“The SA80 A2 is ‘perfect’ for conventional forces, but specialist services want to see some improvements, according to feedback between Royal Marines serving in Afghanistan and Defence IQ” Infantry Weapons reports [registration required]. The site’s unnamed expert reckons “things are not all rosy for the standard issue SA80 A2 in all situations. In a dry, dusty environment like Afghanistan, ensuring the weapon is clean can prove a challenge and soldiers are known to take a MacGyver-like preventative measure to keeping sand and dirt out at bay elsewhere recognised as the handyman’s godsend: gaffer tape . . .
Tape is also the solution to the problem of the rifle’s “rattle”. Made from pressed steel – essentially a top half attached to a bottom half and stuck together with two pins – the weapon will make a loud metallic clang as the user sets out on patrol. Not such a major issue to conventional soldiers, but for the likes of those requiring a covert approach, it’s unwelcome . . .
Another downside is that it remains incredibly heavy, especially with the addition of the (now standard) Picatinny rail incorporated in 2008. Weight was in fact considered to be of particular concern to the Marines – not in traditional terms of having to carry the weapon but in the fact that it impaired agility when placed in competition against other system.
And then there’s ye olde elephant in the proverbial room . . .
“In Afghanistan, the biggest problem with the SA80 generally mentioned by troops is when you just hit them, hit them, hit them, and they can still open up on you. They’re using 7.62. Of course, having taken a few hits their accuracy may be diminished, but still…” . . .
And the answer is . . . screw the duct tape give us the Canadian-made C8 Diemaco [now Colt Canada] modified M4.
“This is my personal preference. I do prefer it over the SA80 solely because in its own complexities, it’s an easier weapon to use. It’s very docile and it’s a lot lighter. It’s also a change because the SA80 can only be fired one way, from the right rather than the left.
All that said, it’s only a matter of time before NATO forces up-size caliber for grunt work. Or is it?