The 43 Commando’s Fleet Protection Group has recently come out in a press briefing that the unit has replaced the L95 service rifle (bullpup SA80) with Colt Canada C8s, which the MoD classifies as L119. This is particularly interesting as this will be the first UK non SF group to be issued the L119 en masse. British Special Forces have never liked the SA80/L95, even going back to the Gulf War. Nowadays they use everything from L119s to LMT Marksman rifles while the rest of the British Forces are still with the L95. The Royal Marines Fleet Protection Group is responsible for guarding British nuclear weapons and submarine bases in the UK, in addition to being the Royal Navy’s special ship boarding unit, similar to the VBSS based units in the U.S. (Vehicle Board, Search and Seizure). This unit appears to be similar to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Security Forces and the FAST platoons currently in use. The commander mentioned that the move was because they were able to use low velocity ammunition, which is important for over penetration qualities, especially when dealing with submarines. Which puzzles me, because the two rifles (L95 & L119) are both chambered in the 5.56x45mm NATO, so it would appear that the round should work in both. I assume this might have something to do with the gas piston system of the L95 not being able to cycle the lower pressures of a low velocity round.
The move makes the unit the first British non-special forces unit to completely drop the bullpup L85A2 (SA80) rifle used by the rest of the regular forces. Various UK special forces units already use the C8, which is designated the L119 in British service.
43 Commando already used small numbers of L119s, as well as other specialist weapons such as the H&K MP5 submachine gun, but the move now confirms the L119 as the unit’s standard weapon. A senior Royal Navy source told IHS Jane’s that 300 more C8s had been purchased to fully equip 43 Commando. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was unable to provide IHS Jane’s with the cost of the acquisition.