In movies and television, it is possible for an extremely good shot to fire a bullet through the scope of a sniper's rifle, with the bullet ending up in the unlucky shooter's eye. In fact, this is the traditional way to end a Sniper Duel. Especially in regards to a ridiculously skilled professional, this will only add to their badass legend as having Improbable Aiming Skills.
In sniper training they are specifically taught to target an opposing sniper through a lens glare. As a result, there are also anti-reflective "kill flash" covers for scopes specifically to prevent scope glint.
Still, it is very unlikely as the bullet has to travel straight down the length of the scope without being deflected by one of the lenses, in which case it will exit through the side at an angle. This is especially true with modern high-quality scopes (which have more than just two lenses and also tend to be filled with heavier-than-air gasses); the one confirmed and one reputed real-life case of this happening each had the victim using a simpler World War II-vintage scope. What makes it even less plausible is that the position of the scope and gravity means that you have to aim a few inches above your target (the bullet falls a bit and the scope is always 2-3 inches above the barrel).
Ultimately, in order to make this shot the opposing sniper has to be pretty much looking at you in the first place...
See the MythBusters example below for their testing of this trope.
Anime and Manga
- In an episode of Trigun Vash does one better and counter-snipes a sniper down the barrel of his own gun—thus destroying the weapon without hurting the sniper. Too bad the sniper is a fanatic who promptly pulls out a sidearm and shoots himself.
- A variant appears in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. In the episode "POKER FACE", the Major fires a shot down Saitou's scope, blinding him with shards of the lens without killing him.
- In Solid State Society Saito hacks into an assassins cybernetic eye to find out about his position. He then overrides the assassins view with his own, showing him a scope aimed at his head. The assassin is not impressed though, and both of them unsuccessfully try a genuine Scope Snipe.
- In Tower of God, Rak does this to Lebin. Though like Vash, he aims for the barrel, not the scope. With his giant javelin.
- In one of the openings for Lupin III Jigen does this to an assassin.
- In Detective Conan ally Shuichi Akai managed to do this to stop Man in Black Gin from killing Conan and Kogoro Mouri. Unfortunately, Gin reacted fast enough to survive with only a scar.
- Also done by resident sniper and war veteran Rudra in Viper's Creed episode 5.
- One issue of Marvel's G.I. Joe comic has a character initiate a sniper's duel toward the end of the story. Predictably, the Nazi-like bad guy loses.
- Almost subverted in the IDW sequel, where Stalker snipes the Cobra sniper's spotter though the lens of his binoculars.
- In Preacher (Comic Book), an ex-Spetsnaz bodyguard pulls this off against someone trying to snipe his principal.
- In one of The Ultimates annuals, Nick Fury did this to a guy- with the stipulation that the guy had been provided with one of two specially modified prototype sniper rifles whose bullets were intangible between when they left the barrel and when they hit flesh. In a pretty awesome moment, Fury explains to his dead victim that he had the other one. Chekhov's Gun indeed.
- Wallace manages this in the Sin City yarn Hell and Back: A Sin City Love Story. With a semi-automatic handgun, no less. Handwaved in that he's an ex-navy SEAL.
- Another Sin City yarn, The Big Fat Kill, has Miko throw a metal rod into a cop's gun - when he fires it the slide blows backward through his head.
- One Marvel comic served as a prequel to the Punisher by depicting Frank Castle as a sniper in Vietnam. The entire two-part story is plagarized verbatim from Carlos Hathcock's experience, including the Scope Snipe finale. (Note: Not the same story as Punisher: Born.)
- That would be the first Punisher story in The 'Nam.
- Happens in Aeon Flux.
- Barry Pepper's Bible quoting sniper from Saving Private Ryan saves his pinned-down unit by nailing a Nazi sharpshooter clean through his scope.
- The Hero from The Good The Bad And The Weird manages one with a Winchester rifle.
- In Eraser one of the (kinda) good guys is aiming at one of the railgun-toting baddies. Said baddie notices this, proceeds to aim his railgun through the super-sophisticated computerised x-ray scope, but just before he fires the "good" guy's bullet goes through the scope and right in his eye.
- Sniper (1993). The protagonist is being stalked through the Panamanian jungle by a former student, now working for the rebels. After leaving his sleeping partner as bait, he puts a bullet through his opponent's Draganov rifle scope.
- It happens in each of the sequels as well, possibly making the titular sniper the only marksman in reality or fiction with three scope snipes. This is especially ridiculous in the third movie, where he didn't have time to do a carefully aimed shot against the sniper attacking him while he tried to snipe someone else.
- Shooter (2007). The protagonist kills one of the counter-snipers in the mountaintop scene this way.
- RoboCop 2 features a pistol shot (albeit one hell of a pistol, and computer aided) through a sniper scope.
- Averted, ironically enough, in sniper-centric Enemy at the Gates. Despite the film being based around a sniper duel and featuring a supporting cast of other snipers - a number of whom are killed in spectacular fashion - no one is shot through the scope.
- Mr. Anderson does it in Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia.
- The Profiler episode "Shoot to Kill".
- MythBusters declared such shots to be impossible outside of a Million-to-One Chance after frequent attempts to recreate the shot under the best of circumstances. Though in their original experiment they used a modern style scope that was very narrow and had six lenses for calibration. In a retest, they used an archaic Vietnam-era scope that was wider and had fewer lenses (which was specifically the Carlos Hathcock legend), and an armor piercing bullet, it was indeed, very possible, and extremely lethal. To be fair, Hathcock was always very plain about admitting that it was a lucky shot(he saw a glint of sunlight on the Viet Cong sniper's scope lens and aimed above that).
- The final episode of Walker, Texas Ranger has Chuck Norris did this to the Big Bad, though he dodged just in time to avoid getting hit in the eye.
- In the U.S. Army Rangers vs. North Korean Special Forces episode of Deadliest Warrior, the Rangers representative pulls this off in the sniper test. Unlike the more cinematic examples on this page, the bullet goes diagonally through the walls of the scope rather than straight down the lenses.
- The Skaven Army Book for Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy Battle has an anecdote about a Skaven sniper who could put a bullet through the telescope of a Dwarf Engineer from 7000 paces. As the Dwarves were too stubborn and proud to admit to being outranged and did not believe the evidence of the large stack of bodies mounting up, more and more peered into the (lensless) scope to see what it was that was causing the trouble.
- Some accounts from the Battle of Stalingrad have Vasily Zaytsev, the USSR's top sniper, performing this shot on the top German sniper of the war. Although the scope in question supposedly sits in a Russian museum, the story must be taken with a grain of salt; the Russian government calls the sniper "Major Konig", Zeitzev's biography calls him "Heinz Thorvald", and the Germans say neither man existed.
- The real-life example that inspired the MythBusters episode involved Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock, a legend in the sniping community. In a real-life subversion of the trope, Hathcock's shot was an admitted fluke: he was tracking a Vietnamese sniper who was hunting him and, just before the light faded for the day, caught a glint where he figured the enemy was likely to be, and fired a "What the hell" shot to see what would happen. Frequently an enemy sniper would only see and aim for the glint of sunlight off of the scope's glass, and the only reason that the shot was even possible was that the enemy sniper in question had Hathcock right in his sights. If Hathcock hadn't gotten on the trigger before the enemy, the enemy would have had him, as his skill as a sniper was comparable to that of Hathcock himself.