Featured Badass Series: #1 The Sniper

With the debut of our newest Gear’d Hardware timepiece, the Sniper, it seems only right to dive into history and take a look at one of America’s most badass snipers. You might think I’m going to talk about Chris Kyle, “The American Sniper” who holds the record of 160 confirmed kills in our country. But no. Today, we are featuring White Feather, legend Carlos Hathcock who fought with the United States Marines in the Vietnam War. 

Carlos Hathcock was such a cocky motherfucker that he put a white feather in his hat to make it easier for his enemies to spot him. Spoiler alert: They never did! This earned him the nickname “White Feather.”

This guy was such a badass that he decided to accept a “suicide mission” to kill an enemy general that no one else could. It wasn’t suicide for him, and guess what? The general fell to his bullet. 

You need to know how he did it. It’s like something out of a movie.

Carlos refused to have a spotter because it might endanger them and give away his position. Instead of moving through the thick jungle, he chose to crawl inches per hour in a ghillie suit across 1,500 yards of open grassland. This move forced him to be completely exposed at many points. He traveled this way for four days and three nights with nothing but water, his gun, and ammunition. 

His movements were so slow that local wildlife didn’t notice him. Even a deadly viper slid over his body without a second thought. Soldiers patrolled around him without ever realizing they were a few feet from their most formidable adversary! 

On the fourth morning, he approached his ideal position. The general came out of his tent, and Carlos took the shot. As he expected, soldiers swarmed the thick jungle, searching for the assassin. Meanwhile, Carlos slipped back through the grasslands, completely undetected.

Photo taken in Vietnam by Hà Link on Unsplash

There seems to be no end to the impressive stories surrounding Hathcock. If you have ever watched Saving Private Ryan, you may remember this scene when a soldier’s bullet traveled straight through the scope of a sniper’s rifle, killing him instantly. That scene was inspired by a real event. Hathcock took that shot at Cobra, a Vietnamese soldier hunting him in the jungle.

With 93 confirmed kills compared to 160 by Chris Kyle, some may wonder why Carlos is our pick for America’s badass sniper. 

It’s no surprise that most of his kills were unconfirmed because he often worked solo. Technology and communication in the Vietnam War was not like it is today in modern warfare. It’s estimated that his true kill count was in the 400’s. For him, it wasn’t about the killing but about the Marines he saved in the process.

“If I don't get those bastards, then they're gonna kill a lot of these kids dressed up like Marines.”

Today’s snipers have it easy compared to the 1960’s when Hathcock was tearing shit up. If you know anything about firearms, you would know that the 8-power Unertl scope he used had no glass magnification. His Winchester Model 70 .30-06 match ammunition loaded with 173-grain boat-tailed bullets offered him nothing more than a crosshair paired with mad skills. And those skills were damn near worshiped! In honor of the many incredible feats he performed while in service with the U.S. Marines, the M25 White Feather sniper rifle was named after him.

He proved again and again that his methods worked, and soon enough, he became a major influence in the development of America’s official military training for snipers. 

You might want to know what happened to Carlos Hathcock. Many people tried and failed to kill him. He walked away from the war as a victorious hero and died many years later in 1999 from the complications of multiple sclerosis. He was 56 years old. 

Carlos Hathcock is one Sniper you wanted on your side. Just imagine being picked off, one by one, for days. You can’t see him, but you know he’s out there. His sight is on you. 

If only you could find him

...with that damned white feather in his hat.