Royal Marines operating in Afghanistan have complained about the performance of standard SA80 assault rifles identifying several areas for improvement, military news portal Defence IQ has said.
Despite evolving greatly since its first introduction to British Armed Forces, the SA80 has been described as not particularly well suited to the needs of specialised forces likely to engage at close quarters, according to Defence IQ.
Some of the insiders have pointed to the rifle's 5.56 mm calibre ammunition as being too small to effectively defeat a target with a single round and occasionally leading to the soldier ending up exposed to the attack from wounded insurgents.
Apart from that, the riffle’s "rattle" has been said to make covert operations virtually impossible and its predisposition to get clogged with dust frequently requires the gun to be wrapped by duct tape.
The news portal claims a source explained that today's commandos would probably prefer a 7.62 mm rifle familiar to Special Forces. The problem, however, is that such guns, capable of switching to a short-barrel mode, currently available only to one or two troops per section, are themselves underperforming due to an inadequate magazine.
"The weight versus the rounds isn't really an issue. A twenty round magazine weighs exactly the same as a thirty round magazine for the SA80, so that's a trade-off they're willing to make,” said a source. “Twenty rounds in that sharpshooter is not enough, especially at close-quarters. That's a massive limitation of that weapon system."
The insiders have said that equipment’s performance is rarely discussed with members of the Royal Marines and the managers barely ask for feedback regarding newly introduced weapons and devices.
The recent revelation comes ahead of the Infantry Weapons conference hosted by Defence IQ that will be held in London at the end of September. The meeting of top industry specialists and senior military weapons systems representatives from the whole of Europe will be assessing how such issues affect the effectiveness of global military forces.