L96A1: The Green Meanie – the First Modern Sniper Rifle

The Accuracy International Precision Marksman rifle was the winner of the British MoD’s competition to replace the L42A1 as the standard British sniper rifle, and was accordingly adopted as the L96A1. It was the vanguard of the modern sniper rifle, with a highly modular chassis design, and it revolutionized British sniping performance. Thanks to Steve Houghton, was have access today to one of a tiny number of original military L96A1 rifles in private hands. If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out Steve’s newly released book, “The British Sniper: A Century of Evolution”. It can be found at Swift & Bold Publishing.

22 Comments

  1. “British MoD’s competition to replace the L42A1 as the standard British sniper rifle, and was accordingly adopted as the L96A1.”
    Modern Firearms query https://modernfirearms.net/en/sniper-rifles/standart-caliber-rifles/great-britain-standart-caliber-rifles/ai-arctic-warfare-l96-eng/ says that British adopted L96 to replace L42, later Sweden adopted improved version of that rifle named PSG 90 and then British in turn adopted that improved version too as L96A1.

    I am confused a lot, as I always thinked British iterate over Marks of weapons rather than As and for lesser changes add * at end, but apparently it is not such, which lead to question: what are tresholds of modification to cause A to appear? I.e. how big alternation must be to cause that? How small it must be to not create new L-number?

    • The Mark system was abandoned in the 1950s, replaced by LxA1, where A1 is always the first iteration (unlike the US M1, M1A1 etc. L = “Land service designation”. Small changes are covered by ‘Mods’ which are embodied across the fleet, and arbitrarily larger changes receive a new A iteration.

  2. Green meanie? At least it wasn’t a Blue Meanie. Having a dedicated weapon for true snipers is a good break from the usual “adapt the standard service rifle to accept a scope” approach. There’s a difference in equipping the squad marksman and the dedicated sniper. One covers the immediate tactical, the other covers a nearly strategic range (the dedicated sniper usually operates beyond the range of standard long arms). Did I mess up?

    • Well you “messed up” only in your use of the term “strategic” – unless your snipers are used to take out the other teams’ general staff, or other top leadership en masse. In other words, sniping is a tactical or perhaps operations-scale weapon.

      • When a sniper goes operations-scale, nobody on the other team is safe without vehicular armor. Must we mention the use of snipers with anti-materiel rifles?

        • Not so easy to lug them around and hide…
          btw.
          Why they say materiEl, and not materiAl ? Why they invented that one letter difference

          • Materiel and material are two different words.
            Materiel means equipment and weapons, material the substance something is made of.

          • “Materiel means equipment and weapons, material the substance something is made of.”
            Now I am again confused, as I always tough that first definition is for matériel, anyway it only confirm chaos-worshiping inclination of English language users…

    • “dedicated weapon for true snipers is a good break from the usual “adapt the standard service rifle to accept a scope” approach”
      Well, there wasn’t much alternative than adopting another rifle, as FN FAL while fine as rank-and-file weapon is ill-suited for “sniperization” due to way how locking system works, much earlier Soviets also found that scoped variant of SVT is poor performing, thus out of necessity scoped Mosin rifle were deployed.

  3. Well maybe you get used to it, as I thought it was really bad; I literally wanted an LSW instead (which aren’t popular). True story, one time shooting not in combat; make of it what you will.

    I’m open to other opinions, obviously. But I really hit far more, with the LSW even than its user; bad day or something.

    Stupid mini Gnome grip.

      • Substantial numbers of sniper and DMR rifles worldwide are still based on the Mauser design, which is also over a century old.

        That said, the Mosin was never a great choice for a sniping rifle action, it was just all that was available at the time the Russian Army needed sniping rifles. Red Army “sniper” Mosins were not even selected for above-average accuracy, they were simply “long” M1891/30 rifles that were fitted with telescopic sights as required.

        Red Army snipers were trained in a different way than other armies’. They were less concerned with pinpoint accuracy than with tracking, stalking and ambush skills. Their motto was “While unseen, I see and destroy”.

        Their primary targets were officers, which is true of any military sniper, but they were more concerned with being able to effectively scout and recon the enemy and then report what they’d seen to higher command, accurately. In a very real sense, they were less “true” snipers than skirmishers, a much older type of warfare.

        This is not meant to denigrate the Red Army snipers of the Great Patriotic War. It just shows that they fought their kind of battle, on their home terrain. And for that, the Mosin with a scope, while not as refined as what we Westerners think of as a “sniper rifle”, was perfectly adequate.

        The proof of that is that like the rest of the Red Army, they won their war. And in the end, only victory matters.

        cheers

        eon

        • “Mosin with a scope, while not as refined as what we Westerners think of as a “sniper rifle”, was perfectly adequate.”
          As soon as 1948 Dragunov repeating rifle, see photos:
          https://topwar.ru/153956-neizvestnaja-vintovka-ms-74-obrazca-1948-goda.html
          was tested as potential sniper Mosin replacement, it provided 2-3 x better accuracy and used different scope mounting (see photos). Small (but exactly unknown) quantity was made.

          “ambush”
          Well, this is not coincidence than Surkov
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Surkov
          hailed from a family of hunters and fur-trappers (702 kills might be product of Soviet propaganda, nonetheless he was good sniper)

          Nomokonov
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semyon_Nomokonov
          …was transferred to a sniper platoon. He started to shoot from a Mosin–Nagant rifle without a telescopic sight.

          “The proof of that is that like the rest of the Red Army, they won their war.”
          Considering scores http://www.wio.ru/galgrnd/sniper/sniper.htm they must have been good at not becoming dead.

          • Well, if you disregard the (apocryphal) “duel” between Vasili Zaitsev and Erwin König at Stalingrad;

            https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-greatest-sniper-duel-in-history-is-a-myth-b4a3d1627e44

            The Germans made the same mistake in “countersniping” on the Ostfront that the Russians had previously made against Finnish snipers like Simo Häyhä during their northern wars. I.e., they usually responded with artillery.

            Killing every infantryman on the battlefield is almost never achievable, no matter how desirable it might be to do so.

            Artillery, the Queen of Battle according to the Russian Army, is rarely effective against the tactical and targeting equivalent of a rabbit in a hole.

            A rabbit with a long reach and poison fangs, to boot.

            cheers

            eon

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