“Sharpshooter” Reaches Further Downrange: The L129A2 gets adopted

“Sharpshooter” Reaches Further Downrange: The L129A2 gets adopted


By Dan Shea

A bit of background: During the war in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, many soldiers were questioning the terminal ballistics—the stopping effect—that the 5.56x45mm NATO round had at longer distances. A rifle’s purpose in war, of shooting an enemy soldier, is not so much to kill as it is to stop him from continuing what he’s doing… to make him cease being a threat. Many coalition soldiers have stories about hitting the enemy, center of mass, at 600 meters only to see the enemy soldier fire an RPG or DShK in return, dying later, bleeding out 100 meters away. The projectile did not do the “stopping” part of the job.

In the mid-2000s, Karl Lewis of LMT Defense, and Greg Felton of Law Enforcement International Ltd. (LEI) in the U.K., were involved in a program for another client. The requirement was for a reliable, maneuverable 7.62x51mm select-fire rifle. The rifle that LMT & LEI provided was nothing short of amazing. Concurrently, the British Ministry of Defence came out with a requirement for a Designated Marksman Rifle in 7.62×51, semi-auto only. The basics were there, Karl had to remove the full auto feature and add a few needed design changes and they submitted what is now adopted as the L129A1 “Sharpshooter.” The weapon was an outstanding success, and after Afghanistan, the weapon system – initially purchased as a temporary measure—was adopted as a permanent system.  

The L129A1, as adopted, 16-inch barrel, 7.62x51mm tuned to British cartridges, with the very large-appearing Trijicon 6×48 ACOG machine gun optic. Once a shooter looks through the optic, they understand why such a large optic was chosen – fantastic light gathering, wide field of view, crisp picture, perfect for the designated marksman range. More than 2000 were purchased and delivered.
Live fire of the L129A2 at COTEC range in southern England during Shrivenham 2022, as Greg Felton of LEI watches. The optic is the Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18×44 M5C3 Desert IR with Tremor3 reticle, on a Tier One mount. The rail is 15.5 inches with M-Lok slots, longer than the rail on the L129A1.
The lower features fully ambidextrous controls, including the magazine release, bolt latch, and selector. It is finished with a flat dark earth Cerakote finish.
The Royal Marines have ordered an unspecified quantity in dual calibers now, but the primary caliber is 6.5 Creedmoor. The 6.5 CM is a flatter shooting cartridge than 7.62x51mm, and should extend the range of “Sharpshooter” about 200 more meters. As a DMR, this will be an exceptional rifle. The barrel is 18 inches in length, free-floating in LMT’s Monolithic upper, and features a solid, full-length rail. The barrel twist is 1:8-inch RH, and the adopted suppressor is the Huxworks HXQB Helix.

Author’s note: We have the L129A2 system heading to us for a full test and report. Watch for that. We’ll compare the caliber performances, as well.