Fixing The Civil Service

The title isn’t what you think.

The “civil service” is the nickname British Army soldiers gave to the hapless SA-80 bullpup rifle — it doesn’t work and you can’t fire it — during Gulf War One.  So bad was the thing that a booming black market for captured Iraqi AK-47s was created because so many of the SA-80s were “lost” during that campaign.

However, after many failed attempts to fix the poxy rifle, it appears that the Brits have finally got the thing right (other than the fact that they had to get the Germans to do the job for them, of course:  that whirring sound you hear is of British WWI and WWII field marshals spinning in their graves).

Apparently the SA (now called the SA-80A3) really has been fixed this time, and the Brits plan on fielding it for at least a half-dozen more years.  Of course, it still shoots the silly poodleshooter 5.56mm NATO (.223 Rem) cartridge, which the U.S. Army will soon be phasing out because it’s ineffective in any scenario outside an urban one [links to about 5,000 earlier Kim Rants on the topic omitted for reasons of brevity].

Which means the Brits will have to play catch-up, again.


  1. Re: Brits and Germans. During The Great War (aka “The War to End All Wars”…chuckle, chuckle), George 5 changed the family name from Hanover to Windsor to distract the peasantry (read: cannon fodder) from the fact that their Imperial Betters were just a bunch of inbred Krauts. Now those Krauts have helped their Limey cousins to perfect a rifle that can be used in case they need to be conquered for a third time. As they said in “The Lion King”, it’s the Circle of Life, Simba.

  2. I know it’s not all that relevant, but I’ve always thought that thing got hit with both ends of the ugly stick.

    1. Hitting it with a stick is one of the ways to get it to work, and if that does not work you still have a stick.

    1. You do realize, of course, that a replica has been built, (safety upgrades included), and will be sailing soon? Supposedly on the same route as the original. Yeah, sign me up for that voyage.

      1. I know a lot of people who would love to go on it, I’ve asked them “Why would any one want to on on a ship which is only known for sinking, as did one of it’s sister ships?”.

  3. On the other hand, it does at least launch that poodleshooter 5.56 out of a full-length 20.5″ barrel. And it has a reputation as the most accurate general issue military rifle in the world.

    The Brits wanted a bullpup with all it’s advantages (shorter overall size with full-length barrel) but they insisted it get built by their non-existent domestic gun industry. They could have just tested a bunch and picked the best (probably the AUG at the time).

  4. The higher-ups always seem to think they know better when it comes to other peoples lives…remember the early M16’s.

    That said, a working Bullpup makes a lot of sense. Having a longer barrel in a shorter footprint can’t be bad.

    ….and with proper firearms training and a more lethal cartridge could be a damn good platform.

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