British Police With New L85A2

A reader emailed us a photo he saw in a trade union magazine. The British police officers in the photo are helping guard a Rapier missile installationing during the Olympic games. They are carrying the updated version of the L85A2 with the new rail system, Trijicon ACOG (with Trijicon RMR sight on top), foregrip/bipod, under barrel light and Magpul EMAG magazines.

[ Many thanks to Madeleine for the photo. ]

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.


  • Frank J

    I believe those are the Ministry of Defence Police.

  • NI Shooter

    I don’t think our police use any of the SA80 series, so I think they were just holding it for the photo. They use the G36C and MP5 as well as Glock 17/19 sidearms more than anything.

  • Bofh

    just so you know, those aren’t regular police, and the L85A2 is not amongst the firearms issued to regular police. those are ministry of defence police, which is a different matter entirely.

    • Nadnerbus

      The Ministry of Silly Walks only gets issued large trout.

  • Bofh

    also it’s still kinda odd for the mod police to have L85A2’s, because they get issued LMT Defenders.

  • Doug

    I guess from my standpoint, I can’t really see a need to have any sort of police protecting a SAM placement when you’ve got military personel just standing around.

    It’s also the Olympic games, not a war zone. It’s not like there’s going to be a hoard of terrorists advancing over the hill at them.

    • Andrias

      The reason the police are required is that if anyone comes to interfere with the site, the army are not allowed detain them, has to be left to the plods.

      • noob

        When I look at applications of “Posse Comitatus” where the plods are more heavily armed with personal anti-personnel weapons than the military guys behind them, I can’t help but feel that someone crossed the Rubicon a while back and didn’t bother to tell us.

  • thedonn007

    Looks like an expensive set-up there. Guess that is to be expected “when failure is not an option”.

  • Colin

    As has been said, looks like MoD plod, carrying the same setup as our boys in Afghanistan.

    Have to admit, when I read the title I was expecting a new L85 derivative 🙁

  • Ray

    Has as already been said those are MoD Police who are tasked with law enforcement, guarding and criminal investigation on military property (think along the same lines as DoD Police, NCIS etc) and interestingly enough they also have access to semi-auto MP7s ( and a variant of the HK79A1.

    We also have the CNC Police who are tasked with guarding civilian nuclear establishments who are similarly if not in some cases heavier armed too.

  • Denny

    The “new” rifle, for whatever name they give it is in essence still original SA80. I know, there was HK upgrade and they are doing great improvement by mounting ACOG in place of original (horrible) SAUSAT, rails and handles and so forth. But, the gun ist still ergonomically non-conforming. And believe me, I did handle Enfield myself. Take for example AUG, put it to your face and rightaway you feel 50% better. Why Irish took it as a preference…?

    I’d like to hope that next time the Brits are designing a rifle they will take ergonomy’s view as first. Although, we all know they do not have (part of AW) any more firearms industry anyway.

    • NI Shooter

      I’m fine with my L85A2 for ergonomics, and I don’t even have DD rails or anything on mine (cadets/ATC don’t get gucci stuff like that) but it’s an easy to get used to rifle and the SUSAT is one of my favourite scopes just for quality and how easy it is to use. And as for not having much part of a firearms industry, who developed low recoil intermediate rounds before anyone else? We did, and the EM-2 came before any of the modern ones but it’s still probably more effective. Who made the rifle with the longest range sniper kill ever? We did, two dropped with one shot too, the L115A3 is a superb rifle and other countries would agree. We do have great promise in the firearm industry, just NATO decided to ignore what we can do.

      • 6677

        Actually germany did the intermediate cartridge

      • Nmate

        Dropped two with one shot? No. I’m pretty sure the guy fired a number of rounds, walked them onto the targets, and took them out. It is still very impressive, but the chances of even the most skilled shooter getting first round hits at ~2500m is next to zero.

      • Denny

        Good for you Shooter! And remember to fly your Union Jack high! It will be needed in days and year to come.

        And just for record: most of industrial inventions came from Scots; they are some of the best engineers. By the way, they are not the hottest of British patriots; they will have referendum on independence 2 years from now. I just wonder why.

      • Mr Mxyzptlk

        The longest range kill and the incident where two enemy were dropped with one shot were separate incidents. The problem was they were both reported at the same time, and the press inevitably fucked up and combined them into one incident, like the 2,475 meter shot wasn’t already impressive enough.

  • Michael

    The MP7 was suppossed to replace the SA 80, 9mm Sub gun and 9mm Handgun. Guess it did not, and incidendtley The MOD Police have not shot any people

    • Mike Knox

      That criteria also applies to the US, Germany, Finland, Norway, Japan ,a few more unmentioned countries and the UK. But just because wikipedia doesn’t say it’s not issued to British Police doesn’t mean they don’t have it..

    • FourString

      I thought that this was a Police thing, not necessarily Military.

    • FourString

      Whoops, my bad. Still, it would make sense to hold onto a rifle, not have only a submachinegun.

      • Michael

        Heard a rumour about a SA80 in 22lr. That would be fun

  • cc19

    I’d love the option to be able to buy a US civilian variant. Not sure who’d want it outside of collectors though. At the very least, it is already compatible with AR15 magazines.

    • Ray

      I think a batch of 200 made it over to the US in the 80s. The last I ever saw one for sale it went for $11k+, I know for a fact that a dedicated .22lr model is made here in the UK but I’ve yet to see one.

  • Lance

    L-85 is a good urban rifle be good for Police use, wish they import semi-auto version here 🙂 . The Royal army upgraded there L-85s be these are older ones they dont want.

    • Ray

      We don’t have a royal army, one of the terms of the ending of the English civil war is that the royals are not allowed to control their own army even though we swear allegiance to the Queen.

      • W

        unlike saudi arabia 😀

      • Interesting. Was the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force a hack?

        I am surprised no monarch since then tried to create a “bodyguard”.

      • Ray


        It is a weird one, the terms of reconciliation (if I recall my history correctly) state no army is allowed by the royals (if they did it would be a royal army) and technically the army is controlled by parliament

        The Royal Navy is our oldest branch in existence having started in 1707 (before then it was the “Royal Scottish Navy and the English Navy) and I believe inherited the title “Royal” from the Scottish.

        The RAF technically are a separation from the army (which is allowed to form Royal regiments with the blessing of the monarch) in that started from the CRE (Corps of Royal Engineers, our sappers) and from there they formed the RFC which in turn evolved in to the RAF. Which again if I remember my history correctly is how they “inherited” the royal title.

        I may be wrong and I’m open to correction 😀

    • 6677

      The police are also using A2 weapons where possible. Most of the A1 stockpile has been either upgraded to A2 or shipped to jamaica who are using them instead.

      There are of course plenty of A1’s lingering about. A fair few L85A1’s I think where also converted to L98A1’s which have the gas system removed entirely in order to function as a straight pull bolt action rifle. The L98 was intended for cadets although a fair few cadet squadrons have sold their A1 weapons on the civilian market and upgraded to the L98A2 which still has the gas system of the L85A2 intact but lacks full auto functionality.

  • Randomer

    The MDP do deploy the L85 alongside the MP7. The MP7 was mainly introduced to reduce the training burden in the armed guarding role, replacing L85, MP5 and handgun with a single weapon. Although handguns were reintroduced fairly rapidly.

    L85 is used mainly by the Special Escort Group (the ones who escort nuclear weapons from Aldermaston up to Scotland) along with other more specialist units.

    LMT Defender carbines are issued to the British Transport Police, the choice of which firearm to issue is down the individual Chief Constable of a force who choose from a Home Office approved calibre list. The G36 and MP5 just happens to be the most popular, various other forces issue Colt/Colt Canada M4 variants amongst others.

  • John Doe

    So when does the ungimped civilian SA80 come out?

    • noob

      since the original factory lines that made the SA80 are closed and (i believe) all “new” weapons are upgrades of the original SA80 batch, we’d have to wait until at least the patents and TDP can be acquired by sombody who can make as many guns as they want.

      probably someone not in the UK.

      or you can wait for the patents to expire and reverse engineer the Technical Data Package.

      • Esh325

        Britain used to have such a rich history of designing and making firearms, it’s a shame that’s all gone now.

      • W

        “Britain used to have such a rich history of designing and making firearms, it’s a shame that’s all gone now.”

        It is pitiful. Enfield, Holland & Holland, Accuracy International, all outstanding products. Then there is the destruction of L1A1s.

        One can only wonder what abortion of a firearm is going to be coughed up from britain after the L85. Like France, they wont be able to afford to R&D their own design. theyll have to outsource.

    • 6677

      In the UK several L98A1’s are availble on the civilian market. The L98A1 was a mix of both L85A1 and L86A1 LSW with the gas system removed effectively making it a straight pull bolt action weapon. Was originally intended for cadets although excess where sold and many cadet huts are now selling their rifles in favour of true bolt actions (many enfields lying around) and L98A2’s which are capable of semi automatic fire. Switch to full bolt actions is something to do with many cadets being too fucking retarded to not work out that you shouldn’t ride the charging handle forwards and causing feeding failures, load of rubbish if you ask me.

    • 6677

      Also I think there was a batch of riufles known as the PL85 sold as an 80% parts kit in the US.

      Otherwise your not likely to get one

  • Nicks87

    Great Britain, the great police state.

    Keep that shit on your side of the atlantic please.

    • Nadnerbus

      Inappropriate place for that and rude, in my opinion.

      • Nicks87

        Sorry the truth hurts.

        I love the british people but I never understood why they so easily give up their freedoms and privacy.

        1.85 million surveillance cameras in the U.K.

        No thanks!

    • Ray

      Like you don’t have civilians guarding your military installations. What a shame they didn’t ban machine gun mouths in 86 too.

      • Nicks87

        If you think America is anything like the U.K. you are clueless and have no basis for an opinion. Not only can we still own guns but we are not being watched by big brother 24/7 either.

      • Ray

        And neither are we. We have CCTV in public areas (just like you do) and a lot of buildings secure their perimeter with CCTV which accounts for most of the cameras. I also don’t need to remind you that you guys have the PATRIOT act and NDAA which gives your federal government a whole plethora of powers of mass surveillance which they pro-actively use.

        Now don’t mistake my defending my country for hating America because I don’t, far from it (I teach my children the sacrifice Americans made for my country in fact). I plan at some point in the future to attend gunsmith school and with any luck practice gunsmithing in the US. As a nearly boiled Frog I am telling you the temperature in your pot is approaching boiling point.

      • Nicks87

        I agree it’s getting worse in America but I dont think we will let it get to the point that it is in the U.K. Also, most of the surveillance being done in the states is being done in Democrat crontrolled welfare cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Etc.

        “I plan at some point in the future to attend gunsmith school and with any luck practice gunsmithing in the US.”

        …and we will welcome you with open arms, sir.

      • Nmate

        Yeah, New York, the one of the economic pillars of the world, a “welfare” city. It is probably the most economically powerful city in any country. Chicago, too, is very economically powerful.

        Detroit used to be, but it has been gutted by people more interested in short-term profit than long term growth. The fate that has befallen a lot of the Western nations.

    • cc19

      “Firearms, not politics.”

  • obsidian

    Photographer: here go Lad’s you Tommies hand your rifles to the Bobbies and I’ll have a go at taking a picture that will make people talk.
    Tommy: here go copper.
    Bobby: Bloody Hell these rifles are made of rubber!

  • Crisara772

    hey what the heck happened with the “not politics” statement