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Arctic Warfare Magnum: Accuracy International L115A3


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum and we are here today taking a look at the current British Army standard sniper rifle. This is the L115A3, and it is chambered for the .338 Lapua Magnum, a really huge cartridge. Now the roots of this rifle in British service go back to the early to mid 1990s. Accuracy International had developed their Arctic Warfare rifle, which, by the way, had its origins in the original British L96 sniper, then the British L118 sniper used in limited numbers by Special Forces, and then for the
international market they developed this rifle. They basically scaled up the Arctic
Warfare .308 to .338 Lapua Magnum to give extended range extended ballistic capability. And this wasn’t specifically for the British
military, it was on a commercial, international basis. And when people started taking an interest in it,
the British military was there at the same time. British Special Forces specifically, thinking,
“You know, this is an interesting development and we should get some of these
and we should try them out.” Originally, this was purchased as the L115A1 in the ’90s
and probably saw some service in the invasion of Iraq. Where you’re in a desert environment there are potentially
very long-range target engagements to be made. So British Special Forces had a small
number of these, … the A1s, which by the way are distinct for a couple of reasons. They
would have had fixed stocks not folding stocks. They would have had Parker-Hale
bipods, the same as were used on the L118, and they would have had a
smaller 3 to 12 power scope on them. Anyway, they were using these and liked them.
It’s a fantastic rifle, it’s an extremely effective rifle. And the A2 version was developed over the
coming years, and the A2 saw plenty of service in Afghanistan with British Special Forces. The A2 pattern, they replaced the Parker-Hale bipods with
basically the same sort of bipod as had been on the L96 rifle. Came up with a little adapter to mount the original L96
type bipod onto a Parker-Hale plug mount, used that. … It was at that point that they got the folding
stocks, and a lot of the A1s were upgraded into A2 pattern guns as part of that process. By 2008, well 2007 to 2008, though the
British Army decided, the whole field army, that it needed to really kind of overhaul its sniping
program. And they weren’t just looking at the rifle, they were looking at … all of the
equipment associated with sniping. So they took a lot of the lessons
learned by the Special Forces and applied them in areas with
things like adapting night vision and thermal optical sights to
sniper rifles, which we see here, we’ll talk about that in a moment. And then
ancillary gear like laser rangefinders, wind meters, good spotting scopes, everything,
the whole sniping package. The program was called SSIP, the Sniper
System Improvement Program, and it resulted in the general adoption of the L115A3,
which is this rifle, by the British military, including a number of updates at that point.
So the rifle went from the A2 to the A3 pattern. They upgraded the bipods, they got rid of the
old L96 type bipods and went with a Harris bipod. They increased the size and magnification of the scope,
they went to a Schmidt & Bender … 5 to 25 power scope. Integrated in mounts for thermal and for
image intensification (night-vision) scopes into it. And really came up with a fantastic complete
package for very long range heavy sniper rifles. With the adoption of the .338 Lapua Magnum, the
British really kind of took a step up in power that was not typical at the time. Generally everyone
else had been, and to a large extent still is, quite happy with something in
the .308 7.62 NATO range, or failing that, often people are interested,
militaries even are interested, in cartridges that … have the same basic
power level, but are perhaps a bit more aerodynamically capable. So 6.5mm
type cartridges. Going up to .338 Magnum is, well, it was done largely
because of the combat in Afghanistan. Just for comparison’s sake, here’s a 7.62
NATO snap cap compared to a .338 Lapua Magnum. So really this is, I mean, this is like the same sort of
increase as you might see from 5.56 to 7.62 NATO. It’s a really big cartridge. And in Afghanistan and the Middle East the
British have been putting this to very good use. Fairly regularly using these rifles
effectively out to 2,000 metres and beyond. For a while the the longest sniper
engagement record was … just over 2,400 metres, which was done with one of these rifles. I
believe that’s been surpassed by the Canadians, but that doesn’t take anything away
from the capabilities of the L115. If we look at the specific features
we’ve got here, most of them are basically the same as the previous Arctic
Warfare rifles, just slightly larger in scale. So the folding stock here is
basically identical, open up right there. We have the interchangeable spacers in the
butt-plate. We have the rear monopod wheel There we go. Come out all the way down to there. We have the same three position safety selector, fire, the centre position here locks the
trigger but leaves the bolt free to operate, and the rear position locks the bolt and the trigger. We have our cocked indicator,
firing pin indicator out the back, the continuing legacy of that
very early problem with the L96. If you haven’t seen the video on the L96, I think it’s
definitely worthwhile to put this rifle in context. So that’ll be in a link at the very end of this
one, and I highly recommend taking a look at it. The magazine on the L115 is a single
stack, 5 round magazine, that is a decrease (marked .338 there), that is a decrease from the .308
rifles, but that makes sense with a cartridge this large. A 10 round magazine would be kind of awkwardly big. As I mentioned earlier, the A3 model of
this rifle standardised on a Harris bipod. The previous Parker-Hale style of bipods had simply
been a little too high and just generally not well liked. Of course it also has an adjustable cheek rest.
So you can loosen those two screws up and adjust the cheek rest to whatever
height is convenient for your optic and your own facial structure. What was a single port muzzle brake on the
.308 rifles is a 2 port brake on the .338 rifles. This also has a threaded muzzle for use with
a suppressor, which was issued with the rifle. You will notice that it has a
front sight block just like the L118. This is normally where you would attach backup iron sights. However, the British military never actually
issued those iron sights with this rifle. They didn’t procure them or issue them. And that’s for a couple reasons, first off
the extreme range capability of these guns can’t be duplicated with iron sights. Your iron sight
effective range was considered to be about 600 metres, and you know, that’s a third or so the
effective range of this rifle with an optic. So if your optic breaks, you can’t
replace it with iron sights anyway. Secondly, the British logistical and procurement system
has significantly improved and you don’t really have to worry about dealing with a broken optic for
very long at all before you can get a replacement. And perhaps most interestingly of all, this rifle
was fielded as part of a two-man sniper team, of course, and the secondary, … the spotter
in the team carried a Sniper Support Weapon, which is the L129, which was the
LMT, it’s basically a .308 calibre AR-15. And that rifle was equipped with the
3 to 12 power, … with the sniper teams (standard on that was a 6 power ACOG), but they often
set them up with the 3 to 12 power Schmidt & Bender which could be pulled off of that
rifle and dropped right onto this rifle. And the LMT .308 has a very nice set of iron sights on it. So in the event that your optic went down on one of these, … the most effective thing you could do would
be to take the optic off of your spotters rifle, spotter goes to iron sights, and the
sniper now has not quite as good of a scope, you know, a substantially less powerful
scope, but still a very high-quality scope. We have our serial number here on the side. The
first two digits as usual are the production year. So this is a 2016 production gun, which is a commercial
production gun. This one isn’t actually army issue. All of the military issue rifles were produced
in 2008. There will be a total of 582 of them. So serial number prefix and and date there. However, this rifle has been marked in the pattern
of a standard military rifle. So that was actually done custom by Accuracy International for this rifle’s owner. And
so as a result we can see what the official military markings are. And no longer metric, of course,
because it’s 0.338 inch L115A3. And then we have Accuracy International.
“Accuracy” is kind of hidden behind the cosine indicator here, tells you
what angle you’re pointing the rifle at. The barrel that the British Army … specifically
wanted, on the L115 is a … heavy fluted barrel. Interestingly, Accuracy International does not offer
this fluted barrel on any of their other production, either military or civilian, because they
have found there to be potential accuracy issues as a result of using a fluted barrel. They
are willing to do it for the British military, but because they thought there might potentially
be issues with fluting and accuracy, they opted to not offer them on
any of their other production. So … if you see a fluted barrel on one of these rifles,
it is only possible for it to be a British military rifle. Taking off the rear scope cover there,
you can see the markings on the scope. This is a Schmidt & Bender 5 to 25 by 56. So a larger scope both in bell diameter and also in
magnification than the previous L118 and L96 scopes. You have your magnification adjustment
here. You have an illuminated reticle here. You have your focus there from very close ranges
all the way out to, well, all the way up to infinite, which is just over 1,000, which is
half the effective range of this thing. The elevation dial for this optic is
a bit different than the previous ones. Commercially Schmidt & Bender calls this a dual turn scope, where the elevation turret actually
has two full rotations of adjustment to it. So your bottom numbers (all of these are milliradians),
and you have these little windows up at the top and when you rotate this all the way
through to … the end of its first rotation, those windows will turn yellow and that will tell you
that you’re at the top end of your elevation adjustment. And these are your mil markings. Previously the top set of numbers would be
a BDC. There is no BDC on this particular rifle. Same thing, we have tenth of a mil clicks for windage. The reticle in the L24 5 to 25 scope is
very similar to that in the earlier L17A1 scope. Your centre cross hair has mil dots in it, and
then you have a range finding system at the bottom. That is 400, 600, 800 and 1,000 metres, and
that is the waist of a man to the top of the head. Really the only difference between this and
the earlier reticle is that this is a little bit finer. One major part of the 2008 British sniper improvement
program was the implementation of a system for night vision and thermal scopes. And this
is the mounting bracket for the night vision scope. I don’t have one to show you, but if you
take a look at a previous video on the L118, you’ll see the smaller version of it. Basically
the night vision scope mounted up here and dropped down in front of your scope, so that you
actually continue to look through the scope as normal, and the image intensifier took light in here, and then
has a big tube up on top that does its intensification and then it displays the result back down
here so you can see it through your scope. Interestingly, this mount is actually a
separate part of the whole scope mount system. So you can take this mount off and you’re left
with the same scope ring that you have in the back. The second part of that system was this rail
on the side of the rifle. This mounts into this front bipod block, and this is for holding the STICS,
which is the the thermal scope element of the system. So this block is removable, you can see the screws
there, but typically … it was just left installed on the rifle. Honestly, this thing weighs so much as it
is, that the addition of a little extra chunk of aluminium on the front isn’t
that big of a deal in comparison. One interesting element to note is these rear monopod
feet, which are standard on the military versions of all of the Arctic Warfare rifles that the
British have used, are a military only option and not available on the
standard civilian production guns. So … Accuracy International makes only one pattern
of the mould for this, you know, the rear stock here. And you’ll notice that this one has been clearly
cut by hand to give space for this rear monopod. Normally, this is a little loop for your hand to support
the back of the rifle, and for the military pattern stocks they actually have to be cut out by
hand as you can see this one has been. Interestingly, in lieu of even trying to use
a BDC, the British Army has made some impressive advances in
general sniper training programs. They actually currently now have
what they called ASATS, which is the Advanced Small Arms Targeting System, which is a computerised … basically set of ballistic data sheets where you
chronograph the rifle, and then based on muzzle velocity you select a series of holdovers
dependent on bullet BC and temperature. So, you know, hot, temperate, arctic, and that gives
you all of your holdover data out to 2,000 metres. … This doesn’t serve as a complete
substitute for properly zeroing the rifle, obviously, And it’s the sort of data you
would, with practice, want to confirm. But rather it’s a huge step forward from just
having a really sort of autonomous BDC number, you know, scribed onto a scope that may or may
not work for whatever environment you have to be in. They’re really making strides forward in making
military snipers much more effective shooters. It’s interesting to note, you can see the the Afghan
influence, the desert warfare influence, on this rifle just in the outside of the stocks as much as anything
else, where it’s no longer the Green Meanie of the L96, it’s now a kind of a desert coyote brown. These continue to serve with the
British military today, they’re quite well liked. The Special Forces have actually
moved kind of one step beyond, and where this rifle was designed specifically
for .338 Lapua Magnum using a 250 grain projectile (by the way has 2,900 to 3,000 feet per second
muzzle velocity, it’s really a pretty hefty cartridge), Special Forces has found that they really actually
can get about another 100 metres of effective range with a 300 grain bullet. The problem is the magazine
and the receiver on these rifles isn’t quite long enough to accept a 300 grain projectile. The overall
length of the cartridge just gets just a hair too long. So for a while British Special Forces were actually
just single loading 300 grain rounds into these rifles. What they have come up with is the A4 pattern
of the rifle, which has a lengthened magazine and magazine well to accept a 300 grain bullet.
And British Special Forces are currently using that, the L115A4, and there is a program in
place to upgrade all of the Army’s existing A3 rifles to the A4 spec. For a while
that was kind of a priority, it appears now it’s become less of a priority and will
probably not happen until, like, 2030. So at this point, as of late 2018, the
projected plan is for the L115A3, this guy, to remain the standard British service rifle for
another 10 to probably, maybe 15 years. By which point I’m sure they will be ready
to adapt it, develop it into something new, or at least replace the rifles because
they’ll be getting a bit old at that point. Anyway, a big thanks to Steve Houghton for
allowing us to take a look at this L115A3. As you might imagine, these are not particularly common rifles to find these days, being a current military issue item. He has written a book on the whole history of
British sniper rifles, focusing in particular on the rifles and their accessories and ancillary equipment.
It’s called “The British Sniper a Century of Evolution”, and if you’re interested in this, you should
definitely check out the description text below. I have a link in there where you can pick up a copy
of his book, which has quite a bit more information on this rifle, as well as all of its
predecessors and a lot of its ancillary equipment. Thanks for watching.

51 thoughts on “Arctic Warfare Magnum: Accuracy International L115A3

  1. I'm not a huge fan of modern sniper rifles. I prefer sniper rifles that has wooden stock on it. But this one is the exemption. looks pretty sweet

  2. When I was out in Iraq I managed to shoot a beer can from 2 miles away.with both every eyes shut & my thumb up my ass,I’m so proud of that shot

  3. The only item I see that precludes this from being comfortably shot left handed is the cheek piece adjustment screws which will rub ones jaw which with the recoil of the 338 Lapua cartridge will be rather annoying. AI should had mounted them lower.

  4. The only time I ever saw one of these get transferred in it was some fudd that bought one because he used on in Counterstrike. He was disappointed when he wanted to take it in the range and we told him we didn't allow 338 LMag in our INDOOR range.

  5. i remember a time where you had an actual crosshair with these. oh and there was also insane bunny hopping.
    p.s. impressive collection of butt plugs in the back. *thumbs up*

  6. I know it shoots a powerful cartridge but having had the sheer luck to shoot both this and the Lee Enfield sniper the last one ever used by are army it's literally the best Enfield action butter smooth has a fat bull barrel on it and was changed from .303 to 7.62mm nato I'd pick the Enfield all day every day it would make such a good deer hunting rifle and target rifle there's converted smle models that have the bull barrel and is in 7.62 for 1000 pounds on gun star .com but I don't care the action on them things the real ones are unreal and super quiet so I'd just be disappointed on the triggers are amazing too

  7. I mean in theory, if you have the perfect altitude, weather conditions, and bullet hit area, you can kill someone with a .22 lr

  8. 17:25 if special forces like something , they will find a way even if it means single loading the rounds , funny storie!

  9. I have a similar build. Same chassis, but with a remington 700 sps tactical chambered in 308. Its one of my favorite rifles. I will say magazines are a bit pricey for this stock, but ive allready committed.

  10. It's sad as fuck that Brits don't have anything like the 2nd like here in the USA. I think some people are allowed to own guns? Any Brits here that can tell me if this is true?

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