Country of origin
5.56 x 45 mm
Weight (with sight)
Cyclic rate of fire
Practical rate of fire
40 - 100 rpm
Range of effective fire
of this assault rifle began in the late 1960s. The project was known
as the SA80 (or Small Arms for 1980s). This project included
development of two weapons - automatic infantry rifle and light
support weapon. It has been developed by Royal Small Arms Factory at
Enfield. First prototypes were trialed in 1976. These new weapons
were adopted by the British Army in 1984. The L85A1 eventually
replaced the L1A1 self-loading rifles,
license-produced semi-auto version of the Belgian
FN FAL. It is reported that about
320 000 of the original L85A1 rifles were produced until production
completed in 1994. Despite all of its shortcomings the British
Forces keep on upgrading these weapons. It is planned that the L85
series assault rifles will remain in service until 2025 and beyond. Export operators of this weapon are Bolivia and Jamaica.
The L85 is a gas
operated, selective fire rifle with bullpup layout. Design of this
weapon is generally similar to the US
Armalite AR-18. The main advantage of the bullpup layout is
the overall compactness of the weapon. This assault rifle is
chambered for the standard NATO 5.56 x 45 mm round. It is worth
mentioning that the L85A1 assault rifle was plagued with many
problems. In general it was quite unreliable and troublesome to
these weapons were produced in Enfield. These were actually the last
guns developed and produced in Enfield. Unfortunately quality
control there was rather poor there. Production did eventually moved
to a new facility in Nottingham. It had new machinery and apparently
the quality control was a little bit better there.
of this weapon was not a big problem, at least for the British
Government, until the L85A1 saw actual combat during the Operation
Desert Storm. These assault rifles performed really poorly in desert
conditions. After the Operation Desert Storm there was a huge
scandal when a British MoD report on these weapons leaked to the
public. However only in 1997 a German Heckler & Koch company was
hired to fix the issues of the L85A1 rifles. At the time the Heckler
& Koch company was a subsidiary, owned by the British Ordnance
mode selector is located well behind the magazine, at the left side
of the receiver. It has single shots and full-auto modes. A separate
safety button is located above the trigger. It is worth mentioning
that the L85A1 is not ambidextrous.
is fed from 30 round box-shaped steel magazines. These are the
standard NATO STANAG magazines, similar to the US
M16 type magazines.
The original magazines of the L85A1 were not very robust. Also a
magazine well of the rifle had thin walls, that could be easily
bent. All of this caused lots of troubles with the feeding.
Furthermore a magazine release button was unprotected and could
accidentally release the magazine.
problem of the L85A1 was that its polymer furniture was not of high
quality and used to breake a lot. Especially in cold weather.
sighting equipment of the L85A1 is the SUSAT scope with 4x
magnification. This scope is mounted on a quick-detachable mount.
There are also simple sights atop of the scope for emergency use. Effective range of the L85A1 is
about 500 meters, using a built-in scope. A passive night vision
scope can be used in place of the SUSAT. There is an alternative
sighting system for these rifles, employed by the second-line
troops. These rifles are fitted with detachable carrying handle,
with a built-in diopter rear sight.
is compatible with knife-bayonet. Its improved models can mount a
German Heckler & Koch 40-mm underbarrel grenade launcher. This
weapon is also capable of launching riffle grenades. A slotted flash
suppressor also serves as a mounting base for the bayonet.
upgraded variant of the original weapon. In 1997 the German
Heckler & Koch company was hired to fix issues of the L85A1 rifle.
At the time the Heckler & Koch company was a subsidiary, owned by
the British Ordnance company. The Germans went though the weapon and
either replaced or completely redesigned the bolt, the gas piston,
the gas block, the hammer, and a number of other components. A total
of 110 parts were modified. So even though it looks the same, the
L85A2 is essentially a new weapon. Upgrade program was
completed by the German Heckler & Koch company. Around 200 000 rifles were upgraded
to the L85A2 standard between 2000 and 2002. Currently the L85A2 is
the standard service rifle of the British Forces. The upgraded L85A2 is recognized as reliable and accurate weapon. It is
compatible with German HK 40 mm underbarrel grenade launcher.
L85A3 is a
further upgrade of the L85A2. It was first publicly revealed in
2016. It is a proposed upgrade for existing L85A2 rifles. The main
goal was to extend service life of this weapon until 2025 and
beyond. This weapon has got a redesigned upper receiver with a
full-length Picatinny type scope rail. Also it has got a new
foregrip with accessory rails.
machine gun. Some of its parts are interchangeable with the
L85A1. It has a longer barrel, bipod, shoulder trap and additional
grip at the rear. This weapon has a greater effective range.
upgraded variant of the L86A1 light support weapon. Upgrades are
similar to that of the L85A2.
manually operated rifle with its gas system removed. It is fired as
a repeater rifle. This weapon is used to
train army cadets.
upgraded variant of the L98A1.
compact assault rifle. It is smaller and has a shorter barrel. It
looks like the original L22A1 was never adopted. Instead its
improved version, the
L22A2 was selected for service.
compact assault rifle is an improved version of the L22A1. It is fitted with additional Picatinny-type rail on the foregrip.
This weapon was reportedly adopted by the British Army in 2003-2004,
but is used only in small numbers. It is issued to vehicle drivers,
pilots, artillery and tank crews for emergency action outside their
Video of the L85A1
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