The SA80 is the designation for a revolutionary family of assault weapons. On its initial introduction, it proved so accurate that the Army marksmanship tests had to be redesigned.
The SA80 A2 is being phased out for a new and improved SA80 A3. The Grenadier Guards, who have been the first infantry battalion to fire the new weapon system, have been putting some of the new features to the test. This year sees them deploy on three separate operational tours on OP TORAL to Kabul, OP TRENTON to South Sudan and OP SHADER in Iraq. The busy deployment period sees them adapt to three different theatres where they will be doing three completely different jobs. Training has therefore been paramount and helped them get to grips with a number of differences in the weapon systems.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the ‘Flat Dark Earth’ paint with Cerakote coating. These features minimise both the visual and infra-red spectrums allowing the operator to stay unseen. They also give a specialist resistance to weathering and abrasion - important for an army required to complete their tasks in any number of conditions.
This paint job extends to the Picatinny Rail which is welded to the A3 body’s upper receiver. The handguard is also new and supports the Picatinny Rail that sits on the upper receiver. This Picatinny Rail sits on all sides and allows the attachment of in-line night optics, hand grips and other attachments that can increase the potency of the weapon system. The handguard is also free floating, meaning that when the weapon is fired the barrel can resonate freely. This further increases the exactness of a weapon system which is already accurate out to 300m when deployed individually.
In all, the changes allow soldiers to better carry out the varied and diverse tasks that are being asked of them in the modern army. As shown by 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, who have an exciting 2018 ahead of them.
Defence Minister Guto Bebb said: “This multi-million-pound upgrade will give our Army a lighter, more hardwearing, better-camouflaged combat rifle so our soldiers can perform on the frontline of some of the most dangerous locations across the world.
“This investment is also a boost to Nottingham’s highly-skilled gun-makers who proudly support our troops in their task to protect our country in the face of intensifying threats."