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.
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.