We reported on our sister site Defense Tech back in January (which was a tipoff from our other sister site across the pond) that the UK was set to field a new designated marksman rifle to its troops in Afghanistan that fires a 7.62mm round.
Well, the British MOD announced recently that the first unit to receive the Law Enforcement International-made (a US company, by the way) guns will be the Royal Marines' 40 Commando deployed to Afghanistan's volatile south. (Correction: the contract is with Law Enforcement International who will sub out to Lewis Machine and Tool to make the 440 rifles)
The British government will purchase about 440 of the AR-style rifle -- dubbed the "Sharpshooter rifle" -- which is intended to give UK troops more "reach out and touch you" capability than their 5.56 SA-80A2 assault rifles.
As Royal Marine Sergeant Baz Evans of 40 Commando put it in a UK MOD release:
"I have fired over 1,000 rounds on the rifle in training; accurately hitting targets over 800 metres away. The new Sharpshooter rifle provides quick and accurate fire, with the flexibility of using it in the assault rifle role as well. It's hoofing."[I don't know what "it's hoofing" means, but it's just so Brit, I had to leave it in there]
Does this move add to the caliber debate over what's best for longer-range fights like those in Afghanistan? I hope so. But it also mirrors the US Army's move to outfit some Soldiers with the M-14 Enhanced Battle Rifle chambered in 7.62 for exactly the same reason. It's an augmenting capability, not a replacement. If anything, it adds ammo (pun intended) to the argument that a bigger round might be best...