An A2 Replacement?

SA80 A1

It’s no secret that the A2 has had a hard few years, with prolonged use in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also ironic that after many modifications it is now a respected weapon, but one without any real chance of newer versions coming into service due to a lack of the tooling required.

The A1/A2 are what I would class as 1st generation bullpups: that is, rifles that have made it into mass production and have been accepted into service. Other examples include the Steyr Aug and the FAMAS.

SA80 A1
SA80 A1
HQUKTF-2010-064-434
SA80 A2

 

One of the problems that this first generation of bullpups had was the inability to fire the weapon left handed. (The Steyr could be set to fire either left or right, but not both.) Although the SA80 was easy for left-handers to adapt (I was one of them!) this often meant that, in built-up areas, the shooter’s body was exposed in situations where it was not possible to fire from cover, i.e. doorways. The only option was to fire an unaimed shot by placing the rifle butt between armpit and chest. Another aspect often commented on is the lack of effective fire due to the calibre used, but for the moment let’s not go there!*

Since the introduction of these first generation systems others have followed, and some have tried to address the left-handed shooting problem. Models intended for military use include the Tavor for Israel, the SAR21 for Singapore and the Croatian VHS-2, which is allegedly under consideration by the French for the FAMAS replacement. There have also been civilian bullpups developed, mainly for the US market, The most notable is the Kel-Tec RFB which uses a forward ejecting system to solve the left/right-hand problem. However, this system had problems with jamming, so Kel-Tec have developed two new models with a downward ejecting system.

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Just recently another ‘bullpup’ system has been announced by a US company, and it’s this one I’m going to take a closer look at. At this point I am not saying that this system is the answer to what should replace the A2. However, I think this has come the closest to answering the questions which have been raised on various forums with regard to calibre and left/right-hand commonality.

DESERT TECH MDR

The Desert Tech MDR is a new system that is still under development and due to go on sale in the US later on in 2015.

FireShot Capture - MDR - Micro Dynamic Rifle - Desert Tech - http___deserttech.com_mdr.php

 

It uses a forward ejection system, allowing the user to switch from using right to left-hand firing instantly. The ejection system itself can also be switched over to the left-hand side if issued to a “lefty”. So far, nothing to write home about. However, the ace up Desert Tech’s sleeve is that this system can change barrel length and calibre in approximately one minute without re-zeroing. There are videos on YouTube that demonstrate this procedure which can be found below: I will list the time references for the barrel changes. At the time of writing the calibres being used are 5.56mm, 6.80mm, 7.62mm and .308″.

The barrels are 10”, 16” and I think there is a 24”.

What this means IMO, is that a UK infantry section could have one weapon system with options to have a 10” barrel for Close Quarter Battle (CQB) but also a marksman with a longer barrel in 7.62mm as was used in Afghanistan when the L129 was bought in as an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR). The video shows the demonstrator changing barrel and bolt in around 45 secs, obviously the carbine version could be used for AFV and air crew with the option to carry a longer barrel to adapt to various situations.

The video features the barrel change at 06:20. (It was whilst watching this video that I got the urge to write this article.) At around the 08:00 minute mark the guy manning the stall starts to explain about the mods to the company’s bullpup sniper system. This can also permit rapid barrel changes. He shows the rifle with a short barrel, with an overall length of 26”(less with that new folding stock). To me this means that a sniper could move around without having to a have a secondary weapon system, or even jump in with the weapon ready to fire. I have added a second video showing a demonstration of the weapon hitting targets at 1000 yards straight after a barrel change! (Barrel change is shown at 04:00.)

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To summarise, I am not saying the British Army should rush out and buy 10,000 units right now!

However, the Desert Tech system does seem to answer many frequently raised points about barrel lengths and calibres.

Also, as this weapon is still undergoing final tests, there’s a chance of getting in early and possibly getting a licence-to-build contract and, therefore, maybe a return to manufacturing weapons in the UK again! (Stop laughing at the back!) I’ve only included the two videos shown here as many of the public domain material is for the benefit of US civilian gun enthusiasts, rather than for the military perspective. However, there are videos of the weapon being fired and there are several on the sniper rifle variant. While the A2 still has service life left, it would be possible to carry out trials on the Desert Tech MDR and, if successful, sort out a manufacturing process and then copy the A1 roll-out strategy. That is to say, frontline line “teeth” arms receiving it first with other arms to follow. (I wasn’t issued the A1 until 1992 when I was in 7 brigade, 18 months after the infantry across the road!)

 

*The calibre debate is a huge subject, not for this short post

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192 Responses

  1. If your going to use the Kel-Tec design, get the Licensing Rights. And manufacture them yourself, Kel-Tec can’t even meet the needs of the American Consumer. Let alone, filling the needs of an International Military…

  2. Tip for YouTube video linking.

    It doesn’t work in every embedding case but you can often put a starting time into the URL.

    e.g.

    If you want to start the above video at 5m49s to see the barrel change description, add &t=5m49s to the end of the URL. If there’s no minute component you can use a zero or drop the minute part entirely.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSuaMf4Q_Y0&t=5m49s

  3. How frequent are barrel changes (without changing calibre) normally? Does every infantryman carry a spare barrel for example?

    Would a calibre change be seen as something you would happily perform in the field or prior to a patrol?

  4. I admittedly know nothing but do follow defence stuff. Its been a while that the 5.56mm round has been the standard round for infantrymen etc.

    However surely the round issuse does need looking at as reports from Afghanistan did say the Talibs could fire on Nato forces and the nato forces couldn’t fire back as the 5.56 lacked the range of the Ak47s etc. The army had to rely on GPMG and a rush order of designated marksman 7.62mm rifle to be units to engage with the Taliban.

    Wouldn’t it be to move to a more modern larger intermediate round such 6.8 mm?

    Would the weight penalty be too much for the personnel to cope with? As in increased weight means less ammo carried or that the poor blighters has even more weight to lug round?

  5. The 5.56mm easily outperforms the ak47’s 7.62x39mm round at distance, The sharpshooter rifle and GPMG were brought in to counter the threat from the draganov and PKM both firing the 7.62x54mm Round, The majority of the problems and complaints with the 5.56mm start with the use shorter length carbines platforms eg the american M4 the 5.56mm was optimally designed to be fired from a 20 inch barrel to give it the best possible muzzle velocity.
    I used to find the SA 80a2 much more reliable than its predecessor, While retaining its accuracy out to 400m. My only issue was with its weight compared to similar platforms, Though I believe this could be solved with the use of more modern materials.

  6. A multi-calibre gun will always carry around some extra weight from its powerful calibres while configured for a weaker one. It’s important to shave off a few grams in all places to reduce the infantryman’s burden (in reality: to be able to load him with additional batteries, tools and ammunition), so this is a major disadvantage.

    I suppose we all know every military would restrict barrel changes to the unit armourer anyway.

  7. @TOC – You can’t change the barrels on most infantry rifles outside of an arms room or direct support maintenance unit. Caliber changes, of course, are problematic. I have seen M16A1s that could have used a barrel change after the abuse of being used like a SAW. (When tracers go wonky right from the barrel, it’s shot out.)

    What a quick change barrel system, especially one that maintained the same zero, would do for the rifleman is provide the option of having a short barrel for CQB, a longer barrel for normal ops, or a long/heavy barrel for DM duties. Those designations would likely take place before going “outside the wire,” and spare barrels would be left in the arms room/conex/etc. For the military as a whole, a common weapon that can be tailored to the needs of the various users makes a great deal of sense.

    Caliber changes are, in my humble opinion, of doubtful utility solely due to logistical reasons. Need to pick a caliber and stick with it. If it needs to be heavier than the 5.56x45mm NATO and more effective regardless of barrel length and range, then the trade off between effectiveness and the amount of ammo one can carry must be determined by smarter people than I. (On a personal note, I have a Ruger Mini-14 (581-series) in .223 Rem/5.56×45 NATO that meets all of my needs although my 16 year old granddaughter has laid claim to it.)

  8. At the very least it should be future proof, locally built or something with a lot real estate (ie. lots of rails, a receiver-barrel that can be easily swapped out). The Aussies manufacture the Steyr locally and are going to introduce their 3rd-gen variant in a little over a decade.

  9. There are various other new bullpups of interest, especially the Polish Radon which is convertible between bullpup and traditional layouts with 80% commonality between them.

    This article analyses the pros and cons of bullpups: http://quarryhs.co.uk/bullpups.htm

  10. I wouldn’t necessarily bet on any replacement being bullpup, there is quite a strong dislike of them from certain capbadges, not looking at anyone in particular… (cough, bootnecks!)

    And whilst Tavor would be the most mature option, buying Israeli seems to be so politically sensitive as to rule it out. (Smaller items like ammunition, FFDs and C4IS seem to slip under the radar)

    Personally I think the best replacement for the A2 at the moment is an A3. ‘Re-baseline’ after all the UOR add-ons and standardise across the fleet. New railed fore-ends, plastic mags and cleaning kits aren’t big sexy changes, but they make quite a difference to the end user. And if LSWs are still being neglected, chop a few more up and turn them into L22 carbines, then issue those more widely.

    Ive heard rumours of new-production bodies, so the tooling may not be totally gone after all. An A3 and mix of other platforms (Sharpshooter, GPMG etc.) should tide us over a good few years until something significantly better comes alon.

  11. Thought the RM’s complaint with the L85A2 was weight and rattle due to the pressed manufacture method, rather than it being a bullpup?

  12. Whilst Desert Tech aspire to being a military supplier (and I am not saying they haven’t sold a few rifles to military customers) but their main market is Civilian tactical/long range target shooters with a deep pocket. I very much doubt they have the production capacity or project management abilities to even consider bidding on a contract for the L85 replacement.

    The company that wins will be one with deep pockets and production facilities to satisfy a large order.

    There might be some wild cards like the CZ-805 or VHS-2 but expect the final round of a competition to include the usual big players Beretta, Colt, HK, FN, Thales and SIG.

    I would pay particular close attention to the Colt Canada C8, they have the production capacity to satisfy an order for the UK, the rifle is already in British service as the L119A1 (and now A2) and regarded as rather “Ally” by our troops. The build quality of the Canadian built Colts are superior to the American M4 including a hammer forged barrel. UK specific documentation and training material has been produced for the rifle and it is already in our system.

    http://www.coltcanada.com/upgrades.html

  13. @Slightly Agricultural

    As I understand it due to the wear to the receivers on some L85A2 in the sand pit HK produced some receiver bodies which to add confusion were marked A3. These receiver bodies were then used to house the guts of a worn A2 making one complete rifle. This is from Arrse so maybe total BS but in the Army system these hybrids are called L85A2B1.

    For even more fun and to make sure they are “Ultra Ally” Issue 82, Page 7 of KiT magazine the internal comic produced by DE&S for our squaddies gave a handy guide of how to paint them Tan!

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249897/KIT82_combined.pdf

    If you want a giggle here are a few more copies of KiT magazine via a FOI request!

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/request-for-issues-of-kit-magazine

  14. Kent,
    That is a horrible thing to do to a rifle.
    It’s not quite as bad as this:
    http://s85.photobucket.com/user/gixxanikk/media/tacMosin-1.jpg.html
    but it’s close.

    The Polish rifle (the MSBS) to which Mr. Williams refers is very, very interesting. There is a high level of commonality between the conventional and bullpup arrangements, so you could do some very valid direct comparisons. It looks like it can be fired from the left shoulder without any finicky tubes or ports, so you can still access the action (though the Desert Tech seems to have a reasonable solution)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-4G1Bo_jgA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUUOdqrLGnc

    One thing to consider about future proofing against calibre change (assuming that one doesn’t go for an intermediate calibre at the same time as the rifle change) is that it isn’t as simple as swapping a barrel and bolt – the receiver needs to have length enough to fit a longer round if needed

  15. Hi everybody, I decided to look at just one of the options around for the post. Originally I included photos of all the bullpups spoken of in the comments, ie the tavor,the STK and the RGB. I chose this rifle due to the fact it can change barrel and calibre with the zero sighting and also mainly as it is not quite in production but has passed firing tests and as stated by someone above the company isn’t big enough for an order of the size that the UK MOD would place, therefore ideal for having the manufacturing process done here. I wouldn’t expect soldiers to carry different barrels everywhere they go, however if someone passed a marksman course then he could still keep his rifle just change up to 7.62mm, or even interchange within the section

    One of the other reasons was these guys also make a bullpup sniper rifle, called the SRS covert sniper rifle, (it’s worth having a look at it on youtube) which with barrel changes can go as high as 12.7mm (half inch). What an opportunity to equip our forces in one go.

    BTW to write a post on rifles and have Tony Williams read it is just awesome!!

  16. Here are a quick list of some of the options

    Bullpup
    FN F2000
    HS Produkt VHS
    IMI Tavor TAR-21
    S&T Daewoo XK8
    upgraded Steyr AUG
    ST Kinetics SAR 21
    ST Kinetics Bullpup Multirole Combat Rifle (BMCR)
    Vektor CR-21

    Non bullpup
    FN SCAR-L
    CZ 805 BREN A1
    Howa Type 89
    SIG SG 550
    ST Kinetics Conventional Multirole Combat Rifle (CMCR)

    Ar based system
    H&K HK416
    Colt canada C8

    outside choice ST Kinetics Ultimax 100 Light machine gun

    There are of coure other options and if you open up calibres to that list can grow very long very quickly.

    On a side note the SA80/L85 is based on the AR18s bolt system. Who owns the rights to the AR18.

    After we had bort the the Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) L129A1, i remember seeing an interview with someone from Colt Canada saying the could have built use us the C8SFW(L119A1) which we ended up buying any way for special forces use anyway for half the price and twice the order speed of the LMT but they were never asked. We also have some H&K HK417s so we have three types of rifle when we should have had just one.

  17. Five years ago I would of been scandalised at even the idea of buying a DI AR-15 (m16) variant and called it out as a retrograde step! Now frankly whilst I regard DI as being inferior to a piston rifle the major issues have been pretty much ironed out and preventative maintenance makes it acceptable. Considering we also operate the DI 7.62 LMT rifle and the Colt C8 in the sand pit and they are both popular with the troops I am inclined to say lets just buy the C8 In its L119A2 form for the Army, Royal Marines and RAF regiment and be done with it!

    It would align the military with the preferred rifle for UK police much the same as the Glock 17 decision. Fact is after BAE Systems shut the factory down there is no longer any UK factory capable of large scale mass production of an assault rifle! Whatever replaces the L85 is more then likely coming from a foreign factory. I would rather give the business to the Canadians.

    No doubt there would be some I told you so flack from the Daily Mail but I can’t see it being a totally unpopular choice public or military alike.

  18. Going by positive column inches alone, HK416 (M27?) has to be in with a shout along with the C8 for non-bullpup.

  19. I would think the HK416 is in with a shout TOC but I doubt HK could match Colt when it comes to price! Also remember this will not just be about rifles but the whole support package, cleaning kits, training equipment, rifle racks and a whole load of other sundry stuff.

    When people go into fantasy rifle procurement that is the thing which is forgotten, only the big boys like Colt, FN or Beretta can hope to come in below a certain price point when you are buying 10,000+ rifles. Any order for UK MOD will be far bigger then that. Which is also what scuppers company’s like Desert Tech, there is no facility in the UK capable of building that amount of rifles under licence. At best somewhere could be built to assemble them in kit form for parts built abroad but that will push the individual unit price up and Desert Tech could never supply the parts in numbers high enough to satisfy the deal. LMT got lucky because it was limited UOR I doubt they could of competed if the order was larger!

  20. Am I dreaming it, or have Jordan & Saudi Arabia already adopted the 6.8mm? I think its about time NATO listed the 6.8mm for any member nations that wanted to move to it. Probably a slow process, after all, when the UK changed, back in the 50s/60s, there was still a mix of .303 & 7.62 for quite a while.

  21. “However surely the round issue does need looking at as reports from Afghanistan did say the Talibs could fire on Nato forces and the nato forces couldn’t fire back as the 5.56 lacked the range of the Ak47s etc. The army had to rely on GPMG and a rush order of designated marksman 7.62mm rifle to be units to engage with the Taliban.”

    A firefight at 1000yards will be won by whichever side can call in supporting fires first, not whichever side has better long range rifle fire.
    Afghanistan is poor preparation for Fulda

    D with a C has a fantastic write up of the various research efforts in to small arms lethality
    http://defencewithac.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-great-internet-calibre-debate-part.html

    The short version being high explosives are the main driver of casualties
    Shot placement is effectively random, no statistical difference between shell fragment hit locations and bullet hit locations.
    “Man stopper” rounds, arent, fewer than 30% of men hit by 7.92x57mm rounds from 20-25inch barrels died in Normandy, thats a bigger round and a longer barrel than the SLR, with significantly lower quality care than is now available.
    There is little of the planet where a prone man can even see a stood man at 1000 yards, virtually none when both are prone, before men start actively using cover.

    How much of the gun needs to be changed and how expensive are these redundant bits?
    Is there a real advantage to the .308 DMR and the 5.56 10″ CQB PDR sharing trigger guards and stocks?
    Or is it commonality for commonalities sake?

  22. Funny you bring up 7.92×57 TrT today! I was on the phone today with Inverness Police firearms licensing to talk about putting in a variation for 7.92×57! I was trying to explain to the nice young lady on the end of the phone that 7.92×57 and 8mm Mauser are the same and how do I put in a variation for that?! She eventually got the idea! Hey ho… I have a hankering for a WW1 vintage Gew 98!

    P.S. Anybody that knows of a good quality Live firing Section 1 Gew 98 with a decent bore I am on the market.

  23. @John Hartley

    Not wishing to open up the calibre debate considering TD had to wipe blood off the wall last time we did that to be honest whilst 6.8 is probably better I am inclined to say that changing from 5.56 is a pointless distraction.

  24. Fed. I do not want to start the calibre bloodbath again. I am just saying that NATO should list the 6.8 & let any units that want it, slowly switch to it. We do not have to trash all the 5.56 on day one. I would be happy with a slow unit by unit switchover taking a decade or more.
    Just trawled the interweb, has the small arms factory in Nottingham gone? Did it move to Barrow? Has the UK no longer got a small arms factory? We have truly gone to the dogs.

  25. Oh I agree that to me is a highly sensible idea and very in line with what was done with .338 Lapua Magnum.

  26. @Fedaykin – I have an 7.92x57mm Kar. 98a manufactured in Danzig in 1911 that my grandfather brought back to the US after WW1, complete with a 21+ inch bladed bayonet that goes with it. :D It isn’t for sale!

  27. With out starting a debate on calibre I do not think we need to change.
    I am shore it is a similar one to the 9mm one with pistols.
    Time is a great healer so to speak.
    The FBI has gone back to 9mm because technology has moved on and it now that has the similar power to the original first gen 40S&W.
    Same may be the case for 5.56×45mm. So you can not use old data.
    It might be time for NATO to update its standard for 5.56×45mm and 9x19mm go for a higher spec. modern round of the same type. So no need to change calibre.

  28. @John Hartley

    Yup ROF Nottingham is gone. The UK no longer has the capability of mass producing small arms!

    Enough to make you wheep!

  29. I believe that at least one Middle Eastern military force has invested in the 6.8spc. Offhand I think that it is Saudi Arabia and their ‘household guard’ force. I’m not sure what it is that the SPC brings, but I don’t think that the receiver constraint of the 5.56 NATO allows the calibre to fulfil its potential. The SPC bullet is fairly short and fat, rather than long and thin which provides ballistic efficiency. As a result the 6.8SPC is reasonably short-ranged, although possibly loses less than 5.56mm when fired from a shorter barrel.

    If you are going to convert to a different calibre, wouldn’t it be better to get a really optimised round rather than settling for a really compromised one?

    While HE is the main driver of casualties, the ability to pin the opposition in place to allow the effective delivery of HE to their location mustn’t be discounted. If you can’t interfere with the enemy’s ability to manoeuvre, then they can move away from where you are trying to deliver fire to. With the mania for short barrelled carbines, anything above 300m seems to require heavier calibres. Since the military procures weapons in these larger (and somewhat inefficient) calibres, there is sense in looking at a replacement. If you really feel that 5.56mm NATO does what is required, then you can do the same job with a lighter cartridge, so why wouldn’t you? Ammunition stocks are a fallacy, as these are turned over regularly. Production facility costs are a fallacy, since these need to be regularly recapitalised and you aren’t making anything that different. In fact, if you do it right, you reduce the amount spent on production facilities as you rationalise the number of calibres produced.

  30. @Fedaykin
    BAE has a factory at Radway Green near Crewe it has just spent £83 million pounds on. It can produce on its production lines will produce up to 25 rounds per second. That is a lot of small arms ammunition per hour.

  31. If, and its a big if, the Desert-tech MDR works out (private sector US assault rifle projects don’t have a great history) then it is very interesting. A bullpup with a 16″ barrel chambered in 7.62mm, especially if paired with something like a Leopold CQBSS (or another good 1-8x scope) would make for a wonderful weapon. Not very relevant to the British Army though.

    SA80 should only be replaced if there is no choice- replacing one 5.56mm weapon for another is just pointless otherwise.

  32. I tend to think that lethality arguments for a calibre change are marginal but what never seems to get any attention is the logistic benefits and the weight reduction benefits across an infantry section, not necessarily per man, but as a whole.

    This is the reason I think it make some sense to standardise on a single calibre

  33. Fedaykin,

    “The UK no longer has the capability of mass producing small arms!”

    That is total BS. All you need to make small arms a some CNC or stamping machines, a gun drilling machine, a reamer and somewhere to make lumps of reasonable quality metal. The UK could start mass-producing small arms again in a very short period. They are probably one of the most simple things the military procures.

  34. @as

    Indeed they do but that is an ammunition plant not a small arms factory!

    The new RG factory was launched with much fan fair not that long ago but in the end it was only continuing production off small arms manufacturing something that hasn’t stopped in the UK. Restoring a mass production military small arms capability would involve much money and investment of labour! Not saying that it won’t happen but I am inclined to say whatever replaces the L85 will be made abroad.

  35. TD,

    Calibre squabbles are arguably the most pointless thing on the internet- my position being 5.56 is not perfect but not imperfect enough to justify a change. Even if you found a calibre that allowed you to carry more rounds the infantry would just carry more. The only thing that would really justify any significant investment is if CTA in small arms could be made to work reliably and affordably.

  36. Barrel length has a severe affect on muzzle velocity.
    So a 5.56×45 standard NATO Round gives:-
    11.8 in barrel produces 825 m/s
    15.4 in barrel produces 878 m/s
    20.0 in barrel produces 922 m/s

    If just changing the barrel length has that much of an effect image what happens if you start playing with other factors like the weight of the bullet.

  37. @Hohum

    I am going to assume you are making a joke at my expense because it certainly isn’t BS the UK’s lack of mass small arms production capability.

    If only it was so simple, the UK has the capacity to make small arms but not mass produce them.

    You certainly can make some nice gins with a CNC and stamping machine, there are UK manufacturers like Accuracy International who do exactly that but not in volume and that is the issue.

    To supply the entirety of the UK military with a new rifle would require production capacity beyond what any UK manufacturer of small arms could provide.

    To do it would require investment in a major facility and I am rather glass half empty that would ever happen.

    When manufacturers like Beretta, Colt or FN put a significantly lower price per unit on the table I don’t think the MOD are going to resist! No doubt whomever wins will put forward some kind of local servicing and finishing facility to win over the politicians but don’t expect anything more.

  38. @Fedaykin – Sorry to get your hopes up! :D It will end up going to my grandson when I go to Fiddler’s Green along with my grandfather’s saber and service revolver (S&W Model 1917 in .45 ACP).

  39. as,

    Yes, and that has occurred to gun designers throughout the ages. All rounds come with trade-offs, the current 5.56 have decades of development behind them; they do the job sufficiently well having killed many, many people. Anyone who thinks a calibre swap to another traditional cartridge design is worthwhile needs to reconsider their priorities.

  40. Agree with Hohum. Plenty of gunsmiths left in the UK. Plenty of expertise on the global market who could be offered enough to assist in setting up a new “Royal Ordnance” if need be. Plenty of material science labs. Plenty of cold and hammer forges. Plenty of press formers as well if you want to stamp out more SA80 shapes!

    Admittedly, whichever Rifleman in the Fire Team gets the Holland & Holland .375 may have a quizzical look on their face however I think the crystal decanter set that comes with it will soon smooth any unsettled feelings.

    But it’s not as if we have 200,000 servicemen who are using all of the 200,000 re-manufactured LA85A2’s now, is it? ;)

  41. A single small arms calibre would simplify logistics, but it would have to fill all roles from 9mm handgun, 5.56 assault rifle, 7.62 support machine gun to .338 long range sniper. Not going to happen without a huge compromise.

  42. Fedaykin,

    There is nothing clever about assault rifle manufacture, there are hundreds if not thousands of workshops in the UK that could be turned over to manufacturing small arms in a very short period and the . And yes, all you need is some CNC and/or stamping machines- thats how most AR and AK derivatives are produced. As for volume, in the US Colt alone can manufacture 10,000 M4s a month- thats the future UK Army re-equipped in 6 months- without really trying. Small arms manufacturer is easy.

  43. What about a Holland and Holland .700 nitro express double rifle. All the penetration you would ever need.

  44. TOC,

    I will take the .375H&H but only if its in a presentation grade walnut stock with some very fancy engraving on the bolt and receiver.

  45. Hohum,

    Decades of development trying to fix a fundamentally flawed cartridge, and then decades more trying to fix the problems caused by adapting said flawed cartridge beyond its design intent. The end result is a cartridge inferior, on the basis of fundamental physics, to many others.
    In the meantime, another flawed cartridge – the half-arsed modification of another cartridge itself futzed from the original intent of a bad choice for an infantry rifle.

    Yes, it works, but it could work better. You could save weight, volume and cost with a better design, if only you could decide what you want it to do. Or you could spend vast sums light weighting machine guns, buying special purpose machine guns and rifles, procuring lots of special lightweight kit* because your infantry small arms are not efficiently designed.

    * as evidence, since it has happened.

  46. @Hohum
    Your basically talking about producing a Sten gun. An assault rifle that can be produced in any workshop. the closet thing I can think of that you could do that with is the Sterling 7.62.

  47. http://navy.mil.nz/downloads/pdf/navy-today/nt186.pdf

    The latest issues of New Zealand’s three service publications have carried the following short announcement. No individual weapons are mentioned, but seven companies from seven countries are short-listed. The total buy is about 8,800 units.

    The reason for replacement is that the current Australian-built Steyrs are worn out, and their optics are not up to it. I understand that NZDF sought quotes on upgrading part of the existing Steyr pool, and was mightily unimpressed with the pricing offered by the Thales-owned Australian manufacturer, which was the only bidder. NZ cancelled the upgrade plan and tendered for a new rifle, with the Australian evolution of the AUG conspicuously missing from the short-list.

    The previous announcement is here:
    http://www.janes.com/article/39552/new-zealand-govt-approves-steyr-replacement-programme

    Announcement as follows.

    Weapons selected for evaluation phase of
    Individual Weapon Replacement Project

    Following evaluation of the tenders received, the Ministry
    of Defence advises that the following companies have been
    selected for the evaluation phase.
    • Beretta New Zealand Limited
    • Ceská zbrojovka a.s.
    • Colt Canada Corporation
    • FN HerstaL
    • STeyr MANNLICHER GmbH
    • XTeK Limited (Sig Sauer)
    • Heckler & Kock GmbH
    • Lewis Machine & Tools Co Inc

    The evaluations of these weapon systems will be undertaken
    from 2 March to 1 June 2015.

  48. as,

    No, any modern workshop, and it could be considerably more advanced than a WW2 designed SMG. CNC machines, modern stamping machines, plastic moulding, 3D printing etc. Things have moved on a bit since 1945.

  49. I got to shoot a few rounds through a .375 H&H magnum (BRNO) at Bisley, a couple of years ago. Not much more recoil than a 7.62. Probably would not want to shoot hundreds of .375 in a day though.

  50. @mr.fred – I like the SOCOM 16 without all the rails better. http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/308/a/7/us_socom_16__m14_by_wolf999679-d5jxy2p.jpg

    The Springfield M1A-series of rifles is available in almost any caliber based on the 7.62x51mm NATO round. Some police departments have gone to the .260 Remington (6.5mm) for less recoil and better ballistic coefficients. The “problem” is that they are “old technology,” and, as such,

    While not as straight up powerful as the 6.8mm SPC up close, the 6.5mm Grendel has better downrange performance with longer bullets with higher ballistic coefficients. The 6.8mm SPC was a “What can we fit in an short AR right now that would work better than the poodle shooter?” The 6.5mm Grendel was a “How can we maximize the downrange performance of a little AR?” Both work, but the 6.8 is better up close and the 6.5 is better at long range. In the end, we may see a 6mm in the 110-120 grain bullet weight in a medium-size cartridge case.

  51. Mr.Fred,

    Yup, but it still kills people, quite a lot of them and quite effectively. The cost/benefit ratio has never justified the change which is why it never happened. Make CTA, liquid propellent or death rays work well and affordably and that might be worth it- otherwise, not so much.

  52. If you want a cheap replacement you have no choice but an AR10/AR15 clone they are the 21st centuries ultimate cheap workshop gun. The US has hundreds of small companies producing parts from the uppers, lowers, triggers, magazines and barrels. they can be customised like no other gun. The big US and Canadian companies have production capacity that can not be competed with. Only Russia can compete for production capacity.

    Its sad but that’s the reality of what we are left with.

    There are 3-4 small British companies that make AR Rifles (civilian straight pull).

  53. Even I do not think the 6.8mm SPC is perfect, but it does most things well enough & seems to be slowly gaining traction. I do not think the change needs to be expensive if we spread it out. If we are going to have to replace knackered small arms anyway, then changing calibres at the same time makes sense. The extra cost is minimal. As I said before, you need not ditch all 5.56 on day one.

  54. @Hohum

    Sigh, yes there are some UK workshops that could produce a beautiful Assault rifle, as you say it is CNC and stamping in the end. Armalon, Accuracy International and Manroy (Now owned by FN) all make some beautiful guns but not in volume. Both Accuracy International and Manroy have MOD contracts for rifles and machine guns but not in significant volume.

    It might be romantic to say the UK can just go out and make fifty thousand new assault rifles in an army of small engineering workshops but that just isn’t the case at the moment. Small workshop production is not the same as serious volume production.

  55. Kent,
    As should anyone with the merest appreciation of the aesthetic.
    Both the SPC and the Grendel are informative in the way that you could go, both are ultimately compromised by the overall length available and as such a good example of why you should consider a longer receiver when future-proofing a new rifle.

    Hohum,
    Institutional inertia has always blocked the change. As noted, the various militaries around the world seem happy enough to throw vast sums at much less worthy and less cost effective schemes. Would you like a to buy a second-hand springer. I mean example.
    Just one of the aircraft that the RAF have stacked into the ground in avoidable accidents would pay for it. Or the cost of a taxi home for a grounded destroyer. Or a FRES concept study.

  56. I find 300 Blackout a rather interesting cartridge. Similar performance to 7.62×39 but able to fit in standard 5.56 NATO mags.

  57. @as

    Not even sure it is as many as that! Southern Gun Company make their own AR-15 receivers, Lantac use Hera receivers from Germany and NWC source theirs from America.

  58. Fedaykin,

    As per usual you are wrong. Tens of thousands of assault rifles is not a significantly large volume. These are simple pieces of engineering that can be produced with fairly standard machine tools. Volume production of a chosen design would be easy in any advanced economy. The fact of the matter is that demand is so low it is difficult to justify such a thing as an assault rifle factory. As is demonstrated by Colt who could provide M4s (or any other AR15 derivative) sufficient to cover UK demand in a matter of months with a few hundred employees.

  59. The prototype M1 Garand was originally chambered for the .276 Pedersen using a 10 round en-bloc clip. US Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur killed it when Garand was able to successfully redesign the M1 to take and function successfully with the larger, more powerful .30-06 cartridge albeit with only 8 rounds in the clip. The “why” was because the US Army had almost 1 billion rounds of .30-06 ammunition in stock.

  60. @Fedyakin – The .300 Blackout is problematic except when fired with heavy bullets (220 grain) with a suppressor. The light bullet (supersonic) loads have difficulty generating enough pressure to make AR actions work.

  61. Wrong?! I am stating a fact there is no UK manufacturer capable of volume manufacture, I don’t know why you are picking a fight over it.

    Yes you are right an assault rifle can be produced with fairly standard machine tools but that is NOT VOLUME MANUFACTURE! Volume manufacture is an entirely different beast, there has to be consistency over many thousands if units. That is very expensive to sustain and there is no UK manufacturer currently up to it. There is also little evidence that any UK manufacturer is even interested in the idea. I am not saying it is impossible but for sustained UK production there will need to be significant investment and I am rather glass half empty that will happen especially when the big players lay the individual unit price plus ancillaries down on the table.

    The UK recently replaced the Browning High Power with the Glock 17 as the standard service pistol but there is no UK production. As I understand it from my moles on the inside an FN FNX derivative actually came first in the trials with a SIG P226 variant coming second and the Glock 17 3rd. The MOD selected the Glock 17 when the all up cost of pistol, magazine, storage box, racks and training aids was laid on the table beating the two other bids.

    You seem to have a different conception to me of what volume manufacture is to me but once you push over 10,000 units small workshops with fancy CNC are not going to cut it. You mention COLT but they are geared up for volume manufacture, they get periodic DOD contracts to keep them going. With ROF Nottingham gone the UK has to start from scratch in the Volume Small arm manufacturer business,

    This is a silly debate

  62. @Kent

    Yeah also I have seem some nasty range accidents with people accidently putting 300 blackout in a 5,56 chambered rifle.

  63. The Turkish army ( the largest in NATO by far ) have opted to replace their main rifle the G36 with the new MPT-76. The version they have adopted , they tested 5.56×45 and 7.62×56 is the larger calibre as it suits their style of fighting , deliberate single shots with full auto a rarity. They use both cartridges all ready as well as 7.62×39 in AKM’s. This new rifle is Very similar to the HK 416/417 series ( but not court case close) and will be manufactured domestically. Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Saudia Arabia and Azerbaijan ( they will make their own) have expressed an interest.
    France too has no indigenous military volume producer of small arms anymore and their study of the FAMAS replacement deservers observation if we are studying an A2 replacement.
    On the calibre thing as mr.fred infers present replacement suggestions seem to be compromised by existing magazines,upper/lower receivers and bolt designs as opposed to the first principals of ‘ What do you want the bullet to do at various points of its ballistic arc?’ Be it supersonic crack, helmet/ body armour penetration, flat trajectory etc fired by an average soldier v costs , be they initial to long term logistical . You should work back from what you want something to do at the point of effectiveness not will I fit what we have ( which will have worn out and be scrap in a few years heavy use ).
    A new CanadaColt C8 can be bought in small volumes ( I.e. Police dept ) for C$2000 or about £ 1500 . So if that price was to include new logistics,spares,training,racks etc for 200,000 would cost £300m or 3 F35B’s but do we need to change.

  64. I sort of see both Hohum and Fedaykin’s points. Hohum is right in saying that with modern production and CNC techniques, rifles can be produced in huge lots, but Fedaykin’s point that it is not available *now* is also a good point. The equipment needed to produce the rifles needs time to set up and program and troubleshoot, which can take a while.

    Just to point out something, the old FN FAL was 7.62, and one of the reasons it was discontinued was rather vicious recoil in automatic fire and the weight. If you got a new 7.62 rifle, wouldn’t the same problems show itself, though with plastics, weight would be a bit more reasonable, but still heavier than an M-4?

  65. Fedaykin,

    How typical of you, you make something up then when you are called on it you get all bolshie.

    Volume manufacture at consistent quality with modern machine tools is easy as that is exactly what they are designed to do, thats why US manufacturers do it all the time. Guns are simple and easy to manufacture, if the UK had a requirement it could begin manufacturing a design in a matter of months if it so desired. Colt manages 10,000 a month on just a few hundred employees and the machinery is commercially available. Volume, even at 10,000 units a month is easy, its a lack of demand thats the problem.

  66. When somebody starts a sentence with:

    “That is total BS” or “As per usual you are wrong” or “How typical of you”… they go down several steps in my book. I am here for a rational polite debate not mud slinging Hohum, I would rather not send you to Belgium like I have with RT.

    Now I am not feeling bolshie and you haven’t called me out on anything, if anything I feel rather bemused.

    Certainly not making anything up just expressing my opinion. What you don’t know is I have a moderate amount of dealings with the UK gun trade, I know people who work for Manroy and RPA. I also as a civilian participated in trials work for the electronic target system procured off Lockheed Martin for UK MOD rifle ranges. I am certainly not ignorant of the state of UK arms manufacture.

    So why don’t you wind your neck in, I was having an enjoyable debate about a subject that I have a fair amount of knowledge until you decided to wade in with your size 10’s!

    It is not a case of waving a wand and saying the UK in a matter of months could just start pumping out assault rifles. You seem to be operating under the illusion that UK manufacturers with the skills to build an assault rifle are all jumping up and down eager to start manufacturing rifles at the first hint of an MOD order. That just in the case, to make that kind of rifle requires a Section 5 licence off the Home office, to get one of those is no walk in the park. Funnily I was having a chat with a Section 5 manufacturer yesterday about fabricating a part for me, no go was the answer they were rushed off their feet doing small batch work which is the main business for S5 builders. Next they have to put in the capital investment to volume manufacture an assault rifle and do that on the hope they might win an order. UK S5 manufacturers are just not going to take that capital risk. I suppose with FN buying out Manroy the company that builds and refurbishes Browning M2 machine gins and until recently the L7 for the Army there might be some scope for them to expand. Even then FN will more then likely bid the SCAR built out of their factory in Liege and use Manroy for support of the contract.

    Colt certainly does have the capacity to make 10,000 a month, but that is in an established factory which relies on a strong civilian market and fairly regular DOD contracts.

    I am not saying that it is impossible that any future assault rifle purchased by the UK MOD will be made in the UK. What I am saying is it won’t come from what is verging on a cottage industry of S5 manufacturers. If it happens it will be because a volume manufacturer like Colt or Beretta decide to shift production to custom built facility. Considering the increase in unit cost that would entail and the general relaxing of the MODs view about buying foreign small arms I am not holding my breath.

    In the US there is a far larger market for guns meaning more volume manufacturers and even then only a few of the big boys service military contracts. There is certainly a large almost cottage industry of small to medium manufacturers of AR-15 and Colt 1911 but they are serving a civilian market. I would put money on Colt bidding on any L85 replacement contract and I will be interested to see if they bid the M4 and C8 separately.

  67. @Observer

    The FN FAL was never intended to be chambered in 7.62 NATO, the prototype was chambered in 7.92×33 and if history had gone otherwise would probably of entered service chambering the .280/7×43 cartridge.

  68. Anybody notice something different about this ARX-160

    http://www.all4shooters.com/it/home/pro-zone/2012-articoli/Beretta-ARX-160-76-2×39-fucile-assalto/Beretta-ARX-160-7-62×39-lato-destro-1.jpg

    Beretta will certainly be on the list of companies that would bid for any contract, they just lost out on a small deal for Finland’s special forces. Finland decided to go for the FN SCAR albeit there is still a good chance Beretta could win out to replace Finland’s RK95 used by their army. Beretta own SAKO so I can see some arm twisting going on.

    I would also keep a close eye in the French replacement program for the FAMAS.

  69. I pop ovet to find out what’s New… and find Hohum winding up people, to get to some detail that his paymasters want.
    … none of my business

    RE “I believe that at least one Middle Eastern military force has invested in the 6.8spc. Offhand I think that it is Saudi Arabia and their ‘household guard’ force”

    SaudiArabia has two armies for a simple reason. the NG is there to overpower any army unit that has got some political ideas. Now, you can already guess how much ammo is issued to the army, and how much use raiding that particular province’s NG depo would be.

    there aren’t two airforces as the numbers involved makes vetting an alternative.

  70. Ted Gundy was a sniper in the U.S. Army’s 99th Infantry Division in World War II. In 2009, he was invited to Fort Benning, Georgia, to visit the Infantry Museum as a guest of the Army Marksmanship Unit. The AMU had a few surprises for Mr. Gundy, and he had a few for them… http://youtu.be/DVdqxkHd2RQ

  71. Hohum, manners please. They are right, you have a habit of attacking people who say something you disagree with.

  72. @Kent
    On your post on the WW2 sniper Ted Gundy , when you’ve got it , you don’t lose it !
    Absolutely awesome in every sense of the words performance.

    The US have introduced a ‘green’ round for their 5.56 weapons. Green as in lead free .
    While they were at it they enhanced its performance . The new(ish) M855A1 EPR has everything better going for it than the original M855, or SS109 in our parlance, this link from the US Army.
    http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://w4.pica.army.mil/PicatinnyPublic/news/images/highlights/2011/M855A1/EPR%2520Presentation.pdf&sa=U&ei=DZH-VLrjD6zU7Ab57IDICA&ved=0CAsQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNHvJEUWSbqhyWFNILj2vP9puCzbIA
    As well as a new bullet they increased the cartridge pressure from 55,000psi to 62,000psi which is causing concern in some circles of weapon rates of wear. There are some interesting graphs on the link comparing the old and new , and if correct show that some reengineering of what you have can show a marked improvement. The big drawback is cost at allegedly double per round even when ordered in the 10’s of millions but I am sure they are working on this too.

  73. Fedaykin,

    You are still ignoring the reality. Firearm manufacture is simple and undertaken with modern commercially available machine tools that can create identical components all day long at high volume. The manufacturer does not have to be a current gun factory as those machine tools are generic, commercially available, and software controlled- its just a case of procuring an existing design and the associated files and loading them into the machines.

    If the best you can come up with is a need for Home office license as an impediment to production then you have shown me right. Such things are, despite your hyperbole, a very long way from insurmountable. Now stop making things up.

  74. On the subject of production volume for small arms, do we need very high volumes?
    Our armed forces aren’t exactly huge these days.

  75. On the manufacturing of an existing design under licence or a new UK originated one the final assembly and testing of the finished article I am pleased to hear needs a special HO license but the base components other than the barrel could easily be subcontracted to sub-contractors who specialize in the individual process . I am speaking from the position of being an engineer who takes customers concepts to turn key operation in small volume and often high precision machinery that often repeats its cycle 10,000’s of times a day 247 .

  76. @ Paul G

    Good article, I like you thinking however I am not sure of the British Army can really go for a new tech assault riffle again. It took us a two decades to get SA80 working right.

    I remember the original version from being in cadets and TA and it was a nightmare. The A2 version seems to be well regarded and has all the extra’s.

  77. Going back to WW2, before CNC, polymer & 3D printing, small arms bits were made by non weapons factories. Singer sewing machines switched to making .38 Enfield revolvers.
    With an 80K Army & taking a decade to change over, that’s 8000 rifles a year. We could manage that. Subcontract bits to automotive/aerospace engineering firms. You do not need a licence to produce a grip or similar. Just for the barrel/chamber & parts of the trigger/firing pin. They could be built by Manroy/AI. Even if we bought in the barrel from abroad (Canada) we could still make the rest of the rifle in the UK.

  78. Mr Fred, as I am the owner and shooter of two 100 year old Moisins, you made me cry!

  79. So, manufacturing small arms and manufacturing small arms in quantity and at speed with sufficient economies of scale are two different things

    Actually making the components to an agreed working design with modern materials and equipment is childplay for any competent engineering organisation.

    Getting a working design is the hard part.

    Making parts on a subcontract basis and assembling in a single place would be equally childs play, the engineering sector does this all the time and a component for a rifle is no different than a component for a car, of which we make millions

    Whether this approach would be economic is another matter, seems to work for the car industry though

    Would any of this actually fly for the UK, doubtful, simply because there is no market for such an entity to serve and after the order has been fulfilled, won’t happen again for another 40 years, there is also the not to be underestimated regulator aspects as Fed rightly says

    So

    It is feasible but unlikely

    Hence, the replacement will not be manufactured to a new design in the UK

  80. The SA80 might still have a future with UK military in the longer term. Cranfield university have been doing some trials work further reducing weight and adding a Stellite barrel.

    I could see a staggered adoption of a replacement with 2nd tier units keeping the L85a2.

  81. Fed, I also wonder if you could run a replacement/refurbishment programme on the A2’s to squeeze out another decade or two or are the ergonomics and economics just not there whilst there are tender morsels on offer from others?

  82. Well I could see it as a possibility, HK have built new stamped receivers recently to take the guts of rifles that are bashed up in the sand pit but there would be a few issues.

    What is the quality of the pressure bearing parts? How much can they be reworked or replaced? It would certainly have the attraction of avoiding replacing the entire support system.

  83. TD,

    Even producing at volume is child’s play, guns really are very simple things and modern machine tools very precise and very fast. For example (Colt has already been mentioned) Remington produced 24,000 M4A1s for the US Army with a price under $680 a unit at a peak rate of 2,000 a month. Any advanced economy can manufacture small arms with ease- the only question is why bother when you can pick up a few months worth of production from HK, FN or Colt. Hell, HK always used to ship a lot of their weapons to Nottingham prior to re-export anyway and last I heard still do.

    The issue is that firearms technology has reached a technological plateau- you can make slightly better weapons than those in service but nothing earth shattering. Sure it would be nice if they or their ammunition were lighter, they hit a bit harder etc, etc but there isn’t really anything mature enough that would make a significant difference- so there is just no point. Especially when other parts of soldier kit offer more potential for capability uplift.

  84. TD,

    One assumes MoD owns the entire IP package for SA80; just work out which bits you need and in what quantities then find a machine shop to make them. Triggers broom it and you could keep the thing in service indefinitely.

  85. Some sense… I sense, finally, in the comments (just to stay ‘legit’ for the next round, puľing back?).

    “so there is just no point. Especially when other parts of soldier kit offer more potential for capability uplift.”

    This is very true. At the same time, the weight will just go up – not down. So ammo is/ will be the only significant variable. And , to derisk using it as “the one” you will have to look at it at the squad/ platoon level as that is the level where you might be forced to share – to survive.

  86. The official in-service date for the SA80 replacement is 2025. So the current kit is expected to last for another decade, at least.

    I have discussed this a few times with army officers concerned with small arms programmes. They are really looking for a step-change in capability to make the change worthwhile (which suggests different ammunition, since it is impossible to obtain a “step change in capability” with conventional 5.56mm weapons). And they want something proven, off-the-shelf (no more nasty surprises!).

    In my view, the most likely development to get traction by 2025 is LSAT, since the plastic-cased telescoped ammunition offers substantial weight savings, and the guns are lighter too. The LSAT team have produced versions in 5.56mm and 7.62mm and are now working on a 6.5mm version, which looks hopeful. After all, if you’re going to completely change the type of ammunition and the weapons, there is no reason to stick with the existing calibres, so you might as well go for a compromise optimised for current needs (i.e. with a longer effective range than 5.56mm, but less weight and recoil than 7.62mm).

    I can’t see the guns being made in the UK. Why bother to set up a factory and an organisation, recruit and train the workers, just for maybe a two-year production run, before closing it all down again?

  87. Tony,

    I couldn’t agree more with all of that, and it sounds like the Army has the right approach. My only comment would be that the mid-2020s has become something of a dumping ground for all manner of potential projects timeline wise so I suspect that is quite a loose date. LSAT certainly seems interesting and a lot of work has been done and continues to be done with it. I just hope they don’t lose momentum now combat deployments are over.

    Now I come to think of it, I vaguely recall at least one SA80 spares contract going to a UK engineering firm.

  88. How are they getting on with LSAT platform weight reduction?

    Although weight/volume gains were being obtained through cased telescope ammunition, reports were they were being lost again through the need to enclose the mechanism further on the weapon itself?

  89. With L85A2 version of SA80, the hugely talented Ernst Mauch and his team at Heckler & Koch basically created a brand new weapon from the L85A1. A significant number of parts were redesigned to create a weapon that truly met British Army requirements. More than a decade after the L85A2 entered service, it can be unequivocally said that H&K did an excellent job. I completely agree that SA80 has now become one of the most reliable, dependable and accurate assault rifles in service with any army.

    Of course, SA80 is starting to show its age now. Moreover, it is also very heavy for a 5.56 mm rifle, with many competing designs weighing at least a kilo less. The controls are less than ideal. A single change lever with safe, single round and burst fire modes (as per the Colt M4) would be preferable. A non-reciprocating charging handle located on the left hand side of the weapon would also be helpful.

    Since 2002, H&K has used its own R&D resources to continue to redesign various components to improve weapon reliability and functionality. As long ago as 2010, H&K proposed a series of additional upgrades to the weapon. H&K has already developed what could accurately be described as A3, A4 and A5 versions, all with different degrees of development. Refinements include a lighter receiver with a new breech block mechanism, a single return spring instead of the double springs used at present, a new magazine feeding system and new controls, a new fore-grip and weight reductions across all major components. The most sophisticated prototype has powered rails and other upgrades consistent with UK FIST requirements. If an RFP were to be issued, then a new weapon could be delivered very easily.

    The problem is that issuing the British Army with an updated assault rifle let alone a brand new one is not perceived to be an urgent priority right now. Irrespective of whether the Army wants a new weapon, there is no money for one – certainly not before 2025.

    I agree that discussing calibre change on internet blogs is an utter waste of time and so I won’t indulge that fantasy here. What I will say is that the US Army is looking at this very issue through a Manoeuvre Centre of Excellence (MCOE) initiative at Fort Benning, Georgia. Called the Small Arms Ammunition Configuration (SAAC) Study, it has been ongoing for at least 12 months and will likely continue for another one or two years. My understanding is that it will result in a requirement for the next generation of small arms for the US Army. America didn’t give a damn about NATO standardisation when it adopted 7.62 mm and later 5.56 mm, so iif it decides to adopt a new and different calibre, the rest of NATO will simply follow its lead. If the US Army were to adopt a new small arms system, then the UK would almost certainly follow our allies and adopt it too. This would trigger a replacement programme for SA80.

    This line of approach works both ways. The UK unilaterally adopted .338LM as a new sniping calibre without really caring what anyone else thought. It has been an unqualified success allowing UK snipers to be extraordinarily effective against insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Without any formal trials (and all the political shenanigans that go with such evaluations) the UK has basically established a new NATO calibre for sniper rifles.

    In the meantime, a number of NATO armies have re-adopted 7.62 mm weapons for use at section and platoon level by designated marksmen. The UK adopted the L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle, which is basically an accurised version of a 7.62 mm AR10. Germany has the G28 (HK417), France has the HK417, Italy is developing a new 7.62 mm rifle. If a new calibre were to prove too controversial, it is quite possible that a revised lightweight 7.62 mm round might be used instead.

    In parallel to other initiatives, the US is also continuing to research polymer cased telescoped (CTA) small arms ammunition in 7.62 mm and 6.5 mm. Canada has produced a 5.56 mm cased telescoped ammunition assault rifle with an integral grenade launcher system. Wholesale adoption of this technology is likely to be massively expensive, so it will be interesting to see whether polymer versions of existing brass cased ammunition tech triumphs. For the moment, there are no conclusive recommendations, but i expect this topic to become a very live discussion in about 12-24 months time. Two things could change this status quo overnight. One is if we get into a serious conflict. Two is if one of our enemies were to adopt a new small arms system that gave them an overmatch capability.

    My own view is that infantry small arms are the primary building blocks of combat capability. When squad-size units can deliver firepower out of all proportion to their size and strength, they can dominate ground that would otherwise require a much larger number of troops to control. In an age of austerity, where we have fewer and fewer boots to deploy on the ground, the firepower of those we do have is likely to assume a much greater importance.

  90. The 5.56mm LSAT MG is very much lighter than the Minimi, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve had to put some weight back into it to stand up to combat conditions, but I’ve no definite info about that.

    The way things are at present, I would expect both the weapons and the ammunition in a 6.5mm LSAT to weigh no more than current 5.56mm.

    The main fly in LSAT’s ointment is that hybrid polymer/metal-cased versions of existing ammo are getting close to service ready, and they offer a significant reduction in ammo weight too – albeit not quite as much as LSAT.

    Incidentally, the Canadians have been working for some time on a futuristic infantry weapon which combines a bullpup rifle using 5.56mm LSAT ammo, topped by a three-round 40mm Metal Storm grenade launcher. All electric, with lots of fancy tech.

    Edit to say – my post crossed with Monty’s!

  91. Tony, if I end up with a SAW, it’s going to be an Ultimax, so sometimes I wonder what’s taking you guys so long. :P About high time for an upgrade though, the ones from the 80s are getting old.

    I’m not really sure about the LSAT, it does sound promising, but it also sounds technically tricky. And Metal Storm folded, awesome tech apparently couldn’t beat cheap and simple. Not in effectiveness, but in price.

    One thing that might be in the cards is the expansion of video sights and maybe some integration of civilian tech like Iphones into military equipment, though not in critical items.

    http://www.stee.stengg.com/pdf/Round-Corner-Sensor.pdf

    This is issued one per section for urban combat, you can accurately fire it from around the corner using only the vid screen. Beats sticking your head out where someone might be waiting.

  92. Been waiting for this post for a while. Some really good points made so far. Keep it going.

  93. Not wishing to fan the fire, but here’s a video of the sniper rifle being made (and no I’m not on their payroll)!!

  94. My TA unit was at right at the the fag end of the SA80 issue, indeed we were excused ranges one year because the army had run out of 9 mm ammo for our knackered SMG’s. ( Apparently they had stopped replacing stocks a little prematurely)

    When I first saw the SA80 I thought it was a plastic practice weapon and the real thing would look more robust, but even with iron sights it was accurate.
    What I could not understand is why all the pins were not captive, why leave one to get lost in the mud.
    The fact that the gas plug retaining pin fitting the gas port in the barrel was inexcusable.
    The dust cover looked to me like an an afterthought and particularly flimsy.
    A balance weight was hidden within the front plastic bit. The whole weapon was as heavy as an SLR.
    And why have a sling that was so complicated to assemble. Well compared to the No 4 and SLR slings.*

    What is required is a weapon that is reliable, accurate, robust, simple and affordable. Clearly as in all engineering, compromises need to be made to provide the right balance of these qualities.

    There is a history of new small arms needing a mark 2 to be successful, the Lee Metford barrels wore out once high velocity ammunition was introduced leading to the Lee Enfield. The M16 had problems when introduced in Vietnam because of inappropriate propellant leading to fouling and jamming. So the SA80 saga is not unique.

    I hope that whatever replaces the Rifle 5.56, as we were told to call it, works from the get go. We shall have to trust that the procurement system will get this one right.

    *It was probably age and lack of practice but putting the sling together once a year was taxing, whilst I bet I could strip and reassemble a Bren LMG tomorrow even though it is probably 20 years since I have done so, having learned how to do it at school..

    I have a comment on the manufacturing issue. The discussion is a bit lop sided. There are two issues really, the economic one and the technical one. It is technically possible to open a volume arms factory in the way Nissan opened a volume car factory in the North East. But is it economically feasible, as we seem to have a knack for producing weapons with extremely limited export potential? I would like to see the Army/Navy/RAF and even police personal weapon made in the UK – who wouldn’t; but what we don’t want is to have another runaway cost project. Could we not induce a volume gun manufacturer to open a plant in the UK.

  95. Given that the UK might have a need for 250,000 personal weapons, probably less, and they have a life span of 25 years, probably more, I never got the point of penny pinching.

    200 per week, at a cost of £5,000 per weapon, £1mn per week, barely a rounding error in the grand scheme of things.
    And for that you get an expertly machined weapon you can gradually roll out upgrades to, relegating the older models to reserve and training units, keeping your front line units with the newest model.

    Theres a whole host of firms that could perfectly engineer that sort of volume.

  96. Up here in Gloomyville…where we still make our living making stuff, mostly out of high quality alloys and to very high and consistent specifications…our working assumption is that the future of manufacturing in the West lies with the ability to design and produce exactly what is required quickly, and then move on to the next task…which might well be a completely different one. Long term volume production of the same widget is very definitely seen as yesterdays news, generally left to the volume car-makers…or at best the cash cow supporting R & D into the products of the next decade.

    I’m not sure which side of the discussion that puts me on, but it seemed appropriate to share the thought.

    GNB

  97. I just want to say I started my post during my late lunch hour. If I had read Monty’s and Tony Williams post I would not have bothered they are both far more knowledgeable and write very clearly.

  98. GNB,

    That puts you comfortably on my side of the discussion.

    paul G,

    Thanks for the video, I love some CNC action and the SRS looks like a great rifle.

  99. No love for the Scout rifle concept?

    Not a mass issue concept, I will agree, but had I have had the option, I’d always have liked a short bolt action 7.62 with a low magnification scope. Much better for recce than SMG.

  100. At the 1990 Las Vegas SHOT show, it was announced that the firm ITM had decided to get their AT88 pistols ( a CZ75 clone) made by UK Midlands based defence contractor Muller. Then it went quiet. Did many British built AT88 get built? Does Muller still exist? Could it still make small arms?

  101. …moving swiftly on, before I am accused of being one of Czar Putin’s Trolls (who’d pay me, I ask? :-( ) – do we actually need anything in enough volume to be more than a boutique product? And if so is the problem that we look at old fashioned volume manufacture as the business model, rather than low volume, high value, cutting edge operations…are the real lessons with F1 Manufacture or Rolls Royce Cars, not a fading memory of the old Vickers Tank Factory…should our next generation of military equipment be about a design studio tapping into advanced manufacturing operations to source the components from which to assemble a tank?

    GNB

  102. As several have pointed out, UK easily has the ability to manufacture all the parts of a firearm and assemble them. Fnding a way to do so at a cost matching specialised manufacturers elsewhere is much much more difficult.

    Worth noting that even Colt, a long-established manufacturer with unmatched brand recognition, is currently teetering on the endge of bankruptcy.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/gun-manufacturer-colt-warns-of-possible-default-1415892942

    H&K also suffered several years of losses, and their corporate bonds are rated by Moodys at somewhere near junk status (sorry, in German).
    http://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article118178155/Gewehrlieferant-der-Bundeswehr-ueberschuldet.html?ref=555601-skim71566X1520379Xe0315e6ba4f84a7c3509d27f9be06e96&affmt=2&affmn=1

  103. FN Herstal makes M16s and M4/M4a1s for the US military. Colt has their own AR-15 line but there’s a lot of competition.

  104. Actually Gloomy, think our Terrex 8x8s were mostly designed by Timoney’s, Irish firm.

  105. There’s quite a large number of manufacturing options, depending on what you want to achieve.
    You could utilise the UKs large number of small firearms manufacturers to make relatively small quantities of key parts for assembly at a purpose built assembly line, with non-firearm parts supplied from civilian manufacturers.
    You could have the extant UK firearms manufacturers build the whole thing to a standard spec on a nonexclusive licensing basis.
    You could choose a European-based manufacturer and buy direct (or buy a kit of parts or key parts for assembly in the UK), cementing the European alliance.
    You could do the same from the US or the Commonwealth, for the same aim.
    You could mix and match, buying standard components from all over for assembly at a centralised place.
    You could build all the rifles you need in a short time for a quick change over, or run a lower rate over a longer time, creating a larger overlap with the current rifle.
    You could deliberately engineer the service rifle to have common components with a sporting rifle and encourage shooting sports (perhaps not likely, given public perception of guns) so you could maintain production over a longer period and hence maintain the industrial base for the specialised components.

  106. Gloomy – the truth, as they say, is somewhere in between. Firstly it ought to be understood that while you only see 2 F1 cars from each team take part in the race, over the year each team makes many (although in interchangeable bits so not necessarily a car-park full) and as a benchmark Williams F1 has a staff of 600 or so. Let’s say for argument’s sake over 30 years each team makes the parts for some 500 cars within which total there might be 20 clean-sheet designs and 200 variations large or small. Compare with Vickers Tank Factory where over 30 years they may have made 700 vehicles but of maybe three separate designs and probably could only dream of having 600 staff on hand. Secondly like all other forms of engineering since perhaps Boulton and Watt’s time the finished article when dealing with vehicles, vessels and electronic kit is an integration of both in-house manufacture and bought-in components, so for much of the past 200 years the smaller independent specialist engineering businesses have supplied a good proportion of bigger companies’ products anyway. Fashions change every now & then, when its seen as advantageous to produce more in-house (the very fine Routemaster bus might be an example) but from big grey ships to pointy jets to growling green tanks you will find a different manufacturers plate on the engines and gearboxes than that of the company delivering the platform.

  107. Chris, thanks, looks like Muller could build a rifle if they were given the design. The Benelli CB-M2 9mm AUPO was an interesting semi caseless SMG. That would have worked in other calibres. Shame it was not a 6.5mm semi caseless assault rifle.

  108. Re. Metal Storm: the original Aussie company went bust around 2012, but the US offshoot kept going until very recently and their website is still up. Those are the ones the Canadians have been working with. What will happen now I don’t know.

  109. Tony, the original firm was banging the drum about a USN contract, before running out of money.

    What was that one for, did it ever happen?

  110. I’m actually a bit worried about the proliferation of body armour these days. With “Just in time” logistics, your enemy can be plain infantry one day and body armoured the next week. Phil did assure me that even with body armour, a person getting hit is still in a fair bit of pain, but I’d feel a lot more confident if the round I was tossing out was NATO 7.62, too many designers design against 5.56 or 7.62S.

    Won’t mind an optical sight that can take an Iphone or similar and display the image, it should help a lot to let you fire from cover without sticking your head out.

  111. Lots of good comments, I was interested to hear that HK had options for L85Ax.

    I actually wonder whether the profusion of body armour presages a requirement to either increase the calibre or muzzle velocity. A move to a platform that can accept different calibres from day 1 seems like a good idea, and the idea of polymer based cases reducing weight sounds good too

  112. ACC, no-one has bought any Metal Storm products other than for evaluation purposes, as far as I know.

    wf, the obvious answer to body armour is tungsten-cored APDS ammo which can be fired from standard service weapons. The Swedes bought some Winchester Olin APDS in 7.62×51 for snipers – not for the AP performance (although that would be at the hot-knife-through-butter level) but because the very high velocity provided a flat trajectory and short flight time.

    If armour ever improves enough to keep out tungsten APDS, then we’ll be looking at different weapons: either smoothbores firing APFSDS flechettes, or grenade-type rounds firing HEAT shells!

  113. I can’t see a rifle calibre APDS being very accurate, they did use to have “fletchette” rounds for.. I can’t remember the project name now, but it was supposed to be the M-16 upgrade. The small rounds were very badly affected by vegetation and wind. Think it was the SPEW? Something like that.

  114. @monkey – Ted Gundy is an inspiration to all us old guys! Now, if they’d just put fold out stairs on tanks…

    The new (completely different) M855A1 round is going to be even more expensive now that the courts have determined that the US Army ripped off Liberty Ammunition’s patent . From Bradenton.com:

    U.S. Federal Court of Claims Judge Charles F. Lettow filed a decision Dec. 19 in which he found the federal government had infringed on Liberty’s patent for its copper-core, steel-tipped ammunition. Lettow ordered the government to pay two levels of damages, the first being a $15.6 million lump payment. The government was also ordered to pay a 1.4-cent royalty on every bullet it purchases and receives for use. It will make those payments until Liberty’s patent expires in 2027.

    @John Hartley – During WW2, M1911A1 pistols were made by Remington Rand (the typewriter company)(900,000), Colt (400,000), Ithaca Gun Company (400,000), Union Switch & Signal (railroad stuff!)(50,000), and Singer (sewing machines)(500). During my military career (1975-1995) I saw .50 Cal machineguns manufactured by Whirlpool (kitchen appliances) and The Hydramatic Division of General Motors (automobile transmissions), as well as by the usual suspects (gun companies).

    @RT – I like the Scout Rifle!

  115. @Observer: Sweden selected 7.62mm APDS for their sniper rifles, so by definition the practical accuracy was considered adequate for the purpose.

    The SPIW project, whose origin predated the M16, ran into many and various problems, accuracy being only one of them. The very light flechette was easily disturbed in flight when separating from the sabot; not such an issue with APDS, with its heavier and more compact projectiles.

  116. @mr.fred
    “You could deliberately engineer the service rifle to have common components with a sporting rifle and encourage shooting sports (perhaps not likely, given public perception of guns) so you could maintain production over a longer period and hence maintain the industrial base for the specialised components.”
    In a way this is the Swiss approach but more in reverse when you exit your national service period you are gifted your service rifle , a nice birthday present at 50. The government sponsors and encourage many many rifle ranges and gives away free ammunition once a year. The majority of rifles used on ranges are ex-service rifles K31, Stg57 or more often 90’s as well as current rifles being used by existing national servicemen. P.S. This could only work in Switzerland IMO.

  117. Tony, the difference between a fletchette and a “penetrator” is simply a matter of schematics, an APDS dart *is* a flechette. I do believe that we are both correct in that there is an “ideal weight” point where performance becomes acceptable, and below that it isn’t, but I don’t want to be a part of the guinea pig force that is sent to find out.

    There was also one rifle in the SPIW competition that used sabot rounds as well, think it was the Styr ACR, one of the findings was that the sabot that discarded was still traveling fast enough to injure and was a hazard to nearby friendlies.

    Besides, APDS/APFSDS isn’t a cure-all, if it does not deliver increased velocity, you’re not really doing any better than a normal bullet traveling at the same speed. “APDS” does not translate automatically into “armour piercing” despite the name, it still depends on the physics of the round.

  118. @ RT re scout rifle

    Surely it is exactly the opposite of what is needed? When Jeff Cooper dreamt up the concept it was for taking snap shots at game at close ranges (less than 300m) taking advantage of telescopic sights which were then becoming more much affordable as a substiute for what was still seen as the marksman’s choice open sights. At the time scopes were lower powered and objective lens small.

    Low power scopes mounted well forward have relief problems. You wouldn’t want to surveil a target for too long with a scout scope because of eye strain. (As say a spotter in a sniper team would do.) Small objective means less light reaching your eyes. If you wanted to take a shot at anything much beyond 300m-ish you are going to want more than 2x or even x4. A large objective would push the scope further away from the bore axis impacting on the design essence of the scout rifle the quick virtually unsighted shot. If the idea is to take a shot at target of opportunity you going to want to do at distance; though I though the cavalry’s MO was not to fight if at all possible? Defence wise you will soon become over matched if all you carry is a bolt gun in 7.62×51. If this is one of specialised tool why would you go for such an average round anyway? Then againg if you went up a class to say .338 a scout would be difficult though Cooper did discuss using heavier rounds than .30-06 he wasn’t planning on the target shooing back. The only advantage a 7.62 would have over say .338 or .300wm is that it available in magazine fed assault rifles. But as the cavalry’s MO again advises not fight if you were engaging targets suitable for 7.62, say while disengaging form a contact, it would be with crew served weapons mounted on the vehicle. If the soldier wanted to carry an IW with a scope chambered in a round which allows him to carry a lot of ammunition for defence then the Army already issues him with one.

    @ All

    There is a sizeable but not to vocal minority in the UK shooting world that questions why a civilain should ever regain the right to hold a semi-automatic rifle; just as they question why pistols should become legal again. Defence of the realm isn’t really something most rifle shooters even think about in a joking way when it comes to their shooting. Histroically yes but today in modern Britain? Even the service based comps are only such in an abstract way. ISIS may be a bunch of scumbags but they don’t mind their citizens having a rifle!

  119. @Observer

    APDS is neither a dart nor a flechette. It has a length/diameter ratio similar to a conventional full-calibre projectile but is smaller and denser (being made from tungsten alloy) so penetrates better. It is stabilised by being spun by the rifling in the usual way, so has no fins.

    The terms “dart” and flechette” are used for small-arms ammunition which is similar in design principles to APFSDS (the main type of tank gun ammo today), the FS meaning “fin stabilised”, as the projectiles are too long and narrow to be stabilised by the rifling, so have fins at the back.

    You can see the difference in these photos: the first one shows (starting on the left): a sectioned view of a 35mm APDS projectile; the APDS shot removed from the sabot; and an experimental 27mm APFSDS complete with its sabot: http://quarryhs.co.uk/AP%20projos%202.jpg

    The next photo shows flechette small-arms ammo including a sectioned SPIW round so you can see the long but very thin flechette buried inside the case: http://quarryhs.co.uk/P1030498w.jpg

    The SPIW had the the disadvantage that the projectiles weighed less than the sabots (a typical flechette in 5.6mm calibre weighed 0.65g with the plastic sabot weighing 0.78g) so stripping off the sabot could easily disturb the flight of the flechette. The small-arms APDS (known in US parlance as SLAP: saboted light armour penetrator) are much heavier. For example, the experimental 6.5×25 CBJ fires a saboted 4mm diam projectile which weighs 2.0g; the sabot for it weighs just 0.5g.

    Some other points: SPIW was a US 1960s project in which all of the ammo types were flechettes. The Steyr ACR was one of the contenders in the late 1980s Advanced Combat Rifle programme (hence ACR). That and the AAI contender fired flechette ammo, two others were different. You might find it useful to read this: http://quarryhs.co.uk/Assault.htm

    Both APDS and APFSDS (and yes, AP does really mean armour piercing) are fired at significantly higher muzzle velocities than conventional full-calibre ammo, because they are lighter. In conjunction with their smaller diameter and the denser material they are made from, this means that armour penetration is much better than a standard full-calibre steel AP. In cannon calibres, APFSDS has a further advantage over APDS in that it doesn’t slow down as much in passing through the air, and also all of its energy is concentrated on a smaller part of the target, because it is so narrow, so it punches through more easily.

  120. Yes Tony, I referenced SLAP here before, usually in conjuncture with 0.5 cal. And I know there is a difference between APDS and FSDS hence why I used a slash mark between the two. And tungsten carbide, aka wolfram (wolfrahm).

    My point was that just because it has a discarding jacket and is narrow does not automatically mean it is more “armour piercing” than a ball round with a spitzer head. It still all depends on the characteristics of the specific round type.

    If the Swedes are satisfied with it, good for them. I’ll wait and see.

  121. Another bit of 1990 tech was the Alpha bullet by the Lightfield Ammunition Company of Adelphia, New Jersey. The steel bullet was in a plastic jacket. The steel never touched the rifling, it was the plastic jacket that did. The plastic jacket had a copper gascheck at its base. Velocity was higher than a normal lead bullet. The Alpha was made in 9mm, .357 & .45. It was proposed for up to 30mm cannon. Now that the politicians are lead free obsessed , the Alpha must be cheaper than the “Unobtanium” alloys they are going for at the moment.

  122. Observer,
    If you hold some parameters equal, then a sub calibre projectile will always tend to perform better than a full calibre projectile.
    For a given material, the sub calibre projectile will be lighter hence faster.
    For a given weight, the sub calibre projectile will be as fast but much more ballistically efficient, so it loses velocity more slowly and tends to hit harder.
    Once these faster projectiles hit a target, they concentrate their energy over a smaller are and hence tend to penetrate more.

    Of course, you can design a sub calibre projectile to be less penetrative, but it would take effort and why would you?

  123. @x – We have a very vocal minority of nuts here in the United States that believe no one should have or carry guns of any sort, especially semiautomatics, because they are “too dangerous.” They have no clue that reliable semiauto handguns have been available since the Mauser “Broomhandle” in the late 1890’s and reliable semiauto rifles have been available since 1906. They keep pointing at the UK as an example of strict gun laws and lower firearms murders/rates. Of course, they ignore the fact that the UK had much lower firearms murders/rates than the US before the UK’s imposition of strict gun laws as well as the fact that while firearms in civilian hands in the US have doubled in the past 35 years the murder rate has halved. They also willfully ignore that in the same time span, every state in the Union and the District of Columbia now have some process to make it possible for civilians to carry handguns concealed, openly, or both. As for those deadly “assault rifles,” fewer people are killed with rifles of all types than are killed with hammers.

    Is our murder rate, too high? Yes, it is. Did banning guns reduce our murder rate? No, it didn’t.

    Our problem is that many of our politicians at the national level seem to be okay with our “antigun nuts” and distrustful of “We the people…”

  124. @ Kent – while I completely agree it is not simply the number of guns in a country that determine the homicide rate (proven by Switzerland) the rate in the US is incredibly scary. Reducing gun ownership seems a fairly simple way of reducing the rate (shown by the UK following the handgun ban), so I would be interested in what you think would be a better short term measure.

  125. I must admit that I would be a little leery of civilians with full-power semi-automatic rifles, especially in the UK, where our population density is somewhat higher than most places.
    Still, you could develop a reduced power cartridge for civilian shooting competitions or make a single-shot straight pull version if you wanted it to be UK-legal (you would have to change things a bit to add the new cartridge to the .22LR as those legal for semi-automatics).

  126. Gun law is a huge area I do not want to get stuck in, but I do have a few thoughts. During WW2, many UK civilians joined the Home Guard & wandered around with .30/.303 bolt action rifles and/or .38 revolvers. The overwhelming majority acted responsibly with those guns.
    Having been to US enclosed shooting ranges, I think it a shame that we could not build a fully enclosed range at Bisley, where Firearm Cert holders, Forces & Police, could go & hire a pistol or semi auto rifle & try it out. Help keep a base of firearm knowledge on many types of gun, not just armed forces/police issue.

  127. Mr Fred,

    The problem is (and not just about firearms) is that on any given matter, about 95% of the British population are child-like muppets, whose collective “wisdom” is only worth discarding. I include myself in that total. You certainly wouldn’t want 95% of the British public being able to own a semi automatic rifle.

    However, individually, most of us have some level of expertise and know about nuance on some narrowly defined topic, and are worth listening to. In my case, footborne reconnaissance over distance and time, and shagging euro girls (I don’t think either are national topics that would require me to give counsel to Government upon, but if they do need advice about infiltrating somewhere, or the best lines to take in seduction, I’ll give it a go). I haven’t got a Scooby about building boats, or the best rail/road tradeoffs, or indeed much else.

    Democracy. Really really rubbish, only ahead of everything else as an option. :(

  128. @mr.fred: homicides for *all* long guns in the US pa are in the low hundreds: that’s AR’s through to bolt action. Be aware that the US murder rate is not low but not that high compared to some European states. As per normal, the majority of homicides are committed with guns held illegally.

  129. @RT

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    Winston Churchill

  130. Mr Fred, that is the theory of sub-calibres, but as I pointed out, tests were done and there were deviant findings from predicted, so the only way to see if a new round will deliver is unfortunately the old fashioned way. To shoot it. The US had a DU 7.62 APDS before, it went nowhere. So maybe the individual country’s acceptance limits also play a factor.

    As for gun laws, think Kent mentioned it before, that the law is hard to enforce in areas where the police response time is high. My personal opinion on it is that each individual country has their own circumstances that require individually crafted laws. Some factors I can think of are:

    1) If you want to take away someone’s ability to defend himself, your law enforcement has a moral responsibility to step up and be able to compensate for the loss of security that move entitles. If you can’t make the area safer than if people were running around with concealed carry, then you just took a step back instead of forward.

    2) General law abiding level of society. No point taking away guns from the small fraction you can catch while everyone else runs wild. That would just be “keeping honest people honest” and giving the criminals free rein.

    3) Level of psycological disturbance in the country. One of the key reasons why I’m a very strong supporter of “No Guns” here is that stress causes a lot of mental instability in people. About 20% of the students here end up needing psycological counselling before graduation. And since education is universally compulsory… Most of the gun “crime” here (2 cases) all involve suicides by security guards. Giving out guns to a population which as a 20% instability rate does not sound like a good idea to me.

    I’ll continue later, need to get back to work now.

  131. @ACC: “gun deaths” are a very misleading statistic, since 21K out of the approx 30K annual “gun deaths” in the US are suicide. Since the suicide rate in the US is nothing exceptional, the US would appear to drop to somewhere around France on your graph.

  132. wf, I agree with you, but can you provide the corrected comparisons?

    Some busybody in Switzerland was so upset about their rank that he went onto Wiki within 24 hrs, to edit their number to be w/o suicides (thereby halving it).

  133. @ACC
    If only Cameron and Clegg would pay as much attention to this site as the Swiss ;-)

  134. As much as I like bullpup designs, I find that the one strong point in bullpup rifles is also an annoyance – their short/fixed stock. When you wear bulky armor, ops vests or even just bulky winter kit you can’t adjust a bullpup to ‘fit’ your current gear – it’s like your arms have been shortened 15cm and the rifle suddenly handles awkwardly and installed sights are slighty off.

    For conventional rifle designs there are a myriad of telescopic/flipping buttstocks to solve this issue and but it’s the reason (besides the many politcial/industrial ones) many conventional armies still go for conventional designs. Another being that bullpups don’t accept add-ons like grenade launchers easily – it can be done as the Steyr AUG and even Famas proved, but it’s still awkward and not ‘sexy’.

    Having said that, that Desert-Tech MDR looks interesting especially with the never-dying debate on caliber, and with armed conflicts swinging all over the place from urban to desert the ability to switch from close to long range on the fly may be a very usefull asset.

  135. ACC,

    Magpul Masada became the Bushmaster ACR and has generally been underwhelming on the US civilian market.

    Re gun control; the less the better. Any in-depth statistical analysis of the US soon shows that most gun deaths are deaths that would have occurred anyway, just with a different implement, had a gun not been available. Its demonstrative of the relative lack of liberty in the UK that gun laws are so strict.

  136. @as – @RT was also quoting Churchill ….”Democracy is the worst form of Government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”…so I think we can safely assume he was broadly in favour… :-) if not uncritical :-(

    On the gun control business, I think the difficulty in modern times has been devising a system that can distinguish between the low-life who goes out looking for an assault rifle and the chap who inherits his Father’s Enfield No 2 Mk 1* and sticks it in his desk drawer…without relying on the common-sense of the Constabulary to distinguish between sound chaps and bad hats, an approach to these matters which is now completely forbidden lest the potential inner-city drug-dealer should consider himself to have been discriminated against in some way when banged-up for possession of a knock-off Uzi.

    Although quite how we found ourselves in a situation where they only way to treat criminals as criminals without being accused of unfair treatment is to treat everyone as a criminal I confess to remaining a little perplexed by… :-(

    GNB

  137. Hohum, re: gun laws, I’d say look at the situation on the ground. Like the case I mentioned, 20% of population with mental problems and giving away guns is a situation that is not going to end well. Best case you end up with a simple single suicide. Worst case, someone goes out in a blaze of glory and leave a mess behind.

  138. 1. Before everyone gets their panties in a twist over “gun deaths,” according to the United Nations Office of Crime and Drugs, the United States is 111th in intentional homicide rates.

    2. The suicide rate in Japan is higher than the combined suicide rate (all mechanisms) and homicide rate (all mechanisms in the United States. So is the outrage that people die or is it how they die?

    3. @ mr.fred – According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2013 http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_11_murder_circumstances_by_weapon_2013.xls rifles of all types were used in 285 homicides while 686 people were murdered using personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.). Apparently, the idea that most murders are committed with “assault rifles” and fully automatic weapons comes from Hollywood and TV.

    4. According to the CDC the firearms-related homicide rate in the US was 3.55/100K. With no editorial comment on my part, I’ll break that down. For white, non-hispanic, both sexes, all ages, the firearms-related homicide rate was 1.39/100K. For for black, non-hispanic, both sexes, all ages, the firearms related homicide rate was 15.60/100K. For AmerInd/Alaskan Native, non-hispanic, both sexes, all ages, the firearms-related homicide rate was 3.52/100K. For all races, hispanic, both sexes, all ages, the firearms-related homicide rate was 3.24/100K. You can continue this research at http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_us.html and draw your own conclusions.

    5. “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

  139. @Observer – Where are they giving away guns? Are they open now? Will they still be open after I get off work?

  140. Sorry Kent, they’re closed after office hours. Your fault for being a 9-5 worker. :)

  141. The murder rate in Russia, is double that of the USA. I had better stop saying rude things about Putin.

  142. Kent,
    It’s not so much the deliberate aspect that concerns me, rather that such a rifle will throw rounds a goodly distance and people tend to be a bit less careful with semi-automatics than single action rifles.
    Perhaps it is not so much of a problem, but reduced-power versions would be an easier sell to the public. Possibly use that as an ice-breaker or an introduction to more powerful one, like motorbikes.

    Other than that, the Polish MSBS gets accused of being like the Magpul Masada/ Bushmaster ACR.

  143. @mr.fred – The .223Rem/5.56x45mm NATO and the 7.62x39mm are already reduced power. I don’t know about your people, but our people get kicked off the range if they violate safety rules. One of the ranges I frequent hosts 1000 meter matches for service rifles. Haven’t seen any AR-15-class rifles competing at those ranges. I did see a 14 year old girl shooting tight groups (185-5X) with her AR-15 prone at 600 yards, though.

    I usually start new shooters (children) off with .22 rifles and handguns, but, if an adult wants to start with a .223Rem/5.56x45mm NATO, it isn’t a problem.

    There were 505 unintentional firearms-related deaths in the US during 2013, a rate of 0.16/100K. Accidental shootings are not a big problem.

  144. Kent,
    Like I said, we’re a bit more densely packed here than most of the US. There aren’t many places which have a safety template large enough for a 1000m range. Even Bisley only goes out to 1200yards.
    But, again, perhaps it is something I don’t have a proportionate view on.
    I probably shouldn’t make the observation, but it does strike me as odd that the pro-gun camp in the US like to downplay the statistical significance of the negative aspects, but many (and not necessarily the same people) like to use the most statistically unlikely scenarios as justification for gun ownership.

    If nothing else, a reduced power rifle would allow utilisation of the comparatively large numbers of smaller ranges in the UK. If the object is to get a good civilian shooting base (and hence and on-going market for rifles) re-started in the UK, reducing the hurdles to cross would be advisable. A low power cartridge compatible with the service rifle (or a derivative of) would also reduce the noise associated with shooting and thereby again reduce the opposition to shooting sports in the UK.
    If you farm out the licenses for the service rifle and derivatives to a range of small to medium sized companies, then you set up a market to sustain and develop that rifle, reducing costs, increasing export probabilities.

  145. @mr.fred & Kent
    That is a good point the FCSA (UK) Club (Fifty calibre shooting association) can only shoot a 2 or 3 MOD ranges. They are not aloud to shoot at Bisley, too noisy. Some of the completions they run use up to 20mm and need a 2000m range. very limiting on where they can use.
    http://www.fcsa.co.uk/home.html

  146. Focusing on firearm fatalities alone is a bit of a red herring, not least when you consider the serious long term damage that can be done to someone by a gunshot wound. For comparitive purposes to the above stats the number of people non-fatally injured by unintentional firearm discharges in the US in 2013 was 16,864, or about 5.33 per 100,000. The number of people non-fatally injured by an assault with a firearm (excludes suicides and legal interventions) in the US in 2013 was 62,220, or about 19.68 per 100,000.

    The major flaw behind the theory of gun ownership is that most people, including the bulk of trained individuals such as a police officers, are actually incredibly poor shots once put under stress. In a lot of cases drawing a gun and initiating a gunfight is more dangerous than just doing nothing. It’s also quite a selfish act when you think about it; if some idiot decides to hold up a petrol station then the cashier can give him the money and he’ll be off, but drawing a gun and starting to shoot puts everyone in the room in immense danger, completely out of their control, and for the sake of what? So you can be a hero?

    There’s also a fairly counter intuitive nature to gun ownership in the home. Gun crime tends to follow other crime, i.e. where general crime rates are higher gun crime rates are also be higher. If you live in an area with low crime rates then putting a gun in your house can actually make you and your family significantly less safe.

    The idea of having organised ranges with gun lockers that can rent firearms to people does seem a good idea though. People get to shoot and have fun under supervision, the guns are kept in a safe environment. Everybody wins.

  147. Gentlemen, the distance that people shoot is less than half of the problem. Bisley accommodates ranges of up to 1200 yards but the safety zone stretches something like twice as far beyond that. Fired at the optimum angle for maximum range, even a .22LR bullet can travel more than 1200 yards, a 5.56 around 3,000 (depending on the bullet loaded), a 7.62×51 c.3,500, a .50 cal c.7,000 yards. Each range needs such a safety zone with restricted access, which is marked on a map in a kind of fan shape from the firing point.

    Some ammo makers offer reduced range versions of ammunition to mitigate this problem. The muzzle velocity and trajectory remain the same out to a certain distance, but the bullet is then shaped to become unstable and fall from the sky quite rapidly. Such ammo allows, for example, .50 cal MGs to be used safely on a military 7.62mm range. Unlikely to be accurate enough for target shooting, though!

  148. Shooting ranges is an idea that I could get behind, but for the purposes of revitalizing a British arms industry, I’m not sure if it will work all that well considering that only a small fraction of the population will actually take part in shooting on any regular basis, not enough to buy one for their own, much cheaper to rent, as well as the fact that a lot of that sub-fraction will be buying from established big names like Colt, H&K, Remmington etc. Sure, the numbers are better than 0, but is there enough demand from such a small user base who will “Buy British” to justify reopening the production lines?

    Self-sufficiency in weapons usually isn’t an economic decision but a political-strategic one to prevent external parties from putting your supply lines at risk. This is counterbalanced by the cost of such a decision, hence the ability of many countries to produce small arms but stop short at MBT and aircraft production.

    @Kent

    No talking! Back to work you corporate slave!! :)

    It’s not the “accidental deaths” from firearms I’m worried about. It’s the deliberate ones! And the “non-fatal” incidents that Chris B mentioned. On the other hand, “body counts” are also not the most accurate measure too. For example, you can end up with hundreds of robberies with no injuries, or you could get a single incident where a crazy stacks up the bodies. This skews the statistics to make the isolated incident look more serious than it is while the “mudane” armed robberies are overlooked. A better guage might be by “number of crimes committed with a firearm”.

    @Chris B

    Sometimes when young people get their hands on a gun, the convenient power it gives them gets to their heads a bit, in very rough areas, there is by no means a certainty he will let you off just because you gave him the money. While rare, some gangs, fueled by alcohol, stupidity and peer pressure, do egg their members on to kill someone just to show off. Rare, but it happens. US cases, Kent would probably have a better overview. Here, it’s near impossible and suicidal to get a non-licenced firearm. They hang anyone stupid enough to try.

  149. For the ignorant, such yours truly, Tony William’s webage is very well worth a browse http://quarryhs.co.uk/ except it kept me up until much too late.

    Regarding the U.S. 14th amendment it appears to me that the amendment puts the onus on the states to regulate their militias. If the will were there, the same sort of fiscal inducement that keeps the drinking age at 21 could be used to persuade the states to introduce appropriate and constitutional restraints. Drinking age is firmly a matter for states but federal road safety money is contingent on a drinking age of 21 !! That’s my tuppence for what it is worth.

  150. @ Observer

    https://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen/

    Most crime shootings take place at distances where the perp’ could have used a knife just as easily and probably with greater affect too. If all the illegal guns in the US were to disappear tomorrow they would be still stabbing and beating each other to death. I tend to stay away from gun control debates because I find most who oppose guns actually know next to nothing about the topic. It seems to be the one subject other than nuclear weapons that always brings about the pontificating arse ‘ole in people. Always surprised by how worked up some get about it even though they have never been touched by the issue of violence in their lives. I often wonder how many of the latter have driven after having a drink or taken a sneaky peak at the mobile telephone while behind the wheel. But we need cars and mobiles and everybody drinks so culling a few of the tax herd doesn’t matter because cars aren’t designed to kill (just as hammers, screwdrivers, etc). unlike evil guns. That only humans actually kill other humans and not objects escapes many. And I have just remembered why I don’t come here often now……

  151. @mr.fred – Point taken about the personnel density and problems with range capability. On inclement weather days and days when I just don’t want to drive for 45 minutes to get to a proper range (I can actually shoot off my back porch. Country living is fine!) I have two very well designed 25 yard indoor ranges that allow rifle cartridges up to 7.62x51mm NATO that I can use for a reasonable fee. They even have rental guns and instruction available.

    When I was stationed in Germany, the outdoor ranges were very well designed to reduce the downrange danger areas with high timber walls along the sides and across the range at various distances. This also reduced the noise signature of the ranges. There was a 50 meter indoor range at Rhein-Main AFB that could handle 7.62x51mm machinegun qualification. When not being used by military units it was available for privately-owned weapon practice and NRA matches run by the Rod & Gun Club.

    The other option for noise reduction is the use of suppressors or “silencers.” We are working very hard here in the US to get them removed from the NFA requirements. (They are legal under federal and most states’ laws, but the regulatory burden and taxation are ridiculous.)

    I just don’t see restricting gun ownership due to the shortage of places to shoot.

  152. @DejaVu – “Regarding the U.S. 14th amendment it appears to me that the amendment puts the onus on the states to regulate their militias. If the will were there, the same sort of fiscal inducement that keeps the drinking age at 21 could be used to persuade the states to introduce appropriate and constitutional restraints.”

    You realize that “…well regulated…” modifies “…Militia…” and not “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms…,” right? http://www.constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm

  153. x, most of the violent crime here *are* stabbings or slashings to be precise. It’s just that knives are not really that effective at killing people if not used right.

  154. You just have to look at what happened to Parker Hale ltd. to see the hole direction the British firearms industry is going. Shooting in this country will soon be a dead sport unless it can get some better backing. Most people flinch if you even mention the word gun near them. Paranoia and fear rule.

    It is a sport we win medals in yet it gets no money and no coverage. British Olympic association and the BBC have an anti gun policy so they are not going to help.

  155. @ Observer,

    “Sometimes when young people get their hands on a gun, the convenient power it gives them gets to their heads a bit, in very rough areas, there is by no means a certainty he will let you off just because you gave him the money”
    — That’s absolutely true and I accept that. There’s no 100% foolproof method to stop that kind of thing unfortunately. Playing the numbers game though it is pretty rare.

    @ x,
    You’re right that guns would be replaced by other items, but as Observer later pointed out things like knives are a lot less, uhm, efficient I guess would be the word to use. You can train people to resist knife attacks fairly easily, as long as they accept they may still get hurt in the process. It’s a hell of a lot easier to defend against that than a supersonic piece of lead and it massively constricts the capability of the attacker.

    ” Always surprised by how worked up some get about it even though they have never been touched by the issue of violence in their lives”
    — I sincerely hope that was not pointed at me. Over several years of door work I had the opportunity to investigate the realities of hand vs hand and hand vs weapon fighting up close. It was most enlightening and a little bit scary at times. Highly recommend it though, good fun at times.

  156. @Kent

    Think you’re missing the point. Weapons control is to give them smaller weapons, not recommend bigger ones to them! :)

    The most recent case here was an attempted murder cum suicide. After stabbing his wife 4 times, he stabbed himself as well….

    And totally failed to kill either one.

    Which goes to show that even with knives, aiming is not optional. :P

  157. @Observer – The only kind of weapon control in which I’m interested is my having control of the weapon. This http://www.soldusa.com/rainworx/uploaded/rad1BABC31599.JPG is not mine, but I have it’s twin (although circumstances and use have degraded the finish on my blade and left marks on the brass guard). The blade is just over 9 inches long, and is shaving sharp. Oddly, I can carry a handgun off-duty openly or concealed with my handgun license, but state law specifically outlaws carrying a knife like mine. I don’t carry it in uniform because the scabbard doesn’t match my duty gear… Yeah, that’s why.

  158. If we end up with an AR type rifle do you think we will use the US M9 bayonet with it or do you think we would design our own?

  159. @ Chris B

    No it wasn’t aimed at anybody here. Many of us have becoming here long enough now that despite our divergent views we actually a community looking out than a group of indivudals and so general judegements and observations should be seen as addressing those without and not those within.

  160. @Tony Williams
    I have read up a bit on the Steyr ACR round submitted to the US Army M16 replacement test. It seems at the time the rifle and round were immature technology at the time but was promising . The plastic cased telescoping round seems very similar to the LSAT cased round but used a steel flechette. It has been mention such a light round was subject to environmental influences that could deflect it , be it high winds or foliage . The very high muzzle velocity of 1450m/s gave it a very flat trajectory and its small cross section sustained its high velocity out to great ranges . This would provide the supersonic crack near the OPFOR that would suppress and pin down the enemy whilst HE is brought on their position to deliver the killing stroke so is this problem sufficient to write off flechettes as most OPFOR casualties are not cause by small arms fire but by indirect fire?

  161. It would be great to see the pen clicking dickheads in charge of MOD procurement, simply take notice from UKSF and replace those clapped out SA80s with AR15/M4 derivative rifles. An upgrade from the 556 would be nice, the Remington 6.8 SPC; developed to bridge the gap between the 556 & 762. LWRCi produce amazing piston driven AR’s (like H&K’s 416) and chamber them in the Remington SPC cartridge too. However if sticking with the 556, then either LWRCi SPR, or HK416 A5.
    Their are many excellent platforms our Armed forces could transition to, SIG (MCX), H&K 416, LWRCi, Daniel Defence (DDM4), BCM, Etc etc. So much (ongoing) development going into the AR15 platform, it seems pointless even considering anything else. Bullpups are just not flexible enough for the variety of different mission, conditions and shooters our forces need to accommodate.
    If could dictate a decision (hypothetically), and cost we’re no object, I would commission H&K to produce a variation of their 416 A5, chambered in 6.8SPC (like LRWCi’s Six8), with a few extras such as Nickel Boron coated bolt assembly, etc. Then through on a decent optic such as Elcan SpecterDR™ or Trijicon ACOG / VCOG on top.
    Remember the end users, what would you ask them to settle for?

  162. I’ve never understood why the British armed forces didn’t just adopt the AR platform like the Americans and Canadians in the first place when the SLR was getting replaced, instead, they went through two decades of anguish with that steaming pile of dogsh*t SA80/L85A1 that was finally made into a decent weapon, but only after outsourcing it to H&K.

    It isn’t perfect, no, but if it’s good enough for the Americans, who are generally more operationally active, then it’s good enough for the Brits, not to mention the SAS/SBS prefer it.

    Bullpup rifles have obnoxious ergonomics and the SA80 is bad for left-handed shooters (not to mention most of ’em are butt ugly as hell, looking ‘ally’ is important…), I think they shouldn’t have bothered with the A2 update and just went ahead and adopted the HK416, w/ the 417 as DMR, it would’ve actually worked out cheaper, or even the L119A2 (C8) could’ve been fairly cheaply been adopted in the rest of the military.

    I’m guessing the replacement in 10 years will be an A3 update, or another ugly bullpup..

  163. LJ,
    The AR platform that had such a sterling reputation at the time? The AR platform that cannot be fitted with a folding stock, didn’t even have a sliding stock at the time?
    There are also reasons of economics and pride in there as well.
    Some bullpups have poor ergonomics, but others are good. Most tend to be short and handy and point well. I think they look better than many conventional rifles in general and specific examples make conventional rifles look ugly.
    If I read the timeline right, the A2 update was the genesis of the HK416, so adopting the latter in place of the former wouldn’t be an option as it wasn’t available yet and, arguably, the latter wouldn’t have happened without the former.

  164. The AR-15 is not the best for ergonomics, only now (with the LWRC IC and a couple of others) does it come with all controls on both sides, 50-odd years after adoption.
    Bullpups aren’t any better, even the MDR (which looks very promising) hasn’t got them. The last thing I saw was a third mag release (like the Tavor), why fanny about designing that and not a bolt hold/release near the trigger? I like the bullpup concept, but its about bloody time someone designed one properly.

  165. That’s exactly what my sons complaint was about the SA 80A2. Too heavy.
    Aside from that it was an excellent rifle, with great accuracy.
    Most of the complaints of jams came from Remfs.

  166. Did not remember this thread, so put the news from Oz onto the Open thread.

    They chose something akin to what they had before, whereas the NZ rejected the evolution of that line and went for an AR-15 based design. Any thoughts? This reminded me of the topic
    “The AR-15 is not the best for ergonomics, only now (with the LWRC IC and a couple of others) does it come with all controls on both sides, 50-odd years after adoption”

  167. Wouldn’t the best replacement for the L85/SA80 be a multi calibre modular weapon? It seems to make a lot of sense logistically and economically. No need for expensive UORs to get in 7.62 DMR rifle because the 5.56 LSW wasn’t adequate (as in Afghanistan) when you have a rifle or carbine that can be modified for both rounds depending on operational needs

    E.g. the Colt Canada AR based LE901
    http://www.coltcanada.com/le901.html

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