Enfield I85a1 [Automatic Rifle]:

Standard weapon of the British army, introduced as the L70E3. The Bullpup design was first proposed as a replacement for the Small Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) rifle used in the second world war. This was in 1956, with the newer lighter calibre of NATO 5.56mm proposed, but this was rejected out of hand by the Americans, who incidentally adopted the Colt M16 just 10 years later. Despite featuring several interesting features, such as a bullpup design, standard adjustable optical telescope, and a pressed steel reciever, it was plagued by problems in its early incarnations, and is not very trusted by most british infantrymen. Even today, the latest versions, such as the I85a1 / SA80 described here, are not too trustworthy weapons, and all bugs have not been ironed out. In terms of overall reliability the SA80 does not perform well in field conditions. A point in case: the Gulf war in 1991 saw the first operational deployment, (outside of Northern Ireland) for the SA80 and it did not perform well with reports of sand clogging the Trigger Mechanism Housing (TMH) and the gas regulator. There were also reports of it taking two soldiers to clean the rifle which came as a shock to the system of the soldiers who were used to the more robust SLR (AKA the FN-FAL). It also fared badly in the jungles of Belisze as the standard issue insect repellent started to melt the plastic furniture on the rifle.

The weapon is of reasonably lightweight construction with a pressed steel reciever, in which the bolt rides upon guide rods. This has reduced manufacturing time, but this construction apparently makes for a somewhat fragile weapon. The action itself is a conventional gas-piston operated bolt, and the weapon fires the 5.56 NATO round. The sight is the Sight Unit Small Arms Trilux (SUSAT), a short telescope with a illuminated recticle. Do note that the illumination is battery powered, and that these can be hard to get. The accuracy and the workmanship displayed in the rifle are reasonable, but not great, especially not for a price of roughly 1,300 dollars a piece.....

The magazines for the I85a1 are the standard NATO magazines also used for the M16 rifles, and are of the 30 round variety, although the 20 round type will fit as well.

Weight: 8.2 lbs (3.72kg) empty.
Caliber:5.56x45mm NATO (.223 Remington).
Barrel Length:20.4 inch (51.8 cm).
Overall Length:34.4 inches (86 cm).
Action:Gas operated rotating bolt.
Mode of Fire: Semi Automatic / Fully automatic .
Range:1333 feet (400 meters).
Magazine:30 round box magazine.
Cost: $ 1,300.
Made in: Great Brittain.
Special: All steel manufacturing, adustable optical sights standard.

[ Enfield, I85a1, Steyr AUG, and Remington are copyright of their respective owners. ]

Writeup by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa ) and by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).
Information regarding weapon history, handling and safety supplied by Robert Williams (robert_kirsty.@lineone.net ).

Copyright © 1999, Mischa & Kitsune. All rights reserved.