A US Marine, In Scotland, With his SA-80

A USMC vet emailed us photos of a Marine friend of his training in Scotland. His friend really liked the SA-80 with its short length, full auto switch and recoil management. His criticisms were that it was rear heavy (par for the course with a bullpup) and unfamiliar fire controls.

“Go for a hike they said. It’ll be fun they said. Nobody mention scaling vertical cliff faces!”

I thought I would throw in a couple other photos of the beautiful scottish countyside.

In a snow covered Scottish ruin

[ Many thanks to Jeremy for the tip. ]



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Salesman

    I just have to say that those are some fantastic pictures.

  • Brandon Creeger

    Was there any live fire of the SA-80? Never been around a bullpup. Going through a reload in my head just seems very awkward to me.

    • Alex

      I’ve used an L85 quite a bit, and it’s… Different. Not worse! But different, to using a conventional rifle. If you’re not used to it then it’s certainly awkward – No drop-free mag release, and you have to tilt the rifle to the right ever so slightly.

    • KentsOkay

      An AUG clone I’ve fired was very awkward to reload, but a RFB was the fastest thing I’ve fired to reload, and I won an AR. On the RFB it’s easy, bring the new mag up in non dominant hand close to the body, hit the mag release and bump out the mag in the rifle like you would on an AK and rock it in. With a hearty slap it can be put in straight. Pull charging handle and you are GTG.

      The AUG clone sucked to reload because of the release mechanism.

    • 6677

      Apparently ease of reloading was a factor that was considered when choosing a new service rifle, it was decided that as most new recruits have never even seen a firearm with their own eyes that in most cases you are training from a blank slate, they aren’t used to loading a conventional layout rifle or a bullpup so seeming as you have to train them anyway it makes little difference. The few rifles in britain tend to be hunting rifles and usually have an internal magazine anyway so once again no matter whether its bullpup or conventional the army would be training them for a layout they aren’t used to.

      That said I know an ex army reservist who happened to be around during the changeover, he preferred his old SLR but then he had been trained on an SLR not a bullpup whereas the majority of current troops probably learned on the sa80 in the first place.

  • Joseph

    That looks like a very rough hike, even if there were no gear involved.

  • Chase

    Looks like a rough hike, but with spectacular scenery. I wish I could go to Scotland. If I could touch an SA80 while I was there, that’d be even better.

    • Chase

      Also it’s the ancestral home, on my dad’s side at least. Clar Innis!

  • Andrew Wilson

    fired an L85 A2 reload isn’t to awkward it’s just using the charging handle is.

  • Nicks87

    You can keep the SA-80 but damn thats beautiful country.

  • northor

    Heh, reminds me of when we climbed Hattavarre in norway, only not so damn cold.

    • MNOR

      Ah, Hattavare… That last bit before the top sure works you’re calfs:)
      The view is well worth the hike though!

      • northor

        Yup, that and all the loose rocks hidden under the snow. Have to admit that the view was the single most fantastic thing I’ve seen in my life though. The weather that day made it really special.

  • calool

    I live in Scotland, i wish it was this beautiful all of the time, when it rains its like a swamp, when its hot it’s like a desert and when its normal its a mix of both. I think these photos were taken close to where i live, its a good match for the hills i can see out of my window, I also happen to live right in the middle of one of the biggest military training areas in britain.

  • Lance

    The L-85 had some problems but HK fixed them so they work fine now. I prefer one over a AUG any day. Like the country side. BUT…… I still keep my M-16 over a SA-80.

  • NI Shooter

    Have to say, it’s a shame we civis don’t get those nice toys! I mean I get a nice L98A2 to play with, but not any of the gucci stuff like this, hell we’re replacing the ACOG with the Spectre DR in the next few years, so maybe some of those could make it our way? No? Okay… 🙁

    • Lance

      There is no replacing th e Trijicon ACOG in the USMC for M-16 and M-4s at all. The Army ran some tests years ago but the Corps is solid on the ACOG.

      • Anonymoose

        I could see the Brits maybe replacing their ACOGs with Spectres because Elcan is a Canadian company and the UK MOD usually picks Canadian stuff over US stuff (for example, when the UKSF adopted the C8 instead of the M4). I highly doubt the US Armed Forces would ever give up the ACOG for an Elcan scope- afaik the general consensus pretty much everywhere is that the Elcan is far inferior to the ACOG.

      • W

        “I highly doubt the US Armed Forces would ever give up the ACOG for an Elcan scope- afaik the general consensus pretty much everywhere is that the Elcan is far inferior to the ACOG.”

        They arent and large numbers of ACOGs will remain in service with the US Military, though what is interesting is the M4’s SOPMOD II package, which cuts out the Trijicon ACOG and replaces it with a Elcan Spectre.

        The Spectre is a incredible optic. They are more expensive than a ACOG for a damned good reason. I personally cannot wait to compare it with the new Zeiss ZO4x30.

      • Lance

        Sorry W but the USMC official scope is the RCO A4 and M-4 optic and the Army has M-150s all AT-31 and its in strong use ELCANs are in use only on some Machine guns and 6x ACOGs replaced them. The ELCAN will not replace the ACOG.

      • W

        1.) yes, the USMC still uses the ACOG/RCO. I didn’t say otherwise. Also, yes, large numbers will remain in service for many years to come.

        2.) The M150 RCO is part of the SOPMOD Block I package, meaning it will get pushed out in favor of the Elcan Spectre since the Block II package now exists.

        3.) 6X ACOGs have not replaced the M145 MGO (machine gun optic). Im not sure where you heard this from. Whatever units have those optics, perhaps they are unit-level purchases.

        4.) Nothing will not completely replace the ACOG, though the Spectre largely will with the SOPMOD block 2 kit.

      • Lance

        A bit confused W I read the SOPMOD 2 has a TA-01 NSN ACOG scope and the USMC has abought 6x ACOGs for there M-240s. Some SOCOM may buy there own scope ie ELCAN buts its not replacing the ACOG in offical us service.

      • Lance
      • W

        the link you provided is for the 1st block of SOPMOD. In defense of that, many items will carry over on a unit level.

        Here’s SOPMOD Block 2.

        http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2005smallarms/thursday/taylor.pdf
        (scroll over to page 25)

        *note that that the slide shows a “competition” between the Trijicon and Elcan offerings; the Elcan Specter won http://www.elcan.com/Experience/SuccessFiles/USSOCOM.php)

      • Lance

        Sorry W but my like was for Block 2. The Elcan it even says on your link is for SAWS and Mk-46s not rifles. Fact too is ACOG TA-31 ECOS is the official scope of SOCOM riflemen with TA-01 NSN in use too.

      • W

        “Sorry W but my like was for Block 2.”

        No…its not. Its a stupid link anyways with no credibility behind it. It also has many items not adopted by the military to include the Accupoint scope and drum magazine. Drop it.

        Look at the fucking link I posted. Here it is again…SOPMOD Block 2: http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2005smallarms/thursday/taylor.pdf
        (scroll over to page 25)

        “The Elcan it even says on your link is for SAWS and Mk-46s not rifles.”

        You’re shitting me right!?

        From the article, “In 2003 the US SOCOM started to upgrade its fire control accessories for the M4 Carbine. The key technological objective for the day optic was – “to provide not only a long-range deliberate aiming capability, but also a short range, positive, rapid aiming capability for Close Quarters Battle…in a single sight” – a critical issue in urban combat.” http://www.elcan.com/Experience/SuccessFiles/USSOCOM.php

        There you go. And if you looked at the first link I posted, you would know the Spectre is intended for the M4 and SCAR also. The M145 MGO is also Elcan, though that is where the similarities between the two end. they are not the same optic.

        “Fact too is ACOG TA-31 ECOS is the official scope of SOCOM riflemen with TA-01 NSN in use too.”

        It is still in use, though, again, that optic is from the SOPMOD Block 1 package. Since 2 has been introduced, the Spectre will be more prevalent. Where have I said, “it is no longer being used”? NOWHERE. I said the Elcan Spectre fills its niche in the SOPMOD Block 2 package. There is also the PIP for existing ACOG optics, though the Spectre was selected for the ECOS-C role.

        Do I need to explain this in more depth? you seem to have a problem with reading comprehension.

      • W

        one last thing, “SOCOM riflemen”????

        boy, i will smack the color off your face! 😉

      • Lance

        W your getting upset but your wrong.

        The ELCAN is for SAWs and light machine guns. The ACOG ECOS is for M-4 and other rifles in SOCOM inventory. ACOGS are still part of the kit too so the ELCAN is NOT replacing them. Your love of Canadian junk is so blinding you from the facts. The ECOS ACOG is not being replaced at all and fact is Trijicon keeps getting BIG contracts from all US service branches for them. All M-4s i see SOCOM men carry have ACOGs or Leopold which too is in SOPMOD kit too and or red dot scopes. Fact is SOCOM ops have huge number of approved scopes they can use, so one scope will not dominate the SOCOM field.

        Yur mad cool down and drop it your anger and name calling makes you look unprofessional on here.

      • W

        “W your getting upset but your wrong.”

        I am getting a laugh because you are being a idiot. Im trying to be nice, giving you the benefit of the doubt, posting you links and irrefutable evidence proving my contention correct and the only thing you do is willingly ignore the evidence presented and simply reply, “but your wrong”. Compelling case.

        “The ELCAN is for SAWs and light machine guns.”

        The M145 MGO is for SAWs and LMGs. The Elcan Spectre is for M4s and the SCAR Platform (and presumably other 5.56mm carbines like the 416). Like I said before, those are two different optics for different platforms. they are not the same.

        “The ACOG ECOS is for M-4 and other rifles in SOCOM inventory. ACOGS are still part of the kit too so the ELCAN is NOT replacing them.”

        The Spectre was selected for the ECOS-C role over the Trijicon variant. There is still a Trijicon ACOG PIP, though the ECOS-C role is effectively filled by the Elcan Spectre. Of course you would know this if you actually read the links I posted.

        “Your love of Canadian junk is so blinding you from the facts.”

        That statement alone proves you have never used their optics. The MGO makes the M240 effective up to 1,800 meters and many militaries around the world use Elcan products. They are not junk and they do their job just fine. The Spectre is superior to the Trijicon offering in my opinion.

        “The ECOS ACOG is not being replaced at all and fact is Trijicon keeps getting BIG contracts from all US service branches for them.”

        Yes it is. The ACOGs originally conceived for the ECOS-C role are filling in the PIP role for Trijicon’s offerings to the military.

        “All M-4s i see SOCOM men carry have ACOGs or Leopold which too is in SOPMOD kit too and or red dot scopes. Fact is SOCOM ops have huge number of approved scopes they can use, so one scope will not dominate the SOCOM field.”

        Leopold…like the HAMR? or the Mk 8 CQBSS?

        Those are unit-level purchases not in the SOPMOD kit. Of course, I know where you got that information from: wikipedia. I can tell and there are no citations for anything. But playing into your little game, I clicked on the wikipedia article’s external link (citation) and it brought me to this http://www.globalsecurity.org/jhtml/jframe.html#http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2006smallarms/taylor.pdf|||

        which is the same link i so graciously provided to you. Interestingly enough, there is nothing about the Leopold HAMR and other wild unicorns you keep chasing.

        “Yur mad cool down and drop it your anger and name calling makes you look unprofessional on here.”

        you are being a dumbass. Stop trolling and throwing shit all over the walls.

  • W

    its nice seeing the mother country 😀

  • Mike Knox

    I can relate with the complaints about it’s balance but I never had a problem with it’s interface..

  • Michael

    Longer barrel than M4
    Better reliability than M4
    Better accuracy than M4
    Shorter than M4
    More expensive than M4
    SF use M4s.
    Most Brits have never fired a rifle before entering service
    Beer better in Scotland than M4 country

    • José Pulido

      Bullpups generally suck. Even 90% of countries that use bullpups hate bullpups.

      The reliability issues of the AR-15 are also a myth, and everyone who’s actually used one knows it.

  • DNACowboy

    Don’t believe the negative bs about the L85A2, it is a wonderful rifle and highly accurate. The kinks (remember the M16?) were ironed out years ago; however it is such a shame we didn’t introduce the .British 280 and .270 🙁