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  #1  
Old January 2nd, 2017, 02:53 AM

IronDuke99 IronDuke99 is offline
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Default British Special Forces small arms 2017

British Special Forces are: Special Air Service, Special Boat Service (a Royal Marines unit, and more or less the British equivalent of the US Navy SEALS) Special Reconnaissance Regiment (formed in 2005 and dealing mainly with anti terrorism).

Related to the actual special forces are The Special Forces Support Group (mainly made up of a Para battalion) Royal Marines Fleet Protection Group, the Pathfinders of the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Marines Mountain Leaders and the Close Protection Unit of the Royal Military Police. The weapons below are those most commonly understood to be used by British Special Forces and associated units.

L119A2 Colt Canada 5.56mm Assault Rifle. Used instead of the L85A2.

HK417 7.62mm rifle. Used instead of the L129A1 sharpshooter rifle.

L118A1 AWC 7.62mm sniper rifle with folding stock and suppressor. This weapon is normally only used by the Special Forces.

L121A1 .50 anti material rifle. bolt action, effective range 1,500 yards +. This rifle fires a round with a penetrator, high explosive and incendiary effect. It is designed to knock out vehicles, penetrate buildings and even knock out radar equipment. Not the same as the standard British anti material rifle.

L110A3 5.56mm FN Minimi Para light MG (The British Army also uses 7.62mm Minimi MG's these days alongside the GPMG).

Assorted versions (about 5) of the MP5 9mm SMG.

Glock 17 9mm pistol, this is now the main pistol used by British forces although there are also 9mm SIG Sauer's knocking about. The UK SF also use others on occasion. (As an aside, in Afghanistan the British Army issued a lot more soldiers with side arms than it used to, both as back up weapons, and for 'non-combatent' support troops).

L74A1 US designed 12 gauge pump action shotgun. Mainly used as a breaching weapon.(Note this is not the same shotgun used by the rest of the British Army, that being an Italian design).



While I'm, sort of, on the subject the standard British Army Sniper rifle now is the L115A3 8.59mm/.338 magnum that has made kills at ranges of up to 2,700 yards!.

The standard Long range/anti material rifle is the L135A1 .50 (ie, the US Barrett M82A1).

Last edited by IronDuke99; January 18th, 2017 at 12:20 AM.. Reason: new info.
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Old January 3rd, 2017, 03:25 PM

IronDuke99 IronDuke99 is offline
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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

I just came across this list, for the SAS only.

Please note it is about three years old:

http://www.militaryfactory.com/small...as-weapons.asp
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Old January 17th, 2017, 05:33 PM

IronDuke99 IronDuke99 is offline
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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

The Royal Marines Fleet Protection Group.
This is a roughly battalion sized force.

It is responsible for the security of UK nuclear subs, bases and missiles. It also provides RM detachments for Royal Navy warships and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (supply and support) ships.

It is also trained to protect, and retake, oil rigs and merchant ships etc.

The whole unit (like the Special Forces Support Group and the Pathfinders of the Parachute Regt) uses the L119A2 Colt Canada 5.56mm Assault Rifle rather than the L85A2 SA80.

For scenario designers British warships (and RFA's) on overseas deployments normally carry at least a section of Royal Marines from the Fleet Protection Group for boarding and small scale landing operations and that number can be increased in 'high risk' areas like the Gulf.

As an aside UK is just now opening a permanent RN Base in Bahrain in the Gulf, the first new base East of Suez for many years.
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Old January 18th, 2017, 12:14 AM

IronDuke99 IronDuke99 is offline
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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

Why don't British Special Forces, and associated units, use the L85A2 SA80?

Well, these days it is not reliability, and certainly not accuracy, the SA80 A2 performs very well under all conditions. The main reason it is not used is that the L85A2 SA80 is a very bloody heavy assault rifle and that weight, as it is a bull pup design, is mostly towards the rear of the weapon.

The L85A2 SA80 A2, with loaded 30 round magazine, and optic sight, weighs 4.98kg (just about 11 lbs).

The L119A2 Colt Canada, with loaded 30 round magazine, and optic sight, weighs 3.9kg (just over 8.5 lbs).

That is a big difference for a soldier to carry around constantly and, of course, on operations a good soldier never, ever, leaves his rifle.

My first, much loved, British Army rifle, in the early 1980's, was a L1A1 SLR (that example a beautiful older rifle with wooden furniture, that I was genuinely fond of) and that weighed, with a full 20 round 7.62mm magazine, 4.96kg (or well under 11lbs)...

Last edited by IronDuke99; January 18th, 2017 at 12:37 AM..
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Old January 18th, 2017, 12:26 AM

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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

So British Special Forces can't carry an extra 2.5 pounds? Times really are changing. I guess it take a whole squad to carry a machine gun.
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Old January 18th, 2017, 12:45 AM

IronDuke99 IronDuke99 is offline
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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

Quote:
Originally Posted by jp10 View Post
So British Special Forces can't carry an extra 2.5 pounds? Times really are changing. I guess it take a whole squad to carry a machine gun.
As the British Army always says, "Any fool can be uncomfortable."

If you need a GPMG, you carry a GPMG, or whatever kit you need. You do not waste effort on a weapon, if you can get the same effect from lighter kit, especially if you are SF type forces who very often do not have APC's.

Another British Army saying was "Bull **** baffles brains."

Average British soldiers, like most soldiers around the world, get the best, weapon in terms of value for money for the Government, filtered through assorted companies that need to make a profit and assorted civil servants who do what civil servants do (or don't do).

Special Forces soldiers, generally, get the best weapons money can buy. It's that simple.

I have never met one single British Army infantry soldier, who was around at the time of the change over, who thought the 5.56mm SA80 was a better weapon than the 7.62mm SLR, not one. I did meet a fair number of South African soldiers who preferred the the R4 (basically the Israeli Galil) to the R1 (not a lot different from the UK SLR).

The SA80, when first introduced, was not a good service rifle, in any way. The modern SA80 A2 is a good weapon, but it took years to get there and it is still very heavy for an assault rifle and not well balanced.

Last edited by IronDuke99; January 18th, 2017 at 01:13 AM..
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Old January 18th, 2017, 01:32 AM

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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

While I am, sort of, on this subject it has been known, for many years, certainly since the mid 1990's, that the 'ideal' military round is somewhere between 7.62mm (too large and heavy) and 5.56mm (too small and weak).

The best Military forces these days have a mixture of 7.62mm and 5.56mm weapons, that mixture is not efficient, in terms of logistics, costs and effects.

Although remember, one of the major lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan was a lot of infantry fire power is about suppression (sending the enemy to ground) so he can be killed by mortars, artillery, attack helos, aircraft, etc... Although how far that would be true about a enemy that comes close to matching you in technology remains very much to be seen.

The experts have been saying, for a long time, that the 'ideal' military round is probably about 6.2-7mm. But this will not happen when every nation has thousands of 5.56mm and 7.62mm weapons and companies turning out those weapons and those rounds.

In NATO terms change will only come when the US changes and that depends, largely, on what happens with caseeless (ie non metal) rounds.

As a old -non bold- soldier I take a certain small comfort that we were right back in the day that 5.56mm really was too small and weak as a military round.

If I can find it there is a bloody good video on YouTube from a US Army officer about this...

Last edited by IronDuke99; January 18th, 2017 at 01:42 AM..
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Old January 18th, 2017, 02:22 AM
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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

All weapons systems are compromises.

While I'm not a fan of the 5.56mm (I'll take an M-14 firing 7.62mm any day) smaller rounds are handy in jungle/urban warfare where you're frequently enguaging at shorter ranges, a full auto capability is sometimes useful, and the ability to carry more ammo and have more ammo per magazine is handy. I.E. what SMGs tend to excel at. Out in the desert and mountains of the Mid East you want range and one-shot stopping power.

These days most Western militaries have figured out what the Russians have known for years. A designated marksman with an accurized weapon at platoon or squad level is damn useful.
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Old January 18th, 2017, 08:13 AM

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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

For anyone who does not know much about small arms, the small 5.56mm round mainly relies on high velocity to kill or wound, but that velocity falls off fairly rapidly with range and it also lacks penetrating power through obstacles like walls, trees or soft vehicles.

The US and the UK have both developed superior, more lethal, 5.56mm rounds in recent years, but the basic limitations of the 5.56mm round remain.

The 7.62mm round (and the NATO 7.62mm is a more powerful round than the short 7.62mm used in the old Russian AK47) has much better effects at longer ranges (ie, over about 300 yards) and much superior penetration through obstructions, through the greater mass of the projectile.

On the other hand 5.56mm is smaller and lighter, depending on the magazine used three 30 round mags of 5.56mm probably weigh roughly the same as two 20 round mags of 7.62mm. Infantry soldiers generally want to carry as much ammo as possible, but, since they are always loaded like mules, they also want to shave off all the weight they can.

5.56mm Performs well enough at under 300 yards and in the later stages of WWII that was the distance most infantry engagements occurred at, both in the villages and towns of Europe and the jungles of Asia and the pacific islands. In Iraq, and especially in Afghanistan, engagements were often at longer ranges, so 7.62mm has made something of a comeback in most Armies as a marksmen's weapon at section level.
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Old January 18th, 2017, 11:59 AM
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Default Re: British Special Forces small arms 2017

If you really want to get into ideal calibres, arrse has a thread on that, only 1,000 odds posts
https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/th...alibres.84454/

And see http://www.quarryhs.co.uk/index.html
The articles in question on the page (they open up as PDFs)
- The Case for a General Purpose Rifle and Machine Gun Cartridge
- Assault Rifles and their Ammunition: History and Prospects
- Towards a "600 m" lightweight General Purpose Cartridge

And back in my TA days (late 70s), if you referred to anything by its "L-number" then you were labelled a "train-spotter" or "sad anorak", as one NCO said when putting me strait after doing so one time as a fluffy newbie "L-numbers are only for shiny-ar*ed stores clerks for ticking off stuff on their forms. We squaddies call that thing an SLR, and never an L-whatsit."
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