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British Army SA80A2 assault rifle being phased out for new SA80A3.

| 2018

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British Army SA80 A2 assault rifle being phased out for new SA80 A3
British Army's SA80A2 assault rifle being phased out for new SA80A3, or L85A3 (Picture via Soldier of Fortune)

The Grenadier Guards have deployed the SA80A3 on three separate operational tours on Ops Toral to Kabul, Trenton to South Sudan and Shader in Iraq. The busy deployment period sees them adapt to three different theatres where they will be doing three completely different jobs. Training has therefore been paramount and helped them get to grips with a number of differences in the weapon systems, Soldier of Fortune reports.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the ‘Flat Dark Earth’ paint with Cerakote coating. These features minimise both the visual and infra-red spectrums allowing the operator to stay unseen. They also give a specialist resistance to weathering and abrasion – important for an army required to complete their tasks in any number of conditions.

This paint job extends to the Picatinny Rail which is welded to the A3 body’s upper receiver. The handguard is also new and supports the Picatinny Rail that sits on the upper receiver. This Picatinny Rail sits on all sides and allows the attachment of in-line night optics, hand grips and other attachments that can increase the potency of the weapon system. The handguard is also free floating, meaning that when the weapon is fired the barrel can resonate freely. This further increases the exactness of a weapon system which is already accurate out to 300m when deployed individually.

In all, the changes allow soldiers to better carry out the varied and diverse tasks that are being asked of them in the modern army. As shown by 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, who have an exciting 2018 ahead of them.

Defence Minister Guto Bebb 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.”

SA80A2 comprises the Individual Weapon (IW) and the Light Support Weapon (LSW). These are the British Army’s standard combat weapons. Made by Heckler and Koch, they fire NATO standard 5.56 x 45mm ammunition. Both weapons have been modified in light of operational experience. A major mid-life update in 2002 resulted in the SA80A2 series – the most reliable weapons of their type in the world. This reliability is combined with accuracy, versatility and ergonomic design. It is considered a first-class weapon system and world leader in small arms.

Specifications: 4.98 kg (with loaded magazine and optical sight). Muzzle velocity: 940 m/s. Feed: 30-round magazine. Effective range: 400 m. Cyclic rate of fire: 610-775 rpm.

The SA80 Underslung Grenade Launcher (UGL) system consists of a Heckler & Koch AG-36 40mm grenade launcher and EO Tech holographic sight wedded to an ISTEC range drum. The UGL allows fire teams to deliver effective fragmenting munitions out to 350 metres. Advantages of the system are low recoil, ease of use, reduced ammunition weight and ability to have a chambered grenade at the ready whilst continuing to fire the SA80..


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