SA80 to be replaced???

I refer to several articles in today's press - along the lines of,

"Is the Army about to scrap the rifle it cannot rely on?"

Well as an Infanteer with direct experience with both the old and new "A2" version of the rifle I, along with all the Soldiers and Officers I work with, would be delighted.

The suggested replacements: Heckler & Koch G36 (yes please) or the Belgian F2000 Modular Assault Weapon (?????).

The cost to re-equip between £100-£400 (depending upon your source).

Will it really happen???????

I won't be holding my breath.

;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

I say my prayers every night just hoping it happens.

But I won't be holding my breath.


I heard a snippet on Radio 4 this morning allegedly reporting that if you use the "old rifle" cleaning regime with the "new rifle" then you can expect only 17% servicability.

If however you use the "new rifle" cleaning regime then you can expect 85% servicability.

Does anyone know what the difference is and will the "new" regime work with the "old" rifle.

I think that I shall continue to defend myself by swinging my browning round my head in the hope of braining someone ;)
From Arthur Wellesley:

"Well as an Infanteer with direct experience with both the old and new "A2" version of the rifle I, along with all the Soldiers and Officers I work with, would be delighted. "

   It was my understanding that those infantry units and personnel involved with the trials of the SA80 A2 were extremely impressed with the new weapon. Were they lying, or just incompetent?

"The cost to re-equip between £100-£400 (depending upon your source). "

Wrong - just buying a rifle per man is a simplistic view. There's more to it than that. Maintenance equipment, Armourers' workshops, retraining costs of Armourers and users, probably even new weapon racks/holders in military vehicles etc - might not sound much, but it all adds up.


War Hero
Yes it will be expensive to get rid off the bloody thing, but in the long run it will surely be cheaper than spending about £1 million a year to fix the sodding bayonet.....and every other sodding problem that crops up with the piece of junk that we laughing call a rifle for all climates! :mad:


Speaking of bayonets - I'm probably behind the curve here - I've heard a rumour that the bayonet won't fit on the A2.  

Can anyone confirm this?  It would be a shame if an otherwise flawless upgrade to an already excellent weapon was marred by such a c**t stupid oversight...
mmm...quite a lot announced today.

The Telegraph quote Brigadier Munro, former Director Infantry, as suggesting that the SA80 should be replaced.

HOWEVER, the following three announcements were made through official communications channels:


DCCS 45/2002

D/DGCC/18/2/1/3      27/09/02

DCCS Internal Communication Brief

Issue –      Reports of potential SA80 sales
Timing –      Immediate
Audience –            All Personnel
Released by –      Directorate of Corporate Communication Services Contact:  Chris Williams, 82215MB

There has been commentary in the media on potential sales of SA 80 weapons to overseas customers.

The facts are as follows.

Because of the reduction in numbers of personnel in the UK Armed Forces since the original purchases of SA 80 were made, MOD now holds unmodified weapons that are surplus to our full requirements.

Any disposal sales of such weapons – whether unmodified or after modification – would only be to legitimate Governments, and would require prior UK Government approval in accordance with established Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

Any such sales, if approved, would have no impact on the programmed deliveries of modified SA 80 A2 weapons to the UK Armed Forces, which remain on schedule.


DCCS 44/2002


DCCS Internal Communication Brief

Issue -
User Confidence in SA80 A2
Timing -

Embargoed for briefing staff until midday, Friday 27 September 2002, to coincide with briefing being given to UK media

Audience -

 All Commanding Officers, Heads of Establishment and Line Managers to brief all personnel by most appropriate means.

Released by -

 Directorate of Corporate Communication Services Contact:  Chris Williams, 82215MB


User confidence in the SA80 A2 may have been undermined by recent reporting in the press. The facts prove that users should have full confidence in the weapon.


When correctly maintained the SA80 A2 is one of the most reliable weapons in its class.

The maintenance regime is no more difficult than that of similar weapons and can be carried out quickly in harsh operational environments.

The SA80 A2 is one of the most accurate weapons in its class.

In hot, dry, dusty conditions it is essential that the working parts are oiled.


During recent operations in Afghanistan there were reports of the SA80 A2 experiencing an unacceptable number of stoppages. The press, already sceptical about the original SA80, made much of these reports and stated that the SA80 A2 was unreliable, even speculating on its imminent replacement. These reports were at odds with all the evidence that had been gathered during the exhaustive trials that preceded bringing the SA80 A2 into service.  Concerned that confidence in the new weapon was being undermined, the MoD sent a team to Afghanistan to investigate the reports.

The team was led by Colonel Haddow, Royal Marines, from the Defence Logistics Organisation, and included experts from the Infantry Trials and Development Unit and Heckler & Koch. The team found that there were no engineering defects that would affect the reliability of the weapon. The common cause of the stoppages reported was identified as insufficient oil being applied to the moving parts. The importance of sufficient oil when operating in extreme hot/dry/dusty conditions was a lesson identified during the Gulf War.  Subsequently there has been insufficient emphasis on teaching this particular lesson. With oil correctly applied the SA80A2 is one of the most reliable small arms systems in the world, a major achievement for an automatic rifle with such a high degree of accuracy.

Col Haddow’s report did confirm that user checks for damage to magazines were not being carried out, that some old SA80 A1 magazines had been retained, that improvements could be made to the issue cleaning kits and the muzzle cover, and that the training pamphlet should give more emphasis to the use of the weapon system under harsh operational conditions.  On the weapon itself, he recommended that an alternative material should be found for the safety plunger to prevent it jamming in some extreme conditions.  All of these recommendations have been endorsed, and over the coming months will be rectified.

The key message from the report was that the weapon is reliable; the Chiefs of Staff were most concerned that this message was understood by all who are to be issued with SA80 A2 in order that they can use it with confidence.  To that end a tri-Service group of weapons instructors, coordinated by the Infantry Trials and Development Unit, was sent out to Oman, where conditions most closely resemble Afghanistan, to conduct a field firing exercise.  The aim was to instil confidence in the weapon among the instructors who could then teach from personal experience.  The exercise was very demanding and simulated as far as was possible the environment experienced on operations.  The SA80 A2 performed to a very high standard and much better than a rival weapon.

At the start of the Oman exercise the participants were asked for their views on the SA80 A2.  68% thought it was unreliable, 73% would have a selected a rival weapon and 57% thought it was too difficult to maintain in the field with the current cleaning kit.  When the exercise ended and the participants were surveyed again, 95% were convinced the weapon is fully reliable and all would now select it in preference to the rival. None thought it too difficult to maintain in the field, although 37% still felt that improvements to the cleaning kit should be made.

The heads of all three Services believe the SA80 A2 is the right general service weapon with which to equip our service personnel: it is highly accurate, reliable and maintainable on operations.  It is vital that all users understand these facts and have confidence in the weapon they carry. To ensure this, a programme of training and education is being initiated, about which Single Services will be providing further information through the chain of command.


An unclassified copy of Colonel Haddow’s report will be made available on the dNetUK at midday on Friday 27 September.


(this was the Haddow Report itself. Since it is very long, I've only included the 'Finding' and 'Recommendation')


2.      The assessment team found that, after the introduction of the appropriate cleaning and operating regime, in the Battle Field Mission (BFM) test   constructed to replicate the field conditions the weapon operates under, it delivered a significant improvement in reliability over that reported previously by 3 Commando Brigade.  In extreme environmental conditions it achieved 87.5% reliability when tested against its Battlefield Mission .  A control group of SA80 A2 firers from 3 Commando Brigade, using their own cleaning and operating regime, achieved 17% in the same BFM test.  It is not policy to reveal the results of comparative weapon tests to the user as data, since commercial and political issues factor against the public disclosure of comparative weapon performance, and so SA80 A2 users must rely on conjecture over the relative performance of their weapons.  No engineering defects that would affect the functional reliability of the weapon were found.  However there was a significant failure of safety plungers and a high number of damaged magazines - action is being taken to address these faults.  Notwithstanding the evidence of the test, 3 Commando Brigade remains to be convinced of the weapon’s reliability.  


3.      The assessment team makes the following recommendations:

a.      That 3 Commando Brigade Op JACANA units follow the guidance on the cleaning and lubrication of the SA80 A2 in hot/dry/dusty conditions, contained at Chapter 3 Section 10 of Infantry Training, Volume II – Skill at Arms (Personal Weapons), Pamphlet No 5 (Paragraph 11).
b.      That 3 Commando Brigade Op JACANA units demand cleaning kit components to replace missing and unserviceable items (Paragraph 12).

c.      That the safety plungers of all A2 weapons are regularly checked for wear damage that could cause sticking.  That Combat Support Equipment Integrated Project Team (CSE IPT) investigates a modified safety plunger in a more resilient material (Paragraph 13.a).

d.      That the weapon training pamphlet be amended to highlight the importance of inspecting the top of the magazine for distortion (Paragraph 13.b).

e.      That to raise confidence in the weapon, a comparative test of the SA80 A2 against other infantry weapons is conducted, with the support of Infantry Trials and Development Unit (ITDU), to confirm its relative reliability in extreme environments (Paragraph 10).

f.      That amendments are made to the weapon training pamphlet to provide better detail and emphasis on the priorities for cleaning and lubricating the weapon when operated in an operational environment, in extreme hot/dry dusty conditions (Paragraph 15).

g.      That a review is conducted of issued weapon cleaning tools to develop devices that are easier to use and more effective in an operational setting (Paragraphs 12 & 15).  

h.      That a replacement muzzle cover with a captive fit be designed and issued (Paragraph 5).

i.      That information on the improvised weapon cover is made widely available (Paragraph 15.c).

j.      That the provision of a magazine cover for use in hot/dry dusty theatres is investigated by CSE IPT (Paragraph 15.d).

k.      That 3 Commando Brigade withdraws unserviceable magazines and demands replacements (Paragraph 13.b).

l.      That the weapon training pamphlet is amended to recommend a reduction to 27 rounds per magazine in hot/dry dusty conditions (Paragraph 14).

m.      That, should time remain available on Op JACANA, 3 Commando Brigade should conduct a trial of an alternative oil mixture to identify whether any benefits result in extreme hot/dry dusty conditions.  Failing this, CSE IPT should conduct the trial and report its findings (Paragraph 15.e).


Redcross rup,

Announcement 1....selling SA80 to non-swimmers...

Is this a cunning plot to unload all the SA80's (thru' an African intermediary) onto Madman Hussein?   Dashed-clever these MOD desk-wallahs!

Kit doesn't work? Flog it to the enemy!
It is really very simple.  Once the SAS select the SA80 as their preferred weapon, we can believe that it is acceptable.  Until then, the fact that our own SF choose an alternative because they think it is better than the SA80 sends a very significant signal to us all....  On a personal note, it would also be nice to have a weapon that can be fired from either shoulder - but I must be an old fashioned grunt with experience of trying to aim from both sides of the street in Northern Ireland... ;)


"It is really very simple.  Once the SAS select the SA80 as their preferred weapon, we can believe that it is acceptable.  Until then, the fact that our own SF choose an alternative because they think it is better than the SA80 sends a very significant signal to us all.... "

Rubbish.  The Australian & NZ SF don't use the same weapon as the regular forces. (M-16s, MP-5 etc in place of Austeyr).
The US SF often use H&K also, this doesn't mean the M-16 is crap does it?

The reason they use different weapons is because of the different tasks performed and the manner in which they are performed.  As the overwhelming evidence shows:
L85A2 is perfectly good, as long as you look after it correctly.


Nige has hit the nail on the head with that one. Different tasks mean different weapons, and the SA80 is our general purpose assault rifle. Not an SF friendly weapon. You need different weapons for different ops (unless you are the designers of the OICW which will be a bit of a laugh). As someone who has never been a fan of the SA80, I was also dissapointed with the A2. I believe they have made a real effort to sort it to be honest and it's performance was good on the tests. Filtering out the party line from the reports it still comes across that a worthy effort was made to sort this out once and for all. They may even have one me overon this. I'm now (shakily) on Nige's side of the line on this one. We'll see how it goes in the extended "test" period next year(ish) in the desert again.