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Reliability of British SA80 rifle in Iraq

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Jason Jarvis

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I came across an article in a British newspaper today (sorry, I‘ve lost the link - I believe it was the Guardian) about the suspect reliability of the SA80 in desert conditions. The article said that 3000 rifles per month were being rebuilt to the new A2 specification, but that many units will likely deploy to Iraq with the A1, renowned for its dislike of sand and dust.

Has anyone heard anything about how well the rifles are holding up?

I‘ve also seen a lot of footage of Royal Marines with what appear to be Para-Minimis(?), which I assume they‘ve introduced on a semi-permanent basis to replace older LSWs -- but without an optical sight.

Very interesting. . . .

P.S.: How did Canadian small arms hold up in Afghanistan?
 

GGHG_Cadet

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I‘ve heard that the SAS scrapped their rifles for the C7 in Afghanistan as they were much better in the sand and dirt. I believe the SAS are still usong the C7 in Iraq. Please correct me if I‘m wrong.
 
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greeves

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The British SAS have been using the M16 (keep in mind that the C7 is the Canadian variant), amongst many other weapons, for years now. There‘s a famous photo of an SAS trooper, armed with an M16A1, waiting to board a chopper during the Falklands war 20 years ago. This was when the Brit army was still using the SLR as their primary assault rifle.
 

GGHG_Cadet

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According to this article the SAS uses the C7.

SAS carries ‘ultimate‘ weapon
By Thomas Harding
(Filed: 27/10/2001)


WHEN the SAS begins operations in earnest in Afghanistan, troopers will be armed with one of the most formidable weapons systems in the world.

In the past year, 22 Special Air Service Regiment has dropped its American-made M16 rifles in favour of the C7 weapon, which is manufactured in Canada.

The elite force began testing the weapon two years ago and, impressed by its reliability and heavy firepower, bought enough to equip the entire regiment. They did not come cheap.

A complete weapons system, including sights, laser targeting, grenade launcher and maintenance, costs £5,500 each - more than double the cost of the American equivalent.

The relatively lightweight weapon is based on the M16 design but with several modifications. It can be adapted to be used as a machinegun or sniper weapon.

A special forces source said: "This weapon is worth its weight in gold. You just don‘t want something that is ‘spray and pray‘ and you want a weapon you can absolutely rely on when you pull the trigger."
 
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greeves

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I stand corrected. I didn‘t know that the SAS had gone from the M16 to the C7. Nevertheless, I don‘t believe the SAS have ever used the SA80, as they switched from the SLR to the M16 in the early 80‘s.
 

GGHG_Cadet

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I believe at one time the SAS tried using the ill-fated SA80 carbine but it had too many flaws so they kept the M-16.
 
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Ladies and Gentlemen,

There has never been such a thing as a SA80 carbine.

22SAS commenced using the AR-15 in 1964 in Borneo, receiving the M16A1 in the 1970‘s. A pool of both types of weapons were held for units in Belize, and those undergoing jungle training. The recce troops of the three Royal Marine Commando‘s and certain other units of 3rd Commando Brigade used the M16A1, as did the Special Boat Srvice.

In anti-terrorist operations in Ulster SAS and other specialised units started to used the 5.56mm HK33 from the mid 1970‘s, with the superb (and extremely expensive HK53 coming into service as soon as it was manufactured.

The cost of 5,500 pounds is quite stupid, the order in 2000 of C7 and C8 weapons for the Special Forces Group (the SAS and SBS, plus certain other units) covered a substantial number of weapons in various configurations, and a projected seven years worth of spare parts (firing pins, barrels etc).

The British Ministry of Defence has stated that all troops in the Gulf are equipped with the A2 versions of the L85 and the Light Support Weapon.

A rifle section is now equipped with two fire teams of two L85, one LSW for use as a marksmans weapon, with the Para Minimi used as a base of fire weapon, at the platoon level there is now two L7 GPMGs (Canadian C6) to give the platoon a bit of grunt (plus the 51mm mortar, which is a very effective and successful weapon, firing potent HE, smoke and illuminating rounds).

Feedback on the modified weapon which is now the two types of A2 states that with correct training they are both quite effective weapons. Having fired both, stripped and cleaned them at the end of last year in extremely fine dust conditions, I can honestly say I liked both, and felt confident with them. The LSW is a extremely accurate weapon, very stable to fire, and the SUSAT sight is superb.
 

Jarnhamar

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So a british infantry section will have a total of 4 L85s, 2 LSW‘s and 2 para minimi‘s ?

Kinda interesting how the light support weapons in the end is used as a marksmen‘s rifle.

I‘ve always argued that canadian platoons should have 2 C6 teams.(I think the USMC uses two gpmg‘s per platoon also?) The arguments against it is that it‘s heavy/cumbersome as well it would require a lot of man power and ammunition to field two of them.(Probably a concern because our platoons are usually under strenght)
Even without the SF role i would rather sacrifice the use of two riflemen and put them on a gun. I don‘t think enough emphasis in our training is put on the use of support weapons.

I didn‘t like the l85 because i found it unbalanced (obviously because all the weight is in the a$$) but for fibua i thought it was amazing.
 

Jungle

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On the Infantry 6B I attended a few years ago, the Platoons carried 2 C-6‘s all the time. It does make a big difference on the fire-base, but they are hard to keep supplied with ammo. It is always possible for a PL Cmder to ask for an extra C-6 for a particular operation, (there is always a spare at coy level) but I don‘t think it should be a permanent standard.
Our rifle Platoons have tremendous firepower, at least equal to any of our allies.
I haven‘t tried the recent versions of the SA-80, but the version I fired while on exchange with 1 Para seemed to jam very easily. The Steyr AUG and FAMAS are much better bullpup designs.
 

Jarnhamar

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Only 2? :)

How come you think we should stick with one. Just because of the ammo issue?
I supose if i was always humping around a ton of extra c6 ammo i would start singing another song pretty fast.
 
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Pugil

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We had a whole platoon of British soldiers on exchange with our regiment when we went to Fort Knox last year. From what I heard none of them ever complained about our weapons( C7, C9). The only bad thing I heard was that one of their officers told us that his lads wasnt used with the length of the C7 and during the few days they kept banging the C7 one the narrow wall of FIBUA environment. Oh also, I think they have also complained about the bayonets on our C7, saying that they brake easily.
 

onecat

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Well after this read, I think I would base a section on this. Two teams each the following set up, one C6, one C9, four C7‘s and one marksman weapon and range extandion man. Not sure what weapon would be but it would 7.62 so it would be common with the C6. Maybe a newer ver german G-3/HK-33. They are cheaper to build than a FN and maybe more accurate, while still be light and having enough firepower to get the job done. So was wondering what people here think about this having actual experience in Infantry. At the moment I don‘t and can only guess on what would work best.

Getting back to the main post though, I think the inproved the L-85A2 is a good weapon. But I‘ll wait to get the reports on the proformce to make my finial jugdement.
 

Jarnhamar

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In a platoons weapons det i think it might be a good thing to have a marksmen team or sharp shooting team. They couse use a set up like a sniper team having a c7 with grenade launcher and a c3. Equiped with high quality optics they can act as scouts or observers and when required they can make percision shots because of the ballistic advantage of their 7.62 rifle.
A lot of us military units on tv i‘ve seen have soldiers here and there with scopped sniper rifles along side the grunts.
 
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