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L85A1/A2/A3 - SA80 Assault Rifle

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L85A1/A2/A3 - SA80 Assault Rifle

Postby marktigger » 01 May 2015, 10:45

well might as well open one

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby just-me-again » 01 May 2015, 13:11

Is there still a replacement scheduled for 2020 or has that been shelved?

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby Cooper » 01 May 2015, 15:07

I thought I read somewhere that any replacement has been put back by a few years at least, after all the upgrades the weapon has had, I doubt a replacement is a priority for the top brass in the budget cuts environment we are now in.

Also the replacement will have to be an 'off the shelf' purchase, so I'd imagine it can be done in a relatively short time frame unlike when you have a new design that needs years of design and testing, which is no longer an option as the capability to design and manufacturer a new assault rifle is no longer available in the UK.

The options for the new rifle choice is pretty limited anyway, 5.56mm and compatible with all the new bits that have been purchased for the SA80 such as magazines, rails and sights.

HK416 would be my choice, but I doubt the budget would stretch to it unless the MOD was a offered a good deal, the French are about to choose a new rifle to replace the FAMAS, so it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that the British Army might like to choose the same replacement if it meets the requirements, given the increased cooperation between the two in the coming decades, from a purely logistical sense it would be a good move.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby raven111 » 01 May 2015, 17:57

I thought the "modular assault rifle" was meant to be coming in this year or something.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby Dossbag » 01 May 2015, 19:06

If something was coming this year we'd have heard about it already...

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby just-me-again » 01 May 2015, 19:10

I heard about it being pushed back to 2020 but i can see that with budget cuts that it might be getting pushed back further.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby Phil R » 03 May 2015, 11:29

Another question is whether we stay with the current 5.56 calibre or start to move towards a new intermediate calibre?

Phil R

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby raven111 » 03 May 2015, 11:32

Phil R wrote:Another question is whether we stay with the current 5.56 calibre or start to move towards a new intermediate calibre?

Phil R


As usual we're waiting for the Americans to decide what calibre to force on the rest of NATO.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby just-me-again » 03 May 2015, 12:51

so we MIGHT get another caliber in 50 years. :lol:

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby RetroSicotte » 04 May 2015, 09:55

The British trying to introduce a medium calibre round?

Gee, where have I heard that story before? It's almost like we invented that 50 years ago for everyone or something! :p

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby raven111 » 04 May 2015, 12:59

Well the Mall Ninjas won't shut the hell up about the 6.8 mm Remington SPC round.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby Phil R » 04 May 2015, 13:35

Go down to the archives and dig out the details of the British .280 from 1945.
Job jobbed. :D

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby arfah » 04 May 2015, 19:52

...............
-<>-<>-<>-

Why this forum is pish!

1: Ineffective moderators
2: Too many fantasists ruining dedicated equipment threads with notions of what gun/mortar/artillery/missiles the equipment should have because it makes their panties moist.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby Tony Williams » 06 May 2015, 07:14

The Army's latest plans are to keep the SA80 family going for at least another decade, with any replacement being introduced from 2025. This happens to be the same timescale that the USA is planning for, so some coordination seems likely. The US is currently carrying out a number of studies into future small arms and the ammunition they will use, but whether that leads to anything new is far from certain.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby desertswo » 06 May 2015, 20:24

In my former military life I never had to hump one of these things through the bush (although climbing a 70 foot Jacob's ladder with a Mossberg Model 500 slung is an adventure in its own right :shock:), but I'm sure those who have would agree that the NATO 5.56 has certain advantages that become very clear to me simply by picking up boxes of 20 rounds of 5.56 and 20 rounds of .30-06, which is the round used by US forces starting with the M1903 in WWI, continuing through the M1 Garand, and the various versions of M1919 machine gun. I own a Garand and a Remington Model 700, which is the basic platform for the M24 sniper system, in .30-06, so I shoot a lot of it, as well as a lot of 5.56 in my M4-A3 carbine. Clearly one can "reach out and touch someone" with the .30-06, but one can also carry a ton of 5.56, and if nothing else, there is "safety in numbers."

I also read a report when at the Pentagon that said that the majority of firefights take place with opponents no more than 20 meters apart. If true, and given the fact that their are literally billions of rounds of 5.56 in the inventory, not to mention lots of factories tooled up to make more, I would be shocked if the powers that be seriously considered a change to a larger caliber, and even then, they probably wouldn't opt for anything more creative than going back to the NATO 7.62, of which there are also billions of rounds still in the inventory, for the M14s and M60s still found in use in the Navy in particular.
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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby Tony Williams » 07 May 2015, 03:16

desertswo wrote:I also read a report when at the Pentagon that said that the majority of firefights take place with opponents no more than 20 meters apart.


Certainly true of law-enforcement firefights, and perhaps not too far wrong in urban fighting like Iraq, but very different in Afghanistan. In 2008 the British Army reported that half the engagements were taking place at more than 300m, a figure which gradually increased over time: one US source states that more than half were taking place at more than 500m.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby downsizer » 07 May 2015, 08:00

Indeed, thats why we had to buy the 7.62 sharpshooter rifles.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby desertswo » 07 May 2015, 16:35

Tony Williams wrote:
desertswo wrote:I also read a report when at the Pentagon that said that the majority of firefights take place with opponents no more than 20 meters apart.


Certainly true of law-enforcement firefights, and perhaps not too far wrong in urban fighting like Iraq, but very different in Afghanistan. In 2008 the British Army reported that half the engagements were taking place at more than 300m, a figure which gradually increased over time: one US source states that more than half were taking place at more than 500m.


downsizer wrote:Indeed, thats why we had to buy the 7.62 sharpshooter rifles.


Very legitimate concerns, but will every battle space be like Afghanistan? Maybe, maybe not. However, if you are going to step up, you can do a lot worse than the 7.62. It has that ability to touch the other guy at what amounts to stand off ranges, which is why the Navy retained the M14 long after the other services moved on to the M16/M4 models. The SEALs usually have a couple of guys in a team carrying modified M14s, not only for that extended range, but because it could go to full auto and be used as a kind of SAW much the way the BAR was used in the past. Also in the repel boarders or anti-swarm mode the M14 was great at augmenting the other automatic weapons for discouraging such activities. We had a whole bunch of them in our ships' armories. Line a bunch of them up topside and trying to get close to the ship becomes a very thorny proposition indeed.
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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby downsizer » 07 May 2015, 18:55

desertswo wrote:
Tony Williams wrote:
desertswo wrote:I also read a report when at the Pentagon that said that the majority of firefights take place with opponents no more than 20 meters apart.


Certainly true of law-enforcement firefights, and perhaps not too far wrong in urban fighting like Iraq, but very different in Afghanistan. In 2008 the British Army reported that half the engagements were taking place at more than 300m, a figure which gradually increased over time: one US source states that more than half were taking place at more than 500m.


downsizer wrote:Indeed, thats why we had to buy the 7.62 sharpshooter rifles.


Very legitimate concerns, but will every battle space be like Afghanistan? Maybe, maybe not. However, if you are going to step up, you can do a lot worse than the 7.62. It has that ability to touch the other guy at what amounts to stand off ranges, which is why the Navy retained the M14 long after the other services moved on to the M16/M4 models. The SEALs usually have a couple of guys in a team carrying modified M14s, not only for that extended range, but because it could go to full auto and be used as a kind of SAW much the way the BAR was used in the past. Also in the repel boarders or anti-swarm mode the M14 was great at augmenting the other automatic weapons for discouraging such activities. We had a whole bunch of them in our ships' armories. Line a bunch of them up topside and trying to get close to the ship becomes a very thorny proposition indeed.


This is the problem, we fight the last war, not the next one.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby raven111 » 07 May 2015, 19:04

desertswo wrote:The SEALs usually have a couple of guys in a team carrying modified M14s, not only for that extended range, but because it could go to full auto and be used as a kind of SAW much the way the BAR was used in the past.


I thought the Mk14 had given way to the Mk17 and possibly (if Mr Owen is to be believed) the HK417 in NSW circles.

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby desertswo » 07 May 2015, 21:47

raven111 wrote:
desertswo wrote:The SEALs usually have a couple of guys in a team carrying modified M14s, not only for that extended range, but because it could go to full auto and be used as a kind of SAW much the way the BAR was used in the past.


I thought the Mk14 had given way to the Mk17 and possibly (if Mr Owen is to be believed) the HK417 in NSW circles.


Well, in situations like this, I tend to trust the word of the good friend who's wearing three stars AND the Budweiser Can. You know what I mean? The ground truth is that those guys can pretty much hump whatever they want, and more than a few still swear by the M14.
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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby raven111 » 07 May 2015, 22:26

desertswo wrote:
raven111 wrote:
desertswo wrote:The SEALs usually have a couple of guys in a team carrying modified M14s, not only for that extended range, but because it could go to full auto and be used as a kind of SAW much the way the BAR was used in the past.


I thought the Mk14 had given way to the Mk17 and possibly (if Mr Owen is to be believed) the HK417 in NSW circles.


Well, in situations like this, I tend to trust the word of the good friend who's wearing three stars AND the Budweiser Can. You know what I mean? The ground truth is that those guys can pretty much hump whatever they want, and more than a few still swear by the M14.


I'm just going by what appears in the photography, so...

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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby desertswo » 07 May 2015, 22:47

raven111 wrote:I'm just going by what appears in the photography, so...


And you see only what they want you to see.
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Re: rifle 5.56mm L85/A1/A2/ (The Rifle/ Sa80)

Postby Tony Williams » 08 May 2015, 05:51

downsizer wrote:This is the problem, we fight the last war, not the next one.


The real problem is that we never know what the next war is going to be. In fact, we have an amazingly consistent record of getting that wrong. All through the Cold War NATO prepared for high-intensity warfare in Europe; what we actually got was Korea, Vietnam, Falklands, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan - none of which we expected or were prepared for.

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SA80 Assault Rifle (Army)

Postby SKB » 29 May 2015, 22:48

Image
^ L85A2

Introduction
The SA80 (Small Arms for the 1980's) is a British family of 5.56×45mm NATO small arms. It is a selective fire, gas-operated assault rifle. Elements of its design, in particular the bull pup configuration, come from the earlier EM-2 rifle. The first prototypes were tried in 1976, and production ended in 1994. It is due to remain in service until 2025.

The L85 rifle variant of the SA80 family has been the standard issue service rifle of the British Armed Forces since 1987, replacing the L1A1 variant of the FN FAL. The improved L85A2 remains in service today. The remainder of the family comprises the L86 Light Support Weapon, the short-barrelled L22 carbine and the L98 Cadet rifle.

The SA80 was the last in a long line of British weapons (including the Lee–Enfield family) to come from the national arms development and production facility at Enfield Lock.

Development
The system's history dates back to the late 1940s, when an ambitious programme to develop a new cartridge and new class of rifle was launched in the United Kingdom based on combat experience drawn from World War II. Two 7mm prototypes were built in a bullpup configuration, designated the EM-1 and EM-2. When NATO adopted the 7.62×51mm NATO rifle cartridge as the standard calibre for its service rifles, further development of these rifles was discontinued (the British Army chose to adopt the 7.62 mm L1A1 SLR semi-automatic rifle, which is a licence-built version of the Belgian FN FAL).

In 1969, the Enfield factory began work on a brand new family of weapons, chambered in a newly designed British 4.85×49mm intermediate cartridge. While the experimental weapon family was very different from the EM-2 in internal design and construction methods, its bullpup configuration with an optical sight was a clear influence on the design of what was to become the SA80. The system was to be composed of two weapons: an individual rifle, the XL64E5 rifle and a light support weapon known as the XL65E4 light machine gun.

The sheet metal construction, and the design of the bolt, bolt carrier, guide rods, gas system and the weapon's disassembly showed strong similarities to the Armalite AR-18 which was manufactured under licence from 1975 to 1983 by the Sterling Armaments Company of Dagenham, Essex, and which had been tested by the UK MoD in 1966 and 1969. During the development of the SA-80 a bull pup conversion was made of an AR-18 and a Stoner 63 at Enfield.

Technically, in the mid-1970's, the 4.85×49mm round was seen as superior to the then existing version of 5.56mm M193 round in use by the US (for the M16/M16A1) and by other forces. (This was the expressed view of trials team members whilst demonstrating the XL64E5 prototype at the British Army School of Infantry at Warminster.) It should be noted that development of small-arms munitions have a long and continuous life and it was estimated by the trials specialists from Enfield that this weapon would ultimately be superior in the 4.85mm configuration. For the 4.85 mm round, both propellant and projectile were at the beginning of their respective development curves. Also, weight for weight, more rounds of ammunition could be carried by an individual soldier – a considerable advantage on the battlefield. It was regarded as probable at the time that the argument for the 5.56 mm standard within NATO had more to do with the economics involved. Over the lifetime of a small-arms weapon type, far more money is spent on the munitions than the weapons themselves. If the 5.56 mm supporters had lost the argument in favour of a British 4.85 mm round, the economic impact would have been very large and political pressure undoubtedly played a part in the final decision.

In 1976, the prototypes were ready to undergo trials. However, after NATO's decision to standardise ammunition among its members, Enfield engineers re-chambered the rifles to the American 5.56×45mm NATO M193 cartridge. The newly redesigned 5.56 mm version of the XL64E5 became known as the XL70E3. The left-handed XL68 was also re-chambered in 5.56×45mm as the XL78. The 5.56mm light support weapon variant, the XL73E3, developed from the XL65E4, was noted for the full length receiver extension with the bi-pod under the muzzle now indicative of the type.

Further development out of the initial so-called "Phase A" pre-production series led to the XL85 and XL86. While the XL85E1 and XL86E1 were ultimately adopted as the L85 and L86 respectively, a number of additional test models were produced. The XL85E2 and XL86E2 were designed to an alternate build standard with 12 components different from E1 variants, including parts of the gas system, bolt, and magazine catch. Three series of variants were created for "Environmental User Trials". XL85E3 and XL86E3 variants were developed with 24 modified parts, most notably a plastic safety plunger. The E4's had 21 modified parts, no modification to the pistol grip, and an aluminium safety plunger, unlike the E3 variants. Lastly, the E5 variants had 9 modified parts in addition to those from the E3/E4 variants.

SA80 development was complicated from the start. One complication was at least three project staffing changes at the Royal Small Arms Factory, which resulted in repetition of testing several times. One problem with the design of the gun itself was that the cases would be ejected at constantly varying angles as it heated up and the rate of fire changed, resulting in a large ejection port. The conversion from 4.85 mm to 5.56 mm also caused a complication, as the rate of fire dropped dramatically as the gas port was left in the same position, but the pressure and time curve of the rounds were different. The 4.85 mm round was based on the 5.56 mm case in anticipation of the need to convert calibres. The barrel was changed easily, but the gas ports had to be enlarged considerably. This was made worse by the production of ammunition with power that gave a lower port pressure and rate-of-fire. Pressure problems had less of an effect on the LSW due to its longer barrel.

Production
After receiving feedback from users and incorporating the several design changes requested, including adapting the rifle for use with the heavier Belgian SS109 version of the 5.56×45mm round and improving reliability, the weapon system was accepted into service with the British Army in 1985 as the SA80. The SA80 family originally consisted of the L85A1 IW (Individual Weapon) and the L86A1 LSW (Light Support Weapon). The first rifle was issued on 2 October 1985 to Sergeant Gary Gavin, a 26-year-old in the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters.

The SA80 family was designed and produced (until 1988) by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock. In 1988, production of the rifle was transferred to the Royal Ordnance's Nottingham Small Arms Facility (later British Aerospace, Royal Ordnance; now BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions).

In 1994, production was officially completed. More than 350,000 L85A1 rifles and L86A1 light machine guns had been manufactured for the United Kingdom. They are also in use with the Jamaica Defence Force.

Operating mechanism
With the exception of the L98A1, the SA80 system is a selective fire gas-operated design that uses ignited powder gases bled through a port in the barrel to provide the weapon's automation. The rifle uses a short-stroke gas piston system located above the barrel, which is fed gas through a three-position adjustable gas regulator. The first gas setting is used for normal operation, the second is for use in difficult environmental conditions, while the third setting prevents any gas from reaching the piston and is used to launch rifle grenades. The weapon uses a rotating cylindrical bolt that contains seven radially mounted locking splines, an extractor and casing ejector. The bolt's rotation is controlled by a cam stud that slides inside a helical camming guide machined into the bolt carrier.

Features
The family is built in a bull pup layout (the action is behind the trigger group), with a forward-mounted pistol grip. The main advantage of this type of arrangement is the overall compactness of the weapon, which can be achieved without compromising the barrel length, hence the overall length of the L85 rifle is shorter than a carbine, but the barrel length is that of an assault rifle. However, the adoption of this layout also means that the rifle must be used exclusively right-handed since the ejection port and cocking handle (which reciprocates during firing) are on the right side of the receiver, making aimed fire from the left shoulder difficult. This can also give rise to a tactical disadvantage when firing around the left side of cover, where the shooter must expose the majority of his body. However left shoulder firing can be achieved by tilting the right hand side of the rifle downwards, reducing the impediments of the cocking handle and the ejection port.

The SA80 family is hammer-fired and has a trigger mechanism with a fire-control selector that enables semi-automatic fire and fully automatic fire (the fire selector lever is located at the left side of the receiver, just aft of the magazine). A cross bolt type safety prevents accidental firing and is located above the trigger; the "safe" setting blocks the movement of the trigger.

The L85 rifle features a barrel with a slotted flash suppressor, which also serves as a mounting base for attaching and launching rifle grenades, attaching a blank-firing adaptor or a bayonet.

The weapons are fed from a STANAG magazine, usually with a 30-round capacity. The magazine release button is placed above the magazine housing, on the left side of the receiver. When the last cartridge is fired from the magazine, the bolt and bolt carrier assembly lock to the rear.

The weapon's receiver is made from stamped sheet steel, reinforced with welded and riveted machined steel inserts. Synthetics were also used (i.e. the handguards, pistol grip, buttpad and cheek rest were all fabricated from nylon). A Picatinny railed handguard was also developed for the type.

Sights
Rifles used by the Royal Marines, British Army infantry soldiers (and other soldiers with a dismounted close combat role) and the RAF Regiment are equipped with a SUSAT (Sight Unit Small Arms, Trilux) optical sight, with a fixed 4x magnification and an illuminated aiming pointer powered by a variable tritium light source (as of 2006 almost all British Army personnel deployed on operations have been issued SUSATs). Mounted on the SUSAT's one-piece, pressure die-cast aluminium body are a set of back-up iron sights that consist of a front blade and small rear aperture. Rifles used with other branches of the armed forces when not on operations are configured with fixed iron sights, consisting of a flip rear aperture housed inside the carrying handle and a forward post vertical blade foresight, installed on a bracket above the gas block. The rear sight can be adjusted for windage, and the foresight—elevation. In place of the SUSAT, a passive night vision CWS scope can be used, and also—independent of the SUSAT—a laser pointer.

Weapons used by some Royal Marines, Infantry, Ministry of Defence Police and other soldiers with a dismounted close combat role in operations in Afghanistan have had the SUSAT replaced with the Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG).

In 2011, the Ministry of Defence began issuing ELCAN SpecterOS 4x Lightweight Day Sights (LDS) in an effort to replace ageing SUSAT units across the British Armed Forces, forming the first stage of the FIST infantry enhancement project. In order to mount the new sight, the weapon has been provided with an adapter to convert the existing sight rail to the Picatinny standard, in keeping with the updated handguard. The FIST project has also seen upgrades to the existing Qioptiq CWS (4x) and Maxi-Kite (6x) night vision scopes, and the introduction of the FIST Thermal Sight, following operational experience with the VIPIR-2+ thermal weapon sight in Afghanistan. All of the new FIST weapon sights have the capacity to accept Shield's Close Quarter Battlesight reflex sight.

Accessories
The L85 is supplied with a sling, blank-firing adaptor, cleaning kit and a blade-type bayonet, which coupled with the sheath can double as a wire cutter (the sheath contains a small saw and sharpening stone). The rifle can be adapted to use .22 Long Rifle training ammunition with a special conversion kit. The Small Arms Weapons Effects Simulator can be used on the L85 when in training with blank ammunition. The rifle variant also accommodates a 40 mm under-barrel grenade launcher such as Heckler & Koch AG-36 40 mm grenade launcher variants.

L85 Rifle
The L85 IW ("Individual Weapon") (full name Rifle, 5.56 mm, L85A2), in its improved A2 version, is the standard rifle for the British armed forces. On operations, the rifle is often fitted with an LLM01 Laser Light Module. The L85A2 can also mount the L123A2 UGL 40 mm under barrel grenade launcher. The addition of the under barrel grenade launcher adds another 3.30 lb (1.49 kg) to the L85A2's weight. Magazines issued with the L85A1 were aluminium, and not very robust. There are now three types of magazine issued with the L85A2, the most recent being the plastic Magpul EMAG purchased as an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR), the other two are of steel construction with a stainless steel follower. The main variant is for live ammunition, and the other is exclusively used for blank ammunition. The blank variant is identified by yellow stripes on the magazine, and is designed to prevent the loading of live rounds. As blank rounds are shorter than live rounds, live rounds will not physically fit into the blank magazine. Blank rounds will fit into the normal magazine, but their slightly shorter length creates problems with jamming.

From 2007, an upgrade including the provision of ACOGs, a new handguard incorporating Picatinny rails (with optional hand grip/bi pod), and a new vortex style flash eliminator is being introduced for use by selected units.

L86 LSW
The L86A1 LSW ("Light Support Weapon") is a magazine-fed automatic weapon originally intended to provide fire support at a fireteam level. It has a longer barrel than the L85A1 rifle and a bipod, shoulder strap and rear pistol grip, together with a shorter handguard. The extended barrel provides an increased muzzle velocity and further stabilizes the bullet, giving a greater effective range. The weapon is otherwise identical to the L85 version on which it is based, and the same 30-rd magazines and sighting systems are used. Like the L85 rifle, it has a rate-of-fire selector on the left side behind the magazine housing, enabling either single shots or automatic fire.

The increased barrel length, bi pod and the optical performance of the SUSAT give the weapon excellent accuracy. From its inception, the L86 was a target of criticism on much the same basis as the L85. The LSW has the additional issue (shared by any light support weapon derived from a rifle, for example the heavy-barrel FN FAL) of its inability to deliver sustained automatic fire as it does not have a quick-change barrel, and is not belt fed.

For a time, the primary use of the LSW has shifted to that of a marksman's weapon within many infantry sections, capable of providing precision fire at ranges of over 600 m., however it was replaced in this role by the Rifle, 7.62 mm L129A1 The role of a light support weapon is instead filled by the L110A2 Light Machine Gun FN Minimi, which is a belt fed weapon with a quick-change barrel.

The L86A1 was upgraded to the L86A2 at the same time as L85A1 rifles were upgraded to L85A2 standards, undergoing the same set of modifications.

L22A1 and L22A2 Carbines
There have been three attempts at a carbine, the first was in 1989 (length overall 556 mm, barrel length 289 mm). The second attempt, which was in 1994, used the standard L86 LSW handguard and a 17.4-inch barrel (length overall 709 mm, barrel length 442 mm). The third attempt (2003–2004) is also the only one to officially be adopted - the L22. This resembles the 1989 model but has all the necessary A2 upgrades, it has a 318 mm (12.5 in) barrel and an overall length of 585 mm. Around 1,500 were "manufactured" from surplus L86 LSW's, more were built with the increased demand. Due to the shortened barrel (12.5 in), it is less accurate and less powerful, especially at long ranges. Because there is no handguard, these guns are outfitted with a vertical front grip. (Exists in A1 and A2 variants). Initially issued to tank and armoured vehicle crews for emergency action out of vehicle, the L22 has been seen in the hands of the Royal Marines Fleet Protection Group and pilots of all three services due to the compact size.

L98 Cadet General Purpose Rifles
The L98A1 Cadet GP Rifle was a general-purpose (GP) rifle used by the Combined Cadet Force and Sea, Royal Marine, Army and Air Cadets in the United Kingdom. It was introduced in 1987 to replace the .303 Lee–Enfield No 4 rifles and .303 Bren guns used for weapons training. The L98A1 rifle began a phased decommission in early 2009 and is now no longer in use. UK cadet forces have now received the updated L98A2 rifles. The L98A1 was similar to the L85A1, but lacked the gas components. It was a manually operated, single-shot rifle, with a cocking handle extension piece mounted on the right side of the weapon, and was cocked with the right hand. It was also fitted with adjustable iron sights.

The L98A1 had a number of design features that caused problems. A stoppage occurred if the cocking handle was not fully retracted and released because the spent round failed to eject cleanly fouling the breech and preventing the loading of the next cartridge. This fault was often caused by poor cleaning as dirt, grit and rain easily foul and remove the oil from the exposed cocking handle slide making the action harder to cycle.[citation needed] The absence of the flash suppressor also prevented the fitting of a blank firing attachment (BFA) thus increasing the safety distance from 5 m to 50 m.

A conversion kit existed that enabled the L85A1, L86A1 and L98A1 to fire .22 LR rimfire cartridges instead of the standard 5.56 mm NATO cartridge. This was designated the L41A1. This allowed the weapon to fire live rounds on .22 ranges when full size military ranges are unavailable. The kit consisted of modified working parts (springs etc.), a special magazine that is the same size and shape as the standard 5.56 mm magazine and a breech insert, shaped like a 5.56 mm cartridge, which was fitted into the weapons breech. This adapter contained a smaller breech into which the modified bolt inserts the .22 cartridge. The modified magazine locked into the magazine housing exactly like a normal one would. It allowed .22 rounds to be fired semi-automatically using direct blow back against the bolt to cycle the next round. If the kit was fitted to the L98A1 a standard L85 cocking handle had to be fitted to allow semi automatic fire. The conversion was not permanent and could be removed from the weapon in the time it took to normally strip and reassemble the weapon. This kit was not compatible with the A2 upgrade and was removed from service, however a quantity have been modified to work in A2 weapons and have been approved for use in the L98A2, this kit has been designated as the L41A2.

There was a Drill Purpose (DP) version of the L98A1, known as the L103A1. It was similar to the 'GP' rifle, however, modifications had been made in order to deactivate it: the barrel was sealed by filling it with lead, the firing pin was cut and welded down to the bolt face and the hammer was filed down, making reactivation uneconomical. The weapons were used by cadets for weapons training. The 'DP' could be identified by a white stripe on the hand guard and near the butt of the weapon with the letters 'DP' in the stripe. The bolt carrier assembly was painted red and this can be seen from the breech on the right hand side of the weapon.

The L98A2 GP Rifle was introduced in 2009, as a replacement for the L98A1 Cadet GP Rifle. Unlike the L98A1 the A2 has the same cocking handle and operation as the L85A2, the L98A2 can also be distinguished from the A1 via the presence of a 'HK A2' stamp on their gas cylinders. The L98A2 can be fitted with the Safe Blank Firing System (SBFS) incorporating a Blank Firing Attachment (BFA) and a blank-only magazine. It can be distinguished from the L85A2 by the absence of a selector switch meaning it is locked on semi-automatic fire.

The L103A2 Cadet DP (Drill Purpose) Rifle is a deactivated L98A2 used by cadets for practicing rifle drill and weapons handling tests. The L103A2 contains similar working and gas parts to the standard live firing weapon but has been extensively modified so it is impossible to convert it back to a functioning firearm.

Deployment
The SA80 has been used in all conflicts in which the British Army has been involved since its introduction in the mid-1980s. Deployments include Northern Ireland, the First Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq. The British went into battle with fixed bayonets on the SA80 in Iraq, the first time fixed bayonets had been used since the Falklands War. On several occasions, fixed bayonets have been used during the Afghanistan conflict also.

Service and modification
Soon after being adopted for service, problems began to surface:

…the first five years of this rifle's service have been disastrous. A number of manufacturing defects showed up in service conditions, and it was not until the closure of the RSAF at Enfield and the setting up of an entirely new production line, with new computer-controlled machine tools, at the new RSAF Nottingham, that the quality of the production weapons began to improve. It will take some time for the poor reputation gained by the initial issue weapons to be overcome; the only consolation is that the same sort of thing has happened to other military rifles in the past, and they have managed to live down their early reputation and prove their innate reliability. It is to be hoped that the L85A1 will do so as well.

—Ian V. Hogg, 1990

When the L85A1 and L86A1 were first sent into major combat during the Gulf War, their performances were appalling. The L85A1 proved seriously unreliable in semi-auto mode, and slightly better in full-auto, while the L86A1 performed the opposite. Specific complaints included: the poor quality plastic furniture fell apart and the gun was damaged easily; the magazine release catch was easily knocked accidentally and dropped the magazine; the catch on the housing over the gas mechanism was too weak and constantly popped open, so it had to be taped down; only 26–28 rounds could be loaded in a magazine because the springs were weak, and it also had to be kept very clean and the lips checked for dents; the LSW had a small magazine capacity for its role and overheated after 120–150 rounds fired in bursts; the weapons were difficult to strip and reassemble, with the gas plug easily jamming in place and requiring an armorer to remove; and ergonomic issues related to the safety catch, cocking lever, and the location and stiffness of the fire selector switch.

The SA80 initially gained a poor reputation amongst British Soldiers and Royal Marines as being unreliable and fragile, a fact picked up by the UK media, entertainment industry, and members of the House of Lords. The writer and former soldier Andy McNab said in his book Bravo Two Zero, that the British Army procured a "Rolls-Royce in the SA80, albeit a prototype Rolls-Royce".

Immediately after the first Gulf war (Operation Granby), the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) commissioned the LANDSET Report (officially entitled "Equipment Performance (SA80) During Operation Granby (The Gulf War)"), into the effectiveness of the L85A1 IW & L86A1 LSW. This report criticised the acceptance of the weapon into service. Neither weapon had managed to pass the sand trials and both frequently jammed. The mechanism of both weapons needed to be well lubricated as the weapon became prone to seizure if fired "dry", yet in sandy condition the lubricated weapon became unreliable due to the lubricant attracting sand into the moving parts. The LANDSET report identified in excess of 50 faults. Most notably the magazine release catch, which could easily be caught on clothing and therefore accidentally release the magazine; the plastic safety plunger which became brittle in cold climates; firing pins that were not up to repeated use and prone to fracture, if used in automatic fire mode. Although this report identified over 50 faults, and some of the rifle's problems were corrected as a result (e.g. the magazine release guard and trigger), these modifications only addressed seven of these issues and complaints over reliability in service continued.

The Ministry of Defence applied various minor fixes to problems in the guns or simply denied that a problem existed. The MoD finally began to address issues with the SA80 family in 1997. At first they considered simply buying M16 rifles or M4 carbines, but procuring entirely new weapons was considered too expensive.

As a result, a more extensive modification programme was executed. In 2000, Heckler & Koch, at that time owned by the British defence conglomerate BAE Systems, was contracted to upgrade the SA80 family of weapons. Two hundred thousand SA80s were re-manufactured at a cost of £400 each, producing the A2 variant. Changes focused primarily on improving reliability and include: a redesigned cocking handle, modified bolt, extractor and a redesigned hammer assembly that produces a slight delay in the hammer's operation in continuous fire mode, improving reliability and stability. There were equivalent LSW and carbine modifications. The British Ministry of Defence describes the L85A2 revision as "modified in light of operational experience... the most reliable weapons of their type in the world". Army trials indicated extremely good reliability over a range of climates for various operational scenarios, though with a decline in reliability in hot, and especially hot and dry conditions.

The L85A2 has achieved an average reliability rate of 25,200 mean rounds between failure, and the L86A2 achieved 12,897 mean rounds between failures. Both weapons have higher reliability rates in cold/dry, temperate, and hot/wet conditions (over 31,500 MRBF for L85A2), but lower rates in hot/dry environments. The minimum expected life of A2 components is 10,000 rounds, meaning they may never suffer stoppages during their lifetimes. The L85A1 was required to be able to fire 120 rounds over 24 hours, and the L86A1 was required to fire 800 rounds in 24 hours. The L85A2 is required to fire 150 rounds in 8 minutes 40 seconds, and the L86A2 is required to fire 960 rounds in 36 minutes. The first A2-style SA80 weapons were rushed into action in Afghanistan in December 2001, and all 200,000 were converted by February 2006. Three to four thousand weapons were converted per month. Despite the modifications, reports started to emerge that the L85A2 was still jamming. In reality, there were few jams and problems were much less serious than were made out to be.

The modified A2 variants are distinguished by the "HK A2" marking on the top of the weapon just forward of the buttplate, and the distinctive comma shaped cocking handle (shaped to aid the ejection of the empty round casing and prevent stoppages). A forward Picatinny accessories rail supplied by Daniel Defense was incorporated from 2008. The Magpul Industries polymer EMAG magazine was introduced from 2011 to replace the Heckler & Koch steel STANAG 4179 magazine.

Continued testing of the L85A2 in adverse conditions demonstrates its reliability over contemporary rifles, including the M16. Although it is heavier than American rifles, its full-length barrel gives higher muzzle velocities and better terminal performance. Rounds from an M4 will only reliably fragment out to 50–100 metres, while the L85A2 and M16 allowed fragmentation out to 150–200 metres, and the L86A2 has an even longer fragmentation range. Despite these modifications, the L86A2 did not overcome efforts to replace it with a belt-fed machine gun. British troops were issued with L110A1 machine guns to add suppressive fire out to 300 metres; despite these officially being supplementary weapons, they all but replaced the L86.

Conflicts
The SA80 has been used in the following conflicts:

The Troubles
Operation Granby
Gulf War
Bosnian War
Kosovo War
Sierra Leone Civil War[c
Operation Veritas
Afghanistan War
Operation Telic
Iraq War


Type:
Assault rifle
Light Support Weapon
Place of origin: United Kingdom
Service history: In service 1985–present
Designed: 1970s–1980s
Manufacturer: BAE Systems
Produced: 1985–1994
Number built: Approx. 350,000
Variants:
L85A1 Rifle
L85A2 Rifle
L86A1 Light Support Weapon
L86A2 Light Support Weapon
L22A1 Carbine
L22A2 Carbine
L98A1 Cadet Rifle
L98A2 Cadet Rifle
Weight:
3.82 kg (8.4 lb) (L85A2 empty)
4.98 kg (11.0 lb) (L85A2 with SUSAT sight and loaded 30-round magazine)
6.58 kg (14.5 lb) (L86A2 LSW)
4.42 kg (9.7 lb) (L22A1)
Length:
785 mm (30.9 in) (L85A2 & L98A2)
900 mm (35.4 in) (L86A2 LSW)
709 mm (27.9 in) (L22A1)
Barrel length:
518 mm (20.4 in) (L85A2 & L98A2)
646 mm (25.4 in) (L86A2 LSW)
442 mm (17.4 in) (L22A1)
Cartridge: 5.56×45mm NATO
Action: Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire: 610-775 RPM
Muzzle velocity:
930 m/s (3,051 ft/s) (L85A2 & L98A2)
950 m/s (3,116.8 ft/s) (L86A2 LSW)
Effective firing range: 300 m effective range used by one soldier. Effective at 600 m as a section using the LDS (lightweight day sight)
Maximum firing range: 1000 m (L86A2)
Feed system:
30-round detachable STANAG magazine
30-round detachable polymer Magpul EMAG
Sights:
Telescopic SUSAT, ACOG and ELCAN LDS scopes, aperture iron sights


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