Jinxed SA80 rifle goes back for yet another refit.


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Aikibiker
January 25, 2004, 07:50 PM
That's right the rifle every British soldier loves to hate is gonig to be "improved" yet again.

http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=92352004

Jinxed SA80 rifle goes back for yet another refit

BRIAN BRADY
WESTMINSTER EDITOR


THE army’s ‘jinxed’ SA80 rifle is to undergo another costly refit less than three years after £92m was spent overhauling the weapon, writes Brian Brady.

The Iraq war revealed a recurring problem with the rifle’s safety mechanism that could have cost British troops their lives.

Despite assurances that the SA80 was fit for use in desert environments, soldiers on several occasions released the safety catch only to find they still could not fire.

Several weapons had to be modified in the field with a new safety catch component, and now every one of the British force’s 200,000 SA80s will need the same modification.

Ministers have consistently resisted calls to abandon the SA80, which has been dogged by complaints since it was first introduced as the military’s general-issue personal rifle 19 years ago. Servicemen and women across the three forces have complained that the original SA80 was difficult to clean and continually jammed, particularly in "extreme conditions" such as the heat and dust of deserts.

Armed forces minister Adam Ingram said: "Work has been undertaken on the safety catch/plunger, and following successful trials of a revised safety plunger, a contract will be let shortly to procure a sufficient quantity to modify all weapons."

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Nightcrawler
January 25, 2004, 07:52 PM
They probably could've bought new rifles...you name it, G36s, FAMASs, Sig 550s, FN-2000s, AUGs, whatever....for the money they're dumping into salvaging this thing.

GunWares
January 25, 2004, 07:55 PM
And sometime along about the sixth or seventh revision of the rifle they'll change the designation from SA80 to M17S. :p

Spark
January 25, 2004, 07:57 PM
No kidding. Sounds like some of the same reasoning I've seen on these boards for keeping the M16

Aikibiker
January 25, 2004, 08:11 PM
I can understand wanting to equip your troops with a weapon made and designed in your own country, IMHO that is the worst problem with the XM8, but sometimes you just have to give it up and go with something that actually works.

Andrew Wyatt
January 25, 2004, 08:29 PM
we got the bugs that actually make a difference on the battle field worked out in the A2.

Show me a rifle that's better than the AR.

keederdag
January 25, 2004, 08:34 PM
Anyone here besides me ever even Held and SA-80?:confused:

natedog
January 25, 2004, 08:39 PM
Can we please have a post that does not begin AR-15 flame wars?

keederdag
January 25, 2004, 08:45 PM
NO flame here, just wondering if anyone else has ANY personal experiances with an SA-80. Mines pretty minimal, but prolly exceeds 90% of the people here. It allway's draws my attention when someone starts to pronounce what a pile something is, and they have never even seen one outside of a pic. Just the other day I had an Aussie; who'd never even held a gun, tell me what a pile the M-16 was....and then go on and on about their Aussie made version of the steyre Aug.:D

Kaylee
January 26, 2004, 10:37 AM
<moderator hat on>
*ahem*

As natedog has requested, kindly leave the "AR sucks/rules" debate to another thread. Start (yet) another one if you feel the need, but let's not hijack Mr. Aikibiker's thread, eh?

</moderator hat off>

teee....

The army’s ‘jinxed’ SA80 rifle is to undergo another costly refit less than three years after £92m was spent overhauling the weapon, writes Brian Brady.


It's a plot -- a plot I tell you! The next stage is to tell the British army they can't have ANY guns that work! That way the WHOLE of the UK will have no guns and the island will finally be peaceful. :p

And keeder.. care to tell us more of your experiences with the real thing?

Stoker
January 26, 2004, 10:53 AM
The SA80 (properly known as the L85 - current model L85A2) came into service during my time in the Territorial Army. We knew there had been problems, some of them quite stupid, but we were impressed by the weapon. It is an order of magnitude more accurate than the SLR if you have the optical sight, which, as infantry, we did. It is extremely handy to use, the sling is excellent and so is the bayonet.

On the downside, I found it impossible to obtain enough eye relief in a normal prone position, even using the full adjustment of the sight, and it is heavy - largely because of that excellent sight, which has been manufactured to be soldier-proof. Also, it is quite complex to operate and maintain. However, we had little or no trouble on the range or on exercise and we were happy with the weapon.

Bearing in mind the troubled early history of both the M1 and the M16, I thought it had every chance of becoming a robust and trusted weapon. Then we had all the problems with dust, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I think the only real problem with the L85 is that it was built down to a price. This was obviously a false economy.

I have retired from miltary service now, and never used the weapon in anger anyway. But it seems to me that at long last, it is moving towards a state of mature robustness and is likely to stay in service for some time.

Spieler
January 26, 2004, 11:55 AM
I handled an SA80 on and off for about 3 weeks in the late '80s during a NATO exercise in which we worked with Brit MPs. Their rifles didn't have the optical sight but rather the detachable carry handle w/iron sights. The extra weight of the SA80 over that of our M16A1s was noticeable, but not prohibitive. It was very accurate and IIRC the Brits won the marksmanship competetion with it, beating out the M16s, G3s, FNCs and BM62s of everyone else. I liked the rifle at the time and the troops to whom it was issued seemed to like is as well. This was, however, before Desert Storm and the many other real-world ops of the '90s in which it was deployed and many of it's shortcomings came to light (in the popular media anyway).

Mk VII
January 26, 2004, 04:47 PM
fired one of the pre-production ones about 1984. Took a dislike to it then - back-end heavy, which is entirely wrong. Left the mob [not the guys with the fedora hats] before they started issuing them.

keederdag
January 26, 2004, 11:29 PM
Kaylee: Absolutly, my experiance consists of Holding one for about 20 minets. As I said it was very limited.

How about you? Ever see one up close, let alone fire one?
I'll take the ex-Mob Brit's opinion as solid gold, reguardless of thumbs up/down anytime over the armchair comando's around here.
:D

swingset
January 27, 2004, 01:12 AM
While I've only held one (never fired), my coworker was in the Brit Infantry and carried one in GW1. He said aside from sand dust problems, which plagued every combatant in the Gulf, his served him well, as did his mates.

He said the sight and accuracy was always good, and never felt he was carrying an unreliable or faulty weapon. I take that as a ringing endorsement.

Tony Williams
January 27, 2004, 02:45 AM
See: http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/SA80.htm for an evaluation of the SA80.

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website (http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk) and Discussion forum (http://forums.delphiforums.com/autogun/messages/)

Mk VII
January 28, 2004, 04:15 PM
a late extra on this from hearings held by the House of Commons Select Committee on Defence, 22.1.04, para. 2148
Q2148 Mr Hancock: I found your answer, General, very similar to what other senior officers have told us but the complete opposite to what people on the ground have told us, and I find it absolutely amazing that you can say it and keep a straight face answering Crispin Blunt about the equipment. We had evidence given to us from one unit - and for your information, General, the unit concerned was the 7th Para Royal Horse Artillery - that they had no oil at all for their rifles. Now, we were told that one of the things you had to do with these rifles was keep them well oiled, but they had no oil at all and many of them ended up taking weapons off Iraqis to use them, and we have a direct quote from one officer who had no bullets for his pistol. "When Major X went forward he had no bullets for his weapon, a 9mm pistol. He tells me the QM offered to take a couple of bullets off the unit doctor and one or two from the other officers so he could have five rounds. In the event he had none" - and you can smile, but this is the complete opposite of what you say. "[He] profited from the misfortune of one of our soldiers who had a traffic accident. He was able to take his SA80A2 rifle off him as well as 75 rounds. The normal [bullet allocation] would have been in the order of 150-125 rounds" - and even that was insufficient. "A day later, the new modified rifle was rendered unserviceable [because of lack of oil] it jammed solid. Major X gave it back and like many of his colleagues got an AK47 off a prisoner. He had plenty of ammunition [for the weapon]." Now, how do you square what you said with a smile on your face, Colonel, with what people doing the fighting told us?
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmdfence/uc57-vii/uc5702.htm

Aikibiker
January 28, 2004, 04:36 PM
Wow, if the above is true the Brits had more problems then their goofy looking rifle.

Guess it just reinforces that old adage: "amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics."

Of course I recall hearing that we had some problems in that reguard too, but nothing that bad. Mainly Marines doing their job so fast and so well that they outran the supply lines.

RepublicanMan
January 28, 2004, 07:09 PM
As I recall the SA 80 wasn't originally designed for the 5.56mm cartridge when it was conceived. Once the decision was made to standardize by NATO to said cartridge, the SA80 had to use reduced charge ammunition to enable it to function reliably.
Any truth to this or is the book I read it in wrong?

Correia
January 28, 2004, 07:23 PM
Republicanman, not really, but I know what you are thinking of. The Brits developed a bullpup rifle known as the EM2 right after WWII. It fired an intermediate round (.280 if I recall correctly). Then under pressure from the US the Brits went to the .308 and ended up adopting the FAL. (L1a1 is the Brit version) which was also originally designed in the .280 caliber. When we switched to .223 they followed suit quite awhile later with a new bullpup rifle that externally looks a bit like the EM2 but in actuallity is based on the Armalite AR18 mechanism.

Frohickey
January 28, 2004, 07:30 PM
Is the Armalite AR18 mechanism where you have direct gas impingment on the bolt? Or does it use a piston mechanism like the FAL/M14?

Nightcrawler
January 28, 2004, 10:28 PM
Is the Armalite AR18 mechanism where you have direct gas impingment on the bolt? Or does it use a piston mechanism like the FAL/M14?

It's a gas-piston design. The AR-18 was a solid design, and so is the G36 which uses it's gas system. (Another of Eugene Stoner's creations.) So the design is solid, it's just the execution that apparently leaves much to be desired.

To my knowledge, the M16 family is the only service rifle to ever use direct gas impingement. The design has not been borrowed or copied into other designs. The AR-18's gas system seems to get copied a lot. *shrug*

El Tejon
January 28, 2004, 10:58 PM
How could this be? But, but, but IT LOOKS SOOO COOL!:eek:

Iain
January 29, 2004, 08:30 AM
Tony Williams' page linked to by the author himself has all the answers about the SA80 and all the hype around it, plus the tale of the attempts to develop cartridges other than the 5.56 forced on us by NATO (read you lot).

Joe Demko
January 29, 2004, 08:52 AM
To my knowledge, the M16 family is the only service rifle to ever use direct gas impingement.

Swedish M42 Ljungman and the French MAS 49 and MAS 49/56 rifles also used direct gas impingement.

Sleuth
January 29, 2004, 04:43 PM
I have fired (a limited amount) the SA80, but my opinon is re-enforced by a good friend who just retired as a REME Armour. In fact, he was sent to the tests of the SA80A2.
1. Ergonomics - you have to be double jointed to access the controls at the shoulder. When you pick up a hot rifle, you can burn your fingers on the front sight base (which sticks up out of the handguard) or the sling swivel (Ditto), take your pick.
2. Stregnth - depends on the age of the duct tape holding things on. I don't trust any rifle where I can squeeze the mag well and deform it with my fingers.
3. 'One sided' - Troops in Northern Ireland would not patrol down the left side of a street. The rifle is right hand only - no problem, for decades no one has been allowed to shoot left handed in HM Forces.

My friend says that the A2 is a more reliable weapon - but the last I heard, the SA80 was decertifed for NATO - meaning UK troops cannot carry the SA80/L85 on NATO missions.

It's so bad, I'm surprized that the french did not design it! Imagine, the french have a better rifle than the Brits!

Nightcrawler
January 29, 2004, 04:45 PM
3. 'One sided' - Troops in Northern Ireland would not patrol down the left side of a street. The rifle is right hand only - no problem, for decades no one has been allowed to shoot left handed in HM Forces.

If you're holding your weapon right handed, the muzzle points to the left. So, wouldn't then the troops not patrol down the right side of the road? I mean, what are they trying to cover with their weapons, the road or alongside of the road?

Sleuth
January 29, 2004, 04:55 PM
Let me clarify. If you are in a built up area, and are on the left side of the street, it is exceptionally akward to cover the threat areas in the buildings on the right side of the street with a right hand only rifle.

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