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Light machine gun


The L86A1 is a British light machine gun with a bullpup layout

Caliber 5.56 x 45 mm
Weight (loaded) ~ 6.6 kg
Length 900 mm
Length (with folded stock) -
Barrel length 646 mm
Muzzle velocity 950 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire ~ 775 rpm
Practical rate of fire 80 - 100 rpm
Magazine capacity 30 rounds
Sighting range ?
Range of effective fire 600 - 1 000 m


   The L86 is a British light machine gun. It is officially referred as Light Support Weapon (LSW). It was designed to provides support at a fireteam level.

   This weapon has been developed by Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield. Development 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 (which later became the L85A1) and light machine gun (L86A1). First prototypes were trialed in 1976. These new weapons were adopted by the British Army in 1984-1985. Production of the L86A1 stopped in 1994. Some sources suggest that 30 000 of these light machine guns were produced for the British armed forces. It became the standard service light machine gun. This weapon has been exported to Jamaica, and possibly Bolivia.

   The L86A1 has longer barrel and greater effective range than the L85A1 assault rifle. It is also fitted with a bipod an rear grip. Otherwise these weapons are identical and use the same ammunition. A number of parts are interchangeable.

   The L86A1 has a bullpup layout. It was an uncommon feature at the time of its introduction. Main advantage of such layout is the overall compactness of the weapon.

   Internal design of this weapon it is generally similar to the US Armalite AR-18 assault rifle. his light machine gun is chambered for the standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. There is a fire mode selector for "semi-auto" and "full-auto" modes. A separate safety button is located above the trigger. It is worth mentioning that the L85A1 is not ambidextrous.

   The L86A1 is a magazine-fed weapon. It uses the same 30-round magazines as the L85A1 assault rifle. These are the standard NATO STANAG magazines, similar to the US M16 type magazines.

   The standard sighting equipment of the L86A1 is the SUSAT scope with 4x magnification. In the British service this scope is referred as Lightweight Day Sight. Other day scopes can be also fitted.  The scope is mounted on a quick-detachable mount. Also there are iron sights for emergency firing. Effective range of the L86A1 is around 600 meters, using the scope. Maximum range of effective fire is 1 000 m.

   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.

   This light machine gun has a bipod. There is also an additional vertical grip at the rear. It is used to improve stability of the weapon during full-auto firing.

   This light machine gun is capable of launching riffle grenades.

   Overall the L86A1 light machine gun was plagued with many problems. It was quite unreliable and troublesome to maintain. An upgrade program was launched to eliminate shortcomings of this weapon.




   L86A2 upgraded version, developed by the German Heckler & Koch company. Upgrade program was completed between 2000 and 2002. A number of light machine guns were upgraded to the L86A2 standard and many shortcoming were fixed. The L86A2 light machine gun has similar upgrades as the L85A2 assault rifle. The upgraded L86A2 is recognized as reliable and accurate weapon.







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