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.

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.