Savage Arms FVT will replace .22″ No.8 cadet rifle

23 March 2016 – US arms company Savage Arms has won the £6m contract to replace the .22″ No.8 Enfield in UK cadet forces service, UK Shooting News can reveal.

The new British cadet rifle will be a lightly modified Savage Arms FVT in a new wooden stock.

Sources familiar with the matter told UKSN that the rifle will initially be issued to Army Cadet Force units in Wales, Ireland and north east England starting from next month. The initial order is for about 750 rifles, sources tell us, with the full order for 8,500 rifles – not the 10,000 floated in the original invitation to tender – due to be completed by next year.

The current civilian production FVT features a 21″ barrel with a 1:16″ right hand twist. A single shot, hand fed bolt action rifle, it weighs 5¾lbs in its factory configuration with a plastic stock, though UKSN understands the UK cadet model will be supplied with an ambidextrous wooden stock which will be adjustable for length through a screw thread system. This is likely to push its weight up to more than 6lbs, or 2.6kg. The stock will also have an accessory rail on the bottom for handstops and sling attachments.

In comparison, the No.8 in as-issued configuration (without precision sights) weighs 8lbs 14oz, or just over 4kg, with a 23.36″ barrel which also has a 1:16″ right-hand twist – but it does not have an accessory rail. The weight difference means the new Savage rifle will be much easier for younger, weaker cadets to use.

Barrel length is unimportant because cadets do not shoot .22″ at any distance greater than 25yds, so their performance at longer distances – which is where the extra barrel length comes into play – is irrelevant. The marginally shorter sight base won’t make a difference at 25yds, and the shorter barrel will make handling slightly easier.

The FVT’s sights are a simple aperture backsight with windage and elevation adjustment, combined with a 22mm tunnel foresight. Close-up photos of these sights can be seen here. This allows for conventional ring elements, as used by civilian target shooters, to be used by cadets.

Sights are mounted on the side of the FVT’s round receiver via a rail screwed to its side, though four screws are provided on the top of the factory-spec FVT for a sight rail to be fitted. It is unknown whether the UK rifles will be drilled and tapped for these holes, though the tender document specified that the rifle must be able to mount basic and advanced sights. A third party after-market in adapter rails to fit precision sights seems likely.

The Savage rifle has a safety catch fitted on the right hand side of the receiver and cannot accept a magazine. Readers will be interested to know that brand new Savage FVTBs are on sale in the UK for around £430.

It is unknown what progress has been made on developing drills and procedures for the new rifle. It will be issued with a rifle case, handstop and sling.

Rumours abound about the rifle’s official service designation; UKSN expects it to be the Rifle, .22-in, L___A1, with the L number yet to be announced, though well-placed sources say it will be called the No.9 rifle. This designation has already been used for the Royal Navy’s .22″ Lee Enfield.

Read UKSN’s detailed commentary on the new rifle and what it means for the future of cadet shooting here.

Savage Arms’ parent company, Vista Outdoor, did not respond to a request for comment.

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6 thoughts on “Savage Arms FVT will replace .22″ No.8 cadet rifle

  1. Harry

    This is a step back rather than forward. Cadets will now learn to use and become effective with a rifle that has an action which their great grandad would have used, meaning a greater cost to teach them how to use a modern rifle when any of them that proudly step forward to join our military.

    Sadly this is poorly spent money and with out the for thought to step up as a nation and train our cadets with the best, most up to date and effective equipment for the future.

    Disappointing.

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    1. Gaz Corfield Post author

      It’s a youth group, not a basic training unit.

      In any case, you start with the basics before moving on to more advanced systems (or you should do if the system’s properly resourced). Just like the RAF starts trainee pilots in Grob Tutors before progressing through Tucanos and Hawks before they get to Typhoon.

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    2. Daniel

      Bolt action rifles are an important step on a cadet’s progression from having, in most cases, literally zero experience with firearms to being trained to handle “a modern rifle” such as the semi-automatic L98A2 and ultimately the fully-automatic L86A2. The FVT would serve as an introductary weapon as the No. 8 does currently.

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  2. Mike Jones

    I’m no mathematician, but they retail at £430 per unit, and they have been purchased for £6m/8,500=£800 per unit? Am I missing something here?

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  3. Ed

    IMO, as a regular shooter in cadets, it would be better replaced by a lightweight semi auto .22 rifle, similar to the American Ruger 10/22, as it would serve a better step between air rifle (like many cadets organisation bases have) and the cadet L98A2, yet still be light, fairly simple, low recoil and new user friendly. I realise that bolt action, hand-fed rifles mean newer cadets are less likely to turn the barrel with a loaded round into a dangerous direction, but generally slows shooting training days down, as well as gives cadets another movement that they have to perform, pulling them out of a stable firing position.

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