SA80

SA80 A2 (L85A2) 5.56mm Rifle MOD 45162138.jpg
SA80-A2 with Underslung Grenade Launcher (UGL) MOD 45160296.jpg
The SA80 is a British family of 5.56×45mm NATO small arms, all of which are selective fire, gas-operated assault rifles. The L85 rifle variant of the SA80 family has been the standard issue service rifle of the British Armed Forces since 1987, replacing the L1A1 variant of the FN FAL. The first prototypes were created in 1976, with production ending in 1994. The A1 variant was significantly upgraded in the early 2000s by Heckler & Koch as the SA80A2 and remains in service as of 2018. The A3 variant was first issued in 2018 with several new improvements.

The remainder of the SA80 family comprises the L86 Light Support Weapon, the short-barrelled L22 carbine and the L98 Cadet rifle. The SA80 was the last in a long line of British weapons (including the Lee–Enfield family) to come from the Royal Small Arms Factory, the national arms development and production facility at Enfield Lock.

The system's history dates back to the late 1940s, when an ambitious programme to develop a new cartridge and new class of rifle was launched in the United Kingdom based on combat experience drawn from World War II. Two 7mm prototypes were built in a bullpup configuration, designated the EM-1 and EM-2. When NATO adopted the 7.62×51mm NATO rifle cartridge as the standard calibre for its service rifles, further development of these rifles was discontinued (the British Army chose to adopt the 7.62 mm L1A1 SLR semi-automatic rifle, which is a licence-built version of the Belgian FN FAL).

In 1969, the Enfield factory began work on a brand new family of weapons, chambered in a newly designed British 4.85×49mm intermediate cartridge. While the experimental weapon family was very different from the EM-2 in internal design and construction methods, its bullpup configuration with an optical sight was a clear influence on the design of what was to become the SA80. The system was to be composed of two weapons: the XL64E5 rifle (also called the Enfield Individual Weapon) and a light support weapon known as the XL65E4 light machine gun.

The sheet metal construction, and the design of the bolt, bolt carrier, guide rods, gas system and the weapon's disassembly showed strong similarities to the Armalite AR-18 which was manufactured under licence from 1975 to 1983 by the Sterling Armaments Company of Dagenham, Essex, and which had been tested by the UK MoD in 1966 and 1969.

During the development of the SA80, a bullpup conversion was made of an AR-18 and a Stoner 63 at Enfield due to the fact they could be used with stocks folded/without stocks which allowed the bullpup conversion and were later chambered in the experimental 4.85x49mm round. A bullpup conversion of the AR-15 was previously considered but the buffer tube in stock prevented the idea.

This page was last edited on 12 April 2018, at 11:27.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SA80 under CC BY-SA license.

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