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British Army Infantry Weapons

This section covers the basic infantry weapons that a infantry section would have been equipped with.

Small Arms

L9A1 Browning High Power

L9A1 9mm Browning HP Pistol
Range: 50m     Weight: 1.060 kg (Loaded)

The Browning Hi-Power is a single-action, 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. It is based on ideas conceived and patented in 1922 by American firearms inventor John Browning, and later patented by Fabrique Nationale (FN) . 

The Hi-Power pistol was named for its 13-round magazine capacity.  The Hi-Power had the first functional double-column magazine of 9 mm rounds, and was capable of holding 13 cartridges, with a 14th loaded in the chamber. Flush-fit 15 round magazines are now available, as well as higher capacity magazines which extend past the bottom of the hand grip.


L2A3 Sterling Sub Machine Gun 

L2A3 9mm Sterling Sub Machine Gun
Range: 200m     Weight: 3.5kg (loaded)
Practical ROF: 102rpm

After the war, with large numbers of Sten guns in the inventory there was little interest in replacing them with a superior design. However in 1947 a competitive trial between the Patchett, an Enfield design, a new BSA design and an experimental Australian (Owen?)design, along with the Sten for comparison was held. The trial was inconclusive but was followed by further development and more trials. Eventually the Patchett design won and the decision was made in 1951 for the British Army to adopt it. It started to replace the Sten in 1953 as the Sub-Machine Gun L2A1. The weapon is constructed entirely of steel and plastic and has a folding butt which folds up underneath. Although of conventional blowback design, there are some unusual features: for example the bolt has sharp grooves around it which cut away dirt in the receiver and help to keep it clean. The magazine follower, which pushes the cartridges into the feed port is equipped with rollers to reduce friction and the firing pin is arranged so that it does not line up with the percussion cap on the cartridge until the cartridge has entered the chamber.


The Sterling SMG has an reputation for excellent reliability under adverse conditions and  good accuracy. The Sterling can be difficult for left-handed users to operate, due to the inherent asymmetry of the design. In particular, the weapon is designed to be used resting on the right side of the body. However, contrary to popular movie and other contemporary depictions, the weapon should never be used with the left hand holding the magazine, rather the barrel jacket should be gripped.  Often called a "Small Metal Gun" by veterans it also stared in the Star Wars Films as the basis for the Storm Trooper Blaster and some say "couldn't even shoot its way out of a wet paper bag"


The Bayonet for the L2A3 was the No. 5/55 Bayonet which was also used with the Rifle No.5 Mk1 which was also known as the Enfield Jungle Carbine which had been developed during the later years of World War Two. The Scabbard was almost identical if not the same as the scabbard used with the L1A1 Bayonet for the SLR.

No.5/55 Bayonet


L1A1 7.62mmN Self Loading Rifle aka . SLR
Range: 600m     Weight: 5.07kg
ROF: 40rpm

The SLR owes its design to the Fabrique Nationale (FN) FAL which was designed in 1946 from the STG-44 as an Fully Automatic rifle. In the Early 1950's FN FAL was trialed by the Britsh Army who liked the weapon. After a few design tweaks Enfield developed its own variant of the FAL in 1957 as the L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle (SLR). 

It was manufactured using Imperial measurements which also included minor changes. The early rifles were fitted with wooden furniture but latter these were changed to plastic due to decontamination concerns after a chemical attack

The  L1A1  was produced as a semi-automatic only rifle, where as the original Belgian version could be used fully automatic. It was known for soldiers to modify their rifle's mechanism (normally by inserting a matchstick or coke can tab) to allow it to fire on automatic, resulting in all 20 rounds to be fired at once. From around 1987 the SLR was to be replaced by the L85A1, but still served until the late 1990's and was used during the First Gulf War by second line units.

Bayonet, SLR, L1A1

A thirty round magazines from the 7.62 mm L4 light machine gun was used occasionally; but being designed for gravity assisted downward operation, they were not reliable and had to have the spring strengthened. 

Later production rifles are noted for the availability of unique optional sights. The first of the optional sights included a folding dual-aperture day/night sight, commonly known as the "Hythe Sight". The Hythe sight was developed for close range, dusk and night use and incorporated two overlapping rear sight aperture leaves, and a permanently glowing (until radioactively decayed) tritium inserts in the front sight post for improved night visibility. Also noteworthy was a unique scope designed specifically for the L1A1 rifle. The scope, identified as the L2A1 "Site Unit, Infantry, Trilux" (SUIT) is a fixed-focus 4X magnification scope with an unusual prismatic offset, a unique inverted tapered tritium illuminated sight post reticule, and an integral bullet-drop compensation via a two-position mechanical cam. 

NSN: B1/1005-99-964-8959
SLR Cleaning Kit


  • Oil Bottle

  • Pull Through 

  • Nylon brush

  • Chamber/Cylinder cleaning brush

  • Combination tool

  • Flannette

The offset prismatic design reduced overall length for improved clearance around the L1A1 action, reduced parallax errors and significantly reduced the effects of heat mirage from a hot rifle barrel. The inverted sight post allowed a very rapid target re-acquisition due to the fact that recoil typically raises the rifle barrel, leaving a clear sight picture under the inverted pointer, which combined with the pointer's thick taper promoted the quick target re-acquisition. 

Sight Unit, Infantry, Trilux (SUIT), L2A1

Although relatively heavy, the SUIT scope was also noted for its durability, due to the very robust construction. It is also noteworthy that the during the Cold-War, the UK SUIT scope was copied virtually verbatim by the Soviet Union and designated as the 1P29 telescopic sight. Both the Hythe and SUIT sight options were commonly found on production UK L1A1 FAL rifles

L85A1 Infantry Weapon (SA80) "Endeavour"

L85A1 5.56mmN "Endeavour" Assault Rifle aka. SA80
Range: 400m     Weight: 4.68kg
Practical ROF: 40-60rpm

Endeavour  was the commercial name given to the Enfield L85A1 that is also known as the Small Arms 1980's or SA80. The L85 is a selective-fire gas-operated assault rifle that uses ignited powder gases bled through a gas port above the barrel to provide the weapon’s automation. The rifle uses a short stroke gas piston system (the piston travels inside a gas tube located above the barrel) and a three-position adjustable gas regulator; the first gas setting is used for normal operation, the second – for use in difficult environmental conditions and the third setting is used to propel rifle grenades. The weapon uses a rotating cylindrical bolt that contains 7 radially-mounted locking lugs, an extractor and casing ejector. The bolt’s rotation is controlled via a cam pin that slides inside a camming guide machined into the bolt carrier. The weapon fires from a closed bolt and has a 30 round magazine.

The L85 is equipped with a hammer striking mechanism and a trigger mechanism with a fire-control selector that enables semi-automatic fire and fully automatic fire (the fire selector lever is located at the left side of the receiver, just aft of the magazine). A cross-bolt type safety that prevents accidental firing is located above the trigger; the “safe” setting disables the trigger. When the last cartridge is fired from the magazine the bolt and bolt carrier assembly lock to the rear. The rifle features a barrel with a slotted flash suppressor, which also serves as the base for attaching and launching rifle grenades and mounting a bayonet. Built in a “bullpup” configuration, with a forward mounted pistol grip. The rifle was designed to be used exclusively by right-handed shooters since the ejection port and cocking handle (reciprocates during firing) are on the right side of the receiver.

During the 1980's, L85 rifles used by the Royal Marines, infantry (and other soldiers with a dismounted combat role) and the RAF Regiment are equipped with a SUSAT (Sight Unit Small Arms, Trilux) optical sight, with a fixed 4x magnification and an illuminated aiming pointer powered by a variable tritium light source. Mounted on the SUSAT’s one-piece, pressure die-cast aluminum body is a mechanical back-up iron sight that consists of a front post and small rear aperture. Rifles used with other branches of the armed forces when not on operations are configured with fixed iron sights, consisting of a flip rear aperture (housed inside a carry handle, mounted to the top of the receiver, replacing the SUSAT sight) and a forward post, installed on a bracket above the gas block. The rear sight can be adjusted for windage, and the foresight – elevation. In place of the SUSAT a passive night vision CWS scope can be used.

The L85 was trialed in the early 1980's and was issued to BAOR frontline units from 1987 with some units especially the TA still had not received the new rifle by the mid 1990's.

When first issued a problem arised from the magazine release catch being depressed when the rifle was pressed against the body causing the weapons magazine to drop from the weapon sometimes at embarrassing moments. Another fault was discovered during the First Gulf War where the Gas plug cover had to be taped shut as it kept on opening when the weapon was fired. So it was common to see tape around the foregrip.

L86A1 LSW "Engager"

L86A1 5,56mmN "Engager" Light Support Weapon.
Range: 600m     Weight: 6.58kg (Loaded)
ROF: 700-850rpm

Engager was the commercial name given to the Enfield made L86A1 LSW. Based on the L85 the L86 Light Support Weapon (LSW) is a magazine-fed automatic weapon originally intended to provide fire support at a fire team level. It has a longer barrel than the L85 and a bipod, butt strap and rear pistol grip, together with a different design of hand guard. Its longer barrel gives an increased muzzle velocity and further stabilizes the bullet, giving a greater effective range. 

The weapon is otherwise in its operation identical to the L85 that it is based on, and the magazines and some internal parts are interchangeable. 

The lengthy, free-floating nature of the heavy barrel and the optical performance of the SUSAT gives the weapon excellent accuracy. From its inception, the L86 has been a target of criticism on much the same basis as the L85 with the additional issue of its inability to deliver sustained automatic fire unlike a belt fed weapon.

Rifle 5.56mm M16 /AR15

Range: 400m    Weight: 3.1kg
Practical ROF: 40-60rpm

Almost as soon as the American Armalite AR-15 was marketed the British Army purchased a number for evaluation.  Shortly after a batch of about 10,000 AR15 and M16 rifles were purchased.  This order was placed before the US Army adopted the M16 as there standard rifle.  

Both the AR15 and M16 are of the original design which did not feature the 'bolt forward assist' that was a feature of the latter M16A1. The rifle was never accepted for front-line service  but it has been used extensively in Belize, the far east and Northern Ireland, also seeing operational use in the 1982 Falklands War.  

The weapon was favored by the Royal Marines due to its lightness and was issued to specialist units. The British army also eventually adopted the M203 grenade launcher which fits to the rifle in place of the fore grips.  It was slowly replaced in the Mid 1980's by the M16A1/A2 variants.

Rifle 7.62mm L42A1

Range: 1000m+    Weight: 4.43kg
Practical ROF: Single-shot

The L42 Rifle was the Army's last connection with the Bolt action Lee Enfield .303 rifles.  It is a Lee Enfield .303 Mark 4 which has been modified and converted into a 7.62mm sniper rifle. Where the stock has been modified to include a cheek piece and additional sling positions along with an heavier barrel to take the 7.62mm Nato round.

The L42 was fitted with iron sights as standard but was normally fitted with a snipers scope L1A1. Specialized ammunition was also used with the rifle to make it even more accurate.  It saw considerable action in the Falklands war and was finally replaced in the late 1980's by the Accuracy International L96 Rifle.

L4 LMG Bren

L4A4 7.62mmN Light Machine Gun (LMG) - aka. "Bren"
Range: 1650m     Weight: 10.35kg
Practical ROF:  120rpm 

With the British Army's adoption of the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge, the Bren was re-designed to 7.62 mm caliber, fitted with a new barrel and magazine, and continued in service. It was re-designated as the L4 Light Machine Gun and continued in British Army service well into the 1990s. The change from a rimmed to rimless cartridge and nearly-straight magazine improved feeding considerably, and allowed use of 20-round magazines from the SLR to be used in emergencies. The conical flash hider was also replaced by a slotted type similar to that of the SLR and GPMG.

The L4 LMG saw considerable action during the Falklands war and again went to war during the First Gulf War with second line units and as the air-defence weapon of the artillery units and was finally phased out in the late 1990's.

L4 Variants

Designation Description
L4A1 Bren Mk III conversion, with Mk I bipod and steel barrel
L4A2 Bren Mk III conversion, lightened bipod and steel barrel
L4A3 Bren Mk II conversion
L4A4 L4A2 variant with chrome barrel
L4A5 L4A3 with chrome barrel for Royal Navy
L4A6 L4A1 variant with chrome barrel
L4A9 Bren conversion with L7 dovetail

L7A2 GPMG "The General"

L7A2 7.62mmN General Purpose Machine Gun
Weight: 10.9kg    Range: 800m
Practical ROF: 100rpm

The L7 is a licensed built FN MAG and is affectionately nicknamed "the Gimpy" or "The General" by British soldiers.  Following trials of the weapon in 1957, the L7 was adopted by the British forces as a replacements for the Vickers machine gun in support role and in the the Bren Gun within the rifle section. Two main variants were designed for Infantry use, the L7A1 and L7A2.  

Several other variants have been developed, notably the L8 (A1 and A2), modified for mounting in armored vehicles (the L37 variant was developed for mounting on armored vehicles). 

Although intended to replace the Bren entirely, the light machine gun (re-titled the L4) continued in use in jungle terrain (especially in the Far East), where there was no requirement for the medium machine gun role, and with secondary units, until the adoption of the L86 Light Support Weapon (LSW). 

The LSW was intended to replace both the L7 and the L4 in the light machinegun role, but dissatisfaction with the L86's firepower and reliability resulted in combat units continuing to utilize the L7 whenever possible (although neither it, nor its 7.62mm NATO ammunition were supposed to be issued to infantry platoons). 

L7 Variants:



L7A1 7.62x51 mm NATO FN MAG 60.20 T3 machine gun
L7A2 L7A1 variant; FN MAG 60.20 T6; Improved feed mechanism and provision for 50 round belt-box
L8A1 L7A1 variant; For mounting in AFV's. 
No buttstock. Barrel fitted with fume extractor. Solenoid-triggered, but with folding pistol grip for emergency use.
L8A2 L8A1 variant; improved feed mechanism
L19A1 L7A1 variant; extra-heavy barrel
L20A1 L7A1 variant; for remote firing in gun pods and external mountings
L20A2 L20A1 variant; improved feed mechanism
L37A1 L8A1 variant; L8A1 breech & L7 barrel for mounting on AFV's. 
Conventional pistol grip & trigger, plus kit allowing dismounted use
L37A2 L37A1 variant; L8A2 based. As above.
L43A1 L7A1 variant; for use as a ranging gun on the Scorpion light tank
L44A1 L20A1 variant; for Royal Navy

Infantry Anti-tank Weapons

L1A1 LAW66

L1A1 66mm Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW)
Range: 300m     Weight: 2.37kg

The L1A1 is the British designation for the American M72A1 and M72A2 HEAT rocket launchers which were first used wholesale during the Vietnam war. It was designed to replace the venerable 3.5" Bazooka of world war two fame and was intended as a 'one-shot and throw away' device. By the 1980's the LAW 66was found to be outdated due to the advancement in Soviet Armour technology.  

During the Falklands conflict it was issued in quantity to the infantry and a new use was found for the weapon as it was effective at taking out fire trenches and Sanger emplacements.

84mm MAW "Charlie G"

L14A1 84mm Carl Gustav Medium Anti-tank Weapon (MAW)
aka "Charlie G" seen here fitted with Optical sight
Range: 500m     Weight: 16Kg (18.59kg loaded)

The Carl Gustav is the common name for the 84mm recoilless rifle anti-tank weapon from Bofors Anti Armour AB in Sweden. The Carl Gustav was first introduced in 1946, and while similar weapons of the era have generally disappeared, the Carl Gustav remains throughout the world in widespread use today, and is even being introduced into new roles. 

British troops refer to it as the Charlie G. Designed to destroy the armour of the day, the Charlie G was able to fire three types of  rounds; HEAT, Illumination and White Prosperous Smoke. This weapon was used to great effect during the Falklands conflict, nearly sinking a Argentinean Destroyer and was effective against the heavy machine gun Sangers. It was phased out by the late 1980's being replaced by the more cumbersome and less versatile LAW 80

84mm LAW 80

94mm Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW 80)
Range: 500m     Weight:9.5 kg

The Light Anti-Tank Weapon 1980's or LAW80 as it was to become (Later LAW 90 or LAW 94) was a 94mm disposable Anti-tank weapon. Undergoing field trials around 1985 and it was expected in service by 1987.  Designed to be a one-shot throw away weapon the LAW 80 came with an inbuilt 9mm spotting rifle which was used to aim the weapon, a sort of "Ping, Ping, Ping....BANG!" approach to taking out armour.  It was conceived as part of a plan to replace the LAW 66 and the 84mm Carl Gustav as the infantry sections main Anti-Tank defence weapon. This weapon has proved effective if some what cumbersome and timely in readying for action.  

It is of note though that although a similar weapon is used by the US army,  the weapon it replaced, the Charlie G has now been taken into service by the US Army and several other armed forces; time to make your own conclusions about the introduction of the LAW 80 and withdrawal from British service the Charlie G.

Grenade Launchers and Light Mortars

40mm Grenade Launcher  M79

40mm Grenade Launcher M79
Weight: 2.72kg     Range: 150-400m

The M79 grenade launcher also know as "the Thumper," is a single-shot, shoulder-fired, break open grenade launcher which fires a 40 x46 mm grenade and first appeared during the Vietnam War. Because of its distinctive firing sound, it earned the nicknames of "Thumper", "Thump-Gun" or "Blooper" among American soldiers; Australian units referred to it as the "Wombat Gun". The M79 can fire a wide variety of 40 mm rounds, including explosive, anti-personnel, smoke, buckshot, flechette, and illumination. The British Army originally considered the weapon as a Infantry weapon but at the time long-term supply problems meant that the idea was dropped. When the troubles began in Northern Ireland it was adopted as a Point Defence Weapon for static locations and for crowd control firing CS gas rounds. It was also used in Hong Kong and Belize in training for Jungle warfare. 

When the Falklands conflict started it was issued to various units, members of the Welsh Guards were issued them for use as a close infantry support weapon with at least one ending up in the Atlantic with a broken firing pin.

Light Mortar 2-inch

Designed and used in World War Two the standard service version of the 2-inch mortar had a barrel length of 21 inches and could fire a high explosive bomb weighing 2.25lb out to a range of 500 yards. With such a short barrel the normal firing method, where the bomb was dropped down the tube and a pin in the base of the barrel struck the detonator in the tail of the bomb, would not work so firing was by a small trigger mechanism at the breech. Originally the 2-inch mortar was fitted with a large collimating sight with elevating and cross-level bubbles, but this was soon dropped as unnecessary in a front-line unit. It was replaced instead with a simple white line painted up the length of the barrel. The firer only had to line this up in the direction of the target and fire a number of bombs for effect. Whilst this method of operation may sound rather haphazard, it worked well and the practice continued long after the war. The mortar evolved in other directions too, with the original large base plate being replaced by a simple curved model, to give it a combat weight of 10.25lb. Due to its small size, and for simplicity the mortar had no forward strut or bipod like larger designs needed. The barrel would be held at the correct angle by one soldier while the other loaded and fired the round. It could achieve a firing rate of some eight rounds per minute. The bombs were cylindrical with a (perforated) four finned tail. For the HE projectile an impact fuse was fitted in the nose of the bomb. The illuminating round weighed 1lb and the smoke round weighed 2.25lb. A whole range of other ammunition was also developed including a specialized bomb that cast a lightweight explosive-filled net over patches in minefields so that it could be detonated to clear a path. 

By the late 1970's the 2-in mortar was being slowly phased out. Used only for Smoke and Illumination It was replaced in the early 1980's by the 51mm Mortar L9A1 but continued in service with some units. It was also issued for use in the Falklands War.

51mm Mortar L9A1

The L9A1 51 mm Light Mortar is a man-portable mortar which fires Smoke, illuminating and high explosive bombs. A short range insert device is also used to allow the mortar to engage targets at a shorter range. Proposals for a new mortar to replace the aging 2-in started in the early 1970's, by the late 1970's the protracted development stage had been frozen and the mortar made ready for production. Production started in the early 1980's but did not replace the 2-in mortar until the late 1980's.

51mm Mortar Cleaning kit



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