British Small Arms Industries

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by BashaBasher, Jul 27, 2006.

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  1. Why did Sterling Armaments close down?, Why has the SA80 stopped being made?

  2. Sterling went bankrupt.

    SA80 is sh*t.

    Any other matters you want help with?
  3. Sterling did not actually go bankrupt. It was purchased in June/July of 1988 by the then BAe's Royal Ordnance plc subsidiary. I know because I did the due diligence whilst allegedly on leave awaiting the birth of my son. However it was really a bit of a pup and was bought more to stop FN getting a UK foothold than to actually be run as a going concern. We then went on to buy H&K, which was a far more intelligent acquisition...
  4. I stand corrected.

    But SA80 is still sh*t.
  5. SA80 isn't shit - The A2 version is spot on. It is a VERY different rifle than the one that was first designed.
  6. Very different-or just modified? I do think its a good piece of kit now, though. Worth all the money spent on its development and modification? Now there's the question....
  7. Interesting. I know where you are coming from. HOWEVER, everytime I have used it, it's squared me away.
  8. So different that you can fire it from the left shoulder now... oh wait, you still can't. And any rumours that S**** T******* has been machining A2 cocking handles out of solid and supplying them to squaddies because the original ones break are wholly unfounded... except that he has been.

    The reason they are not still in production is that no other bugger is stupid enough to want to buy them. No demand equals no supply. I'm sure if someone went to H. K. and said "we want 500.000, and get the receiver pressings right this time" then H. K. would be more than willing to supply them, provided the customer's credit limit was ridiculously high.

    And as for Stirling, by the end they were a bit of a wet fish -- their two major products were a second-generation submachine gun in the era of the Uzi and MP 5, and a 5.56 mm assault rifle designed for Third World countries to set up and produce themselves in an era when all you had to do was say the word "socialist" and the USSR would shower AKs upon you, or say "anti-Communist" and the US would let you buy M-16's at bargain basement prices.
  9. How can you break a cocking Handle ? Sterlings gone as has the factory that built sa80 .Still got accuracy international mate got an interview there if they ever tell him the address seem a bit wary about giving it out :D .
    Considering we supposedly export billions of pounds of weapons what the hell are they .Every third world militia seems to use Ak47s.

  10. Bit too keen on the forward assist perhaps? :wink:

    :D :D :D
  11. According to S. T., the plastic bit breaks off leaving you with a tiny little stub of metal with which to cock the bolt -- hence the reason he machines the whole thing out of solid metal.
  12. Weren't AI also the subject of a management "buy-out" and possibly in danger of folding?

  13. AK47 - $50, Combat Net Radio system or battlefield radar for example - millions. It isn't always about quantity, sometimes it is about backhanders to agents in-country..ahem..I mean quality!

    Interestingly enough the SA80 was sold to one overseas customer - Mozambique. They took about a thousand to equip the Hall & Watts trained Railway Protection Battalion.

    Production ceased because the order for UK was filled. I believe something like 480000 weapons were ordered. As for H&K (BAESYSTEMS) building more SA80s...forget it! The current bottom of the range H&K assault rifle is head and shoulders more soldier friendly/enemey deadly than the SA80A2 even. Oh and it is cheaper...

    Interestingly by law the US defence industry cannot sell stuff to the US forces for more than they sell it for export. In the UK this is not the Britain?? :roll:
  14. [/quote]

    The reason they are not still in production is that no other bugger is stupid enough to want to buy them. [/quote]

    The royal army of Oman buys and uses British equipment and weaponry including the SA80.
  15. Why do you ask?

    I awaited the pearls of wisdom from Stoatman with great anticipation; opinions gleaned from the internet and Guns & Ammo, a bit light on hard facts. A few facts below.

    They both closed for much the same reasons that the British motorcycle, shipbuilding, car, textile, aircraft, electronics, etc., industries have vanished.

    Sterlings was not a big operation. There were two adjacent small factories, one making the SMGs, the other making the AR-18. Both of them would probably have fitted onto a football pich.

    Sterling Armaments had only made about 14% of the Sterlings bought by the MoD. After Sterling had developed & modified the design to the MoD’s requirements, getting it adopted after competitive trials in 1951, the MoD announced that most of the SMGs were to be made by RSAF at Enfield, although they had not bothered to agree any licensing agreement with Sterlings. Sterlings and George Patchett finally won a legal action against the MoD in the early '60s, being awarded about £250,000, I think.

    The Sterling SMG factory had contracted several times over the years. The production used antiquated machine tools, 'War Production' machinery, second-hand machines, etc.., Classic British engineering under-investment. The Mk 4 SMG was a 1940s design. Despite the adverse opinions you may read here, it was accurate and reliable; simple & clunky but reliable. It's main competitor was the Uzi; Sterling’s main market was in the Middle East; for some reason, the western-aligned Arab governments didn't buy Uzis.
    H&K started making inroads into Sterlings market, probably about the mid '70s.

    The 1980 Iranian Embassy siege was a huge advert for H&K. The SAS didn't use Sterlings, because apparently the sticky-out magazine would get in the way. I think they regard the use of non-standard weapons as a privilege that they had earned.

    Sterlings were also being made under licence in India and Canada. There were some agreements that these weapons were to be made for the use of those countries own forces, but Indian made SMGs and spares were being sold on the open market, in competition with and undercutting the genuine article.
    The MoD also flogged off their stocks of SMGs and spare parts when the SA-80 was adopted. Cheap, low-mileage SMGs were available and components surfaced on the spares market, cutting further into Sterling’s diminishing revenue streams. The Mk 5 silenced SMG L34A1 had a limited market. I don’t think it was ever sold in large numbers.

    The Sterling AR-18 factory used modern machine tools. The production machinery had been imported from Howa in Japan, when Howa ceased production of the AR-18, due to Japanese government restrictions on exports . I think the main problem was that the AR-18 proved to be a fairly mediocre weapon and not enough were being sold to maintain the company. The receiver was made from pressed steel in order to make the weapon cheaply, but it also made it a fairly bendable rifle which wouldn't tolerate much normal squaddy abuse. I doubt that it would have withstood much use with a bayonet.

    Sterlings were eventually bought by BAe in about 1988, I think, and closed down.

    Would you buy one? Neither would anyone else.

    The Royal Ordnance factories at Enfield and Nottingham were Government owned and were sold off in the privatisation epidemic of the Conservative governments (along with British Gas, British Telecom, TSB, National Grid, CEGB, British Rail, etc., etc.). RSAF Enfield had been something of a national institution, occupying a huge site in the Lee Valley. They were renowned within the UK manufacturing industry for the quality of the craftsmen that they trained up; craft apprentices started with a notorious precision hand-filing and measuring exercise which could occupy months. The entire company was committed to the production of small arms by precision engineering methods that were reliable, but costly. The RSAF had occupied the site for about 200 years and had accumulated a huge estate of old buildings. The property developers and estate agents were circling it like vultures.

    The entire Royal Ordnance was sold to BAe in April 1987. The new owners asset stripped the sites and sold off the land and machinery. The closure of Enfield was announced within a few months of the purchase. The production of the SA-80 was initially transferred to Nottingham and the manufacture of components was contracted out. 230 components had been manufactured at Enfield, only 15 were manufactured at Nottingham. The Nottingham site was closed and sold off when the SA-80 contract was completed. BAe also bought H&K and Sterlings.

    The good old British taxpayer ended up paying a BAe subsidiary a pile of dosh for a rifle that was crap, and then paid H&K, a former BAe subsidiary another pile of dosh to make it work. I'd like to know who was on the boards of directors of those companies.