British Army L119 (C8 CQB)

British Royal Military Police reservists

The photos above and below were recently published in the UK Ministry Of Defense’s Defense Focus magazine. They show British reservists serving in Afghanistan providing protection for senior diplomats and military officers. What is interesting is that they are carrying the elusive L119 carbine. This is the carbine said to be favored by British SAS and other special forces. All the previous photos I have seen of this gun “in the wild” have been low resolution images of special forces (with every face blurred or blacked out).

UK Close Protection 1-2

The L119 is a variant of the Colt Canada C8 CQB with a 10″ barrel and enlarged magwell. The rifles in the picture appear different from the L119A1 version. Either they are entirely new weapons (L119A2 or L119A3) or they are L119A1 carbines with an upgraded upper receiver. They are using Magpul magazines and ACOG 4x (TA31) scopes with Killflash tubes and a RMR red dot sight mounted on top.

It is a nice piece of kit and perfectly suited to the type of VIP protection that involves constantly getting in and out of vehicles.

Thanks to Jonathan Ferguson and Trevor Weston for looking into the carbine’s offical designation for us.


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.


  • rychastings

    how can you tell that they are reservists?

    • cody

      They don’t have beards perhaps??

      • Leonard

        Here in Germany, it is usually the reservists that have beards (at home that is, in Afghanistan the picture might be different…) 😉

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      The photographs are from a magazine article about the reserves (you can see part of the word reserves in the second photo, you’ll just have to take my word for it!). I have a copy of the magazine and saw the photos and read the article. Some issues of the magazine are released online (seemingly at random…) a while after they are printed.

      • Steve (TFB Editor)

        Correct, the article was about reservists although I have not seen the article itself (but was told by someone who had that they were reservists … I am no expert on the UK military structure).

  • bando

    They are Military police close protection who might be territorial army (reserves)

    • Tom

      Would just add for anyone who is not aware that whilst Royal Military Police wear scarlet berets when doing close protection they will wear the beret colour of whom ever they are guarding but with the RMP cap badge.

  • Thatguy96

    I thought L119A1 was the designation for the C8 Special Forces Weapon. These C8 CQB types would likely have received a different designation if other designations are any indication.

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      These are a bit of a quirk in the system, in that both versions are designated (as far as I know) as the L119A1. If you ever actually see one close up they both have the exact same lower receiver and are marked as an L119A1. I think the way this came about is that the SFW was initially bought as a replacement/supplement for the various full length AR-15 variants (Colt and Diemaco) that were used by UKSF and few other units. Then some of these were modified to have a 10″ barrel (not sure if the whole upper was changed or just the barrel) and it was this variant that was also adopted by close protection units. However it was never given a new designation hence both are L119A1s.

      • Thatguy96

        Sounds similar to the US SPR and CQBR before they started buying weapons in a stock configuration. I could see that there might not have been any reason to spend money on entire weapons if they could just mate the new uppers to the existing L1119A1 lowers.

  • Colin

    I’d have to agree with Thatguy96, just look at the minimi (L108A1 and L110A1).
    The magpul emag isnt really a suprise considering we did order a million of them and with the ELCAN Specter offically replacing the SUSAT your going to see the ACOG appear on other platforms too.
    All that being said, great to see the photo’s 🙂

  • Phil Brereton

    The red dot sight is the Shield SMS not the RMR

    • avconsumer2

      Good eye. I believe you are right.

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      You’re totally right. I was wavering between the two until an optics contact of ours said ‘RMR’. It’s the SMS, big brother to the reflex on top of the nee LDS.

      Steve, could you make the correction please?

  • Mabey

    Opp use it at are standered in car carbine.

  • Clint Notestine

    Fab Defense mag well grip too

    • Joe Schmoe

      And foregrip+flashlight holder as well (one unit, had it in the army). The guy on the right looks like he has the CAA Foregrip+bipod combo.

  • Lance

    SO the SAS adopts our Mk-18 CQC. Not surprised. Im so happy to see how much of NATO and the allied nations adopt the Stoner system over over hyped piston guns.

    • iksnilol

      That last sentence is so silly in my honest opinion. The Stoner is the only rifle using a DI system while every other rifle uses some form of piston (except HK rifles). I read about some other one that isn’t used anymore that also used the DI system.

      TL;DR: Piston guns have been used long time, can’t say they are over-hyped.

      • Joshua

        Not true, there are at least 3 other weapons in use that I can think of that employ the stoner system.

        I agree normal piston operated rifles are not over-hyped but they do not offer any benefit to the modern day M4A1 or M4CQBR. We had the MK16 for a while and it was a POS when we had them, and there are other AAR’s you can view if you have the ability from where different groups tested the CQBR against the HK416, none found any benefit to a op rod driven ar-15.

        • iksnilol

          You are probably correct. I stick to AK’s, I grew up with them and trust them.

        • Esh325

          I can’t think of any commonly used firearms besides the M16 and M4 that employ the Stoner gas system.

          “AAR’s you can view if you have the ability from where different groups
          tested the CQBR against the HK416, none found any benefit to a op rod
          driven ar-15.”
          I’ve never heard that before. Source?

          • Joshua

            10th Special Forces Group and a few others have released AAR’s of performance between the CQBR and HK416(10.4″) though all were done after the Mk18 and CQBR had a few years to be figured out. I do not believe any are open source at this moment, though they can be acquired via FOIA if you are in America, there will be some information withheld.

            The Daewoo K11 and Kh2002 both employ Stoners system and theres one more that I cannot remember, but the most common is the AR-15.

          • Esh325

            THe Daewoo K11 and Kh2002 aren’t commonly used. With regards to the CQBR and HK416 testing, something that nobody will ever see is not much good as a source.

          • Joshua

            Only sensitive things would be withheld, numbers would not be.

            FOIA is there for a reason, while my source is not open source is attainable.

            That said the testing is in the system and available for those who want it through legal means. Plenty have seen the testing, they often just are not part of the general public.

            SOCOM has a lot of information regarding the SCAR, HK416, and the M4A1 and CQBR/MK18. it’s similar how there is a ton of testing showing the benefits to a free float rail compared to the RAS, it’s there but not to the general public without invoking FOIA.

          • Esh325

            Just because you might ask for it doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

        • FourString

          FN SCAR Mk16 “was a POS”?—Wait what?????? This is the first time I’ve heard THAT claim.

          • Joshua

            Ours had multiple issues.

            The recoil pattern would often break optics.
            The reliability was less than optimal.
            And it would snap bolts any where from 1,000-5,000 rounds when run hard, We also had a few occurrences of broken receivers as well.

            These have not really been seen on the MK17 aside from it cycling like a bolt action if you don’t keep the rails lubricated, other than that though the 17 shows only minor issues, though we don’t have any other weapons in the system to compare it to, and the MK20 is not really that accurate of a weapon.

            Oh and broken stocks and latches were common.

          • FourString

            I didn’t downvote you but just wondering, who do you mean by “we”?

          • Joshua

            No problem I’m not worried about the down votes, they always come when I speak of my experiences with the Mk16.

            By we, I mean those of us who were issued them. There is not a ton of info out there about the rifles because those who were part of the trials are to this day held to a NDA, so finding info is hard but there are those like myself who were issued them for a short period and have made mention of the issues experienced.

          • FourString

            Were these the prototypes or the production models? Which group/agency were you a part of? Just wondering about specifics because it sounds interesting

    • Joshua

      They have had these a while, also have some 16″ variants as well.

    • Canadian_Gun_Owner

      The Mk.18 ( or the CQBR, the designations gets muddle up there) is American, and I do believe ONLY the US uses them. The C8 is a Canadian variant of the Canadian-developed C7 rifle (developed parallel to the M16A2), and is use by many european countries.
      Yeah, I don’t want to confused something Canadian with something American here.

      • Too Old for This Crap

        Only thing Canadian about the C7 and C8 is the markings on the receiver.

        • Anonymoose

          The barrel is different, and the C7-series is full-auto like the M16A3. Also, the C7A2 has a retractable stock, and they all come with green furniture and weaver rails.

          • Joshua

            All of which is just slight variations of what we have in the US. the barrel profile difference came from the adoption of the HK under barrel launcher.

          • Anonymoose

            Yeah, and those slight variations are more than just “different receiver markings.”

          • Joshua

            No where did I say they were just receiver marking….go back and read what I wrote.

          • Anonymoose

            Too Old for This Crap is the one who said it was only receiver markings that made them different.

    • Man pippy

      Must be budget cuts, cause Delta and SASR now use HK416.

      • Joshua

        Delta adopted the HK416 around the time the Mk18 was first being tested and at that time left much to be desired, by now we have figured some things out.

        The CQBR performs practically on par with the hk416 but to DELTA their hk416 is a full fleeted weapon system with logistics backing it.

    • colin

      Lance, how are piston guns “over hyped”? Is this more trolling from you or do you have undeniable evedence to to prove otherwise?

      • Colin


      • Joshua

        Over hyped indeed. Nothing wrong with a good Op rod driven weapon, but as we have found in testing most offer little to no improvement over a modified M4A1 or CQBR, and a lot of brands leave much to be desired.

        Op rod driven AR’S have their own issues, even the HK416 only offers 10-15,000 rounds for the bolt life and it uses a steel that’s much stronger than C158 used in the standard bolt which generally offers 10-12,000 rounds bolt life.

        But the hk416. Is a real performer and much easier to attain type foreign countries than relying on our export laws too get them the pasta out rifles they need.

  • SP mclaughlin

    I think the L22A1 would be even more ideal for VIP transport, but that model doesn’t seem to get around very much.

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      Close protection teams have always favoured a conventional layout gun rather than a bullpup, before the L119A1 they used the HK53 (L101A1). I imagine part of the reason for this is historical in that when they started using the HK53s there was no SA80 carbine. Also, conventional guns also have the advantage that they can be fired more easily from either shoulder, which is a big advantage for VIP protection where you may need to fire out of car windows and stuff like that. The L22A2 is also pretty unergonomic TBH as it is so short and all the weight is to the back, it is a trade off to make the shortest possible weapon with still a useful barrel length that can be carried by aircraft and armored vehicle crews (and has since been adopted by other specialists like EOD and dog handlers who use it purely as a PDW, and Royal Marine/Navy boarding parties who sometimes need an incredibly short weapon to use inside ships corridors).

    • nygas98

      They are probably using special forces derived close protection drills based around MP5s and M4/C8s

  • Ian

    Definitely TA01 acogs, they aren’t dual illuminated.

  • If memory serves, the SAS actually prefer a C8 variant with a 16″ barrel. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • huggsww

      You use one AR-variant, you’re using all of them.

  • cars15

    C8 CQBs are replacing HK53s.

  • As a Canadian: this article makes go “oooOOoooo”

  • CanadianGunslinger

    I believe the SAS uses the C8 SFW, not the CQB

  • ddearborn

    NO expense is to great, no detail to minor when it comes to protecting the upper echelon and their masters the ruling elites. On the other hand the local police are as likely to gun you down in the street as they are to apprehend any bad guys…….And to think these bums at the top are getting you and me to pay for their protection!

  • Scott GBR

    The L85 (SA80 to everyone else) is not used as widely by the British Army as the rest of the world thinks. It is NOT airborne approved, in other words, you can’t jump out of an aircraft with one. The L119 is what fills in the gap as a personal weapon, a L110A1 (modified Minimi) filling the gap of the L86 LSW. At least this is what the pathfinders and 1 btn PARA (SF support group) do. I don’t know how the other three btn’s of the para’s go on when they go cloud surfing (they definitely use L85’s when in a standard infantry role).

    That doesn’t really help as to why RMP CP are using them. All I can think is that they’ve managed to persuade someone up top that they need a carbine because of the vehicle role. I guess you can persuade VIP’s when you’re the guys protecting them. A good friend of mine was out in Iraq circa 2003 (6 months post invasion) around Basra. He was non-infantry and was still using the L85A1 with iron sights. Even more fun was that he found himself in a driving role, SOP being that your individual weapon is in the gun rack. Well, I don’t know if anyone has ever tried grabbing a L85 from your left and trying to position it so it’s safe to fire (right hand only, ejection is designed to punish southpaws) while taking fire, it’s a hell of an experience. Well, despite numerous requests for something more practical, like a ancient hi-power to bludgeon hostiles with, it was denied time after time. He eventually resorted to carrying his bayonet on his left shoulder (which he had to move to his belt as it looked “too rambo-y”). L22’s were rarer than rare, I’m of the understanding that they create more problems than solutions and are heading to the scrap pile as soon as can be justified.

    My point being, RMP CP have a lot of clout, someone has a groovy armourer or it’s a sign that the L85 actually might be slowly getting binned.

  • DNACowboy

    Word to the wise, the SFSG have been using the HK416 since Iraq.

    • Joshua

      Alot of the British SF groups do use the L119 still, and for the foreseeable future. They recently placed a contract with Colt Canada for upgrades to be made for their aging L119’s.