I’ve heard conflicting anecdotal stories on where police snipers will aim in the event that a criminal is about to start offing his hostages, thus necessitating and instant and guaranteed kill shot.
Most military snipers I assume will try and aim for the centre mass, but for police marksmen operating at much shorter ranges (wiki states from anywhere between 100m to 50m) I’ve heard that to guarantee a kill they will aim for the eye, the top lip, the throat to sever the spine and so on. If they have freedom of choice, where will an expert police marksmen prefer to aim at?
ETA: Actually, maybe I do, but nothing that directly answers the question. What I’ve always heard, when it comes to headshots, is to aim for the “T” or whatever, the roughly triangular area that uses the eyes and the mouth as the three points, due to this more or less centering your shot on the brain’s important bits.
It’s the perfect centralized target of the head and it’s also now the standard target being taught for close quarter handgun combat (at least around here.).
The nose covers a fairly hollow cavity which offers little resistance to a bullets path to blowing the back of the subjects head away. If the round hits too low it’s the mouth, which offers the same rather clear path to the back of the head.
If the round hits too high it’s the forehead. A rifle round will have little trouble penetrating the skull plate and hitting the brain. Too far to the left or right and it’s the eye socket, also minor resistance to the inside of the head. Hit way too low and it’s the throat, even lower is the chest, also good targets.
Many police snipers are using soft nose or frangible rounds to prevent over penetration.
I can’t imagine it matters where you hit, so long as it hits the head.
Have you ever seen any of those videos of bullets hitting a watermelon or a soda bottle, or whatever (look here, especially starting at 40 seconds)? Do you really think that someone would remain a threat after the same thing happened to their brain, regardless of whether the bullet pulverized their temporal lobe, their cerebellum, etc.
This business of aiming for the ear to “turn out their lights” does nothing more than provide a convenient target for the crosshairs. In fact, I’d say the mechanical shock from the skull being hit by a high-powered round is, by itself, enough to drop someone, unconscious.
Of course, as stated in the OP, police snipers are sniping from an unusually close position with a scope, roughly the same engagement range that most people would be using iron sights or a red-dot on a rifle. Normally you would go for center-of-mass shots because they are far less likely to miss. Also, you’re not always in situations where it matters if the very first round puts him down immediately.
But for the circumstances that they are in, headshots are evidently more practical. Right strategy for the right situation.
Its called the T line. Its the area center of the face between the upper lip and the bottom of the nose. A round fired though there at high velocity a round fired there will hit the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain. It controls all autonomic and involuntary muscle movement like heart beat and breathing. The idea is you hit that and even if the suspect has a weapon on a hostage he will be instantly killed without his muscles being able to make an involuntary movement or a finger from twitching.
But is aiming for the T effective against zombies, or should you instead use a high-powered weapon and hope that enough center-of-mass shots will put it down? Even if it’s the undead type of zombie, I’d bet money it can’t effectively stand to chase you if bullets have shredded the musculature in the torso.
You try slinging that thing over your shoulder so you can climb a ladder to the roof of a nearby building so you have a good view and a clear shot. Oh, and over-penetration could be an issue with something like that.