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The development of the SA80 system, which includes the L85-IW («Individual Weapon») assault rifle and the L86 light support weapon) began in the late 1960s at state-owned Enfield Royal Small Arms Factory, Great Britain, when the British army decided to develop a new rifle that was to replace the 7.62 mm L1 SLR («Self-Loading Rifle») in 1980. Early prototypes, called XL70, were chambered for a necked-down 5.56 mm cartridge with a 4.85 mm bullet, strongly resembling a bullpup version of the Armalite AR-18. After the Belgian 5.56 mm cartridge was accepted as NATO standard, the XL70 was rechambered and developed further. Due to the Falkland war, the new weapon was introduced and adopted by the British army several years later, in 1985.

The SA-80 is a gas operated, selective fire weapon, with a gas-powered piston and an AR-18-style bolt carrier. The SA80 accepts STANAG-compatible magazines and comes equipped with a 4X fixed power SUSAT («Sight Unit Small Arms Trilux») scope, as well as iron sights, a bayonet mount and a grenade launcher mount. The assault rifle version and the support weapon variant of the SA-80 underwent several improvements and modifications.

The L85A1 features a strengthened receiver and multiple smaller changes to the overall reliability and material quality, as the original was of dubious quality, especially the polymer stock. The L85A2 is a recent modification, made by Heckler & Koch to rid the L85 of its constant jamming and misfiring problems by introducing a new all-metal magazine, gas system and action mechanism. Initial reports from the Afghanistan war reports the L85A2 as more accurate and reliable than before (Acc. 10, Malfcrit.).

Weapon Malf. Dmg.

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