Where most equate the post World War 2 British Army with the FAL, it should not have been and should not have come to pass. Experimenting with surprising alacrity and inspired by German designs, the British Royal Arsenals went straight to work on the development of their next-generation rifle. Unlike the US, the British took stock of their standard engagements and concluded that full-power cartridges were not needed and that various intermediate loadings would be ideal for the shoulder-fired infantry weapon. Interestingly, this is the same concept cropping back up by the US Army today…
Further, the British forged ahead with two concepts that when fused with the intermediate cartridge, created a weapon well ahead of its time. The weapon was known as the EM-2 or “Rifle Number 9” during its brief formal adoption period.
The weapon featured three main concepts that may just grace the next fully modern service rifle. The EM-2 was a bullpup weapon, it had an excellent intermediate loading in the home-grown .280 British, and included a fixed 1x power optic to increase the hit potential of the individual soldier.
Alas, the weapon was not to be due to the US Army’s complete and total ignorance. Their insistence of a .30 caliber cartridge was and still is short-sighted and only now is starting to change. To their credit, the British, wanting to play nice with the burgeoning NATO alliance acquiesced under the understanding that the US would adopt the FAL.
Instead, we adopted the M14 and we know how that story ends.
However, for the full story on the EM-2 and a full technical tear-down, check out Ian’s latest video on the rare and very much ahead of its time EM-2 rifle.