Bermuda’s Unique SA80

In 2015 the Royal Bermuda Regiment began to field the British L85A2 bullpup. Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory and is one of several territories to have its own British Army-affiliated home defence regiment.

The regiment’s transition to the L85A2 was completed in early 2016, with the replacement of the last Ruger Mini-14s which had been in service since 1983. If you haven’t seen our earlier video/article looking at the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s Mini-14 service rifles, do check it out. 

A Royal Bermuda Regiment recruit with a Mini-14, c.2012 (RBR)

The search for a weapon to replace the Ruger began in the 2010s with the German Heckler & Koch G36 and the US M4 both being tested. The HK G36 was reportedly selected but budget constraints saw the British L85A2 adopted instead.

A Royal Bermuda Regiment recruit at the range with an L85A2 (RBR)

Reports suggest that 400 rifles were transferred along with 1,600 magazines, while over 400 ACOGs and red dot sights were also donated to the regiment by the British government. News reports at the time stated the value of the donated equipment was $1.4 million.

The Bermudan L85A2s have a somewhat unique configuration. The rifles appear to have a mix of the original L85A1 hand guards and the HK-designed conventional L85A2 plastic hand guards which were designed to be more durable. The older, original, hand guards are reportedly replaced at the unit level when they are broken.

Comparison of the old and newer rail-less plastic hand guards

The newer style of hand guard can be identified by its four rather than two hinges on its top portion, which allows access to the gas system, and by the slight slope forward at the front of the hand guard compared to the original.

An RBR L85A2 is handed back into the armoury, c.2017 (RBR)

Many associate the A2 configuration with the Daniel Defense railed forend but these are only introduced as an urgent operational requirement for operations in Afghanistan in 2009.

A member of 26 Engineer Regiment with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force in Afghanistan in 2009 with an L85A2 TES with an ACOG/red dot combination (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

Interestingly the Royal Bermuda Regiments rifles all appear to have been provided with Trijicon ACOGs, previously most commonly seen on what became known as the Theatre Entry Standard (or TES) upgraded L85A2 rifles. These optics replaced the original 4x SUSAT (Sight Unit Small Arms, Trilux) and in 2011 were in turn replaced by ELCAN SpecterOS 4× Lightweight Day Sights (LDS). TES represented a new base-line standard for configuring the rifle for front-line service rather than being a new iteration of the weapon itself.

An RBR L85A2 with an original hand guard and ACOG at the range (Royal Bermuda Regiment)

The Bermudan rifles have a riser Picatinny rail for mounting the optic on the rifle’s original NATO-spec (non-1913 Pictatinny) rail, this was initially developed for British issued TES L85A2s. In British service the ACOG had been procured first for special forces use and subsequently as a wider urgent operational requirement where it was paired with L85A2s, L86A2s and L110 FN Minimi.

Recruits introduced to the L85A2, note the sight riser with ACOG mounted (RBR)

On top of the ACOG is a CQB red dot sight, this appears to be an early Shield Mini Sight Reflex optic housed inside a sight protector. The ACOGs donated to the Royal Bermuda Regiment probably came from surplus stores.

A Royal Bermuda Regiment soldier at the range with an L85A2, note the IW-LSW marking on the side of the ACOG (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nicholas Dutton)
Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers at the range, 2021 (USMC)

We can see on some of the photos released by the regiment that the ACOGs are marked ‘IW-LSW’ indicating that they were procured to be paired with the British Army’s L85 Individual Weapon and the L86 Light Support Weapon.

Other British Overseas regiments, like the Royal Gibraltar Regiment or the Falkland Islands Defence Force, are also equipped with L85A2s but their configurations typically use older SUSATs or the newer ELCAN Specters which suggests that the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s configuration is somewhat unique.


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Bibliography:

RBR Recruits at the range with Mini-14s c.2013, BDA Sun, (source)

Rifles worth $1.4m donated to Regiment, Royal Gazette, (source)

RBR Soldiers Get to Grips with Rifles, RBR, (source)

Royal Bermuda Regiment Training, USMC/Lance Cpl. Joel Castaneda, (source)

Thorneycroft To SA80, J. Ferguson (2020)

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