No8 replacement: Details of the cadet forces’ new .22 rifle emerge

Details have emerged* of the replacement .22 rifle for the UK’s cadet forces – and it won’t be much different from the existing Rifle No.8.

From the original tender issued last year, we learn:

Rifles. Number 8 Rifle Repalcement (N8RR), the UK MOD has a requirement to replace the current in-service Number 8 Rifle due to obsolescence. The rifle must meet but are not limited to the following Key System Requirements (KSRs):

The system shall be able to fire the following current, in-service .22in Long Rifle (.22LR) rimfire cartridges: ‘Round .22 inch ball’ L5A2 (ADAC – 10501-02) and ‘Round .22 inch ball Tenex Ultimate’ L9A1 (ADAC – 10502-02)

The system shall not be able to accept a magazine of any type.

The system shall be based around a manually fed, bolt action rifle that is designed to be fired from the right shoulder.

The system shall have a manual safety catch that is separate from the bolt and trigger action.

The system shall be suitable for firing from the following positions: Prone

The system shall have a discrete, civilian appearance.

The weapon system shall have a modular iron sight sub-system that offers ‘Basic’ and ‘Advanced’ capability.

The system’s peak instantaneous (C weighted) noise level at the firer’s ear shall not exceed 135dBC during firing.

The system shall not be adversely affected when dropped from height in accordance with DEFSTAN 07-85, Part 4, Issue 1, Para 8.14, Para 10.4 (Drop Test).

The system shall pass a DOSG Design Safety Assessment.

This throws up a number of interesting points. First and foremost, who knew that Eley Tenex, ammunition of Olympic champions, could be ordered through the MoD supply system?

In addition, it looks like the MoD aren’t going to repeat the 7.62mm L81A2 Cadet Target Rifle debacle, where an ambidextrous stock (“equally bad for both”) was provided in an attempt to cater for left-handed firers. You’re either right-handed or you’re not shooting, in the brave new MoD cadet shooting world.

The requirement for a safety catch is also very odd, particularly as the L81 weapon rifle handling test does not include the use of the safety catch. Indeed, the training manual for the L81 explicitly warns against trying to insert the bolt with the safety catch on. This seems like a pointless requirement added to satisfy some obscure paperwork demand.

All in all, it looks like cadet shooting will continue with a prone-only single shot rifle. It’s a successful formula, so why change? The rumour mill has it that trials of rifles competing for the £6m, 10,000-unit contract will be taking place in April.

*I read it on Facebook and it’s several months old. Hey, this is a one-man blog, bite me.

** The drop test requirement amuses your correspondent. Years ago, while I was an air cadet, I read Steve Raw’s masterful history of the SA80 A1, The Last Enfield. This mentioned that Heckler und Koch discovered that the L85A1 rifle would fire if you dropped a cocked weapon from head height. Being an enterprising sort, I tried this out with an empty-but-cocked L98A1. The rifle didn’t fire when dropped; instead the foresight snapped off. Much sucking of teeth, pulling of moustaches and sprinting around the parade square ensued.

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5 thoughts on “No8 replacement: Details of the cadet forces’ new .22 rifle emerge

  1. Mike Jenvey

    (25 Mar 2015)
    Yep, trials soon to be in progress; I believe several contractors invited to bid.

    As a RCO with cadets, I fully agree with the safety catch issue. Also, a “non-safety catch” rifle would probably allow a greater choice of “off the shelf” options, rather than a new (or modified) build.

    Not enamoured with the “basic & advanced” sight options either. Go for standard tgt rifle sights for best teaching & cadet marksmanship performance – unless of course it is an iron sight plus SUSAT-equivalent option! 😉

    I would guess that they might want blade foresight to minimise the transition to the L98A2? However, the L81A2 is aperture sights of course…….

    Oh, different types of commercial ammo has been “demandable” through the military supply system for yonks!

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    1. Chris McEvoy

      It’s meant to be a training rifle, so the “basic and advanced” sighting options should be a set of sights which closely resemble the standard SA80 (L85) Iron sights, with the advanced option being a set of “proper” target sights.

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      1. Mike Jenvey

        All well & good, but how many off the shelf rifles have that option? Same for safety catch? As far as I can see from various rifle options, you can have a .22 “service rifle” design (military sights, magazine & safety catch), but if you wish to stay with a middle of the road “target rifle” then the required fitments aren’t feasible.

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  2. Matt Fray

    I make significant use of ‘issued Tenex’ as part of the RAF Smallbore team – I wouldnt fire anything else, if I can avoid it! (I have to pay for anything else.)

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