Following competitive trials the Law Enforcement International 7.62mm calibre LM7 has been adopted by the British Army as its new Sharpshooter rifle under the designation L129A1. Intended for issue on scales of one rifle per section, though battalion commanders on the ground will have the option of redistributing if they wish to form specialist teams for specific needs or missions, the weapons is already in frontline services with elements of 4th Mechanised Brigade on Operation Herrick 12 and sufficient quantities have
been procured to allow 16 Air Assault Brigade personnel to train with the Sharpshooter prior to deployment to Helmand later this year on Herrick 13.
The L129A1 is a modular weapon system representing the next stage in the evolution of the M16 rifle to meet the changing needs of combat in the 21st century, its 7.62mm calibre providing enhancing accuracy and extended range. The system features an unique one-piece forged upper receiver with four fully integrated Picatinny rails. The receiver is machined from a solid billet of metal, providing greater strength, rigidity and heat dissipation than a traditional two-piece upper receiver/forend. Improved hear dissipation also allows a higher and longer firing rate capability than a conventional rifle.
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The fully free-floating barrel of the L129A1, a concept more normally found on sniper rifles, provides the increased accuracy and additionally the barrel mounting system allows length changes to meet varying mission requirements. The inherent strength and rigidity of the integrated Picatinny rail system allows a range of accessories to be securely fitted and the 540mm full length top rail accommodates all the latest night vision, thermal and l2 devices with ease. Standard fit, however, is the Trijicon AGOG 6×48 daysight with Trijicon RMR red dot sight atop.
The new weapon, which is ambidextrous can be supplied with several stock options including fixed and retractable types. Barrel lengths range from 13.5″ (343mm) to 20″ (508mm) and are easily interchangeable. A number of options and accessories are available, including an M203 40mm grenade launcher and a clip-on suppressor. Plans are also advanced to provide a quick-fit bayonet mount which will clip on the Picatinny rail accept the issue bayonet for SA80A2.
During the trails it was identified that the standard 20-round 7.62mm magazine was not quite ideal for the sort of protracted fire fights taking place in Afghanistan and a new magazine was designed to meet frontline requirements using composite materials.