Simo Hayha Vs Vasily Zaytsev – Best Sniper in the world

Simo Hayha Vasily Zaytsev


Simo Hayha was born in the town of Rautajärvi, in present day Finland in December 1905. He was raised as a farmer and hunter. At the age of 20 Simo joined the Finnish Army to serve his mandatory one year service.

A year later he was honorably discharged; having been promoted to the rank of corporal.

He later joined the Suojeluskunta (The White Guard or Civil Guard) and it is here that he honed his unbelievable talent as a marksman.

Vasily Zaytsev was born on 23 March, 1915 into a family of peasants in the village of Yelenovsk in Soviet Russia. In his early years amidst the Ural Mountains Vasily had picked up his skills as a marksman while hunting deer and wolves with his gradfather and younger brother.

Unlikely as it may sound, Zaytsev started his career in the Russian Army as a clerk in the Russian Navy. When the Germans invaded Russia in WWII, Zaytsev volunteered for front line duty.

Remarkable Achievement

Amassed the highest recorded confirmed kills (505) as a sniper in any war in history. All in less than 100 days of war. 242 confirmed kills of the Wehrmacht (German Army) and other Axis armies during the decisive Battle of Stalingrad between October 1942 and January 1943. Including 11 enemy snipers.

Ran a sniper school in the Metiz factory during WWII. His trained cadets called Zaichata (Baby Hares) killed an estimated 3,000 enemy soldier.

The War

In 1939 when Russian Red Army invaded Finland, Hayha was called into service for the 6th Company of JR 34 on the Kollaa River front. It was in this winter war that Hayha would demonstrate his unbelievable sniper skills; shooting down more than 500 enemy soldiers with his Mosin Nagrant M91 rifle. Add to that more than 200 kills with his Suomi submachine gun. 

The agitated Russians called him ‘The White Death’ and did almost everything to counter his impact including a team of counter snipers, a whole mission to kill him and artlery action. They kept on taking casualties but could not find him.

On March 6, 1940, Häyhä was shot in his lower left jaw by a Russian soldier. He however survived the attack. The war ended soon after and peace was declared. Although outnumbered by a large margin the Finns had tactilly defended their terrotory with great efficiency and were victorious by the end.

On his transfer to front line duty Zaytsev joined the 1074th Rifle regiment of the 284th “Tomsk” Rifle Division, which would eventually become part of the 62nd Army at Stalingrad from Sept. 17, 1942.

Defending the city in the rubble and ruins of Stalingrad, where the life expectancy of a soldier was less than 24 hours Zaytsev played hide and seek killing an average of six Axis soldiers each day.


705 confirmed kills
505 with rifle
200 with submachine gun
242 confirmed kills between October 1942 and January 1943

Style n Technique

Used an iron sight instead of a telescope to present the smallest possible target to the opponent. A scoped sight requires the sniper to raise his head for sighting. He dressed completely in white camouflage in the white Finnish winter; what earned him the nickname ‘white death’.

Used a smaller rifle because of his smaller frame (5 foot 3 inches) thus increasing his accuracy.

Compacted the snow in front of the rifle so that it is not disturbed when he takes the shot hence giving away his position.

Put snow in his mouth to condense his breath. He did not want the vapours from his breath to give away his position.

The “sixes” tactic – Zaitsev’s cover one large area from three positions with two men at each point – a sniper and scout. A tactic still popular among snipers.

Decades before modern anti-material rifles Zaytsev attached a Mosin-Nagant rifle scope to an anti tank gun. The plan was to take out enemies taking cover behind walls and debris, the 20mm round proved to be very effective for this task.

Aimed to target the officers first and then worked down the chain of command.


Considered by most to be the greatest marksman that ever lived.

Nicknamed ‘The White Death’ by his enemies

Unofficial frontline figures from the battlefield places the number of sniper kills at over 800

The Russians they say sent out a whole battalion to gun him down.

It is said that in one exploit he killed a number of enemy officers and this made the Nazis very furious so they unleashed a huge barrage of bombs, artillery and machine gun fire at his position.

Zaytsev himself made 242 confirmed kills between October 1942 and January 1943, the real number allegedly is closer to 500.

The Legend of the Snipers Duel – Made famous by the Hollywood film “Enemy at the Gates”, the Germans sent an ace Sniper (Ed Harris) and head of a sniper academy to kill Zaytsev (Jude Law).

The German and Russian war archives do not mention any such duel. However Zaytsev in his memoirs claims that a duel did take place for a period of three days. He does not mention much details but that he killed the sniper and claimed his scope as his most prized trophy. He claims that a German prisoner had later identified the man to be Erwin Konig.


3 thoughts on “Simo Hayha Vs Vasily Zaytsev – Best Sniper in the world”

  1. this is a silly ” comparison”. Zaytsev used a scoped rifle. Hayha NEVER used a scoped rifle only open sights. He is undoubtedly one of the best shots the world has ever seen. Sheer skill, to kill over 500 enemy with no scope. Then you can add the 300+ he killed whilst manning a belt fed machine gun.

  2. Adelbert F. Is Now The Best Sniper In The World Sorry SIMO Hayha And VASILY Zaytsev But, Your Out Of The Game Of Snipers.


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