SA80A2 reliability

E

error_unknown

Guest
#21
The original 'bullpup' rifle design, circa late 40s early 50s, was the EM2 which was in .270 (or was it .280?) calibre. This was torpedoed by the US which insisted that Nato standardise on 7.62mm (.308), because they had the M14 ready to roll - a modernisation of the M1 Garand. So we went with the FN FAL SLR, the Germans went for the G3 etc.

The original design for the SA80 - the so-called IW - was in 4.85mm calibre and was, by all accounts, a superb rifle. However, due to Nato insistence on 5.56mm it was re-engineered, and then re-engineered again to make production cheaper, and so we ended with the piece of crap that is the SA80.

I remember when it first hit the streets in NI in 86/87 it caused a stir because bits kept falling off, particularly when hit by bricks or stones. We were lucky in my battalion: we were on a residential tour and had SLRs, with M16's and 203's for team leaders, and didn't convert until we got back to Catterick.

My own view is that we get a lot of crap kit because of the political imperative to keep the British defence industry alive. It can't go on much longer. What we need is to buy, or produce under licence, a reliable, proven design and for the time being, we couldn't do much worse than go for the M16A2: at least it works.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#22
Gunny Highway said:
Interesting pic on the BBC news website today. Is this the grenade version?

Looking at the (possible) impending stoppage in the pic, it points out the advantages of having your Camelbak tube over the left shoulder......
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#23
gallowglass said:
It certainly looks like the grenade version - the foregrip with trigger and the extended iron sights would certainly seem to indicate so. It doesn't look like the usual 203 version. I'll take a guess and say that it's an H&K model.

I've fired the SA80 (not the 'new, improved' version), the Steyr AUG and the FN FAL: I found the SA80 cumbersome, heavy, difficult to handle, and needlessly complicated to reload. From a purely aesthetic point-of-view it is possibly the ugliest assault rifle ever created and it looks like it's made of lego and therefore fragile. The Steyr is probably the finest bullpup currently available and the reputation of the FN speaks for itself. What with all the controversy about this weapon and the expensive (and apparently pointless) modifications made to it, I cannot imagine that many soldiers have much confidence in it, which is the crucial point. If there were no problems with this rifle then why are we talking about it? There is little value in the SA80A2 being accurate - which it certainly is - if it is prone to stoppages or the odd piece falling off. Where there is doubt leave out. With the millions that have been spent on modifications in the almost twenty years this rifle has been in service, a far better alternative could have been introduced. The 57 year-old AK47 and it's variants are not exactly what I would bring on a deer stalk, but for pure reliability and robustness it cannot be beaten. I read a report in the Telegraph (so it is therefore gospel truth) that the current SA80 (A2?, A3? A4?...) will be phased out in 2006, and that the HKG36 is being spoken of as a possible replacement.
Yeah, it is the H&K model 40mm - seems to work fine - just a damn site more expesive than the 203......but then if we've got the most expensive 'rifle,' why not the most expensive UBGL ?

Agree with most of your post Gallowglass, but would take issue with the Steyr. Those Aussies I know who've been issued other weapons are definitely not happy Vegimites when it comes to their Austeyr.

IMHO the FN F2000 is a better bullpup, for a start it is ambi, takes available mags, and it's also modular which makes most weapon 'reconfigurations' possible at unit level. I've not yet shot the F2000 but there again FN don't have much of a track record for making junk. Take a squint at it on the FN website: www.fnherstal.com
 
#24
One_of_the_strange said:
One thing though - a weapon that fires reliably only if oiled properly - isn't reliable.

The old AK will fire when rusty, full of crap, after being dropped into mud, sand , sh@te, stood on, trampled by runaway elephants ... well, maybe not the last but you get the picture. I've seen film of AKs so bad that the owner had to stand on the lever to * it - and it still works.

That is the gold standard for weapon reliability. Does the SA80 A2 meet it ? I think not. Whining that in case of failure the owner didn't take care of it misses the point completely. If a 60 year old design will work with zero maintenance then I think that modern designs should as well.
An AK is accurate to 80m - SA80A2 is accurate to 300m (400 if you're a good shot)

That little fact alone makes me want to pick up the SA80A2 everytime rather than AK47. Besides, with a month in the Kuwaiti desert and 5 months in Basra and Amarah last year I didn't have a single live stoppage. I oiled the weapon once a day, which is just basic equipment husbandry, and never had a problem. That's reliability.
 
#25
Cutaway said:
gallowglass said:
It certainly looks like the grenade version - the foregrip with trigger and the extended iron sights would certainly seem to indicate so. It doesn't look like the usual 203 version. I'll take a guess and say that it's an H&K model.

I've fired the SA80 (not the 'new, improved' version), the Steyr AUG and the FN FAL: I found the SA80 cumbersome, heavy, difficult to handle, and needlessly complicated to reload. From a purely aesthetic point-of-view it is possibly the ugliest assault rifle ever created and it looks like it's made of lego and therefore fragile. The Steyr is probably the finest bullpup currently available and the reputation of the FN speaks for itself. What with all the controversy about this weapon and the expensive (and apparently pointless) modifications made to it, I cannot imagine that many soldiers have much confidence in it, which is the crucial point. If there were no problems with this rifle then why are we talking about it? There is little value in the SA80A2 being accurate - which it certainly is - if it is prone to stoppages or the odd piece falling off. Where there is doubt leave out. With the millions that have been spent on modifications in the almost twenty years this rifle has been in service, a far better alternative could have been introduced. The 57 year-old AK47 and it's variants are not exactly what I would bring on a deer stalk, but for pure reliability and robustness it cannot be beaten. I read a report in the Telegraph (so it is therefore gospel truth) that the current SA80 (A2?, A3? A4?...) will be phased out in 2006, and that the HKG36 is being spoken of as a possible replacement.
The reliability issue is no longer a problem. As fully trained troops doctrine dictates that accuracy is key, even if that means about 5 mins work a day on the rifle. For the conscipted troops of Vietnam the M16 was created. A simple weapon that was easy to operate, easy to clean but has limited accuracy over 100m and no decent sighting system. We are fortunate that because we are so well trained we can have a weapon that gives us increased range and accuracy. Yes it has problems with firing round right-corners, making FISH/CQB's difficult but they can be overcome. To be honest I can't believe this argument is still going on. Get out there and fire it in combat. It's a great bit of kit now. The 40mm Grenade is superb and highly accurate results over 250m. Far better than its predecesors, the RGL and RGGS.
As for whether it looks good or not....this is not a beauty contest gentlemen, these things are designed to kill people.
 
#26
gallowglass said:
Apologies all round. My point about the aesthetic ugliness of the SA80/A2 is that it's appearance betrays the fact that it is a badly designed and badly made weapon - it looks cobbled-together. In fact, it almost looks like two weapons mutated into one - all the green furniture and then metal. I remember when I saw it first I couldn't help but think of those homemade weapons that street gangs often produce. I concede that aesthetics counts for nought if a weapon is reliable and effective - take the Bren, which surely many old sweats thought looked distinctly goofy when it was introduced - but reliable is not an term that I feel can be readily applied to the current SA80.

As stated by another contributor, what an infantryman wants is a rifle that will work and put the opposition down (and keep him down). I would certainly agree that the 5.56mm isn't in the same class as the 7.62mm round. I recall reading recently that Western armies are now slowly realising that the 5.56mm round is not having the 'psychological impact' intended in terms of WIAs as opposed to KIAs (excuse the jargon). Apparently 'the wounded' are not a priority nor a political consideration for an opposition composed of fanatics. I seem to recall about the origins of the SA80 and how it had been originally designed (in the 1940s) around a c.7mm cartridge. Perhaps the original spanner-in-the-works with regard to the SA80 can be traced back to the decision to start meddling with it? I agree that 2006 is tomorrow in terms of any assault rifle change, but then I did read that in the Telegraph, and surely the Labour Government would not dream of rushing through such an important matter?
WIA takes three men out of the battle. One down and Two to carry. KIA's get left and picked up afterwards. It's that simple. Besides, YOU try carrying 320 7.62mm rounds about all day and tell me which you'd prefer to carry, 5.56mm or 7.62mm. It's not about, "I'd rather have a round which put people down"...you're not seeing the bigger picture. We have enough to carry as it it is. With more FIST technology coming in we now carry more in battery weight than we do in rounds anyway. Add 2l water, rations, Comms, monocle/LLM's, CWS, Warm Kit, Goretex, TAMS, Grenades, Smoke, Illum and then extra link for the gunners (about 500 rounds) and you try and run around an urban battlefield. bigger picture.
 
#27
I am glad to see that this discussion is still ongoing.

I didn't make my point about the 5.56mm round very clear. What I had hoped to say was that the very valid argument behind the adoption of the 5.56mm round in terms of WIAs taking-up the resources of the opposition - as pointed out by nomadcelt - rather falls down when the current opposition (jihadists etc.) are not particularly concerned about their own wounded or those of anybody else; they are like the Zulus of old in that they need to be stopped dead (no disrespect intended towards the Zulus). I acknowledge nomadcelt's point about a bigger round being an additional weight on an infantryman, but does conceding this fact not also concede the tactical advantage to a more lightly kitted-out enemy armed with a more powerful round? Whilst I haven't any familiarity with the curent SA80A2, is it (or indeed could it be?) that radically different to it's flawed predecessors?

Like Cutaway I have also heard that the Australians have had some problems with their Steyr AUGs, but then they do use a variant called the F88 (I stand open to correction) about which I know little, but I believe one of the problems is to do with the fire selection mechanism. What I have seen of the FN F2000 would indicate that it's a fine rifle.

An open question to all: should the SA80A2 be replaced and if so with what?
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#28
Nomadcelt makes a very good point (as already made on several topics elsewhere) that the weight issue on the modern battlefield mean that you want 5.56 or less - not 7.62. If you want 7.62 then I think you didn't spend enough time charging around with 4 mags of 20 and a smock stuffed full of link or loose 7.62 for re-sup.

The argument that perhaps REMF (not charging around assaulting the enemy types) could have a different weapon system is however to me extremely valid. And I don't just mean taking away their SUSAT and telling them to get on with it. A useful 9mm smg (hmmmm sterling anyone) might be just the answer in most places (urban, N. Europe, Jungle) but perhaps the 5.56 is still the best for the desert... Comments welcomed!

Where Nomadcelt and GG are wrong however is this WIA takes 2 more out of the battle crap. All a WIA does is become the responsibility of the attacking forces, which, last time I trained to win, indicated that would be me. So all the wounded you think the 5.56 designers were trying to litter the battlefield would become FF responsilbility - the 'urban legend' of WIA evac/resources comes from an early Vietnam hollywood movie. Don't fall for it guys - its hollywood crap regurgitated..
 
#29
gallowglass said:
Like Cutaway I have also heard that the Australians have had some problems with their Steyr AUGs, but then they do use a variant called the F88 (I stand open to correction)
As I understand it, they chose the AUG as a design, but insisted on manufacturing locally under licence as the F88......... and couldn't resist a couple of "improvements", sorry, local.

So it's not just us that let political considerations c*ck things up...... Anyway, ISTR they had issues with the first versions produced locally.

By the time the modifications hit the end-user, they've heard all the bad things, urban legend has turned the F88 into something that's unreliable, the old salts start demanding their SLRs back, claims that "5.56 is bad, 7.62 is good" are widespread, etc, etc. Strangely familiar.....
 
#31
gallowglass said:
. For example, no other army in the world (with the exception of the reserve of the Jamaican Defence Forces I believe) uses the SA80 (or the 'new improved' version), but the ordinary British soldier can get away with using this shoddy weapon because he is a damn sight better trained and a better soldier than his better-armed counterpart or opponent.
...so I talking wasn't talking through my hat after all (sometimes I surprise even myself).


In response to Mr Happy's post re. WIAs and the 5.56mm round, I have always thought that the 'to wound is better than to kill' school of thinking behind the adoption of the 5.56mm was nonsense, and it doesn't at all surprise me to hear that it owes it's origins to the Vietnam War - the 'leave no man behind doctrine' no doubt goes down very well politically, but on the battlefield it can cost lives. Burdening an attacking force with wounded (whether 'yours or their own') is a well-worn tactic of irregular or insurgent forces.

So the Australian Steyr AUG was 'modified' (i.e. interfered with) - now there's a surprise.
 
#33
Not at all tebagagap - I failed to make the point clearly enough to begin with.
 
#34
nomadcelt said:
One_of_the_strange said:
One thing though - a weapon that fires reliably only if oiled properly - isn't reliable.

The old AK will fire when rusty, full of crap, after being dropped into mud, sand , sh@te, stood on, trampled by runaway elephants ... well, maybe not the last but you get the picture. I've seen film of AKs so bad that the owner had to stand on the lever to * it - and it still works.

That is the gold standard for weapon reliability. Does the SA80 A2 meet it ? I think not. Whining that in case of failure the owner didn't take care of it misses the point completely. If a 60 year old design will work with zero maintenance then I think that modern designs should as well.
An AK is accurate to 80m - SA80A2 is accurate to 300m (400 if you're a good shot)

That little fact alone makes me want to pick up the SA80A2 everytime rather than AK47. Besides, with a month in the Kuwaiti desert and 5 months in Basra and Amarah last year I didn't have a single live stoppage. I oiled the weapon once a day, which is just basic equipment husbandry, and never had a problem. That's reliability.
At the risk of descending into pedantry I've worked on designing complicated equipment (mostly military) for a long time now - and reliable means keeping working with a minimum of maintenance. Any badly-contrived piece of crap can be kept working if enough effort is applied, the best kit just keeps going without any effort.

The reason the Army puts up with the rubbish it does is the unfortunate tendency we have to blame the operator/maintainer for design deficiencies. Rather than admit that we've bought a lemon all deficiencies are blamed on the user.

The RAF apply a metric of maintenance hours per flying hour to aircraft - and that figure has and keeps falling dramatically as technology evolves. Maybe we should apply the same measures to Army kit. My experience of SA80 is that it takes longer to strip and clean than the SLR and SMG it replaced - a step backwards (showing my age now).

I take your point about accuracy, but the AK design is 60 years old. I still think that we can and should be able to provide something accurate and reliable to troops.
 
#35
Notwithstanding the debate whether the SA80 is crap (and some good posts above about the original EM2 - the first bull pup in the world I think -and the Enfield 4.85mm) the comments on 5.56 v 7.62 are interesting to read.

Had ARRSE been around 25 years ago I would guarantee that everyone here would have been trumpeting the virtues of the light HV 5.56 M203 round versus the heavy NATO 7.62 round that we were then using with the SLR/GPMG. Mr Happy above hit this nail right on the head. The grass is always greener etc.....

Secondly whilst 5.56 is lighter it still puts a considerable amount of energy (for the spods the old 1/2m vsquared KE equation) into what it hits. It may not knock holes in walls but when it hits a human body the KE and hydrostatic shock means that victim falls over and won't get up. I think that there will be a few ARRSE readers out there who have seen this close up, and will bear me out. So whatever weapon system we chose in the future, the 5.56 round (since it is an international standard) is probably the way forward unless everyone else in the western world is ready to change. AK47 - OK in its day, but we can do better now I think.
 
#36
" we couldn't do much worse than go for the M16A2: at least it works. "

Presumably you believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus as well!

Many grunts who used it during the combat phases will tell you that the record of the M16 in both Aghanistan and Iraq was pretty abysmal. The M4 seems to be faring even worse, and the Aussies most certainly have had problems with their AUGs jamming in the dust - but then again the AK47 also suffers from stoppage problems in both theatres, as the fine powder dust knackers just about any weapon that is not well maintained.

Incidentally, the latest carbine being tested by the Americans (made by Barrett) to overcome the problems discovered on the M4 under combat conditions, is in 6.82mm calibre. This round was decided upon because it has now been confirmed (as was highlighted in Somalia over a decade ago) that at distances beyond 100 metres the 5.56mm round has insufficient velocity to stop a man. A case of history repeating itself?

As for the SA80 blank misfire problem, that has now been corrected with the new 'tiger stripe' training magazines, which compensate for the crimped blank round being a couple of mm shorter, and made to looser tolerances, than the live round. Of course, if the MoD was to use well-manufactured plastic training rounds, like many of our European allies, instead of slightly cheaper crimped case Third World ammo, the same mags would work with both live and blank.

L.
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#37
Lochinvar said:
" we couldn't do much worse than go for the M16A2: at least it works. "

Presumably you believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus as well!

Many grunts who used it during the combat phases will tell you that the record of the M16 in both Aghanistan and Iraq was pretty abysmal. The M4 seems to be faring even worse, and the Aussies most certainly have had problems with their AUGs jamming in the dust - but then again the AK47 also suffers from stoppage problems in both theatres, as the fine powder dust knackers just about any weapon that is not well maintained.
You mean the tooth fairy and Santa Claus don't exist? :cry:

I'm not a great weapons expert, I admit. I use them without being too bothered how they work. But as an example, last August I was able to scrounge up some buckshee rounds and took my team out into the desert for a refresher shoot. We had SA80A2s, a couple of Kalashnikovs, Browning 9mm's, Iraqi 'Beretta' 9mm pistol and a Beretta Model 12 9mm SMG. The only weapons which didn't have stoppages were the AKs (Yugo AKMS's actually) and the Iraqi pistols. All had been cleaned and prepped the night before. It wasn't a big confidence booster, bearing in mind the job we were doing, and it led us to draw the obvious conclusions.
 
#38
Lochinvar said:
Incidentally, the latest carbine being tested by the Americans (made by Barrett) to overcome the problems discovered on the M4 under combat conditions, is in 6.82mm calibre. This round was decided upon because it has now been confirmed (as was highlighted in Somalia over a decade ago) that at distances beyond 100 metres the 5.56mm round has insufficient velocity to stop a man.
Errr.... that's "distances beyond 100m" if you're firing 5.56 from a short barrel, such as the M4. The length of a bullpup barrel (such as L85) means IIRC that the distance at which 5.56 NATO stops tumbling so violently is 300m or so for an L85 (and more yet from an L86).

The new Remington 6.8mm "Special Purpose Cartridge" is designed for CQB work, when you want someone to bleed out this very second, rather than this very minute........see http://www.remington.com/whatsnew/press/2004/am_68mm.htm
and
http://www.barrettrifles.com/rifles/rifles_m468.htm

Note that it's a modified M4/M16, so it's still got the design flaws that make them unreliable (which H&K are offering to fix with their HKM4, in the same way that they fixed L85A1.....)
 
#39
Some excellent posts and Gravelbelly speaks much sense and quite clearly with considerable knowledge.

The A2 is a tremendous wpn and is now being used with great effect.
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#40
Gravelbelly said:
The new Remington 6.8mm "Special Purpose Cartridge" is designed for CQB work, when you want someone to bleed out this very second, rather than this very minute........see http://www.remington.com/whatsnew/press/2004/am_68mm.htm
and
http://www.barrettrifles.com/rifles/rifles_m468.htm
Isn't this getting into one of those Geneva Convention grey areas? IIRC, rounds designed to produce 'excessive' wound effects are supposedly banned.

I believe that British officers captured in WW1 carrying .455 flat-nosed manstopper bullets for their revolvers were court-martialled by the Germans fro breaching this.
 

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