|Country of origin||Great Britain|
|Variants||Numerous, mostly modernizations|
|Users||Great Britain |
numerous west European nations
|Cost||600 USD (1970 average)|
The British L1 series of rifles was a development of the wide-spread Lee-Enfield rifle, and was developed in 1961.
The L1A1 had very few constraints other than the rifle must be select-fire and built upon the SMLE's frame, and must utilize the same .303 rounds. In order to accompany the removal of the bolt -- as gas pressures could easily snap the bolt out of the railing if it had no way of slowing down -- the bolt was placed onto a tilting bolt, similar to the older SVT-40, and operated on direct impingement. It retained its original, locking-when-closing pin, which allowed it to fire at a much higher rate in both semi- and fully-automatic firemodes. The next focus came to improving the feeding and firing capacity of the L1A1. Initially, trials were run with a side-fed magazine similar to the Sten Mk II sub machinegun which had seen widespread production and usage throughout the second world war. The size of the rounds, however, and the placement of the magazine made it more difficult to feed properly. Following the American designed M14 rifle, the British developed a larger, improved external magazine that was detachable, and fitted it for the .303 round. The design was finalized in 1965.
The L1A2, a carbine variant of the L1A1, was designed to be issued to airborne infantry and special forces. Using most of the same systems as the L1A1, it used a smaller detachable box magazine, and an extensively cut-down frame, consisting mostly of slatted metal. It was rechambered for the 5.56mm NATO round, and was, by default, equipped with a folding stock and a folding bayonet. It also had a rear pistol-grip.
The L1A1 was designed to replace the older Mk III Lee-Enfield as the standard service rifle of the British forces. It retained many of the traits of the Mk III, and had several improvements over the older rifle. It became one of the most widely-spread rifles of the Western democracies, and came to be known everywhere as the "right hook of the free world" -- surpassed in terms of distribution only by the Kalashnikov family of assault rifles. It was extensively used by the European Commonwealth -- with modernized, local variants being used insofar as the Resource Wars and the strife that followed. Canada's C1 rifle, a redesignated L1, was one of the more common weapons used by the Canadian guerrillas during the occupation of Canada prior to the Great War in 2077. Its high stopping power and accuracy made it the preferred weapon for elite infantry units of the British armed forces, most notably the SAS.
The rifle came into heavy use by the Principality of Quebec, under the deisgnation "R1" rather than C1 or L1. The primary model produced was designed around the 5.56mm NATO round instead of the less common .303 British.