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British SA80

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by 52grain, Feb 2, 2011.

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  1. 52grain

    52grain Member

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    We never talk about the British service rifle (the SA80) around here. What opinions do people have of it? Is there a civilian equivalent?
     
  2. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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  3. gunnutery

    gunnutery Member

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    Hasn't there been a lot of controversy surrounding the SA80? Lots of upgrades and such. Or am I thinking of something else?
     
  4. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    It was built by Enfield, repaired/improved by FN and repaired/improved again by HK. (Or so the story goes). Like the AR-15/M-16 there are as many urban myths as truths about the rifle, but the fact is the design was overhauled several times.

    There has never been an imported semi auto version of it available in the US unless you count airsoft.

    You have to sort of 'dig' through a lot of stuff with the search function but we've had threads about the SA-80 and the British view of the effectiveness of 5.56mm.
     
  5. gaijin6423

    gaijin6423 Member

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    Thanks to some crazy Royal Marines visiting Quantico for some training, and running the airfield at a joint US/UK FOB in Afghanistan, I've shot the SA80 a few times. Most of the Brits I know will attest to the pre-HK version being absolute garbage, and I'd say about 50% of them said they would prefer our M-4/M-16A4s. Personally, I would agree.
     
  6. sappyg

    sappyg Member

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    lovely rifle IMO... wish i could get my hands on one.

    a vet that i know mentioned that brit ammo was poorly made and was a poor performer in his M4. could that have something to do with our view of the SA-80 or am i off base here?
     
  7. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    The few Royal Marines and soldiers that I have had the pleasure of working with all spoke poorly of their rifles. Surprisingly, they followed up those complaints with great comments about their bayonets. :confused:

    The Aussies all loved their AUGs.
     
  8. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    UK 5.56 ammo is deliberately loaded to a lower pressure and different pressure curve than US and most other 5.56 NATO ammo in order to help reliability in the SA80. It performs poorly in anything else. The UK ordnance factory (Radway Green) is perfectly capable of producing good ammo as shown by their 7.62x51mm when it's sold as surplus.
     
  9. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    A friend of mine was in USMC back in the 1990's and got to do some training with UK forces in Scotland. He mentioned at the time that the SA80 was a piece of junk and not liked by its users. This would have been around 1996 +/- and I don't know if that's before or after the HK reliability upgrades were made.

    Even if the SA80 has been finally brought up to decent reliability, it still looks like the very worst western assault rifle and, after India's frankenstein monsters, among the worst anywhere. And it's heavily derived from the AR-180 that worked so effectively against the British in northern Ireland. How ironic.
     
  10. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    When we were all waiting on a table at Crackerbarrel at the last Larry Vickers class I took (2008) he mentioned that a handful of semi-only L85s had made it into the country at some point and that he was always looking for one to add to his collection. He was guessing it would be around $15K to get one if he ever found one for sale, though.

    I would normally wonder about a one off sort of rumor that I'd never heard anywhere else, but he didn't seem to pulling our legs and the man does know his weapons stuff exhaustively.
     
  11. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Member

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    It is a bullpup based upon the AR-18 operating system, so I cannot help but like it (I'd love to get my hands on one). It is very similar (in function, not form) to my favorite rifle...the M17, which has proven to be the antithesis of the performance claims of the SA-80 (other than accuracy...it still does well in that respect).

    :)
     
  12. mordechaianiliewicz

    mordechaianiliewicz Member

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    Well, from everything I've read and heard, they should have just adopted the AR-180 without trying to modify it to bullpup configuration.
     
  13. Shoot The Moon

    Shoot The Moon Member

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    According to Wiki....

    A rimfire variant of the L85-A1 is being offered by LEI - Law Enforcement International Ltd. of St. Albans, Hertfordshire. It is essentially identical to an L85A1 assault rifle, except for being only semi-automatic in operation and feeding through a small, curved magazine of various capacities chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The LEI SA-80 is available on several civilian markets in Europe.

    However, the trail runs out there. I will make some enquiries for you..
     
  14. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Member

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    While the AR-180 (or 18 in he FA configuration) is an outstanding long arm, I strongly disagree. There are numerous benefits gained by transitioning to a bullpup (including but not limited to: compactness for confined spaces, superb balance, quick maneuvering, as well as a greater bbl/OAL ratio for better ballistics). Despite a few design problems (controls, sight radius, et cetera) that must be overcome, these advantages greatly outweigh the unfavorable aspects IMO (When, and only when, the platform has been properly designed from the ground up).

    :)
     
  15. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    While we are disagreeing, I disagree with the balance being superb. Especially loaded, I find bullpup balance obnoxious. Of course, that is just as subjective. I see their role, but have no desire to own/use one myself. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011
  16. UKarmourer

    UKarmourer Member

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    And finally, a thread where I get to talk about something I know lots about!

    I have used the L85 & L86 A1 &A2 for the past 17 years.
    The early A1 rifles wre ok, if a bit rattly, as long as they were cleaned well and not bashed about too much.
    A lot of the stoppages were from the mags, very nasty cheap things, I personally had 8 colt mags, much better.
    The forward assist tap was included in the drills when making ready (cocking the weapon) as it would not always allow the bolt to fully close and lock when just releasing the bolt release.

    They were made in two different factories, UE serialised were from Enfield, UN ones were made in Nottingham.

    HK made the big changes to the weapon system, I got mine issued in 2003, about 2 months prior to deploying to Iraq on the invasion.
    The difference to the feel of the weapon was night and day, more robust feeling, not so rattly, barrels were stronger, a lot of components had been changed, springs made tougher and stronger, the trigger mech insert was strengthened and lots of other little bits.
    The weapon still shot just as straight (bullpup, long barrel, short body) the weight distribution is spot on, it is very easy to manouvre with. The mag change is easy, if trained well, the drills have been shortened slightly, some things not required with the improved weapon. The mags were redesigned by HK (we are now getting Pmags from the US, lighter weight being the primary factor)

    All in all a succesful mid life remodel (or what it should have been in the first place)
    The carbine version (L22) is good fun, brought in for tankies who dont have much room, it was used extensivley by our infantry strike teams for dynamic entry while in Iraq.

    The addition of the HK under barrel grenade launcher is good, I prefer it to the M203 myself.

    The sights. The Iron sights are basic, the SUSAT is a x4 optical sight with a trilux pointer, not too bad in use, the ACOG is widely used in Afghan, but apparently we are getting the Elcan sight instead.
    Our sight rail is a 'NATO std rail, however we are the only ones to use it!
    The daniel systems rail system is good, the foregrip/ bipod is mediocre, I swapped mine for a Plain foregrip I got from a friendly american!

    The rifle has taken some flak in the past, its done with now, it is a good weapon.
    Soldiers will always want what is different, I had great fun firing an M4 in Iraq, would I swap? Nope!

    Our SF types now use the diemaco C8 with all the bells and whistles, our designated marksmen use the LMT produced 7.62 L129, reports are good on that one.

    We will undoubtedly be looking to replace the L85/86 family at some point in the future, who knows what we will get.

    From my point of view as an armourer, it is quite fiddly to work on and recruits are constantly breaking the damn thing. I have 2000 of them to look after and it does provide constant workflow!

    I hope my post isnt too rambling for you guys, makes a change to be able to speak with authority on a subject!
     
  17. Shoot The Moon

    Shoot The Moon Member

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    UK armourer, hi - very interesting info - as a civvie, I am interested in the semiauto .22 version mentioned on the SA80 Wiki page... would certainly be an interesting change from the usual UK club shooter's fare of 10/22's - do you know anything about it?
     
  18. Maverick223

    Maverick223 Member

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    Nothing wrong with that. I am probably have a bit more familiarity with the bullpup platform than most folks (being a fairly early adopter), so my experience and preferences may not reflect the average person.

    UKarmourer, it is refreshing to see someone with a good bit of experience not only using, but also outfitting and repairing the platform. Thank you for your input.

    :)
     
  19. UKarmourer

    UKarmourer Member

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    StM, as far as I am aware the only .22 versions are the old A1 rifles fitted with .22 conversion kits used in places like tin city at traing areas for live fire practise in built up areas. i have not heard of any being produced, in fact their are no more being built full stop! Hence having back load any written off bodies for further repair!

    Maverick, thanks for your thoughts, most of my experience is with our weapons, so I know the rifle system & browning HP inside out, and everything else is NFA for you guys!
    As an indication of my trade, it encompasses about 4 US Army MOS's, our basic armourers trade training is 9 months- not including basic inf trg or driving courses, the class one course is a further 4 years in the field followed by 6 months back in the class rooms/ shop. As a cl1 I am expected to be able to work on everything from 9mm pistol to 105mm artillery, including AFV turret systems, mortars and trailers. Head full of mess! and also should be able to figure out/ fix any small arm that I may come across if required. Love my job!

    Just a shame there are not many civilian jobs where I need those skills!
     
  20. henschman

    henschman Member

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    I like a rifle with a short body and a LOOOOOOOOOOONG barrel!

    My friend was stationed with some British dudes in Iraq, and got to play with the SA80 some. He said he loved it, and preferred it to his M-4. he said it was very light and handy, and fairly controllable on full auto (he sent back a vid of him doing a mag dump, lol). He got a bunch of those H&K mags from the Brits... he used them over there and brought them back with him. He won't use anything else in his AR or his duty M-4. He swears by those mags. They appear to be very high quality. Unfortunately they are very expensive.
     
  21. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

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    Appearances are deceiving in this case. ;) The H&K magazines I've seen (USMC issue) are very soft steel and tend to get damaged very easily.

    Interestingly enough, the Brits I worked with in 2008 carried Glocks and M4s.
     
  22. UKarmourer

    UKarmourer Member

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    Al, the brits you worked with were not regular army then, the glock is not on issue to army units- close protection units may get it, op dependent. It took us long enough to get the P226 on general issue!

    The M4 was probably a Diemaco C7 or 8.

    The HK mags we get are pretty robust, but they are pretty thick steel.
     
  23. Carter

    Carter Member

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    I had a Scottish professor who used to talk about a certain British regiment that specialized in using their knives in combat. Could be a Britt thing.

    I like the SA80, but from what I've read there are better bullpup's out there.
    I'd still love to have a civilian variant.
     
  24. UKarmourer

    UKarmourer Member

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    Our bayonet is pretty good, dont know how yours fits on but ours has a hollow handle that fits over the flash eliminator, blade bends/ snaps easily though
     
  25. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

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    UK, you are correct, it was a small group consisting of a British Brigadier General and his staff. Never got a close up of their M4 style rifles, I'll certainly bow to your expertise. :)

    We had Danes as well. Their handgun was a SIG 210. :what:
     
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