L119A2: The New British SOF Rifle

Around 2013, the UK MoD began looking for a new rifle to replace the Special Forces’ L119A1. Those A1 rifles were getting old, and something new was needed – and there was some thought that a new rifle could improve on some shortcomings of the A1 model. The new rifle was produced by Colt Canada (formerly Diemaco), and it was procured in both 10″ and 15.7″ barrel lengths (note that the rifle in this video has a 16″ barrel to avoid being an SBR).

The most distinctive feature of the new L119A2 was the licensed LMT monolithic upper receiver. This was used because it allowed solid mounting of devices like lasers on the side rails. However, it had major shortcomings in terms of heat retention and cleanability. The A2 also now used a MagPul CTR stock, and Geissele triggers (an excellent improvement from the A1’s MILSPEC trigger). The same Surefire suppressors were used, as were the optics form the A1s – the new A2 tender did not include new optic (nor funding for them).

Very few photos are known showing the L119A2. It came into service around 2016 or 2017, and entered public awareness after Christian Craighead was photographed using one in the Nairobi Westlands mall siege in 2019.

47 Comments

  1. Hi Ian.
    I am a little surprised that you complain the 1 inch to the left looking charging handle. Yes you get it to the point this
    sucks….
    When you think twice then you understand maybe why nobody real issued MP28, MP34 or EMP to the infantry where when I see your videos about you maybe a fanboy…? That left hand magazine is not useful for a 100% right handed force.
    The only one usefull with a side magazine is the MP35 with a right hand magazine which you tend to be not so much happy with it.
    I have no idea why the brits use the sten so long time. An average soldier may shot one minute a week and carry that thing for 6 days 23 hours and 59 minutes stick the mag into his gutt…

  2. Are we sure the markings on the lower are correct as on 119A2? Colt Canada made lowers as sold in Canada are marked differently (and we did get the overrun of the UK uppers – was watching this with mine in my lap, comparing)

  3. Ppsh 42 with a 43 mag well; hit him in the groin, 1200rpm, 35rnd box mags.

    Negate the armour.

    You’d be hard pressed with an Akm to get 30 in the balls; ppsh 7.62x25mm essentially recoiless… 30 out of 35 that hit.

    Job done, equvilant of 5.45mm etc going through armour. Split in half, vital organs intact.

      • Nice singles…

        Not that stumpy Nazi thing… Mp44.

        A Ppsh 41 with a 43 mag well. To just accept box mags; bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb!

        In the capitalist balls!!

        He he.

        • Bbbbbbbbbb! Just aim low. Honestly I would be no good as supreme leader of North Korea.

          Aim low.

          What?

          Just aim low.

          We don’t understand.

          Stupid persons, were is trapdoor button for shark tank. Aim at balls.

          Sorry?

          Under armour.

          “Just bare with me”

          Aiiiieeee!!!

          • “(…)Honestly I would be no good as supreme leader of North Korea.(…)”
            FYI, DPRK during Korean War used PPSh clone with drum magazine, likely due to General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea decision to do so http://www.sadefensejournal.com/wp/north-korean-small-arms/
            first weapon manufactured locally was the Type 49 submachine gun, made in 1949. This was a license built copy of the Soviet PPSh-41 or “Pappa-sha.” The North Koreans chose to use the 71-round drums and not the 35-round curved magazines. Speculation is that the ‘Great Leader’, Kim Il Sung, thought the large-capacity drum was intimidating and tactically an advantage.

      • Anyway looking forward to being nuked by our tit of leader, Boris? Bet Vlad never had that in his plans; U.K run by total tit.

        Total underlined.

        Life eh, unlucky Vlad.

        (Take the media eye off his newly discovered further 7 kids.”

          • Anyway not likely ww3 will break out; in order to take the heat off our duff “hero” is it.

            Actually, I have spent to long not building an Anderson Shelter.

          • Well thats why I personally am in favour of the BBC T.V licence; I was listening to Radio 4 after hearing Protect and survive… And thought I am going for a walk in the fallout, I may be sometime.

            Given Germaine Greer on millitant lesbians, imagine it on a loop, as everyone was dead. I thought we must be able to pay for a better back catalogue, including on LW.

            Accident waiting to happen that see, Lost sub; folks are making peace, and militant lesbians comes on “Not a video, he he.” the Captain just presses fire.

          • On you tube; Protect and survive I was born in 1980 don’t remember it live.

            Funny isn’t it, years… I think 2010 to 2020 is more similar from say 2000 to 2010… Or more especially 1990 to 2000, seemed much different, 1990 was almost black and white.

            10 years.

            But as I say the last ten years, not really.

          • Well I didn’t say actually… 2010, 2020 to me seems quite similar, had internet…

            Had internet… Probably that, he he.

  4. Isn’t Shpagin’s weapon the PPSh-41 and Sudarev’s the PPS-42 and 43? PPSh-42 didn’t exist so far as I know

    • Aye 41; anyway, war eh… With Russians, I say cheat. Use 41’s with 43 mag wells.

      “Great idea, not.”

      Dodge their armour, shoot them in the nuts. Before they clock onto it.

  5. The war with Russia part; being thick.

    It’s just daft; we have egged them on, and yet the Russians will have total air superity “whatever” those trenches are fucked with thermobaric (flame thrower rockets) its a bad joke.

        • And get out of those trenches (Doubtless “We” Lizz truss, told you to get into while sitting astride a tank; after Boris the Clowns job. Because the Russians will vapourise you in one go. Literally, it’s not 1914.

          • You should take more water with it mate and sober up. Things like this were happening all through the cold war. Aint nothing new

          • I did a (ranty, commentry) on an unusual Nazi pistol for 36 hrs… And got somewere,finally. But I accept your point; in regards duration, and apologise.

      • Multicam is fashionable today just as many many countries used to use woodland derived camo patterns. Imitating the USA.

  6. I must not be up on all the LMT patents… I was under the impression that the LMT monolithic upper design retained the barrel via two easily accessed hex nuts on the bottom of the upper. I’ve never heard of an LMT design that had some sort of bizarre recessed castle nut… Which may be because I don’t know as much about them as I like to think.

  7. “…Which may be because I don’t know as much about them as I like to think…”(C)

    You haven’t lost anything.
    The presence of many options for solving one problem usually indicates the absence of at least one but working. 😉

  8. I have a couple of questions/comments. First let me say I have a very deep respect for Forgotten Weapons and all the hard work Ian pours into this project. I’m just curious as to where some of the technical insight came from for the L119A2 video? SAS L119A2 overrun uppers were available on the Canadian market. I had occasion to buy them and use the quite extensively prior to the recent ban. Additionally I’m a Colt Canada trained armourer and have been trained to service their IUR family of weapons which the L119A2’s are a part of. Additionally, I have extensive agency experience with C8IUR rifles which are similar to the L119A2 in many respects.

    At 10:45 Ian mentions that the A2 had a lighter profile barrel than the A1. Based on all of the information I have including owning them, I don’t know what to say other than it certainly didn’t have a lighter profile barrel than the A1, at least not as shipped by Colt Canada. The A2 still has the steel Simon sleeve as did the A1. The example shown here clearly doesn’t have the same barrel what so ever. There’s potential the example in the video might not even have a Colt Canada barrel on that upper receiver build. Ian does say that it was assembled using – “Correct, original Colt Canada Parts”… If it does have a Colt Canada barrel, it’s potentially a 16’’ MRR barrel which is absolutely of a lighter profile to that of the L119A2 barrel (I’ve owned a 16″ MRR as well). Additionally an MRR barrel has a smaller and different/lighter gas block and obviously isn’t equipped with a sleeve. It’s difficult to see based on the video as he seems to only show the 10” barrel and gas block close up. The 10” barrel example in the video appears to be an original SAS barrel and clearly has the “Anti corrosion coating applied under the handguards” (Colt Canada), of which other Colt Canada IUR barrels wouldn’t. I don’t mean to challenge what Ian is saying or his work, but without a doubt, the L119A2 is a heavier rifle than that of its predecessor the A1…

    At 11:05 Ian mentions heat – “If you dump two magazines in fairly short succession, you can make this thing basically too hot to handle”. I’d have to disagree that’s just not the case but I guess it’s a subjective thing. I found the comments in relation to heat and “wrapping cloth or suppressor covers” on the rails interesting. I’ve yet to see that at all with any agency using C8IUR family weapons. Nor has heat been a subject of conversation or issue in those circles be it in Full or Semi auto. With respect to my personally owned firearms, and again this is subjective, the L119A2 upper to me doesn’t seem to get as hot, nor hot as quickly as my Daniel Defense M4V3. I assumed this was because of the substantially heavier barrel profile? As opposed to the DD’s gov’t profile? Again very subjective, the comment just raised an eyebrow is all.

    “Changing the barrels is a significant pain in the butt” – two eyebrows raised for this one (I say that in good fun)… hearing this my best guess is that this is more from a civilian owner’s perspective? As a trained armourer and with the correct tools, IUR’s including the L119A2 are not that difficult at all to work on… From the civilian perspective I could certainly understand that assertion though… It’s different from many are used to, and the tools required are expensive and maybe not as readily available on the civilian market particularly in the US. In Canada, one particular store imported a copy of CC’s barrel nut wrench and sold it here for $60. Additionally the heat shields are not that difficult to work with or replace. I’m curious if that was perhaps more from the perspective of the individual owner of that example in the video assuming they built it themselves? It is difficult to clean under the rails, and yep, I have used compressed air, hot tap water out of a hose, just about anything shy of a pressure washer there… I believe that is exactly what the coating is for on the barrel aft of the gas block… Simply for corrosion resistance and nothing more as users aren’t readily be able to clean or coat it with CLP.

    In my experience the L119A2 upper, particularly the 15.7’’ version, is very very heavy, but also very accurate. The minimum accuracy standard for any Colt Canada rifle to leave its factory is exactly twice as stringent as what’s required by their US counterpart. I would subjectively argue that the L119A2 is likely one of the most accurate military carbines in service. It has some other subjective positives going for it but to me they come at a cost of weight. It’s a pig… The IUR family of weapons I have professional experience with have proven to be exceptionally reliable and favored by their users.

    Again, I have nothing but the deepest respect for Forgotten Weapons, Ian, and all the hard work that goes on here. Just some items in this one that I found curious… Cheers.

    • Did you notice the coating on the barrel? I don’t think that is easy to replicate on anything but the original barrel… At least my 10″ overrun upper does look like that.

      I commented on this earlier, but with your experience, do the markings on the lower look right? My suspicion is the upper is an import from Canada in it’s entirety and the lower is replicated to the best knowledge of whoever was doing it…

      • Hi Ted, yes I did notice that. As I mention above I suspect the 10” upper in the video to be a genuine complete upper, or at the very least it does appear to have to proper barrel. The coating as well as the gas block itself is evidentiary of that. The L119A2 had an earlier version of IUR gas block. It was extremely overbuilt and features the removable gas tube stud from the front facilitating easy gas tube replacement…. Later IUR gas blocks are lighter and lack that feature (ie: the Colt Canada MRR). Again I don’t mean any disrespect to Ian or anything like that in challenging the barrel weight/profile conclusion in the video…. I just respectfully believe that to be very inaccurate. The L119A2 had the exact same heavy profile barrel as the A1, complete with the Simon sleeve, and the additional coating. The only difference between the two barrels would be the indexing cuts in the A2 barrel to accommodate the IUR gas block, and the block itself. It appears to me he makes his conclusions based on how the 16” upper in the video was built… which clearly does not use the correct barrel, at least from what I can see…. The combination of the monolithic upper, heavier gas block, and the use of basically the same heavy profile barrel as the A1, is what makes the A2 in totally heavier than the A2, not light as described in the video…

        Additionally, with respect to the straight gas tube, it doesn’t sit up any higher than a typical gas tube would sit at its highest point once it makes its upward bend and enters the receiver…. The straight gas tub just sits at that height for its entire length. If you look at conventional gas tubes, the height difference between the where it’s pinned in a gas block compared to where it enters the upper is rather minimal… at least in my view. One could look at all manner of conventional gas tubes and lengths, and then ask themselves – Would simply a straight carbine length tube under a rail really contribute to the kind of heat issues described here? Just in my humble experience it really doesn’t. But again, perhaps it’s subjective, and I wouldn’t presume to speak for the real people using the L119A2 for the MOD. I would have to watch the video again… I believe Ian makes reference to the photo of Chris Craighead‘s photo which brought this weapon into the light so to speak. I think Ian mentions that in that photo Chris Craighead has the forend of his L119A2 wrapped? As I look at an HD photo of him at the event, it appears to me the paracord wrapped twice around the forend is being used to secure his two point sling. You can see he uses the same pars cord to tie the rear point to the buttstock.

      • Sorry Ted I missed your question about the markings…. I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think Colt Canada used their logo in the location as shown on this clone (the Colt logo with the little maple leaf above the T, that’s located on the magwell). Colt Canada does use that logo but it’s actually back by the licence inscription above the trigger, and it’s smaller…. I’m not sure if CC put their traditional Maple leaf in the magwell area on these rifles or just M119A2….

        • Thanks Jay, appreciate the confirmation. For others (or maybe Ian if he looks at these) the markings I’m talking about are on the picture at the link, and I’m fine not hiding the serial. This is a genuine Colt Canada lower… the only question is if they maintained these for the 119a2 or did something different. https://i.imgur.com/07YiVKT.jpg

          • Hi Ted, I see your picture now. That appears to me to be an MRR lower that was specifically made for the civilian market. It’s essentially an SP1 lower that was licensed by colt Canada specifically for the Canadian civi market. Colt Canada included the Diemaco “D” instead of their colt Canada logo. I’ll post a link to a podcast where a colt Canada employee explains that licencing process with colt when these first came to market, he also speaks to that “D” being there. It looks like a more recent version as it doesn’t have the “5.56mm” roll mark under the maple leaf. Earlier MRR’s had the 5.56 there. Stand by for the link:

          • Darn, unfortunately the podcast I’m referring is now disbanded and the owners seemed to have removed their audio files…. For reference it was the Modern Rifleman Radio episode #40 – Colt Canada. Interestingly enough, it looks like Ian was a guest on said podcast but on an earlier episode (#35).

      • I hope so to. Again…. I truly do enjoy forgotten weapons. It’s actually something my 8 year old son and I watch together quite often. I love the attention to detail and I certainly have great respect for Ian’s work. Just couldn’t keep quite about this one lol…. Forgive me…

    • Thanks for sharing Stiven. It’s a great article. And it reminds me that the barrel length isn’t by accident or by simply converting millimeters to inches as mentioned at 4:35 in the L119A1 video. I wish that modern rifleman radio podcast was up…. On there a colt Canada employee speaks to that 15.7 inch length. Colt Canada discovered an accuracy node at that exact length that met the needs of the British MOD.

      • Something that I’ll contend to my dying day should have been discovered by the numpties down here in the US who saddled us with the M16A2 and the M4.

        Hell, I’ve got a friend of mine who went out and spent a couple of months doing purely subjective testing with a bolt-action rifle to do the same sort of work. He settled on something really close to that 15.7″ barrel length as optimum for the cartridges then on issue, and he recommended that his department have their SWAT team and patrol carbines made up in that length back in the early 1990s. 14.5″ was an incredible step down, in terms of ballistics.

        • Absolutely, I’m envious of you folks down south in the US, that you can freely use a 16” barreled AR-15 for just about everything. In a lot of the social media I see it seems so many want something shorter, and I understand there’s perhaps some restrictions that come with that?. But man if I had the same opportunity to utilize an AR the same way unrestricted, that 16” barrel seems like quite a sweet spot. Up here AR-15s were restricted to range use for civilians until they were banned recently. Any non restricted rifle that’s semi-auto must have a minimum of an 18.5” barrel, and can’t be restricted or prohibited by name like the AR is…. Would just be nice to be able to take something like that to my property up north and use it…. Enjoy what you folks have down there. Beautiful country you guys have.

  9. FN at one time conducted research on the optimal barrel length for 5.56.
    The criteria were maximum bullet speed and minimum dispersion.
    They concluded that it should be around 13.5-13.8″(?).

    A bullet speed of more than +/-750m/s is not needed, and 10.5″ is enough for this for the M855.
    But at the same time, a smaller service life of the barrel is obtained.

    In any case, real users do not notice a significant difference between 10.5 and 14.5.

    • I’d love to see that FN research, because that does not comport with what I think I know about 5.56mm. 13.5″? That’s shorter than the 14.5″ of the M4, and that’s got serious lethality issues downrange. Does not surprise me that there’s limited to no difference between 10.5″ and 14.5″, because those are equally compromised compared to something around 16″.

      The research should have been done on this, and the data gathered as to lethality. Just based on the results obtained in Somalia, someone should have been looking at things and going “Hmmm… Lotta complaints about spotty performance… Maybe we ought to look at this, again…?”.

      Of course, they didn’t bother until the mid-2000s, when M855A1 came in.

      • I have no idea where to find it now.
        Perhaps no one thought to put it in the public domain.
        You can try searching, but I didn’t succeed.

        I’m not going to turn anyone into anything.
        But between 10.5-14.5″, up to 300-350 meters you will not notice a difference in accuracy, and up to 50-100 meters you will not notice a difference in lethality.

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