Mawhinney is a towering figure in the sniper community because of his combat record in Vietnam.

Chuck Mawhinney was probably born to be a Marine sniper. “My father was a Marine during World War II. I started shooting at a very young age, and he taught me to shoot like the Marines taught him, so there wasn’t any big transition from hunting in Oregon to becoming a sniper.”

Mawhinney graduated from high school in 1967 and immediately joined the Marine Corps—with an agreement that he didn’t have to report until October, after deer season. He graduated from Scout Sniper School at Camp Pendleton in April of 1968 and was sent to Vietnam the next month. He started to “hunt” again almost immediately. More than three decades later, when the totals of modern American snipers were added up, it was discovered that Mawhinney had 103 confirmed kills, more than any other Marine, along with another 216 “probables.”

The Vietnam conflict resulted in many innovations in American sniper rifles. Mawhinney’s primary rifle was the M40, a modified Remington 40X bolt-action in 7.62×51 mm NATO with a Redfield 3-9X Accu-Range scope, developed in 1966 specifically for use as the standard Marine sniper rifle. Updated models of the M40 were used into the 21st century, but Mawhinney’s was the original version with a walnut stock—the only part of the rifle that gave him any trouble. “It was wet most of the time over there, and every couple months we had to take the stock off and do some sanding to keep the barrel free-floated. We hand-painted the stocks camo, but due to the linseed oil finish the paint eventually flaked away.” “