New British Army Newsletter Offers Detail on SA80A3 Rifle Programme


    SA80A2 and SA80A3 in Iraq during a recent competitive marksmanship test (British Army)

    The British Army has launched a new bi-annual newsletter, In Front, as part of its push to keep soldiers and the public more informed about what they do. Inside the first issue is a round up of the British Army’s recent small arms changes.

    In Front confirms that the SA80A3 project was initiated “as an in-year opportunity to enhance the in service A2” and act as a proof of concept for the rifle’s life extension. It is also confirmed that 5,000 SA80A3’s will be issued by the end of the year to Army Dismounted Close Combat units that are deploying on operations or are held at high readiness to deploy. The newsletter also confirms that the shooting teams of the various service arms and the Army Reserves have received the new rifle as well as elements of the Royal Marines and the RAF regiment. It is also confirmed that a ‘business case’ is in progress “that will allow further procurement of 10K weapons over the next 2-3 years”, this however is a drop in the ocean considering how large the L85A2 fleet is.

    Also discussed is the British Army’s L129A1 sharpshooter rifle. In Front confirms that the British Army procured a total of 397 L129A1s in 2018 but does not confirm the purchase of more rifles to cover the full replacement of the L86A2 light support weapon. The British Army is looking to procure a “lighter, better performing in-line night sight.” There is no news yet on what the M6-640 60mm mortar will be replaced with.

    Check out the first issue of In Front, in full, here:

    The October issue of the British Army’s magazine, Soldier, also discusses the new SA80A3. Major Michael Green said that “soldiers were providing positive feedback on its performance, particularly the better accuracy” given by the A3. Feedback has come from elements of the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards in Iraq and the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards in Kenya. The SA80A3 has also been seen on operations in Afghanistan with the Grenadier Guards.

    Sources: 1 2

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    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. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of 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: [email protected]