The Reg has an uncharacteristically long article up today concerning the history of snipers and their equipment. The tools of the trade have been changing since the first long-range rifles were truly deployed in WWII, and sniping has increased in effectiveness and importance as technology has made weapons more lethal and reduced the size of engagement parties. Counter-Strike and Call of Duty players will be familiar with the models mentioned (The Arctic Warfare Magnum or “AWP” from CS for instance), but there’s interesting context and other considerations as well — business concerns, technical problems with caliber, etc.
DARPA has its fingers in this pie, of course, and are researching “smart” but still traditionally fired projectiles which could increase the range of a rifle to far beyond the generally agreed-upon maximum of about 1500 meters. Finally, the finned bullets of Sci-Fi book covers will come to pass!