Anyone who has seen the Hollywood epic about the Battle of Stalingrad, Enemy at the Gates knows the famous Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev. Although the film took artistic liberties with some of the characters, Zaytsev was as deadly as portrayed. 

While numerous snipers during World War II tallied up many more sniper kills than Zaytsev, what was amazing about him was that he accrued his more than 250 confirmed kills in just a four-month period. This averages out to an incredible 2.04 kills per day!

As a result, some of the tactics used and perfected by Vasily Zaytsev still form part of the Russian sniper playbook.

Vasily Zaytsev with his Mosin Nagant sniper rifle.
Vasily Zaytsev with his Mosin Nagant sniper rifle.

Early Life and Military Beginnings

Vasily Zaytsev was born on March 15, 1915, in Yeleninskoye, Orenburg Governorate in a peasant family. He grew up in the Ural Mountains, where, as portrayed in the film, he learned to hunt at a young age. He bagged his first wolf at the age of 12 with a .20 gauge shotgun given to him by his grandfather when he was barely able to carry it on his back.