The United Kingdom adopted a slightly modified version of the FN "FAL" rifle in 1957, the L1A1. The L1A1 is built only for semiautomatic fire and has replaced die No. 4 as the basic British individual weapon. One of the modifications made by the British to the basic design has been the addition of cuts to the outside of the bolt carrier. These cuts serve as screening places for dirt which might otherwise get into the action through the ejection port. The cuts
British 7.62mm NATO FN LIA! Rifle.
are deep enough to accumulate a good deal of foreign material and prevent it from impairing the functioning of the weapon. Functioning of the weapon is the same as (hat of the FN "FAL" which is covered in detail under Belgium.
Caliber: 7.62mm NATO feed device: ao-round, detachable staggered System of operation: Cas, semiautomatic only ^ox magazine
W civ hi loaded- 10,8 lb, ' Rights-front: Post w/protecting cars
Weight, loaded. 10.48 lbs. rf,ar: Aperture adjustable from 2oo-
Length, overall: 44.5" f)00 Vards
Barrel length: 21" Muzzle velocity: 2S1X) f.p.s.
L1A1 has been produced at B.S.A., Enfield Lock, and the Australian Government arms factory at Lithgow, New South Wales. While in prototype form, L1A1 was, at one time, called "Rifle 7.62mm FN, BR X 8E2, Type B.' The L1A1 differs from the Canadian C2 and some of the other versions of the "FAL" in that it cannot be loaded with chargers while the magazine is in place on the rifle. The magazine must be removed for the weapon to be reloaded. Soldiers in the field will normally carry spare loaded magazines; the magazines are loaded with 5-round chargers by use of a charger guide placed over the magazine in a fashion similar to the loading of the U.S. Browning Automatic Rifle magazine. L1A1 was tested extensively in Malaya, Kenya, and the Middle East before being adopted. As a result of these tests, it was decided to manufacture the weapon in a semiautomatic version only rather than selective fire as the X 8E2.
In 1945 British Defense Minister Shinwell appointed a panel of experts to determine the best automatic rifle and cartridge for Britain's armed forces to replace the Lee Enfield bolt action rifle with its rimmed .303 caliber cartridge. After intensive research, development work, and tesls, the rimless .280 (7mm) round was designated as the ideal cartridge and various rifles designed around it.
Among the rifle designs in .280 caliber under consideration was the famous NATO rifle developed by Fabrique Nationale of Belgium (see Belgium), and prototypes by the Birmingham Small Arms Company as well as the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield Lock. The BSA model was withdrawn from the tests but had a unique construction worth mentioning. While it was designed specifically as a full automatic, it had a very low cyclic rate of fire—300 rounds per minute. With a modicum of practicc, squeezing otf single shots could easily be mastered. This design was ultimately dropped.
At the conclusion of the trials, the domestic design of Enfield Lock, the EM2, was selected. One of the principal designers of the EM2 is Stefan Kenneth Janson, a naturalized citizen of Britain, who received the Order of the British Empire for his work 011 the weapon. Mr. Janson was formerly a native of Poland who, like so many others, fled to England when Hitler's troops overran Europe. He is currently Manager of the Arms Research k Development Department of Winchester.
The EM2, categorized as an experimental weapon, never having gone into full production, was, nevertheless, the standard infantry arm of Britain for a brief period after June 1951. The EM2 merits special attention inasmuch as it represents a milestone in advanced military weapons-design and because of its possible influence on future developments.
The EM2 is a radical departure from service weapons commonly encountered, resembling most closely what U. S. shooters know as Bull Pup rifles. The butt plate is in a straight line with the longitudinal axis of the barrel and is fitted to the end of the lengthy receiver housing, containing recoil spring and bolt mechanism. Consequently, when the gun is in offhand position, the side of the face rests above the area of the magazine instead of against the usual wooden stock. The 20-round magazine protrudes below and is centrally located between the butt plate and pistol grip which makes for fast, easy handling.
in lieu of ordinary metallic sights, the EM2 has an optic sight, sometimes referred to as a telescope, but without magnification. The weapon features full automatic or single fire, and is gas operated. The bolt is locked by two protruding levers diametrically opposite each other on the holt. To protect the bolt mechanism from exposure to water, mud, dirt, etc. it is well covered by the receiver—open only on flic right side for the ejection port.
The purpose of the non-magnifying optic sight is to permit faster and more precise aiming than can be expected with conventional metallic sights, where deliberation is necessary to align properly the rear with the front sight. The slightest degree of misalignment often results in a miss. With the optic sight, the shooter contends only with the post reticule. This is the first time in military history that an optic sight has been designed for general infantry use. It is well sealed against the effects of weather, etc. The sight is so protectively covered and ruggedly constructed that it makes an excellent carrying handle.
British EM2 Assault Rifle.
The reticule is a new concept, consisting of a post with tapered ends extending down to the center of the sight to avoid obscuring the target. In addition to the post, for easy reference there are alternately numbered range scales, 3, 5, 7, and 9, representing yards in hundreds. These horizontal range lines which are etched on the reticule glass are separated in the center beneath the post. The width of each central gap approximates the dimensions of a man with full equipment. By raising the post until the target conforms with one of the central gaps, the soldier has a reliable medium for judging distance. However, the tip of the post is lowered to the center of the target when firing up to 100 yards. When zeroed in, the post is permanently fixed for 100 yards. The optic sight is zeroed in by installing washers of predetermined thicknesses on windage and/or elevation mount-fixing screws.
In the first version of the EM*, the optic sight did not form a carrying handle, but it could be retracted into a protective housing when not in use. Adjustment of the sight was by a manually operated range drum on the side of the housing.
Whether fired full or semiautomatically, the EM2 is readily controlled in all positions. It is considered effective up to 500 yards when operated semiautomatically, and up to 800 yards when fired as a light machine gun with bipod support. The gun can only be reloaded via magazine. A unique charger-loading device is incorporated within the magazine. It is flipped up to receive 5-shot stripper clips or the magazine can be loaded by hand.
The EMs operates in the following manner. When fired, some of the gases following the bullet pass through a gas port centrally located in the barrel and enter the gas cylinder situated above the barrel. This forces the piston to the rear and comprcsses the return spring until the piston reachcs the end of its stroke. As the piston is secured to the firing pin sleeve within the bolt, the initial movement of the piston withdraws the firing pin until the bent of the firing pin is engaged by the sear on the underside of the breechblock. At the same time, the faces 011 the firing pin cam the locking lugs out of engagement and thus release the bolt. The piston and bolt move to the rear. The piston, having reached the end of its stroke, is forced forward by the return spring. A stud on the underside of the piston, engaging with a spring projection on top of the bolt, carries the breechblock with it. The face of the bolt meets the base of the first round in the magazine and forces it forward into the chamber. As forward travel of the bolt is stopped at the chamber, the projection of the bolt is cammed out of engagement with the stop on the piston, and the piston continues its forward movement, carrying with it the firing pin sleeve. This last movement of the firing pin sleeve cams the locking lugs outward into locked position and they are retained there by the firing pin sleeve. The action is thus positively locked with the firing pin cocked.
To field strip the EM2, remove magazine and sling. Press butt retaining catch; swing butt to right until it disengages from the retaining stops. Withdraw butt, complete with return spring assembly. Pull cocking handle to rear and withdraw it from the piston. Pull out breechblock and piston from the rear of the gun, and detach piston from breechblock. Assembly is merely the reverse of this procedure.
't hroughout the unrelenting advocacy by the United States of its 7.62mm NATO (or .30 caliber) cartridge, the British showed no sign of abandoning the EM2 design nor the .280 round. However, when Churchill returned to the office of Prime Minister, he was active in pleading the cause of standardization within the NATO sphere. After his talks with President Truman of ihe United States and high-level conferences with other NATO nations, the British capitulated and accepted the 7.62mm NATO cartridge. At this juncture, the British decided to re-evaluate the situation.
Despite the investment the highly regarded EM2 represented in caliber .280, the recent adoption of the 7.62mm NATO cartridge meant an additional expenditure of time and money to re-design and produce the EM2 in this new caliber. Because the British Army was in urgent need of an automatic rifle to achicve equal footing with other nations in that field, further delay was unthinkable. In considering the FN NATO Assault Rifle, it was presented as a tested, efficient automatic rifle—less expensive than the EM2 to manufacture —and, most important of all, ready for early delivery in quantity by the FN factory in Belgium. In January 1957 England announced the adoption of the FN IliHe in caliber 7.62mm NA TO.
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