Royal Marines want 7.62 man-stopper not 5.56 pea-shooter

Here we go again! Uncorking the “SA-80 is useless” genie from the bottle. Haven’t we had this debate every 2-3 years since the 1980s?

(Oh, and nice job by BFBS using a photo Rock Ape instead of a Royal Marine!)

Is SA80 rifle right for Royal Marines?

Is SA80 rifle right for Royal Marines?

An alternative to the SA80 assault rifle may be favoured by some Royal Marines according to Defence IQ ahead of this year’s Annual Infantry Weapons Conference in London.

It claims some commandos operating on the frontline in Afghanistan find the weapon lacking in what specialised forces require when engaging at close quarters, despite being improved greatly since its first introduction to British Armed Forces.

Defence IQ says ‘insiders’ “have quietly criticised the rifle’s 5.56mm calibre ammunition as being too small to effectively defeat a target with a single round and occasionally find themselves vulnerable to a counter attack from wounded insurgents.”

In addition, it says, the rifle “rattles”, causing a problem for covert operations, requires duct tape to prevent it from clogging with dust, and lacks the manoeuvrability of other modern assault rifles such as the Diemaco C8.

Instead it claims ‘a source’ has said today’s Commandos “would much rather have a 7.62 mm rifle familiar to Special Forces. Problematically, the 7.62 sharpshooters that can switch to a short-barrel mode are currently available only to one or two troops per section but are themselves underperforming due to an inadequate magazine.

“The weight versus the rounds isn’t really an issue. A twenty round magazine weighs exactly the same as a thirty round magazine for the SA80, so that’s a trade-off they’re willing to make. Twenty rounds in that sharpshooter is not enough, especially at close-quarters. That’s a massive limitation of that weapon system,” said the source.

Defence IQ is hosting Infantry Weapons 2013 at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London from September 24th to 26th. It will be assessing how these issues affect global forces with input from industry specialists and senior military weapons system representatives, including those from the UK, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Norway, France, and Poland.