Why won’t you die? L85A3 prototype photos released to public

SA80A3-UGL

“Beneath this mask of a failed bullpup there is more than double feeds and malfunctions. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof, especially when they jam!”, in other words, the SA80/L85 bullpup rifle platform probably wouldn’t be too good at being in anti-establishment movies, considering that the platform itself is a product of the establishment. In all fairness, the L85A2 has come leaps and bounds since its problem years in the 1990s and early in the British involvement of OIF, or Op Telic.

This week at the Defense Vehicle Dynamics exposition held in Millbrook Proving Ground outside of the town of Bedford in the U.K, the MoD was showcasing a prototype of what might become the L85A3 to the public. Combat & Survival wrote about it, and it looks like they erroneously labeled it as the SA80A3 when in fact the British Army is on the L85A2, not the SA80A2. From their posting-

Part of a feasibility study for the SA80A2 Mid Life Improvement project, which aims to prolong the in-service life of the UK Forces’ 5.56mm weapon beyond its 2025 OSD, the A3 prototype includes a number of modifications including:-.
¤ a safety stud placed above the change lever on the trigger mechanism housing to ensure that this lever does not over-rotate,
¤ the Weaver rail on top of the upper receiver being taken off and a full length Picatinny rail fitted – this will allow day sight and night sight to be mounted in tandem,
¤  a new foregrip, or quadrail, as part of the new full-length rail which will be attached slightly differently to the current one allowing the barrel to be more free-floating than at present to improve accuracy and  consistency,
¤ redesign of the A3 upper receiver for improved reliability and maintainability over the current A2 variant,
¤ and colour change to Matt Earth for better compatibility with MTP camouflage uniforms.

At this stage the A3 model, of which ten prototypes have been produced, is a feasibility study but as much of the A2 stocks have seen extensive combat service in Iraq &/or Afghanistan since introduction in late 2001 they deserve a speedy upgrade.

So really the changes we are looking at here are modifications to the upper receiver and the handguard. The handguard and combined full length rail system probably have the largest changes, finish to Matte Earth (didn’t realize that color existed prior to this article, can’t find any examples on it elsewhere), side rails to what appear to be Key Mod, back up iron sights, a much more slimmer and modular quad rail system (to include the Key Mod), full length rail system, and then some internal changes to the design. The ensuing pictures come from ThinkDefense, a UK based defense blog.

Virtus-DES-2016-176-1001 Virtus-DES-2016-176-1006

Bare in mind that all these upgrades are apart of a Mid Life improvement program, so this doesn’t even mean the MoD will be getting a new rifle, it just means they will be updating the L85A2s they have now to A3 versions. In addition, these are just prototypes so the final changes might not have anything to actually do with what we see here. The article mentions this is supposed to get the military to 2025, so if Britain is in the ballpark of a new rifle competition then, it’ll be an interesting turnout. In addition to the above statement, we have these details about the modification of the rifle

The Dismounted Close Combat Programme team, part of the UK Ministry of Defence, intends to place a contract for the Equipped to Fight Improvement (EFI) programme for the modification of 5 000 SA80 weapons with Heckler & Koch GMBH & Co for work to be completed by March 2017. The estimated contract value is 2 700 000 GBP. The contract will require the supplier to modify the existing SA80 A2 weapon by fitting a combination of new and modified components. Specific tolerances of materials are needed along with exact dimensions and surface finishes on the components to allow for interoperability with the existing system, particularly when managing the variable interface caused by differing rates of wear of existing components which are recycled as part of the programme. There are very high risks involved in managing the variable tolerances and manufacturing processes when combining new and existing weapon components.

SA80A3-right

Virtus-DES-2016-176-1025 Virtus-DES-2016-176-1014

In case you need getting caught up, here is an example of an earlier L85A2 that was rebuilt by H&K, compared to the L85A2, which is currently in use across the MoD. Notice the change in scope from the SUSAT, Trijicon, and the Elcan in the pictures above. Currently the MoD actually uses all three scopes within the rifle inventory. With the exception of any of Britains SF (SBS, SAS, and some of the Paras and Royal Marine Fleet Security Force), which are much more interested in the AR platform than a committee designed rifle.

23shriv3

And this is the original SA80 from the 1980s as issued. In fact the name SA80 comes from Small Arms of the 80s.

A close-up view of a British SA-80 fully assembled.

A close-up view of a British SA-80 fully assembled.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Major Tom

    You can polish a turd until it’s a glossy greasy shine but in the end it’s still a turd.

    The L-85/86 family is quite a turd.

    • Juice

      Or in the modern firearms industry, just make the turd tan.

      • Gary Kirk

        And put keymod or m-lock( or anything magpul) on it

        • DaveP

          “Tactical. “

          • Colin

            Yeah you xenophobic Americans are right .Your always right and will always be right no matter what .go USA no1. World police # yeah !! My other sensible post not allowed…

          • Colin

            Why a turd list reasons . Hk made it work . Proven in actual real combat. Heavy, not economic, maybe yes . L129ai (AR )dual controls catch on webbing as well. cheapish and good politics to update not buy new.( brits are borrowers ). If M4 king ?? why seals mk18/ scar ,marines m27, rangers scar. etc spooks and frogs special equipment special jobs right ! but stop commenting on stuff unless you used and know about it and don’t be so condescending to other countries. This what makes this blog wrong . Canada bad ,Australia bad ,brits bad ,French bad ( okay give you that one ) etc .texas great .California bad. fudds bad .glocks bad .1911 great .REALLY, World series ????

          • Zachary marrs

            What the blue F**K are you talking about?

          • Raginzerker

            Dude….you ok?

          • Colin

            Dude, why is it a turd, MAN . Facts ,reasons. MAN. I mean dude ????????? not American enough ! MAN ! Answer the questions DUDE . Stop putting OTHER people down ,Dude ,MAN…..

          • AC97

            I think you should chill.

          • Colin

            Just answer the questions then . STOP Telling me what to do .I’m a free man in a free country . Taxes yeah I know .Stop bullying on TB .

          • AC97

            If telling you to “chill” is what you consider bullying, then I don’t know what to tell you.

          • Colin

            Because your stating your opinion is superior to mine. And I should just shut up… Gun facts. Not politics.

          • Raginzerker

            I ment that for that Colin guy, seems to be blowing a gasket

          • Colin

            TB gun facts . Not politics / opinions.Why should it DIE / A turd is not a gun fact . Why is that opinion better than other people that know / used said equipment . Cos it’s American ???? Back up your claim or shut up .. just putting other people down is WRONG and is bullying , it should not be allowed on a civilized forum . TB sort your house out !!

          • 40mmCattleDog

            Shut the hell up and quit arguing against no one you freaking goon. You look hilarious trying to bait people into arguments and its pathetic you have invested so much of your ego into the L85. Lay down the icehouse and take a walk.

          • Colin

            Is that a fact .

          • 40mmCattleDog

            100% fact. Or did you wanna go complain more to your mom about all the big mean Americans online and their harsh words.

          • Colin

            DEAR TFB. .BULLYING OK is it .

          • Colin

            My mom’s dead . As an Englishman I’m not scared of anything.except taxes.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            Oh god lol SJW tactics. Brilliant.

          • Colin

            BULLYING is not a way to win a conversation . BUT HARD factual evidence-based items will every single time.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            Your truly pathetic if you think toungue in cheek comments about your irrational hate of Americans because we like what we like is seriously “bullying” LOL. Have fun arguing with yourself over there pal.

          • Colin

            It’s all right to slag off anything tongue in cheek of course with no factual bases except USA got it NOW . Wouldn’t happen again .I deeply and wholeheartedly apologize to anybody who took offense to my USA jokes. Now back up with facts what you said about Sa80a2. “””.Crappy turd rifle should die.”””

          • Vanns40

            Do you need a safe space? Address your comments/complaints to “Phil/TFB”. He takes this bullying stuff very seriously as he’s been known to eat someone’s lunch upon occasion. BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

          • Kivaari

            Bullying? It is really hard to bully someone using a computer. It’s not like yanking some 7th graders shorts up or locking them in their locker.

          • Colin

            Internet BULLYING is still BULLYING.

          • iksnilol

            Well, depends, I mean, people can and have gone crazy from ongoing harassment.

            Whether that harassment is online or in the mail doesn’t seem to make much difference.

            Regardless, I don’t really think we’re bullying Colin.

          • NeoBlackdog

            Tissue?

          • Raginzerker

            Dude, the only thing I said was it looked ugly, chill

          • FarmerB

            Yeah, I just did a refresh and his comments disappeared. Slow blowing a gasket for sure.

          • Colin

            Why it’s a turd. Why does USA use multiple rifles . THEN Why do tell the rest of the whole world just to use a M4.

          • Colin

            a TB article on new Canadian rifle . comments section full of people slagging of Canada . Basically for not being good old US of A.

          • Zachary marrs

            Is English your first language?

            For all the things the M4 is well suited for, we use it for.

            So do lots of ther people.

          • iksnilol

            Comrade Zekria, step back, get some popcorn, enjoy life.

            Small things in life and all.

          • 40mmCattleDog

            I remember my first beer.

          • Colin

            If a TB review just said ” good ” rifle YOU asked them to list the reasons it’s good. I’m asking why is this rifle a ” turd” .is because it’s not American ???

          • Kivaari

            It just carries a reputation even from the British press as to being a bad rifle. One suggested that replacing it with a sharpened stick would be an improvement. That is an old British opinion that seems to have stuck in the minds of many people. Does it work OK?. I know it took HK to build parts that fit and worked better than the British built parts. Did that solve those problems that made even the British gun press think it was a crappy rifle?

          • Colin

            Please show me these bad press reports about crappy SA80A2 . THATS all I ask . Facts not conjure . Please back up that statement . Gun facts not politics.

          • Kivaari

            Try Aerospace’s Defense Update 85. A British publication perhaps older than you are.

          • Colin

            Wrong twice 1 .1985 SA80A2 Hk fixed reliable rifle not invented yet…2 I’m over 50 years old ….NEXT.

          • Kivaari

            That doesn’t change the FACT that the rifle developed a bad reputation. The bad reputation reported in British gun and military press, albeit old, is still the reputation people remember. Just like the M16 from early in the Vietnam era, where people judge today’s M4A1 and M16A2/3 by those early troubles, now 50 years ago. Old negative press can take decades to escape. That is why I asked you if the problems were really fixed. You took it as an insult. You simply can’t accept that some people remember junk reports. Like the M16 the L85 may be a great weapon today.

          • Kivaari

            You missed something. I ASKED you questions. You avoided answering those questions. Now I don’t have those old British magazines left. But from memory one was as mentioned below Defense Update 85.

          • Colin

            SA80A2 RIFLE . SORRY that’s too early must talking about non SA80A2 reliable rifle.

          • Uniform223

            I think I remember my first beer but it becomes a bit of a haze.

          • A Fascist Corgi

            Not to mention that football = fatball/handeggball.

          • Colin

            Do you mean footy/football . A game that KICKS a ball . The most WORLD wide played game, with billions of players in the whole WORLD at a WORLD CUP for multiple WORLD OF different countries. more comments from someone who knows absolutly NOTHING about the subject !!!! but yet stills Slags off the person anyways. Facts . That what you want from TB .

          • AC97

            And your point is…?

          • Colin

            Gun facts . Not just bullying.

          • AC97

            Going on a sports tangent doesn’t help your case, period.

          • Colin

            It does when it proves ignorant people who don’t know what they’re talking about ,still find it necessary to bully/ belittle other people just for laughs , EGO ,make themselves better. I did not start sport theme. But DON’T mention inconvenient FACTS as it ruins you attempt to undermine my credence.

          • Kivaari

            Socker.

          • Colin

            In america yes .you should be proud of your top rated world class ladies soccer team.well good.

          • Jake

            Really…I’ve worked with both SEALS, Army SF, and Rangers who periodically shared our battlespace in the sandbox, and with the exception of the SCAR heavy for roughly one man per squad, they all actually used M4s. Don’t believe the hype, soldiers universally go with what is lightest when it comes down to it. So yes, the M4 is still king.

          • Colin

            Thank you sir for your service.. Fact seals don’t use lighter mk18. M4 instead . Marines m27 not M4. All I’m saying is there are other opinions /weapons in the world eg ak. Stop and get a expert ( like your kind self ) from that country involved to give you the” gun facts” before making such a bold statement .” politics”. You done it before Russian articles.

          • AC97

            “Fact seals don’t use lighter mk18.”

            *Citation needed

            “Marines m27 not M4.”

            Bullsh*t, they replaced the M16 with the M4, not the M27, so what the hell are you talking about?

          • Colin

            Jake says all use m4 including seals . He’s served so I’ll bow down to his excellent first hand much appreciated knowledge. Marines m27 individual assault rifle is not M 4. Not everybody uses M4. More importantly those who don’t are not fools.

          • Kivaari

            Marines adopted the M4 carbine after the M27 experiment.

          • Colin

            M4 American vs M27 German . REALLY ? do you want say m4 is better than m27. That’s why the m27 did not get wider issued. is that a TBF gun fact not politics !. I missed that on TFB 20 mag carrying marine m27 gunner live fire practice article picture..

          • Kivaari

            I am saying the US Marines adopted the M4 carbine in October of 2015. It has nothing to do with the M27. It is the Marines adopted the M4 carbine over the M16A4. It really is that simple. Do you understand that it is that simple? M4 adopted.

          • Colin

            Where did I say the marines did not adopt m4 rifles .Get your FACTS straight.

          • Core

            M4A1 technically. I am fairly positive the MC followed the Navys lead and got rid of burst fire around the time I entered service.

          • Kivaari

            The burst fire system just adds a hand full of parts that provide only negatives.

          • Joshua

            90% of SEALs do use the Mk18.

            DEVGRU(or whatever they’re calling themselves now) are the only user of the HK416 in the SEAL teams and even then they have plenty of M4A1s.

          • Kivaari

            The Marines adopted the M4 carbine. Plenty of units still have M16A2/3s. Rotating those out from all the units takes time.

          • Colin

            Marines adopt m27 which is not a M4 rifle is all I said.

          • Evan

            M27 was adopted to replace the M249 SAW in Marine fire teams. This is only in some units and was a result of 1.) the M249 SAW is the least reliable infantry weapon used by the US forces; and 2.) in experiences in urban combat in Ramadi and Fallujah, they felt a smaller lighter “automatic rifle” concept was a benefit, especially in protracted variable firefights in urban areas.

            Army and Marine fire teams are organized differently; Marines use larger teams, therefore they felt the tradeoff of belt fed for mag fed rifles was fair.

            Army fire teams are smaller and haven’t followed suit, although they’ve been investing considerable time and resources into a SAW successor, cased telescoping ammo, caseless ammo, etc. all of which TFB has great article coverage on.

          • Core

            Colin the M27 is a modified version of the Colt IAR which has been around for a while. The M27 is a niche weapon adopted to supplement M4 deficiency in sustained suppressive fire. It is a supplemental weapon to replace heavier light machine guns. The M4A1 is really the most versatile weapon right now versus other similar platforms. It ranges well, has high fire rates, especially with the new barrel. But an open bolt / belt fed system is the gap filler seen with the IAR and M27. There is actually an open bolt M4 commercial design that poses issues for socom by not having a sealed system per say. But the switch that alternates from closed to open bolt is the next step in the evolution of the M4A1. It really sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder with the whole US versus UK thing. I worked with MI5 and Commandos, we all fought together and bled together, our blood is the same color. You English are top rate people, just don’t get us Yankees going on gun control laws, it’s a sensitive subject for us. I hope you can see past the knee jerk reactions and find common ground with us.

          • Kivaari

            Yep!

          • Kivaari

            Marines did adopt the M4A1 in October of 2015. The M27 program was not connected to the M4A1 program.

          • I see nothing to justify that conclusion including the French.

          • Colin

            Any article on a non USA. Item always has people telling them it’s better in USA your country craps . Americans telling Aussies about gun control in Australia. British police being unarmed .Stupid canucks ( is that a racist slur ) in Canada. Complaints about German gun control / non imports .etc etc.French joke , Englishman.

          • Kivaari

            We bash British, Australian, Canadian and many US states gun laws. Many of us feel that the gun laws in many places is wrong. Many British cops are armed. We feel the people should be free to own any damn gun they like. ANY gun. That isn’t slamming the people out side of government. American gun owners feel that the destruction of 650,000 guns in Australia was wrong. It hurt the people. We also know that rural ans small town USA has lower crime rates than the UK and western Europe. The Canadians are in a similar boat, but so are people from NY, MD, MA, CA, DC, MD, CT and NJ. Many of us despise the politicians that passed those laws. We live by a constitution that is ignored by government. WE hate that.

          • Colin

            Gun facts Fantastic. Just Slagging people off NO. All I ‘ve asked is back up such bold statements with concrete facts Why you said what you said BUT I was shot down big time…as an Englishman I take the p all the time. But it isn’t malicious or vindictive .

          • Kivaari

            Get back to the gun issue. I answered you regarding the M4 carbine. The Marines did adopt it. I gave you references to where I got some of my information in the British defense press. You seriously don’t think I should have hung onto 25 year old magazines do you? You couldn’t even answer simple questions I posed without going on a personal attack or a generalized attack against people. You write as if you think every commenter is part of TFB staff. Only those marked with the TFB logo and “staff” speak for TFB.
            IF the L85 is doing great it would be nice to see an official report saying all is well and good. Keep in mind that for 10 years all the reports were bad. Only after HK took over did there appear to be improvement, but little of that makes it to the US gun media. I just happened to have a couple copies of British magazines that rarely show up on US store shelves. I even wrote an article for Aerospace, for which they never paid me.

          • Colin

            I never said us marines did not adopt it .I implied they may reasons they didn’t adopt more m27 which not a M4 king of rifles.TBF Staff can delete any post they want so why keep non factual offensive based ones up /going . All I asked for was these Hk fixed SA80A2 BAD PRESS articles, FACT ,where are they PLEASE. I’m only a mirror so reflect what I see .You slagg me off which I didn’t start by the way ,FACT. I’ll respond in kind I not taking crap about my mom ,etc off anyone .How can anyone condone that .Gun facts not politics. stop twisting things round .Now where’s your proof.

          • Simon Cat Parnell

            Many British cops are not armed. A very small minority of trained firearms officers are. If you think everyone should be able to have ANY gun you are wilfully stupid. You would give a paranoid schizophrenic a machine gun? Behave. Small town USA doesn’t have lower crime rates than small town UK or small town anywhere in europe, only if you cherry pick. They are incomparable, for example firearm discharges are recorded as a firearms offence in most of Europe and they are not in the US. The constitution never said everyone should have access to firearms. It referred explicitly and limited it to the “people” as militias where weapons are to be held in a secure location to be used against an unjust government or as tools of hunting etc.

          • Tritro29

            Hum. Let me tell you a couple of things. First. The SA-series was a turd when it was conceived.

            ° Not ambidextrous.
            ° Not Easy to clear MF.

            ° Painfully flimsy when it first was introduced. Not much has changed.

            ° It was issued with three PVC furnitures. Because you will invariably “bang” up all of them on the field.

            ° The charging lever was…well crap.

            ° Ergonomic…what is Ergonomics*?
            ° Big issues with barrels being too light, then with the barrels being too heavy.
            ° Big issues with dust and dirt.

            In comparison…the French FAMAS has about 0 issues related to the design of the gun, rather the choices made once the mother organisation swapped ammunition and the French being cheap frogs.

          • You just signed up are you sure you want to start this way? This tone won’t fly for long.

          • Colin

            been reading commenting for few years . I call it as I see it . paddies day article .EH . no bullying just gun facts .

          • Kivaari

            Phil, Did Colin self delete his posts? He was quite obnoxious.

        • Colin

          M-lok YEAH . DEAR TB writers ( gun facts not politics). I would love to see a well written researched article on which facts ( gun facts not politics ) On why the battle proven cost effective SA80 Series of guns should be left to die . Which gun should then replace it and how to sell this brand new costly weapon system to the general public in Britain in this time of financial uncertainties as you have so clearly stated as aTB gun fact that’s a turd that sf don’t use

          • Gary Kirk

            Hey sparky, not to ruffle your feathers there.. But I’m not a part of TFB, or any of it’s affiliations. Nor am I in any way besides cordially connected to any of their writers, or contributors. So please do not take your misguided aggression out on them and instead waste your time yelling at me personally.

            And as to your post.. You can find people that LOVE the M-14, I personally am one.. But doesn’t mean that it isn’t a weapons system without it’s own drawbacks.. Of which the original SA80 had many, and to this day the L85/86 series still have. THE SAME PROBLEMS!!

            At least address the inherent issue, before just dressing the rifle up.. What is it now? 6 generations, still double feeds and jamming?…

          • Colin

            A3 , third gen . GUN FACT . Can PLEASE direct me all these SA80A2 jamming double feed problems . Government or MOD or news reports ,pdf files, etc thank you so very much.

          • Anon E. Maus

            The M16A4 would be a good basis for a new rifle, replace the quadrail, then give it an adjustable stock, and you’re done!

          • It should be left to die, because it jams constantly, misfeeds, the handguards fall off…it just doesn’t work. Enough facts for you? The Brit soldiers and bootnecks I’ve talked to have cordually hated this POS for 30 years…it’s so bad, bootnecks who came over to Camp LeJeune in the 1980’s would draw M16a1’s to get away from the damn thing (M16a1 was a terrible battle rifle). What more do you want?

          • n0truscotsman

            In afghanistan, even skeptical Brits became preferential towards the M4 eventually. After handling and running rounds with the L85, the opposite occurred.

            note: I am biased because I hate bullpups.

          • Kivaari

            Well maintained M16A1s are great rfiles. An issue 30 years ago with Marine boot camp was the sue of very worn range rifles. Once they started issuing sound quality rifles, the biggest problems on the range simply went away.

      • Colin

        Are you a parrot and just repeat what others say . Please back up your statement , I love to hear your first hand account of your experiences with it as to why it’s a turd. Or are you sheep following the flock just bleeting out what others say trying to make YOURSELF look clever ??

        • Gary Kirk

          Because all iterations of the sa80 have proven themselves more than less to have major feeding issues.. That are extremely hard to remedy.. And yes I have used one. And no I would not recommend it in a combat environment.. Yeah, they look neat, and hey, if it’s your cup of tea (pun intended) than go ahead and love them brother.. But don’t hate the rest of the world.. Because, generally.. When 50% of the world agrees on either the AR or AK, but 99% agrees that the sa80 is trash.. Generally speaking, when you have a problem with everyone.. The problem is you.

          • Colin

            Thank you also for your service.. Nope sa80 is not my cup of tea . All I’ve wanted is hard facts from people to back up such bold statements . As I’m sick and tired of non USA bashing / bullying on TFB Site. What regiment did you serve .

          • Kivaari

            You don’t see much bashing of Belgian and German stuff here. FN and HK are making some damn fine rifles and machineguns. Do the Brits make any small arms for military service? It’s my understanding that they no longer make anything related to small arms except ammunition.

          • Colin

            Nope just minor specialist players .accuracy international .Holland & Holland etc. so USA uses foreign MADE weapons too. What about berry act ?

          • UWOTM8

            Colin, is this picture of you particularly recent?

          • Vanns40

            Can I just sit back with my FAL, AR, AK & a beer and HOPE at least one person will join me? 🙂

        • Juice

          I just wanted to make a joke about the influx of tan weapons and tan furniture for service adoption. I don’t have any feelings towards the SA80 family at all, sorry your jimmies got tingled.

          • Colin

            Jim jams got tangled. English dear boy ! So why turd comment then…

    • HenryV

      Some are surprisingly loyal to it. Then you find the only firearm they have handled is the L85Ax. But they know better because you are just a mere civilian and they are in the army. 🙂

      • ozzallos .

        God I hate that attitude. And it extends to any number of topics.

        • HenryV

          It is an adequate firearm. It’s only possible claim to fame is that it was perhaps, only perhaps, slightly more reliable than the early M4 maybe. Back in the early 90s I carried the A1 version over a few weekends and it reminded me of those old cheap Chinese AK’s. Cheap doesn’t necessarily bad just as expensive doesn’t necessarily mean good.

          • Blake

            I don’t think there’s any validity that it was ever better than the M4. You could say that it was better than the early M16s, but by the time the M4 was standardized that rifle was solid.

          • John

            Then Iraq happened. Urban fighting, clearing out rooms and buildings, moving and shooting in small places. The M16 wasn’t solid enough for that, and the M4’s compact size, once seen as a hindrance for long-range shooting, became a sought-after attribute for close-quarters shooting.

          • A Fascist Corgi

            But a bullpup like the SA80 is superior to the M4 in that type of combat environment.

            All of the people bashing bullpups are full of crap in my opinion. It’s a superior design. You get a longer barrel in a smaller package. The only minor downsides are awkward ergonomics in very specific shooting stances that a soldier would barely ever use.

            Even though the latest trend around the world is to move away from bullpups, I see that reversing in the future as new bullpup designs like the Desert Tech MDR come out.

          • Kivaari

            If you are saying the bullpups are superior in house to house or room to room fighting, the barrel length is of no importance. An M4 is better because it can be fired from either shoulder. Pretty much any modern rifle having a conventional layout is better than any bullpup. Size?

          • A Fascist Corgi

            “If you are saying the bullpups are superior in house to house or room to room fighting, the barrel length is of no importance. An M4 is better because it can be fired from either shoulder. Pretty much any modern rifle having a conventional layout is better than any bullpup. Size?”

            Of course the overall length of a firearm is important in urban combat. Could you use a rifle with an overall length of 46 inches in urban combat? Sure. But I’d much rather have a rifle with a 26-inch overall length.

            As to shoulder swapping, it’s a stupid modern tacticool trend in my opinion. I don’t know what the modern training is like in special operation units that focus on room clearing, but I’m subscribed to a couple dozen combat footage channels on YouTube. I watch combat footage from around the world on a daily basis. I’ve seen footage of Delta Force, the SAS, SEALs, et cetera, training and fighting within houses and buildings, and I can’t remember seeing a single example of someone doing a shoulder swap with their rifle – especially during actual combat. If anyone reading this is a member of a special operations unit, then feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

            And besides, bullpups with downward or forward ejection already exist.

          • Kivaari

            Swapping sides provides for more protection to the rest of your body. Like handgunners shooting from the left and right side of a barricade (corner) it is best to use the left hand around left hand side so more of your body remains protected. I competed and saw many shooters not doing so, simply becuase they had never been trained. When I underwent years of training and qualifying for decades, if we did not, we didn’t qualify. Just because of lack of training we see lots of people exposing too much. In some environments it may not make a difference. I just can’t think of any place other than bare ground where exposing ones self is a good idea.

          • A Fascist Corgi

            I understand the benefits of shoulder swapping, I just think that it’s too complicated in actual combat. Someone could pop out and shoot at you while you’re doing your fancy shoulder swap. I wouldn’t want to take my finger off of the trigger if I knew that I’m in a building with armed enemies that are waiting to ambush me.

            If you can find me an example of an elite room clearing team using it in real life, then I’d be willing to admit that I’m wrong. And like I said, even if I am wrong, you can still shoulder swap with a bullpup like the Desert Tech MDR because it has a forward ejection system.

          • iksnilol

            Regarding the SA80 and shoulder swapping: it isn’t the hot brass that’s a problem (I’m not particularily bada$$ but I still simply shrug off the occasional case bouncing of my face or neck), it’s the charging handle, it’ll ruin your jaw if you shoulder and fire it left handed.

          • Kivaari

            How many armies issue the MDR? The FN 2000?

          • iksnilol

            I dunno, I sorta like not having to expose my entire body if coming from the right side of a door.

            But what do I know, I’m just a lowly civilian.

          • Uniform223

            “I don’t know what the modern training is like in special operation units that focus on room clearing”

            > That is right… you don’t know, so why are you talking?

            “but I’m subscribed to a couple dozen combat footage channels on YouTube. I watch combat footage from around the world on a daily basis. I’ve seen footage of Delta Force, the SAS, SEALs, et cetera, training and fighting within houses and buildings,”

            > So you believe because you watch it on youtube that it gives you an actual real world opinion?

            “I can’t remember seeing a single example of someone doing a shoulder swap with their rifle – especially during actual combat”

            > That doesn’t mean that they don’t practice the technique. What if you’re a righty and you take one on your right shoulder, are you out of the fight because you can’t shoot on your dominate side? Guess what, you have another shoulder to shoot from…

          • A Fascist Corgi

            Got any proof of an elite room clearing unit using the shoulder swapping technique?

          • Uniform223

            No… do you? Or is all your proof on youtube?

            If you want youtube as “proof” here is an example. Jason Falla, former Australian SASR member

            (Start at time index 1:20)

            Shoulder swapping isn’t really a room clearing technique. From my understanding of the concept (from when I was in the Army… doubt you served) it is more used as a transitioning movement to get the best shooting position in certain situations of cover. Room clearing (from what I remember) is typically a 4 man operation. If your swapping shoulders during a breach… you’re doing it wrong. If you’re swapping shoulders because you don’t want to lean all the way out and further expose yourself, you’re doing it right.

          • A Fascist Corgi

            Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about since shoulder swapping when room clearing has been a very popular training technique within the civilian tactical firearm community for several years now.

          • n0truscotsman

            1.) Have you ever used a bullpup in unconventional shooting positions? particularly, those typical in urban areas?

            2.) barrel length between the SA80 and M4 is MOOT, especially with the M855A1.

            3.) Ergonomics is not a “minor downside”.

          • Tritro29

            No one is bashing BP’s, but we’re bashing the fact Sterling’s AR-180 were simply converted into bullpups by a 12 year old on Ritalin.

          • Henrik Bergdahl

            Fairly hilarious to read the book about sterling by the last manager of sterling and the SA-80 bashing that is contained in it.

          • Tritro29

            Steve Raw does a good job explaining the mess the SA80 was at the beginning. And how little effort was put to correct the initial shortcomings. “The Last Enfield: SA80-the Reluctant Rifle”

          • HenryV

            I didn’t believe. The length of its barrel meant it functioned well that is all. M4 now functions OK too. Probably functioned OK then!

      • Anonymoose

        And they know better because they are Brits and I am just a dunderheaded American. I’d still like an L86 with these upgrades. It would be one heck of a coyote gun with that 25″ barrel.

        • HenryV

          I found tales of L85 being clearly and fundamentally better than M4 hard to swallow. Longer barrel will work better with a wider range of ammunition. Well at least at the gun end of the equation. Early M4 wasn’t that bad.

          Many soldiers never touch a firearm apart from the one they are issued. They only experts in a sense that they meet an army’s qualification standards. Same with driver off road or camping skills.

    • truth makes you free

      Just like the Tavor, another faex.

    • Marc

      At least it’s not a lever gun.

      • Major Tom

        Oh no, you didn’t!

      • Evan

        Actually, funny story. Brits don’t trust their cadet corps (i.e. the ones who will be “leaders of men”) with full auto rifles in cadet training, only when they get into the “real army” so to speak, so they actually use converted models that you have to manually cycle the action on after every shot…

        • Colin S

          Actually, funny story, the Cadet force have used (semi-auto) L98 A2’s for about 7-8 years, but on occasion are allowed to fire full auto weapons (at the range only)… Try and keep up 😀

          • FarmerB

            Thanks, I find that amazing. I sort of thought all that stuff had been done away with already. I was in the cadets in Australia years ago, and we had .303 and then SLR’s on army bivouacs. But these days, I sort of assumed they were turned into camp scouts doing aggressive green regeneration programs.

    • UKShuggy

      Those who criticise the L85A2, probably do so despite never having fired, or even seen one. Admitedly the L85A1 was a dog, but it was one that HK sorted out very well in the upgrade programme. The rifle has since been through 10 years of intensive combat operations with very, very few problems. If there had been any issues, you can be quite sure that the press and the internet would have been awash with complaints from angry squaddies.

    • Colin

      REALLY YOU used one for real on tour ?????

    • Colin

      what makes it a turd. Please list all problems clearly so we all can discuss this properly like adults . Name calling is childish. I’m 6″4half 120 kg SO I’m probably bigger than your daddy.

      • Zachary marrs

        Lol

      • AC97

        Are you related to Sermon 7.62 or something?

    • I was assured by some British Army soldiers that the reliability problems were fixed with the A2 revision, and the SA80A2 was better than the M-16/M4 platform 10 years ago. In the Combat and Survival book series (probably 20 years old), the SA80 gets a higher reliability rating than the M-16.

  • Sid Collins

    I trained with 1st Para Regiment in 1988. At that time, they referred to the rifle’s shortcomings as not being “para-proofed”. Carrying it through brush and jungles proved challenging and little parts broke easily. Also, reflex or point shooting was next to impossible. Aimed fire was great. I am certain many issues have been addressed since then.

    • Martin Grønsdal

      hi, why was reflex shooting difficult?

      and was it an improvement over the SLR?

      • Sid Collins

        According to them (and the little handling I did makes me agree), the basic design does not allow for good ergonomics. ARs and AKs and most battle rifles have a fairly similar design. Putting the center of mass that far back into the shooter’s shoulder really loads the weight into the shooting arm. Also, the manual of arms is cumbersome. Volume of fire is based on reloads. Bullpens may fill a role. I just did not hear any support for it as a battle rifle from the Brits back then.

        • Martin Grønsdal

          thank you for your reply.

          Isn’t also the charging handle atrociously difficult to operate, in any position?

          • Sid Collins

            The manual of arms was still new to them (back then). Nothing was quick. The placement of the controls was not familiar to veterans. Basically, it was a great rifle once loaded and using for aimed fire of 30 rounds. Reloading or clearing a malfunction… not so much.

  • Colin s

    “those commenting on social media and blog sites in response to this C&S news story who continue to perpetuate the myth that the SA80A2 is a bad weapon” – Editor of C&S

    • Colin

      Don’t bother col . Precisely BECAUSE your a expert British gun writer talking about a British gun in a british gun mag ( sorry stopped buying ) .That’s the exact reason NO-ONE going to listern to you here. Your own country ( what. T’ .ell do u know)…….Keep trying tho.

  • ReadyorNot

    We lowly colonialists would like to own and test examples to verify the “anti-establishment” claim =)

  • The_Champ

    For what it’s worth, and I know this is completely anecdotal, I spent some time with some Scottish fellows in The Black Watch in Afghanistan in 2009. They’d seen lots of action in Iraq and Afghanistan and had good things to say about their rifles.

    I would like to hear from more folks who have shot and carried this rifle because lets face it, most of the people that like to deride it(or possibly praise it) have never touched one.

    • DrewN

      I’ve put a couple hundred rounds through them in the 90’s to get familiarized. But, I’m a lefty (and left eye dominant), so I won’t express my candid opinion except to say not for me (literally, there is no way I could serve if this was my issued weapon). And I can usually get by with most RH only designs.

    • Tritro29

      The main complaint I’ve heard is that the rifle has never been thought as an ergonomically sound rifle…ever. It was a conversion that never got touched where it counted.

      The selector, the charging handle, the magwell all take practice and aren’t as instinctive as they should.

      • Sid Collins

        As I stated earlier, I trained with 1st Para Regiment in 1988 when the rifle was fairly new. They said exactly what you have stated. Ergonomics are terrible. Clearing a malfunction requires too much maneuvering. Etc..

    • Cal S.

      I think it’s like the M4. Less than 20% of soldiers ever experienced any problems with it, and less than 5% of those were critical. But, the few failures is all anyone ever talks about.

  • BattleshipGrey

    The article’s title is misleading. I think you mean “photos released” not “prototypes released” to the public. 🙂

  • Graham2

    Sorry to be picky but the bottom rifle in the bottom photo is not an ‘SA80 as adopted’, it’s an L85A2 before the quad rail handguard was adopted. The give away is the charging handle.

    • anonymouse

      Have a cookie

      • Cal S.

        Mmm, internet cookies are the best!

      • Graham2

        Why thank you, I’ll save it for later.

        • Julio

          Mmmmm, cookies! 8 )

    • Colin s

      Considering how badly written the article is, you shouldn’t be that surprised.

    • Hey thanks for that! I’ve added a correct picture of the older version just below it and captioned it properly.

      • Graham2

        Nice one. I’m here to help- and for the cookies!

      • Colin

        I’m genuinely sorry for starting a flame war . All I wanted was the facts why ? .Not just bold sweeping statements with no actual real basis. Sorry !

  • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

    On the C&S link you post above there’s a photo of the rifle (with a UBL) with a Trijicon ACOG LED model in the place of the Spectre OS. Is there a program to supplement the Spectres with Trijicons?
    During the Afghanistan campaign earlier models of the ACOG where bought via UOR
    flanker7

  • Spade

    I’d buy one in semi if offered. Or the current version. For no particularly good reason other than I think they’re neat.

    • Jacen

      Neat and it works are 2 different concepts

    • roguetechie

      Well long ago Century had a small batch of these and FAMAS rifles in semiautomatic versions. It took so long for the initial small batches to sell that they wound up blowing them out at really low prices…

      Now, if you can find one of either for sale, you’re looking at $10,000-$30,000 per gun with basically zero chance of getting spares or upgrade parts.

      Kinda sucks too because I’d like one of each for a shrine de bullpup.

      But, only if I already had a SAR-21 and a very nice classic AUG.

    • If it cost more than a Bushmaster ACR or SCAR 16, and still wasn’t reliable, would you still be interested?

  • SP mclaughlin

    I’d still love to have one after MoD goes full ColtCanada.

  • They sure are taking a long time to morph a gun into a M16 type of configuration. Seems their SF people decided to jump ahead skip all the intermediate steps and go with M16s right off the bat. I find it interesting that so many newer designs are not as ergonomic as the 50 yr old M16.

    • anonymouse

      The conventional layout for a repeating firearm well predates the M16.

    • Tom

      British Spec Ops types were some of the first to adopt the AR15 (back when it was the AR15). I think the reason the MOD does not want to just adopt an AR15 variant is that the question will inevitable be asked as to why they did not just adopt the bloody thing in the first place (like the troops wanted).

      • Joshua

        They have in the L129A1.

        So I’m sure they see the merits of the AR platform.

        However isn’t this one of their last designs developed by the UK? I would expect them to want to retain what little firearms manufacturing ability they have for as long as they can.

        • Tom

          The SA80 series have not been manufactured in the UK for years. The A2 upgrade was carried out in Germany by HK. Basicaly other than Accuracy International and a few gunsmiths converting/customising other manufacturers weapons the UK has no real [firearm] manufacturing base.

          The SA80 series was adopted purely for political reasons and despite its clear shortcomings compared to the AR15 (which has been used successfully by the British military for decades) no one wants to be the one to admit that it was a mistake and that its time to start a fresh.

  • truth makes you free

    Should be, “Bear in mind…” If you are a professional writer…. right?

  • I know the gun is riddled with flaws… And every bit of logic says “this gun should die” and “I don’t want it.”
    But the other part of me is saying “I WANT THAT! I’VE ALWAYS WANTED ONE!”
    In this case, if it does hit the market at a reasonable price… my emotional side will overcome my logical side and 6 weeks later I’ll be thinking “WTF did I buy this for?”

    • iksnilol

      Protip: get an airsoft one, gut the insides, put a Marlin 795 inside.

      I’d do it myself but… I sorta struggle with finding a long enough barrel (even then I’d have to pin the suppressor on). This all due to Norways minimum length being 84 cm (33 inches).

  • 40mmCattleDog

    *Sigh* Just give em some damn C8’s already!!

    • Ευστάθιος Παλαιολόγος

      Had a chance to handle the improved C-8 the UK SF use…. What a great rifle!!! What a great rifle!!!

      I mean, it a great rifle!!!

    • Colin

      Why C8 .British police use Lmt and Sig AR as well . Which one is best ask NZ maybe !!

      • John

        Hey Colin.

        It doesn’t really matter what version of the AR-15. Some people say the Colt C8, some say Lewis Machine and Tool’s MARS-L, and some say the HK416 because why not.

        I dunno. I like these new upgrades to the SA-80. You’re making it more and more reliable and sooner or later it’ll end up just as a rock solid as an AR-15.
        But I’ve never handled one, and I kind of want to.

        For instance, I’d like to see someone put a Hogue or a Magpul AR grip on an SA-80. It would probably and dramatically change the handling characteristics right there. Then figure out a way to move the fire control switch over by the trigger, just like on an AR-15. And then you’ve probably got a beautiful rifle.

        • Colin

          Where did I say SA80A2 better than m4 .I agree heavy and unergonomic . I just said prove to me , Facts. Why in Sa80a2. FORM. that it’s a unreliable turd that should die.

  • forrest1985

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Nobody in the forces i know or have spoken to likes it…just get rid of it! For once i agree with the french (in swapping bullpup for a conventional design)!

  • Ed

    Its the UKs last rifle so expect the Brits to hang onto it for a long time. Its not all horrible. Wish someone make a semiautomatic version for sale here. Hay they be good for urban combat in Basra or Belfast.

    • DIR911911 .

      detroit , chicago

  • LazyReader

    You can picatinny a vibrator it’s still useless unless your a P@#%Y.

  • kyphe

    My thoughts are. Flair the magwell, Improve the trigger with an enclosed linkage bar, redesign the upper receiver to use a G36 style top ambi charging handle and bridge a picatinny rail over top of it. I had limited handling of the A1 back in the 90s and was not impressed. My brother despised it in Iraq and was calling for a swap to the 416 like many others. However he has always been positive about the A2 treating it as if it were a different weapon. I have no personal handling of the A2 unfortunately.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Yes… Completely redesign the failed gun…. OR…

      • kyphe

        Few who criticize this gun have ever fired it and few who praise it have ever fired anything else. Informed debate on this weapon is almost impossible.

  • LazyReader

    New Zealand replaced bullpups with a conventional rifle layout. While not a large Army, that’s still a sizeable order to Lewis Machine & Tool. If they’re willing to change to from a famous bullpup (AUG/F88) and picked LMT over HK and FN Herstal maybe the UK should look into it.

    • Evan

      Right. Unfortunately while indigenous designs are really neato, economics of scale is hard to argue against.
      Many other countries in the world don’t allow or severely restrict private firearms ownership, so there’s little to no indigenous industry to support such a gun culture, or indigenous designing, prototyping, proofing, trouble-shooting, additional R&D, etc.
      Plus the AR had close to 10 years of trouble shooting before the SA80 prototypes even existed.
      Furthermore, many many countries have used ARs for a long time, so the design is well understood, and it’s got a huge support network and accessory market from literally all over the world. Hell it’s to the point now where the military is adopting off the shelf parts made for the civilian side because they’ve addressed problems before the military has!

      I guarantee that if the FAMAS or SA80 had been developed in a “gun-culture” open market like the US, they might be “world standard”. But unfortunately they didn’t, and European gun culture and industry is all but dead, and for me, an American, I find that really sad, seeing as how the Brits, Prussians, and French were so crucial in the development of the modern firearm into what it is today.

  • Jeez, with that handguard and grippod the benighted thing looks like a Hi-Point bullpup.

    • The_Champ

      Well no one ever accused it of being pretty 😊

  • iksnilol

    Nothing about the charging handle?

    Good heavens.

  • iksnilol

    But the vastly superior M14 proved how chrome is not needed in a modern firearm.

    • CommonSense23

      I really hope that was sarcasm.

      • iksnilol

        Whaaaat?

        Sarc-what?

        I mean, it is obviously superior, it replaced the BAR, the Garand, the M3 and M1 Carbine and later on it was turned into the highly modern precision sniper rifle that is known as the M39 EBR.

  • Hoplopfheil

    I’ll leave my comment in the form of a meme.

    EDIT: Or I won’t because Disqus is being unreasonable.

    • Hoplopfheil

      Or not, since Disqus is being unreasonable.

      • Gary Kirk

        Pretty much this..

  • Bullphrog855

    tbf the M-16 was a victim of sabotage so the comparison isn’t quite the same. Gun performed excellently before the Army got it’s hands involved in the project. The Battle of la Drang Valley testifies to this.

  • Joe

    Here’s hoping the MoD gets their collective heads out of their arses and adopts either the Colt Canada M4A1equivalent, or the LMT that NZDF just picked up.

  • lowell houser

    Uhm, that rail is one piece, it’s sort of a tang hanging off the back of the handguard. That being the case, how do you pull the piston to clean it? Nevermind, it looks like they’ve added a push pin in the front of the receiver holding the handguard on, but now I’m wondering how they secured the back of the rail. It has to slide into an existing mount.

    Also, iron sights? Does anyone in the British Army remember how to use those?

  • JSIII

    Just buy the X-95 and its variants from the Israeli’s. Sad to say but the UK has lost most of its small arms experience over the years. They should license build guns designed by someone competent like FN or IWI.

    • SP mclaughlin

      “UK has lost most of its small arms experience over the years.”
      Yeah, then explain Accuracy International and the longest sniper kill.

      • Gary Kirk

        Longest “confirmed” sniper kill, and Olympic Gold medalist in 1978.. Damned fine rifles, but Hell, who can’t build a decent bolt gun anymore (yes I know they make semiautos too, but you don’t really hear much about them).. And it wasn’t a Brit that made that shot..

        • Mr Mxyzptlk

          I think you might be thinking of somebody else. The longest confirmed sniper kill is by Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison, a British soldier who served in the Blues and Royals.

          • Gary Kirk

            No, in all actuality, I believe the longest “GPS” confirmed was a couple of Australian boys at around 2815M ( 3078.5 yards).. In Helmand, Afghanistan 2012.. Some argue it was a U.S. army group.. But, me personally I still think that Canadian sniper still has it, but what do I know?

          • Mr Mxyzptlk

            I personally don’t believe that this shot happened as reported. It has never been officially acknowledged, various professional shooter and snipers have said it is basically impossible with the equipment they supposedly had, and when the original source (The Daily Telegraph) was asked about it they were unable to cite any source or back up the story in any way. maybe it did happen (Australia is notoriously cagey about talking about such things), but I find it really hard to believe that a Barrett can hit a man sized target at 2815m with the first shot (or possibly 2nd, there were supposedly two shots at the same time).

          • FarmerB

            It can. But buy a lottery ticket if you do.

      • n0truscotsman

        I believe that says “most” and not “all”.

  • Rob

    I was issued the a1 back in the day and didn’t have any problems with it. I have to say however after “volunteering” to do trails with the infantry trails and development unit in Warminster we got to to play with anything we wanted in there armoury. I choose the c8, g36, ak 47, Aug and the a2. Out of all of them given the option I would have walked away with either the AUG or the c8.

  • John

    The SA-80 has a lot of history behind it. And some soldiers may have died because of that rifle. And yeah, Brexit happened and the UK probably has a money crunch right now.

    It’s cheaper, and better, and symbolic, to actually fix and upgrade the thing than it would be to switch to an entirely different rifle.

    If France still had their own weapon factories, they probably would have soldiered on with the FAMAS.

  • Black Dots

    That Erector Set looks pretty bad ass.

  • LCON

    some possible points.
    1) Although the most well known member of the SA80 family is the L85 The L85 is just the main issue service rifle. Along side it are the L21 Carbine and the L86 “Light Support weapon ” ( Basically a L85 with a longer barrel, vertical grip, bipod and Drum magazine) Then Finally the L96 Drill rifle. to date all 4 members of the SA80 series have been updated concurrent with each other meaning that L22A1,L85A1,L86A1 and L96A1 were all introduced around the same time and traded in for L22A2,L85A2,L86A2 and L96A2 calling it SA80A3 may mean that the intended modifications are aimed across the whol “Family of weapons.
    2) Along side the SA80 series the British are known for issuing L119A2 better known as the Colt Diemaco C8SFW So If this program falls through they at least have options. The Biggest Issue I think with the Modern SA80 is the fact that no one actually makes them. The Manufacture merged with BAE and sold off all It’s machining The Plant is an Apartment block. HK was brought in to make the A2 by rebuilding A1’s If the MOD UK is serius about retaining the SA80 then the biggest issue/Biggest opportunity is that since there is no established production line for SA80 This would be a prime opportunity to go over the SA80 TDP and make an extensive number of revisions to improve function and modernize more then just changing rails/hand guard and giving a paint job.

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      Small correction, the L22A1 never really existed. There was a prototype made in 1989 which saw very limited testing and service but it never got an L designation. When they came up with the current carbine in the mid 2000s they called it the L22A2 as it had the A2 modifications despite the fact that there had never been an L22A1. Because of this people tend to call the 1989 prototype the L22A1, but that isn’t really correct.

  • I don’t think keyhole slots in a rounded surface qualify as Keymod.

    Sorry. You may now continue your non-pedantic discussion.

  • Raginzerker

    Wow, that thing got uglier

    • Harry’s Holsters

      I kind of like it.

  • John John Slade

    Cool but when they gonna show the new upgrade carbine version similar to L22A1-A2?

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      I would imagine that the only difference would be a standard pic sight rail as there isn’t really enough room to make a new handguard worth it. It isn’t like they could make it long enough to accept a night sight in front of the ELCAN.

      • John John Slade

        Why would they? It doesn’t matter if that thing is a issue but real matter are as long as they need fight in close quarter. Maybe they need little modification will solve that problem.

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    It is not so incorrect to refer to this new weapon as the SA80A3. It wouldn’t get an “L” designation and become the L85A3 until it was accepted and adopted. For example, the L22A2 was previously called the SA80A2K, and before that the previous carbine prototype was the SA80 AFV. You could argue that the rifle being shown is pedantically an SA80A3 IW (Individual Weapon, as opposed to LSW for Light Support Weapon), but as I assume this upgrade is for the whole range (IW, LSW, carbine etc.) the terminolgy is correct.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    I don’t know why but I find these rifles incredibly sexy looking.

    Would I trust my life with one? Probably not but doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want one in the safe.

  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    It just occurred to me, anybody have any idea how the hell you would be able to get the gas system apart on one of these A3 guns? If the handguard is supposedly semi free floating I doubt it is easily removable, and I see no sign of an access hatch like on the original handguards or the Daniel Defense railed one.

  • pieslapper

    Lipstick… pig.

  • S. Plankenberg

    I don’t know why Western armies don’t just issue everyone AK-47’s, Uzi’s, and HK MP 5’s, and call it good.
    Would still have sniper rifles and belt fed machineguns, of course.

    Or, if narrowed down to one, the AK.
    All the development work has been done, they are available for free as captured stocks, (as is their ammo), wound ballistics and penetration of barriers and light body armor are excellent, and are accurate enough for as far as the average or above average troop can see an enemy soldier to shoot at him in combat situations.
    Then take the money saved and use it for enhanced urban combat tactics training, and snap shooting training.

    • Anonymoose

      Cowadooty!

    • Evan

      Largely a political thing. AK is forever linked with socialist dictators and terrorists/”freedom-fighters” and conscript armies.

      That’s part of the ongoing G36 controversy. Germany is very sensitive about G3s being used by bully countries like Iran, or guerrillas, and as such specified a polymer intensive design, because they don’t want to sell G36s on the mil-surp market, but they also don’t want to spend a lot recycling them either, even with HK pointing out potential issues with the German Government’s wishlist for an infantry rifle back in 95-96.

      • S. Plankenberg

        As America becomes more socialist, perhaps some of that stigma will go away.

  • Swarf

    Is anyone in this thread NOT drunk or currently smelling pencil shavings?

    Buncha damn weirdos.

    • Colin

      He’ll yeah . free speech only becomes a problem, if your stupid anoth to actually use it . TFB gun facts not politics.

      • UWOTM8

        Yeah, who’s stupid “anoth” to actually use free speech, amirite?

  • Colin

    Warisboring. Good quote it’s ( Sa80A2 ) a weapon that did the job and I didn’t have to worry about. i say that means reliable . Where your bad press crappy gun quotes SA80A2 THEN…..

  • Did the math, and for 2,700,000 pounds for 5,000 upgraded rifles is 540 pounds – or $719 dollars.

    The previous HK upgrade of the L8A1 to L8A2 was 400 pounds, which was worth $600 at the time (2000.)

    So the rifle has undergone $1,319 in upgrades, in addition to it’s initial manufacturing cost.

    For perspective, a brand new M4A1 is specced at $700, according to wikipedia.

    Essentially what this means is that the L8A3, when all of it’s upgrades are factored in, will be one of, if not the most, expensive service rifles in history.

    • Colin

      I agree with your maths. I agree SA80A2 too heavy bad economics. I agree M4 rifle type lighter . BUT what mfg coltCanuck , Lmt ,Sig .All british used guns…But I do not agree 1. Unreliable in SA80A2 Hk fixed form. 2. She’s a turd that should die. In any case in the future we will buy USA lsat. As only USA tells NATO what calibre to use but only buys own guns . Fn fal -fnmag mg no good 1950-60-70-.

    • iksnilol

      Blyat, STALKER was a documentary on the prices of NATO firearms then :O

    • FarmerB

      Rubbish. To write an RFP; run a tender process; perform selection and test; negotiate contracts; change the manual of arms; rewrite drills; retrain armorers; refit armories with new racks, jibs and tools; redo squaddie training materials; procure a supply of spare parts; change optics, mounts, accessories; pull in units, swap their rifles and retrain them; refurbish for storage of the old rifles; etc etc. so that $700 is about 15-20% of the whole procurement cost on a per-rifle basis.

  • n0truscotsman

    I have.

    The enfield is a subpar weapon compared to the M4. But according to the UK MOD, its sets a historical precedent for reliability /rolls eyes/

    and really!? the LMT 308 dual controls catch on webbing? have you seen the side of the receiver?

    http://sadefensejournal.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/sharpshooter5.jpg

    And compared to a L85?

    I dont buy it.

    “If m4 is king why do seals use own gun mk18 marines m27 Rangers scar ETC”

    1.) Why have the marines adopted the M4 to replace most M16A4s in inventory?
    2.) Why have rangers and other SF continued to use the M4?
    3.) Why is the SCAR on its way out?

    • Tritro29

      I can reply to one thing.

      The SCAR is on it way out because the initial contract for the SCAR-L’s would make the US pay 2,5 the price of a FNH M4. Simple. Notice that the SCAR-H isn’t going anywhere.

      • n0truscotsman

        contract price is *one* aspect of it. But its true. You are gaining nothing for increased cost. Thats what I’d call “pissing in the wind”.

        And given time with the new M110A1, well see how the future of the SCAR-H, a very niche specific weapon, bears out.

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      The L129A1 is actually bad for an entirely different reason, which is that it doesn’t really do the job it was procured for. The experimental DMR variant of the L86A2 actually performs equally if not better in practical use, plus it has the advantage of commonality of training, parts and ammo. The L129A1 has been accepted into the core inventory, but they just cant find anybody who really wants it. They tried to give it to the spotter in sniper pairs, but it isn’t up to the job so they are running a separate procurement for that. The only people who I have heard actually like it are aerial snipers where the 7.62mm round is advantageous for short range anti material use over 5.56mm (it has replaced knackered G3KA4s in this role). Its kind of a similar story with the L128A1 shotgun, when it first was introduced everybody wanted one, now they cant palm them off to somebody else fast enough.

      • n0truscotsman

        I’ve seen it argued elsewhere about the L86A2 is a ‘better’ designated marksman rifle, but have not seen sufficient data to prove this. This is the first time I’ve seen somebody mention an experimental version.

        Given the performance of the LMT308 in civilian markets, im very skeptical that it doesn’t really do the job it was procured for. Its a sharpshooting rifle, not a sniper rifle designed for AW AI-levels of precision.

        Pre-suppose they do adopt a ‘sharpshooters rifle’ in 5.56. That will lead to the point most people have been making in a while: that the L85 series needs to go and shouldve been gone a long time ago.

        • Mr Mxyzptlk

          A couple of years ago the Small Arms School Corps tested a special designated marksman variant of the L86A2. It kept the 25″ barrel but removed the handguard and bipod outrigger replacing it with a free floating (or maybe only sort of, not sure about that but it was specifically different to the standard DD rail on the L85A2), and had a pic rail on the receiver for the same 6x ACOG used on the L129A1. It performed better out to 500m, and up to 800m this rifle and the L129A1 were basically on par.

          Nothing has actively come of it since then, but my guess is that this will inform their decision about what to do with their existing LSW stocks, and they will end up converting them all to DMRs as they have been replaced in the MG role by Minimis.

          • FarmerB

            What round in 5.56? I find it hard to believe that a 62 gn 5.56 projectile will beat even an M80 7.62 much beyond 600m.

          • jono102

            The only issue with the L129A1 was the choice to put a 16inch barrel and 6x ACOG on it. It shot comparatively with the L85’s already be it with a bigger bullet. Their Snipers have/are going to the Sniper Support version with 20inch barrels and S&B PMII optics.
            The Brits are looking to drop their Minimi’s and 60mm mortars as they believe the combination of L129A1’s and 40mm makes up for not having a belt fed at section level.
            The NZDF version of the LMT has the 20inch barrel and 4-18x Leupold which soldiers with minimal training are getting 1-2 rd hits out to and past 800m consistently and still retain a worthwhile amount of energy.

          • n0truscotsman

            I can buy that. Im also intrigued by the idea of a 5.56 in service with a barrel longer than 20″.

            And ill be curious as to the capability once their new ammunition is standardized in service.

  • Tritro29

    Nope it didn’t. Also H&K was also producing the previous L85A2’s before it gave them the G36 treatment.

    The many issues with the SA series is that the rifle was half assed when it was converted into a bullpup.

  • dreadnought61

    I don’t have an opinion one way or another about the rifle, there’s plenty of them here. I just like the opening line reference to “V for Vendetta” that it seems nobody got!!

  • UWOTM8

    This colonial would like to make an offer to purchase such a beautifully hideous rifle….for purely academic purposes, of course…

  • iksnilol

    Nah, AUG is better, doesn’t suffer from “break the leftie’s jaw” syndrome.

    Though it does suffer from “more expensive than my car!?” syndrome.

  • Call me when the mags drop free

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      It doesn’t really matter if they do or not, your hand has the be wrapped around the magazine anyway to operate the release with your thumb.

  • disqus_XlYouOiadt

    What’s it matter? The British make great speeches and toys, but if it is a serious war, they call North American hunters to send their used guns.

  • Joshua

    Am I the only one who thinks Colin sounds like one of those foreign interns who pretend to be English?

    His sentence structure is spot on.

    • ostiariusalpha

      I can’t shake that impression either, but Brits drunk post same as everyone else in the world, so who knows?

  • Joshua

    Navy SEALs also had it early on.

  • Arathar

    2025… no way, this is completly hilarious

  • Core

    The first gens were despised by the UK troops I worked with. When the second gen came out they didn’t trust it, but it seemed to be reasonable improvement. I heard a great deal of complaints with the second gen also, fairly mixed. They modded it again, and I heard more positive things. But the war was over by the second gen so who knows. I can’t comment beyond that. I have fired a second gen, it worked fine and the optic was nice for qualifications versus a M16A1 irons shooting in the desert in Iraq. Can’t be much worse than our old rattle trap M16A1s. We had to load 28 rounds per mag, they has loose tolerances between the upper and lower. Had to use the forward assist a great deal because the springs were weak. Double feeds were relatively common.. No weapon is perfect. The operator is what needs to be perfect, to quickly address stoppages and malfunctions. We used a great deal of different weapons in the Navy depending on the mission. I liked a newer M16A1 and a newer M9, but the MK46 and M4A1, and Sig was typically better all around.

    • Mr Mxyzptlk

      The Royal Marines have a reputation for really disliking the SA80, even the upgraded A2. Part of this is that for some reason they though that the A2 upgrade meant that the rifle never needed to be cleaned or lubricated, which is obviously bollocks. I don’t think it has ever been too closely looked into, but the top brass of the RMs really wanted a new rifle and it seems to me that they did everything in their power to sabotage the SA80 and turn opinion against it.

      • Core

        I have read about its development. I think it special because it’s a true Enfield. But I get it, it would be like America having Springfield produce a modern carbine at the time.. One of my favorite hunting rifles was a old Enfield sniper rifle in .30-06 sported, it burned up in a fire with my local gun dealer. Poor fella, I never claimed it, because we knew the whole family and I didn’t want to place a financial burden on them. Anyway, Marines need good guns and it’s too bad the leadership didn’t listen. I think they might like the HK416. I know SAS used them. Good info to add to my knowledge base, thank you!

        • Mr Mxyzptlk

          UKSF don’t use the HK416, they use Diemaco C8 SFWs and the new purpose built L119A2 by Diemaco/Colt Canada. Marines don’t need good guns any more than the Army, RAF or RN does, and honestly the SA80 is perfectly functional as far as a standard issue service rifle goes. These days Marines don’t complain about the SA80 despite the fact that it hasn’t functionally changed, rather they just decided to institutionally hate it in the early days of Herrick/Telic.

  • tigers are awesome

    You can say the same about the AK and any other gun. I wouldn’t mind having one.

  • FarmerB

    No dog in this fight, but the warisboring crowd aren’t impressing me. I started listening to War College podcasts (which includes a guy from Reuters News and one from warisboring) and I’m starting to think that guy has as much credibility on military matters as Mother Jones.

    • Core

      As a former analyst who spent literally all my time with boots on the ground, I can honestly say these self proclaimed experts that make it on big media often have no idea what they are talking about. Most are former generals, and with all due respect, they are so far out of touch with daily operations it’s deplorable. The time the chain of command spends spinning the reports to fit inside the acceptance reality of the high brass, has led to significant operational losses over the years. This is well documented in recent national intelligence transitions. When in doubt ask a few analysts.

  • TW

    At what time is it to call it quits and adopt a new weapon. With the amount of money they pore into this they could of bought some tricked out M4s; or hell get the new LMTs that NZ adopted.

  • jono102

    The Brits had to go to a 5.56 platform and it had to be locally produced. They most likely didn’t want to use a foreign design or pay for a license to maintain control of the entire process. The experience with the EM2 probably started them down the Bull pup line.
    Once it came into service they were committed to the platform. Issues were slowly dealt with but the GWOT further highlighted reliability issues that finally got given the attention they needed with the A2 then H&K involvement.

    It does take a lot to get used to especially for those used to conventional platforms and the ergo’s and balance don’t compare well against other systems. For a Brit squaddie who know’s nothing different its not an issue as its just training and key point being, its now functional and reliable.

    The Brits want to get 10-15yrs more out of the rifle and I think this will be just to see where the US goes with their small arms development. If the US makes a call on the M4 and 5.56 (long term development and/or replacement) the Brits will probably kick into a rifle replacement soon after. Its not worth changing platforms for 10-15yrs if the mid to long term development of military small arms is confirmed.

    • CS

      Your timeline is slightly out, the A2 was in service (just) before Afghan and all troops deployed with it. Yes, there was problems but, most of them were cleaning related.
      Have to agree on the last paragraph, everybody is waiting to see what the Americans force on NATO this time.

  • nick

    best first sentence of a TFB blog post ever ! (sorry Nathan!)

  • Flynn

    The sheer number of deleted posts is incredible XD

    The L85 does have its upsides. For one, you get a 20 inch barrel in the package of an M4, and a 4x optic with tritium was issued as standard way before anybody else. It’s not like its a completely useless object. It’s just that it’s mostly useless and the Brits would be better off with the C7 and C8 which SF have already, and which unlike the SCAR and 416 don’t cost an arm and a leg each 😛 (really France, you’re always broke and you go for one of those two?)
    Though I could see RTR guys miss how short and handy the L22 is if they get issued a carbine as big as an L85.

  • Ric Bravo

    Same deal with Australia dropping massing amounts of money on the new Austeyr F88 contraption. Rubbish.

    • jono102

      The Steyr was at least a success to begin with. The EF88/F90 has ironed out most the gripes soldiers had for the platform. The issue is that ADF and THALES Australia (ADI at the time) committed themselves to the Steyr platform sometime back and as a result are paying for it having to absorb all the development costs. THALES/ADI could have started to branch out in the early 2000’s or at least widen their catalog with some other/conventional platforms for the ADF to look at.
      The latest versions of the EF-88 with its accessories displayed at the Land Forces 2016 conference has it looking as much like an AR as a Steyr can to get the flexibility and modularity out of the platform.

    • Tikas

      The EF88 are all new builds, and its the 4th gen variant. The SA80A3, they added new coat of paint on a bunch of old rifles.

  • 2805662

    Saw the first part of the headline, thought immediately of the EF88 Steyr.

    The L85 is a POS. The Brit version of the Elcan (OS4)? Trust them to take an excellent product & turn it into a POS.

  • Lee

    I’m no fan of the l85 by any means but I have found countless AAR’s that support the l85as a good weep on weapon system. It can out shoot most nearly all NATO weapons on the 5.56 calibe. The m16 and m4 are far worse that the l85 just more modular. Example the l85 10/10 can hit accurately at 400m+. M4 have quite the opposite at 300m with a 14.5 barrel struggles to hit accurately at 300m. The m4 has had so so many problems in Iraq and Afghanistan with jamming and when in a fierce firefight can’t handle 320 round in a short time just shuts down look a wanat AAR( not in any way slagging the tragic events that day only used as a reference. RIP brothers in arms .Not saying it can’t be done as the US train amazing marksman but most of that is due to the acog scope with BDC. Don’t slag the l85 then talk about the m16 as the problem ratio with that gun compared tho the l85 is piss poor. The U.K. Is skint end off and we are making sure we can kill a target at a greater distance. Now getting back to point I agree with the turd comments but still a well maintained l85 is better because of how long the barrel is. Mechanism is still in beta Even After 15 years as they aren’t looking to upgrade it only ad bits and that’s poor. We need the HK416a5 not a good but not great weapon.

  • Hossi Blumengaarten

    the brits will finally fix this!!!