Back in January after the hustle and bustle of SHOT Show 2020, I had the pleasure of taking a look inside the armory at Battlefield Vegas. Battlefield Vegas have some amazing firearms in their inventory, one of many rare and interesting rifles you don’t see in the wild too often was a Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS) [later known as ST Kinetics] SAR-80, an indigenously designed 5.56x45mm rifle based on the AR-18.
Work on the SAR-80 in Singapore began in February 1977, as CIS were seeking a 5.56x45mm rifle design to produce for export to sustain production at their factory. Working with the UK’s Sterling Armaments Company, a rifle based on Armalite’s AR-18 was developed. The first pre-production prototypes were ready for testing by the Singapore Army in 1978.
Gas-operated, with a short-stroke gas piston and a rotating bolt. The bolt has 7 locking lugs, the internal mechanics of the rifle are more or less identical to that of the AR-18, using dual recoil springs and a rectangular bolt carrier. However, the bolt geometries differ slightly to the AR-18’s and the SAR-80 also has an additional weight inside its bolt – which adds mass and helps slow the rate of fire down to around 600rpm. Like the AR-18, its charging handle is attached directly to the bolt carrier and is reciprocating.
The rifle feeds from standard STANAG magazines and is select-fire, with a selector on the left side of the rifle and a magazine release on the right. The selector layout is modelled after the M16’s and the front handguard’s design was also influenced by the M16. The SAR-80 has simple stamped receiver with a crackle-paint finish, like that seen on the commercial Sterling Mk4 SMGs. It has a two-position folding rear peep sight and is 38in long and weighs in at 8.2 lb unloaded.
Developed with cost in mind it had an export price of around $300 per rifle (today that’s about $930). CIS produced more than 80,000 between 1980-88, it saw limited service with Singapore’s military but did enjoy some export sales. The SAR-80 was used by the Central African Republic’s Gendarmerie, the Croatian Army, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Slovenian Territorial Army.
Check out my more in-depth article on the SAR-80s history and development here.