To help in their efforts in Afghanistan the British Army is adopting a new AR-10 type rifle. The mountainous terrain of Afghanistan has made it difficult to fight the Taliban with the limited range of the British Forces 5.56mm L85 rifle, so the new L129A1 will be used in a sharpshooter role according to Janes Defence Weekly.
The new semi-auto 7.62×51 mm rifle is made in the US Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT) and is a Stoner-style L1291A1 and features a one-piece upper receiver as well as a Mil-Std 1913 railed fore end in addition to LMT’s Monolithic Rail Platform. It features the usual retractable stock and a 16″ black stainless barrel which can be rapidly changed with out having to change out the whole upper receiver.
The most interesting part of this new bit of news, is the fact that the AR-10 style rifle from LMT was chosen over the FN SCAR and the H&K 417, both of which are made in Europe and currently being used with Special Operations Forces. Perhaps the Brits got their hands on a few M4’s and M16’s over in Iraq and Afghanistan and were impressed with their inherent accuracy.
The $2.5 million deal for 440 new rifles will begin early this year as the British Forces have been in need for a rifle that can reliable engage targets beyond 500 meters. In the British Army a few solders are given specialist training and are designated as “Sharpshooter” but do not take over the role of sniper, instead they give their unit greater accuracy to hit targets at longer distances.
In a USD2.5 million deal the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted Law Enforcement International (LEI) to supply 440 LM7 semi-automatic rifles.
To be redesignated the L129A1, the gas-operated weapon carries a 20-round magazine, is 945 mm long and weighs 5 kg. It will be manufactured by Lewis Machine & Tool Company in the United States, with deliveries expected to begin in early 2010.
Features of the weapon include a single-piece upper receiver and free-floating, quick-change barrels available in 305 mm, 406 mm and 508 mm. It has four Picatinny rails with a 540 mm top rail for night vision, thermal and image intensifying optics. Stock options include fixed or retractable versions.