During the Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina, British forces were still being deployed with the ages-old Lee-Enfield service rifle as a primary sniper weapon system (detailed elsewhere on this site). This bolt-action rifle was introduced as early as 1895 and went through considerable combat experience across the 20th Century including both World Wars. In British Army service, the dedicated sniper version was known as the "L42A1" and was chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge while fitted with a telescopic sight. Conversion work took place in the 1970s to support the newer Western caliber and the L42A1 remained the standard British sniper platform until 1993.
Parker-Hale of Britain attempted a design to supplant the long-running Lee-Enfield series in the same battlefield role. This led to the Model 85 - or M85 - which was trialed by the British Army along with several other global contenders emerging from the United States, West Germany and Switzerland. Additionally, Accuracy International had entered their L96 platform and it was this design that won out over the others. The M85 ended up adopted in limited numbers by only a few nations - Brazil (Marines) and Malaysia (Navy special forces).
The M85 was given a very traditional design arrangement at sniping platforms go. The stock is of a single-piece McMillan fiberglass form encasing the internal workings and part of the barrel. The pistol grip is integral as is the padding shoulder support. The forend supports a bipod assembly. All of the usual fixings are there - manually-actuated bolt-action handle, iron sights and support for various optics set over the receiver. The muzzle accepts a flash suppressor for clandestine operations. The weapon is fed by way of a 10-round detachable box magazine inserted just ahead of the trigger group. Overall weight is 12.5lb with an overall length of 45.3 inches (24.5" barrel).
As with the Lee-Enfield, the M85 continued support of the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. Range was out to 1,200 meters (maximum, 900 meters effective). The rifle is shipped with a 6x42mm Schmidt & bender telescopic scope.
A police model has also been seen, this differentiated by the inclusion of a cheekpad for additional operator comfort. Royal Malaysian Navy PASKAL special forces units are known operators of the M85 series.
The production license for the M85 - and entire rifle division of Parker-Hale for that matter - was purchased by the Gibbs Rifle Company (founded in 1991). The concern specializes in "remakes" of the Springfield M1903 and Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles.