New sharpshooter rifle for British Army

from janes
UK selects 7.62 mm Sharpshooter weapon for Afghan ops
Andrew White Jane's Land Reporter

UK forces are to receive a semi-automatic 7.62 mm x 51 mm 'sharpshooter' weapon to combat Taliban forces engaging beyond the maximum effective range of the 5.56 mm L85A2 assault rifle.

In a USD2.5 million deal the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted Law Enforcement International (LEI) to supply 440 LM7 semi-automatic rifles.

The urgent operational requirement follows calls from troops on the ground for a weapon that can be comfortably patrolled with, can be rapidly initiated and provide an increased range for contacts out to 800 m.

To be redesignated the L129A1, the gas-operated weapon carries a 20-round magazine, is 945 mm long and weighs 5 kg. It will be manufactured by Lewis Machine & Tool Company in the United States, with deliveries expected to begin in early 2010.

Features of the weapon include a single-piece upper receiver and free-floating, quick-change barrels available in 305 mm, 406 mm and 508 mm. It has four Picatinny rails with a 540 mm top rail for night vision, thermal and image intensifying optics. Stock options include fixed or retractable versions.

Industry sources told Jane's that LEI beat competition including Heckler & Koch's HK417 (already supplied to specialist units within the MoD), FN Herstal's SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) and an offering from Sabre Defence Industries.

To date UK soldiers must complete a marksmanship course to become qualified as 'sharpshooters' and are regarded as being a grade below that of a sniper. Following the introduction of Accuracy International's (AI's) .338-cal L115A3 sniper rifle, sharpshooters have been armed with AI's outgoing 7.62 mm L96 rifle. However, the latter's bolt action does not make it a suitable option for a patrolling soldier.

With the majority of contacts occurring at either very close range or at ranges out to between 500 m and 900 m, the "only organic asset" available to responding UK forces in a small-arms capacity is the 7.62 mm General-Purpose Machine Gun, with MoD sources saying that "5.56 mm weapons lack the reach to engage the enemy at those ranges".

"The 5.56 mm is sufficiently lethal at the right range, but troops need 7.62 mm for longer ranges. We should be looking at higher performance rounds with higher lethality at longer range. Research is going to filter into user requirements for the soldier system lethality programme," one MoD source told Jane's .

Already did this yesterday.
BUT, does anyone know what sort of magazines will be issued?
Forgive me for being ignorant but will changing barrels affect the zeroing of the rifle? I presume asides from the temperature change that with each barrel being different it will affect the rifle.

not to mention it does seem like a bad idea sas its just adding weight and causing there to be time when the rifle isnt shooting.

Havent heard of stainless steel barrels needing cleaning every 100 rounds before though, and how many spare barrels will be taken, not to mention what if they use them all up, wouldnt like the idea of getting the pull through out and cleaning away with rounds going overhead.
I haven't a clue, i'd assume if the method of attachment was well designed and robust enough it would be ok, but these are just assumptions, and as such are the mother of all fcuk-ups.
Irish_Army01 said:
UK forces are to receive a semi-automatic 7.62 mm x 51 mm 'sharpshooter' weapon to combat Taliban forces engaging beyond the maximum effective range of the 5.56 mm L85A2 assault rifle.
To receive? Don't you mean...already have and using? :p

Isn't that it?

omegahunter said:
No Back Up Iron Sights?
...appears to have backup sights as well :wink:

I'd prefer this myself, 6.5 has better long range ballistics and still packs more of a punch:



Kit Reviewer
Greg's chuffed to shite then.
Wonder if he'll stand a double round at King's ?

I already know the answer...
Seems like a good idea to give the Squad a specialist long range weapon, I understand that the Squad 'Marksman' will carry the rifle.
I assume that the idea originated on the ground from practical lessons learned by the Troops.
IIRC 'Squad Marksman' is a concept that has been bandied around for donkies...

Wasn't it first looked in to on an early Telic?
Bandied around for ages for sure, seem to remember a course at Sennelager in the 70s, then being given a 4T and an IWS for my SLR.
surely it does'nt need a barrel change every 100 rounds :?
I suppose the guys know what they're doing, but I do wonder if the DMR procurement debate has erred onto the sniper side a bit too much? There seems to be an assumption that a DMR is going to sit back and fire just a handful of rounds during a firefight, and that rigorous barrel cleaning regime/ limited mags/ etc are realist limitations. I'd guess that the DMR could in fact end up ripping off three or four mags in one contact, along with the rest of the section rifles, and I'd question whether the LM7 and other DMR candidates are going to work as suitable battle rifles - most AR type precision rifles are simply not optimised for rapid or volume fire. By contrast, although the M14 DMR was seen as a stop-gap until something fancier and more accurate came along, at least the base rifle was designed for volume fire.
Agreed, as someone posted on, a section Marksman is more a *Bang, "Bugger missed", Bang Bang Bang Bang..."Got Him"* than a Sniper's *Bang............Got him*.
What about the oul reliable battle proven SLR? I'm sure yee still have them in stores. I'm sure it could be modded up to put a picatinny for a PEQ , a bi-pod and a scope?
What about the HK417? As has been said above, it is an accurised 7.62mm battle rifle. Seeing that it is rumoured that the HK416 (its 5.56mm little brother) is in the running for the replacement to the SA80 getting both from the same company would make sense for standard units. The purchased DMR could be used by number 2's in sniper pairs. I agree that a barrel life of 100 rounds before changing is not ideal for patrolling and would be better left for specialists within the sniper pl of a sp coy.

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