L1A1 Self Loading Rifle

Calibre:7.62mm Muzzle Velocity:838m/s
Weight:4.337kg Length:1.143m
Magazine Capacity:20 rounds Rate of Fire:40 rounds/min
Effective Range:600+m Date in Service:1954/h

The United Kingdom developed its own variant of the FN FAL, designating it the L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR). While in production it was manufactured by the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield, Birmingham Small Arms and the Royal Ordnance Factory. Replacement components were made by Parker Hale Limited. The SLR was fitted with a lug so that it could accept a traditional type of bayonet, and could also fire a rifle grenade. The L1A1 SLR was in service with the British Armed Forces from 1954 until 1987, being replaced by the L85A1.


The most prominent change from the original FAL, was that the L1A1 did not have a fully automatic option. Other changes included the introduction of a fold-flat cocking handle, an enclosed flash suppressor and a folding rear sight.

Later production SLRs were produced with synthetic handguards, such as the pistol grip, forward hand grip, carry-handle and buttstock. The synthetic material was produced from Maranyl pastic, a nylon/fiberglass composite. The standard magazine for the SLR is a 20 round box magazine, the magazine from the 7.62 mm L4 light machine gun was able to fit the L1A1 SLR, but there are reliability concerns as the L4s system was designed for gravity assisted downwards feeding, not upward feeding.

The L1A1 Self Loading Rifle was also adopted by the Armed Forces of both Australia & New Zealand.

The British L1A1's serial number format was:
Country, Manufacturer, Year, Serial number.

UE62A10001 :United Kingdom, Enfield, 1962. Serial A10001.
UB64A10001 :United Kingdom, BSA, 1964. Serial A10001.
UT69A10001 :United Kingdom, Theale, 1969. Serial A10001.

Australian and New Zealand L1A1's use a similar serial format:

AD6210001 : Australian Defence, 1962, Serial 10001

These rifles, commonly called "Lithgows" (as most Australian SLR's were produced at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory), were manufactured in Australia. The various Australian Defence companies (Lithgow SAF, Mulwalla Powder Factory, Footscray Ammunition Factory, etc) were amalgamated to become Australian Defence Industries. The first production Lithgow L1A1 was made in February 1959 (AD5900001) although a small number of production prototypes were completed in late 1958. 1962 was a busy year which saw 25,500 L1A1's produced by Lithgow, the highest number in any year. New Zealand received 500 rifles in 1959, and then many more larger shipments over the next few years.

The configuration of flash eliminators, fore grips and butts for the L1A1 is quite diverse, and are contrasted in the pictures below:

Flash Eliminators

Fore grips


Issued as part of basic issue, the cleaning kit for the SLR contains: SLR Combination Tool, Nylon brush, Wire brush, Pull-through and Oil bottle with applicator.

Cleaning Kit SLR (2nd Issue) circa 1978

SLR Combination Tool circa 1984

M16A1 Assault Rifle

Calibre:5.56mm Muzzle Velocity:975m/s
Weight:2.89kg Length:0.986m
Magazine Capacity:20 rounds Rate of Fire:cyclic 650 rounds/min
Effective Range:550m Date in Service:1967

Although Airborne forces, the Special Air Service, and soldiers operating in jungle areas used the standard British rifle, the L1A1 SLR, a need for a lighter, shorter, assault rifle with automatic fire capability was identified. The American-made M16A1 was soon adopted. The M16 is a lightweight, 5.56 mm, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed assault rifle, with a rotating bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. The rifle is made of steel, aluminum, composite plastics and polymer materials. It's 5.56x45mm round had neither the range or stopping power of the 7.62x51mm rounds fired by the SLR, but many more rounds could be carried by one soldier. For these soldiers, who need to carry everything with them, this was a vital selling point.

AR15 Assault Rifle

After some intial teething problems with the early model AR-15 in Aden, the Special Air Service adopted the M16A1 which became the defacto assault rifle for special operations. The M16A1 went into service in 1967 and is still in service today with some operational units. The British Army has a Gurkha Battalion stationed in Brunei, where it can maintain jungle skills.

M16A2 Assault Rifle with M203 Grenade Launcher

British Army and Royal Marine units routinely attend courses and training, where specialised training with the M16 is given at Jungle Warfare School. The M16 has also seen service in Northern Ireland and the Falklands with the British Army.