Weapon Files

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L85A2

Weapon: L85A2

Caliber: 5.56 NATO (.223rem)
Action:
Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length:
780 mm (709 mm in Carbine variant)
Barrel length:
518 mm (442 mm in Carbine variant)
Weight:
4.13 kg (with SUSAT optical sight and no magazine); 5 kg with SUSAT and loaded with magazine with 30 rounds of ammunition
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Rate of fire:
650 rounds per minute
Effective range:
about 500 meters (with SUSAT sights)

 

L86A1



Weapon: L86A1 Light Support Weapon variant of L85

Calibre: 5.56x45mm NATO
Weight: 7.3 kg empty, with SUSAT optical sight
Length: 900 mm
Length of barrel: 646 mm
Feeding: detachable box magazines, 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 610 - 775 rounds/min

 

Development of the SA80 weapon system began in the late 1960s when the British army decided to develop a new rifle to replace the 7.62mm L1 SLR. The SA80 system includes two weapons - SA80 IW (Infantry Weapon) assault rifle and SA80 LSW (Light Support Weapon) light machine gun.

Due to the Falklands war, the new system was not actually adopted until 1984. When they did come into service, the original SA80 weapons were found to be unreliable and troublesome to handle and maintain, so in 2000 - 2002, after years of complaints from the troops, most L85 rifles were upgraded to the L85A2 configuration. Unfortunately, despite upbeat official reports, troops continue to complain about the durability and dependability of the rifle.

What they do not complain about is its accuracy. The bullpup configuration gives the L85 family a short overall length while retaining a full-length barrel. That, combined with the SUSAT 4x sight, helps even moderately trained troops to achieve a good shot-to-hit ratio. Good shots can score highly on targets out to 600 metres. The LSW, with its bipod and longer, heavier, free-floating barrel, is even more accurate.

Successive upgrades have improved the L85 but, due to its unreliability, it would still never be the weapon of choice for a knowledgeable soldier.