British small arms report
A few weeks back I listened to an Army presentation on the current state of British small arms, with particular reference to use in Afghanistan. I'm now working through my notes. Some of the points I've mentioned in other threads but I thought it might be of interest to collect together the highlights for you.
The weight of equipment, including weapons, ammunition, protection and clothing, carried by infantrymen varies from 65-74 kg depending on their role. Of this, 30% is for clothing, boots and body armour, c.25% for ammunition. This is in combat order, but not for close combat. Saving weight is a priority.
Firepower, from rifles to 40mm GMGs, has been found to be decisive, especially in ambush situations. The troops are very confident in the effectiveness of their small arms. No complaints had been received about the lethality of the 5.56mm ammo (possibly because much of the fighting is at longer ranges? And the L85A2 does of course have a 20" barrel, which makes it that much more effective than the M4).
The infantry fire team remains at four men, led by an NCO who carries an L85A2. The other three carry an L85A2+UGL, an L86A2 and an LMG (Minimi).
The SIG Sauer P226 is the new standard pistol, initially for special forces but now some 4,000 have been bought for general issue. Pistols are issued far more than previously, the normal peacetime allocation being 6 per battalion. The Army does not want to retain the 9mm calibre in the long term, but whatever they buy to replace the 9mm pistols has to be carried on the body (I suspect that they have the 4.6mm MP7 in mind, although this was not said).
Money is being spent on better small arms sights, both optical such as the ACOG x4 and x1 red dot types, and also thermal imagers (I have read elsewhere that the British prefer to fight at night as their night vision equipment gives them a significant advantage).
Defence Equipment Support are working on an improved L86A2 which currently suffers from a "double zero" problem: it shoots to a different point of aim when fired from the bipod than it does when fired from the shoulder. They showed a gun with the "bipod frame" stripped off and the bipod relocated closer to the receiver, which solves this problem. Only experimental at the moment, though.
They are interested in acquiring medium-velocity 40mm grenade ammo for firing from UGLs, not just for its extra range but also for its flatter trajectory which provides greater accuracy (e.g. for shooting through windows). An interesting note: the recoil from the MV grenades is much stiffer than the LV, and is too much to use in weapons of less than 5 kg. This excludes M79-type single-shot weapons and also possibly the M4+UGL. However, the 6-shot revolvers and the L85A2+ UGL are heavy enough to take it.
Most of the 7.62mm sniper rifles are being replaced by .338 Lapua Magums.
The .50 BMG and 40mm HK GMG are key weapons, very successful (they are used in approximately equal numbers). Their weight (and especially the weight of ammo) means that they virtually have to be vehicle mounted, except at Forward Operating Bases.
The little 51mm mortar is still deployed in vehicles in Afghanistan, but the simple, hand-aimed 60mm is much preferred as the proximity-fuzed ammo is very good at dealing with targets taking cover in ditches. Many more 60mm are to be bought, possibly some being in a longer-range form with baseplates.
Little use has been made of less-lethal weapons so far, but the Army has the L127A1 37mm riot gun available. This is an HK weapon and, like the Police L104A1, has a rifled barrel to use the new L21A1 and L60A1 baton rounds.
Military gun and ammunition website: