SA-80 Part 7: The Cadet Rifle with Forgotten Weapons

Perhaps wrapping up what must have been a gun nerd’s dream visit to the UK Royal Armouries National Firearms Centre, Ian at Forgotten Weapons has moved from the main SA-80 rifle into the sub-variants, which is a fascinating topic in and of itself. In this video, Ian has his hands on a Cadet’s rifle which is fundamentally¬†a lever/bolt action SA-80.

Designed as the name implies for cadets, the rifles feature two notable changes from the front-line ready weapons systems. We’ve already mentioned the change to a lever/bolt action weapon, but have not covered the other major and obvious difference – the weapons lack optical sights, instead opting for a “carry handle” set of iron sights. Other minor differences include a lack of flash hider, replacement of the semi-auto system with an oil bottle, and removal of the full-auto selector.

Interestingly, the weapon is largely stock. The bolt carrier, bolt, receiver internals, and barrel are all the same as frontline weapons. The lever/bolt action is welded onto the side of the rifle and by using the combo, provides for excellent primary extraction making up for the camming surface of single-piece bolts common on true bolt action weapons.

For the full details on the rifle, check out the video from Forgotten Weapons below!


Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Holdfast_II

    Assuming that the Brit use of “Cadets” is the same as Canada’s, these are for kids – like JROTC, not cadets at an officer training academy. Just wanted to clarify.

    • Dant1982

      Yeah used by kids. They were pretty horrible weapons with bits falling off them all the time and really really un-ergonomic. Cadets now use a semi version of the A2 which is pretty much identical to the armies fully auto A2 without an auto sear. Much better weapons.

      • HenryV

        Not just bits falling off, but bits jamming together too in the perfect nexus of teenager hamfistedness and p*ss poor engineering.

        • Dant1982

          Mind you I remember the A1 LSW we had was even worse for bits falling off and that was standard issue. This was in a CCF with its own armoury and a strong target shooting ethos so the weapons were generally individually issued and properly looked after. Hate to think what ACF rifles were like, or heavily used army rifles

          • HenryV

            I carried the L85A1 only twice over a ouple of weekends. The first one had just been serviced by the armourer and it spend a lot of time over the weekend in bits. For somebody who has two left hands I became surprisingly efficient at field stripping; though I also thank the ex-Booty on staff who trained me to do it the ‘right way’. The second wasn’t much better . I am fond of the LSW but I wouldn’t want my life to depend on it. A chap from BAE ‘campaigned’ an L98 with a LSW barrel here in various competitions about a decade or so back. Some of our kids visited Lympstone with the ex-Booty and tried M16s and the L98/L85 sort of lost a lot of its shine for them.