New Updated L85A3 Offically Enters Service

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
Two men of Inkerman Company, Grenadier Guards armed with new L85A3s (British Army/MoD)

On the 11th April, the British Ministry of Defence announced the official adoption of the newly updated L85A3. I covered this several weeks ago, discussing in-depth the changes made to the rifles, but the Press Release offers some new details.

The SA80 or L85 is being upgraded to a new specification designated the A3, as part of a Mid Life Improvement (MLI) project. This MLI Program will ensure the rifle can remain in service beyond its original out of service date.

The Grenadier Guards have shared a brief introductory video on the A3:

The press release explains that “An initial investment of £5.4 million for the project, which will be carried out by Heckler and Koch, will help sustain around 20 highly skilled jobs at the Nottingham Small Arms Factory owned by the company.”

Guto Bebb, the junior defence Minister, said:

This multi-million-pound upgrade will give our Army a lighter, more hardwearing, better-camouflaged combat rifle so our soldiers can perform on the frontline of some of the most dangerous locations across the world. This investment is also a boost to Nottingham’s highly-skilled gun-makers who proudly support our troops in their task to protect our country in the face of intensifying threats.

The Irish Guards receive a shipment of newly updated L85A3s (MOD)

The official announcement also confirms that the new rifles are 100g or 3.527 oz lighter than the A2. It also features a new foregrip, flat dark earth finish and full length rail.

Major General Colin McClean, Director Land Equipment at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said:

The SA80 is a battle proven weapon used by the UK Armed Forces on operations all over the world. The upgrade will build upon the rifle’s state-of-the-art features enhancing accuracy and consistency. The Mid Life Improvement project will ensure that our troops have the right equipment at the right time.

The MLI program sees 5,000 weapons upgraded initially with further tranches planned, reportedly 5,000 rifles annually. The British Government confirmed that, as we earlier reported, that fielding of the first tranche of L85A3s began in February.


MoD SA80A3 Announcement ( Source)

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: & Overt Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at:

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