Any firearm can be seen as a remote-control drill, but none so much as the “precision rifle.” A precise workman needs different bits to drill through different material and create holes of different depths and widths for different purposes. This is equally true for the precision rifleman and his long-distance “drill.”
Precision rifle shooting in this country has evolved primarily with military cartridges, and this is particularly true of sniper rifles. As a result, the 7.62mm NATO round has long been the standard, basic tool of military snipers, and because the seminal S.W.A.T. team founded by LAPD in the late 1960s was modeled after our military, and the rest of the police establishment was modeled off LAPD S.W.A.T., the same is true in law enforcement. When lighter rounds with less penetration were needed in urban environments, the 5.56mm NATO was the predictable choice.
If the 7.62mm NATO (.308 Winchester) is the baseline, and the 5.56mm NATO (.223 Remington) is a lower power level, certainly the top tier is the .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) cartridge. The Barrett “Light Fifty” has been used with conspicuous success over the last two decades by our military snipers, and has found its way into many police armories. In addition to its splendid potential at very long range for anti-personnel work, the .50 BMG is an awesome “anti-materiel” weapon capable of destroying vehicle engines and wreaking similar industrial-grade havoc on the enemy’s war-fighting ability.