The L86 LSW (Light Support Weapon) was developed concurrently with the L85 IW (Individual Weapon) of the British Army. Both systems were adopted as standard issue weapons in the mid-1980s, seeing combat actions across the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Balkans Wars and - more recently - in Afghanistan and Iraq. The L86 utilizes some 80% commonality of parts with the L85 assault rifle but is classified as a fire support weapon for squad-level engagements, offering accurate, ranged voluminous fire that outmatches that of the base L85 automatic weapon.
The L86 makes use of the same 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge of the L85 and operates from the same gas system. However, to coincide with its fire support role, the weapon is fielded with a longer, heavier barrel which increases muzzle velocity and, therefore, increases the cartridge's range and accuracy at range for engaging targets beyond the scope of the base L85 system. The barrel is furthermore fixed and not readily changeable. The L86 also features a rear vertical hand grip as well as a shorter handguard with lightweight bipod. The L86 does, however, retain the magazine-fed quality of the L85 and can accept its 30-round forms. A 60-round magazine is also available. The weapon can fire in semi-automatic mode or in full-automatic as the situation requires - the former through a closed breech and the latter holding the bolt by a rear sear. The SUSAT (Sight Unit, Small Arm, Trilux) optic is retained as standard.
The L86 initially debuted in the original L86A1 production form. These then gave way to the improved L86A2 variant which attempted to remedy the ongoing issues that proved disastrous to early L85/L86 units. The mid-life upgrade was handled by Heckler & Koch and occurred in the early 2000s.
The L86 in the squad support role has since given ground to the L110A1 (Fabrique Nationale FN Minimi), relegating the L86 to something more of a marksman's platform.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Capable of suppressing enemy elements at range through direct or in-direct fire.
900 mm 35.43 in
646 mm 25.43 in
13.98 lb 6.34 kg
SUSAT optic; backup iron
Gas-Operated; Selective Fire
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)
Rounds / Feed
30- or 60-round detachable box magazine
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources. **Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
3,280 ft (1,000 m | 1,093 yd)
3,200 ft/sec (975 m/sec)
L86 LSW ("Light Support Weapon") - Base Series Designation developed from L85 IW (SA80) assault rifle.
L86A1 LSW - Initial Production Models
L86A2 LSW - Improved Production Models
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.
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