American Rifleman - April 2011 - 67

"Taking Back
The Half Kilometer"
Britain's L129A1
The British Army, needing a long-range rifle for its sharpshooters in Afghanistan,
held competitive trials to see which design in 7.62x51 mm NATO would best suit
its needs. An AR-10-based rifle made by Lewis Machine & Tool was adopted as
Britain's L129A1, and it is available in the United States as the LM308MWS.

O

perations in Iraq and Afghanistan
have brought back what some
thought were obsolete combat tactics. Until recently, the emphasis on
small arms has been up close and
personal, with practical ranges being less
than 300 meters. For that role, the 5.56x45 mm
NATO cartridge has been more than sufficient. The topography of the deserts and
mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan, however,
have reintroduced long-range combat, and
NATO troops need rifles to effectively engage
targets at ranges from 400 to 1,000 meters.
While the U.S. Army has turned to the M14based Enhanced Battle Rifle and Designated
Marksman Rifle (March 2011, p. 64), the British
opted for a different solution.
In December 2009 the British Ministry
of Defense issued an urgent operational
requirement for a 7.62x51 mm NATO semiautomatic rifle that could effectively eliminate
targets from 500 to 800 meters. The gun was

BY CHRISTOPHER R. BARTOCCI
to perform the role of a sharpshooter rifle, as
well as have the ability to be used in closequarters battle conditions, including rapid
tactical fire. This was of particular importance
to British forces in Afghanistan. In the British
Army, sharpshooters are one step down from
full-fledged snipers.
Although the Accuracy International L96
bolt-action is suitable for a sniper, the sharpshooter may end up in situations where more
rapid firepower is needed. The British wanted
a modern rifle that was a significant improvement over the FN-FAL-based Self-Loading
Rifle issued to British troops prior to the
adoption of the L85A1 bullpup in 5.56x45 mm
NATO. The competition was fierce, and many
of the top modern riflemakers competed,
including Heckler & Koch (H&K), Fabrique
Nationale (FN), Knights Armament Co. (KAC),
Sabre Defence, Oberland Arms and Lewis
Machine & Tool (LM&T). The final two entrants
in the trial were the LM&T LM7 and H&K 417.
The L129A1 is based on LM&T's Modular
Weapons System (MWS), and the British
fit the rifles with Trijicon 6X ACOGs.

Photo by author

APRIL 2011 AMERICAN RIFLEMAN

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American Rifleman - April 2011

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American Rifleman - April 2011 - 1
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