Game of Snipers by Stephen Hunter

Game of Snipers by Stephen Hunter

Author:Stephen Hunter
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2019-07-29T16:00:00+00:00


32

The shop, the ranch

The rifle is not beautiful. Its designers yielded on aesthetics from the very start. They knew and loved the look of rifles—the sweep of dark wood, the glow of deeply blued metal, the grace, the symmetry. It was in their blood, but they knew, as well, that they had to ignore that siren call. Theirs was a single-minded objective, not dedicated to the kill so much as to the shot. There was no kill without the shot and thus the shot was everything.

The rifle acquired the configuration of a prosthetic limb with a hole in it, and two giant tubes organically absorbed into it. The hole afforded the shooter’s trigger hand purchase on the grip, just under the bolt. Its placement was not arbitrary, its angle was not arbitrary, its size was not arbitrary, nothing was arbitrary. Everything was designed, tested, adjusted, and retested, before it became part of the specifications. The stock behind the thumbhole was itself a spectacular construct: it was a monstrosity of bulbous swellings and pads, all in play at the convenience of screws. They could be adjusted almost infinitely, so as to fit length of neck, arm, and hand, the thickness of shoulder, breadth of chest, strength of muscle, firmness of grip. All human variables were accounted for, and the shooter before he took his first shot needed to find the ideal harmony of parts, so that the whole fit to and against his body and took advantage of his unique skeletal alignment and musculature. All these adjustable parts were issued in high-strength plastic, giving the thing in question the dull gleam of, perhaps, reptile skin, something without warmth or life. It was not meant to be loved, but respected. It was not meant to please the shooter’s heart, but the intelligence officer’s, the general’s, the president’s, the mullah’s. It was policy as firearm.

All angles machined into it were true. All springs of the finest metals. All steel of that superb blend of strength and flexibility. The trigger was almost as soft as a woman’s most private part, and it took a refined finger that had already pulled a trigger a hundred thousand times to nurse the finest action from it. People don’t realize how much of the gun is about the machinework and what miracles a man who has spent his life shaving pieces of metal to an exact measurement can do. The receiver is epoxied and bolted into the stock, so that the hold is again true, so that no oddities of alignment will haunt a shooter years on down the line. You could use it as a hammer and build a house with it, though to its owners such a thing would seem a desecration. The barrel—barrel making is an art in and of itself—drew even more attention than the other parts, because the barrel, that long steel tube embracing the supersonic missile driven down its bore toward the target, couldn’t be merely excellent, it had to be perfect. Perfect is never cheap, neither in effort nor cost.



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