The Firing Position of Carlos Hathcock’s 2,500 Yard Shot


A lot of people have read the book and even more have heard some version of the story of Carlos Hathcock’s 2,500 yard shot on a Viet Cong bicycle porter. I find that few people have seen a picture taken from this famous ( in the gun world) spot with the same gun manning the field of fire he was over watching that day.

Above is a picture taken from his position. The M2 has his 8X Unertl mounted. The guy spotting is NOT Carlos and it is NOT his usual spotter, Burke. The man pictured is SSGT Roberts who was his temporary spotter for this operation. He is looking for targets using the M49 spotting scope.

The Area was in Duc Pho ( then) Republic Of Vietnam in 1969 during Operation DeSoto.

It’s interesting to look at the photo and look out across those rice paddies and at those roads and wonder which on of those we can see may have been the road the bike porter was walking his cargo down when Carlos hit him with a .50BMG round from 2,500 yards.


  1. That is quite an overlook.

    I had to look up the M49 spotting optic. It’s a 20X scope. At 2500 yards, that requires some sharp eyes – even moreso with the 8X rifle scope on the Deuce.

    What I can’t get over is the idea of the trigger on a M2 being able to be manipulated for that level of marksmanship. I’ve only had my hands on a M2 a couple of times, and I didn’t think of the trigger as a “match” or “target” trigger. What’s even more remarkable is the idea of getting that level of accuracy out of a setup where the barrel is recoiling into the action, and the scope is mounted on the action. From a gunsmithing perspective, there’s all kinds of slop in this setup. To nail a shot at 2500 yards? Incredible.

    • He said in one of the books that the T&E was set then locked in place, and the butterfly trigger could be depressed lightly enough to touch off one round. After he had it solidly sandbagged into place and the T&E locked I’d say that was not too bad. He also tested the ammo lots for the ones that gave the best accuracy. Another thing to remember is Carlos got there and was able to zero the M2 for 2500 yards at a rock out in the field of fire the day before the operation started. The VC mule by chance walked by it, thats how he knew the range and was able to cut down on a lot of the stuff that went into the shot. Another thing to keep in mind is he said several times over the years he didn’t think he would be able to repeat that shot.
      I forget who it was who famously said something to the effect of there are amazingly lucky shots made ,but you can’t get lucky if you didn’t already do everything else right. the people that do everything else right always make more “lucky shots” then those who don’t. Your comment about the recoil operated barrel is something I always remind people when they are surprides when I tell them the M82A1 barrett is no where near as precise as hollywood and S artists make them sound

  2. Thanks Shawn, very interesting. In defensive operations, soldiers are to make “range cards” and identify objects at set distances in order to better aid in range estimation for targets of opportunity and, if the situation allows, to confirm with actual sighting rounds.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here