The SA80 (Small Arms for the 1980s) is a British family of 5.56mm small arms in a bullpup layout. The SA80 weapon family originally consisted of the L85A1 IW (Individual Weapon) and the L86A1 LSW (Light Support Weapon), which were accepted into service with the British Army in 1985.
However, both L85A1 and L86A1 were plagued with many problems, some being very serious. In general, both systems were quite unreliable and troublesome to handle and maintain, so after years of constant complaints from the troops, it had been decided to upgrade most L85A1 rifles in service. The upgrade program started in 2000, with Heckler & Koch (then owned by British Royal Ordnance company) upgrading about 200.000 rifles to L85A2 variants, dramatically improving their reliability and stability. From 2007 an additional upgrade is being introduced to selected units, featuring the provision of Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), a new handguard incorporating Picatinny rail system with optional hand grip/bipod, and a new vortex style flash eliminator. The rifle is also often fitted with LLM01 Laser Light Module.
Computer-aided design and 3D prototyping is slowly becoming a mainstream process for producing resin weapons and weapon accessories in scale. Arkebuza Model Art utilized this process for designing their first weapon in 1/35 scale, the L85A2. The weapon was included in Arkebuza figure sets reviewed previously on Armorama (link & link), and the company also decided to offer the weapon and its accessories separately as: Modern British Weapon, L85A2 w ACOG, LLM01 and Tactical Gripod (AR35027).
The weapon set arrived safely packed in a hard cardboard box, additionally secured within several layers of bubble-wrap. The kit box features a nicely rendered box art image: it displays both left and right views of the weapon with all the accessories attached, as well as all the kit pieces. The box art also lists the company, scale and item ID.
The resin pieces are packed inside a zip-lock bag. This set consists of 5 casting blocks with L85A2 and accessories... all together 20 pieces for building 5 complete L85A2 weapon systems. The grey resin parts are cast really well and they are clean of any casting imperfections: no air bubbles, flash or seam lines. If compared to recent Live Resin offerings, these L85A2s were probably produced on a 3D printer with slightly lower resolution... however, the details on the weapon and the accessories are still very sharp and well rendered.
The L85A2 assault rifle
represented in this set is the most recent weapon system used by British Army in Afghanistan. The weapon features handguard with Picatinny Rail Interface System (RIS), SUSAT rail on top of the receiver, and a new style flash eliminator. Comparing the resin to photos of the real weapon shows an amazing match: the tiny welds and rivets on the receiver, the safety switch above the trigger, the fire selector lever on the left aft of the magazine... all the details are there, making the resin weapons an impressive 1/35 scale replica of the real L85A2.
The weapon accessories included in this set are:
- Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG),
- Laser Light Module 01 (LLM01),
- Tactical Grip Pod.
Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG)
is an internally-adjustable, compact telescopic sight manufactured by Trijicon. L85A2s used by soldiers with a close combat role in operations in Afghanistan have been issued with ACOG sights instead of the standard SUSAT sights (Sight Unit Small Arms, Trilux), which is primary sighting system for the British Army's SA80 weapon family. The ACOG supplied in this set looks good and accurately represented in scale, and also features raiser mount with two large screws for fitting it to SUSAT rail on the L85A2 rifle.
Laser Light Module 01 (LLM01)
is an adaptive target acquisition module manufactured by Oerlikon. LLM01 combines multiple functions and capabilities into a single compact unit, including tactical flashlight, visible red laser sight, infrared pointer, and infrared illuminator. It is mounted to the weapon via a metal integral quick release clamping adapter. The LLM01 supplied in this set looks good with small details like rotary selector switch nicely executed. The only thing a modeler would need to add is the power cable connecting the device to the pressure switch which can be attached at various positions on the L85A2 rifle.
is a weapon stabilization system for assault rifles and automatic weapons. It serves as a weapon grip that mounts near the forward hand of the user, but also deploys a retractable bipod concealed within the grip. Switch from a vertical grip to a bipod is achieved by pressing a button near the top of the grip. The Grip Pod mounts to a weapon using the Picatinny rail system. The Grip Pod in this kit has its bipod retracted.
For the optimal placement of the accessories on the L85A2, I would suggest removing a portion of weapon rail system and then adjusting the LLM01 or Grip Pod. It is a delicate work, but results in more realistic representation of L85A2.
We have been witnessing more and more manufacturers turn to computer-aided design and 3D printing for making scale models of various weapon systems. The technology produces amazingly realistic representation of weapons and weapon accessories in scale. The L85A2 from Arkebuza is a great model, with all the details of the weapon nicely rendered. A good selection of accessories is included in the set, and those offer a chance of upgrading the basic L85A2 to the state-of-the-art weapon carried by British troops in Afghanistan.