Royal Marines guarding Trident replace SA80 rifles with C8 Colt Carbine

C8 Carbine Royal Marines FaslaneThe Royal Marines of 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group based at HMNB Clyde, Faslane in Scotland have started to receive the Canadian-manufactured rifle to replace the long standing but troubled SA80. Variants of the C8 Carbine have been used by British special forces units in the past but 43 Commando will be among the first British regular units to adopt the weapon.

British soldier army 2013 defence imagesLike the SA80 the C8 is chambered to fire the standard NATO 5.56mm round but is configured in a more traditional fashion rather than the the bullpup configuration of the SA80 (magazine positioned behind the trigger which made the SA80 a more compact weapon than previous generations of rifle such as the SLR). Despite this the C8 Carbine is still a relatively compact and ergonomic design with a reported high level of reliability.

The acquisition of the weapon for 43 Commando has been defended as reflecting the unit’s unique operating role which covers guarding Britain’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines in Faslane from terrorist and foreign intelligence operatives. The unit’s role has been made even more difficult with increasing protests against the nuclear deterrent from anti-nuclear activists and Scottish nationalists demanding the submarines’ removal from Scottish waters.

However, sources close to the Royal Marines have been quoted in The Independent as saying that the Royal Marines have been increasingly dissatisfied with the SA80; a claim not unique to the Royal Marines it must be noted. The SA80, which has become synonymous with the British armed forces in the past 25 years, has been marred by issues over reliability with it being described as a very high maintenance weapon. The SA80 has also received criticism for lacking range and stopping power especially when faced with insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq armed with the ubiquitous 7.62mm AK-47. The source quoted in The Independent states that the C8 addresses all of these issues but the Royal Navy has hit back stating that the SA80 remains the weapon of choice for the infantry soldier across the British armed forces.


13 responses to “Royal Marines guarding Trident replace SA80 rifles with C8 Colt Carbine

    • As you know Richard I try to keep opinion out of my articles. As this is a comment I can add my opinion.

      I am not buying that its better suited to the role. I can’t see how. 43 Commando also use MP5 SMGs and these I find far more suited for what is in-effect an internal security mission.

      The advantages the C8 has over the SA80 would only be more evident in a high intensity combat environment but the question remains; are assault rifles necessary for the security role?

      That’s my thoughts anyway. I do agree that the SA80 has had its problems but it has come-of-age somewhat and is far better than it once was but sadly there are better weapons available.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess I was looking at the C8 from a tactical assault role, which is how it is used by the SAS and the Pathfinder Platoon. I certainly take your point that an assault rifle may not be best suited for security at HMNB Clyde, but perhaps it may be a better suited than the SA80 when used by the Fleet Standby Rifle Troop (FSRT).

        Liked by 1 person

      • A good point there. It is certainly a topic for debate. Personally I like bullpup weapons and in my humble opinion one of the best assault rifles in the world is the Israeli Tavor. They have many advantages but are a little more complex which is always a problem.

        Liked by 1 person

    • So, if the SA80 has ben criticised for lacking range and stopping power, how is it an improvement to introduce another rifle that uses the same ammunition?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Two reasons, the SA80 is comparatively incredibly heavy, especially with the addition of the (now standard) Picatinny rail incorporated in 2008. Weight was in fact considered to be of particular concern to the Marines – not in traditional terms of having to carry the weapon but in the fact that it impaired agility when placed in competition against other system (C8).

        Secondly, the C8 an easier weapon to use. It’s very docile and it’s a lot lighter. It’s also a change because the SA80 can only be fired one way, from the right rather than the left.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting points. My knowledge of infantry weapons is nil, hence I enjoyed the post, but it does sound that it reliability / maintenance is an issue. No one, in any situation, wants a weapon that isn’t reliable, whether facing a terrorist or protestor. Interesting post Tony.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Royal Marines guarding Trident replace SA80 rifles with C8 Colt Carbine | Rifleman III Journal

  3. “The SA80 has also received criticism for lacking range and stopping power especially when faced with insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq”

    But the calibre is the same, so this issue hardly relates to the acquisition of the C8 Colt.


  4. Pingback: British Royal Marines upgrade to C8 Colt Carbine rifles

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