Home -> Firearms -> Assault Rifles -> SA80
The United Kingdom started a program in the
late 60’s to develop a weapon that would
replace the FAL. Enfield developed the 4.85mm
for their new assault rifle. They rechambered
an AR-18 and put it in a bullpup configuration,
like their previous design: the EM-2. When
NATO adopted the 5.56x45mm round, it was
again rechambered to the 5.56mm round. The
SA80 was designed to be a very accurate weapon
with a long range. There were two reasons
to develop an accurate weapon. The first
one is that the British are keen on accurate
weapons, note that the predecessors of the
SA80 are the FAL and SMLE. The second reason
is the short range of the Kalashnikov. (The
weapon was developed during the cold war.)
To improve the effective range of the SA80,
it was fitted with a 4x scope, known as SUSAT.
The abbreviation ‘SUSAT’ stands for ‘Sight
Unit, Small Arms, Trilux’. The SUSAT has
an illuminated reticle and tritium is used
to make it possible to fire the weapon at
night. The SA80 is indeed very accurate,
but is unreliable. Its unreliability made
the weapon unpopular and was therefore not
sold a lot. The introduction of the weapon
was delayed due to the Falkland war. ‘SA80’
stands for ‘Small Arm of the 80’s’
|The SA80 Carbine is quite similar to the
SA80, but has a shorter barrel and is therefore
fitted with a shorter forearm. This weapon
was never taken into production. Only a handful
of prototypes were ever created.
|The SA80 is similar to the SA80 IW, but it
is fitted with iron sights. In British service
it is called the L98. The SA80 is used by
the Navy, Airforce and non-combat personnel.
A straight-pull bolt-action version is used
to train soldiers.
|The SA80 IW is a SA80 fitted with the 4x
SUSAT scope. The scope increases long range
accuracy dramatically. However, the SA80
has no iron sight and it is thus difficult
to aim this weapon at a distance less than
100 meters. This weapon is called the L85
by the British army. ‘IW’ stands for ‘Individual
|The SA80 LSW has a longer barrel, bipod,
shoulder support and rear vertical grip.
The SA80 LSW fires from an open bolt position.
The LSW is not a good support weapon. It
has a small magazine capacity and no quick
change barrel. Most of the time it is used
as a sort of semi-automatic sniper rifle.
The SA80 LSW was adopted by the British as
The SA80 was built for accuracy. The firing
system used is indeed very accurate, but
is not reliable. It is also a very heavy
weapon. The SA80 is an unpopular weapon because
of its unreliability. In a combat situation
it has to be cleaned five times a day! Cleaning
costs a lot of precious time, which should
be spend in a better way. Even if the weapon
is thoroughly cleaned, one must hope if it
fires. An unreliable weapon severely decreases
the morale. During operation Dessert Storm
a lot of British soldiers used captured Kalashnikovs.
Of course was the weapon upgraded, but the
war in Afghanistan showed that even the newest
version malfunctions too often.
- The United Kingdom uses SA80, SA80 IW and
SA80 LSW as the L98, L85 and L86.