A small British engineering company called AEI, based at Ascot a few miles outside London, is best known for making gun barrels for aircraft and for heavy machine guns. The company has recently begun branching into small arms weapon design. At the DSEi Arms Expo in London this week they revealed one of the most interesting firearms I have seen in a while now.
The STA 50A (pictured above) is a lightweight, fully suppressed .50 BMG semi-automatic rifle designed with special forces in mind. I am told it has a novel locking system inside and that this, combined with finely tuned hydraulics and recoil springs, results in significantly reduced recoil. The company says the rifle has been designed to be fireable from the shoulder in the off hand (standing unsupported) position.
As you can see in the photos, this is a bulky rifle system, but apparently it does not weigh as much as it looks. Our spy told us that he estimated it weighed 30 lbs and suspected they are using expensive alloys to achieve this weight given the bulk of the rifle. For comparison, an unsuppressed Barrett M82 weights just under 30 lbs.
The company was not willing to reveal much more about the gun. We do know it uses a 5 round box magazine and the platform has been designed to scale up. If the .50 caliber concept works, they will produced a 20mm version, which will also be capable ot being fired offhand! Now that would be something worth seeing!
The company also had a mockup of another variant of this rifle on display. This version is named the STA50B and it uses a more complex hydraulic recoil system. It looks like something that should be mounted on the side of a helicopter, or the front of an A-10 Thunderbolt, not shouldered!
I look forward to hearing more about this gun. AEI, if you are reading us, please invite us to a test firing!