps. What I mean is, assign your sniper rifle to the first slot for the former and a secondary weapon for the latter if using overkill. The former is to be able to have a camouflage on so as to make you less of a target when moving slowly and the latter so as to have your secondary weapon equipped automatically when you respawn and get you faster into the action.
To see how to use the sniper rifle effectively and for further tips that you can apply to this extra guide, see the above guide to sniping.
Note that this class of sniper can be used in ANY game mode.
Again, good luck and happy hunting.