SAS Weapons (1984)

In this video/article we’ll examine an internal British Army film about the Special Air Service Regiment or SAS. Produced in 1984 by the SSVC, the Services Sound & Vision Corporation, the 35 minute film provides an introduction to the SAS. It gives some insight into how the regiment’s members are selected, trained and goes into the roles of the four troops: Air, Boat, Mobility and Mountain, which make up the regiment’s four squadrons. The film also outlines the SAS’ role in close protection training and perhaps their best know role as an elite counter terrorism unit. 

It’s definitely worth watching the whole thing, its available up on the Imperial War Museum’s online archive. In this video we’ll take a look at some of the weapons featured in the film. We’ll split these up into a number of categories: foreign weapons, personal weapons and support weapons.

Foreign Weapons

Most of these clips relate to familiarisation with non-service weapons. These are weapons that might be encountered in the field either with allies or enemies. Several Combloc weapons a briefly seen including an RPD and a Chinese Type 56 rifle.

Some of the western small arms featured include brief clips of the FN Minimi and the HK21 – both weapons used by NATO allies – and also neutral Austria’s Steyr AUG bullpup – which SAS operators might encounter on operations. All three of these weapons were relatively new, the Minimi especially.

Personal Weapons

In terms of personal weapons we get a good look at a number of the in-service weapons which the SAS were issued at the time. The film opens with some footage of members of the SAS doing a static snap shooting drip, the troopers in the line are armed with a mix of weapons including an AR-15, a couple of L2A3 Sterling submachine guns and an Browning Auto-5 shotgun, which had found favour with British troops during operations in Malaya and Kenya. The SAS at the time also used the Remington 870. In another clip we see a trooper doing a contact drill with an L1A1 SLR.

Later in the film we see men from one of the mountain troops on operations. Much like the Royal Marines’ Mountain & Artic Warfare Cadre the SAS favoured the AR-15, like Colt 602 or 604s as well as another AR-pattern rifle, possibly a Model 603, fitted with an M203 under barrel grenade launcher. Worth noting that these guys also have 30 round magazines which had begun to be used in the early 80s.

In another short clip of some soldiers disembarking a helicopter during a section of the film about operations in Oman we see another AR pattern rifle and a metric FN FAL with a combo flash hider.

Close Protection & Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing 

The film then goes on to explain the role the SAS take in training personal protection details and mounting personal protection for important figures. It briefly shows an MP5K and possible an appearance of an HK Operational Briefcase.

Possibly the SAS’ most famous element, the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Wing, is also featured, first showing with an operator in what’s known as ‘black kit’ with a respirator firing an MP5SD. Then a short sequence showing hostage rescue techniques, with a nod to the famous Iranian Embassy Siege operation. The operators are seen with MP5A3s, one of which has been adapted with a front grip and mounted with a Maglite-type weapon light. A room clearance drill is shown with a mix of MP5A3s and one operator has a MAC 10. The MAC 10 was one of the weapons which was surpassed by the MP5 and had been in use with UK special forces (including the SBS) throughout the 1970s.

Support Weapons

Finally, the film also features a variety of support weapons including L7 GPMGs mounted on Pink Panther Land Rovers of the Mobility Troops. Earlier in the film there are brief clips of what appears to be an M1919 Browning being cocked and a 66mm M72 LAW being readied to fire.

There’s also an interesting sequence explaining designating targets for aircraft featuring a Ferranti Laser targeting Module. Finally, we also get a very brief mention of the Operations Research team (responsible for equipment testing and experimentation) and a glimpse of an early machine gun reflex optic mounted on a GPMG. The film offers an interesting insight into the weapons, equipment, tactics and organisation of the SAS during a period where their notoriety grew exponentially. I highly recommend watching the full film over on the IWM’s archive.


Support Us: If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including early access to custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

‘The Special Air Service’, British Army/SSVC, (source)

Thanks to MajorSamm for pointing me in the direction of the video and to Vic for his help with this one.

Steyr AUG with HBAR Barrel

Sometimes all is not as it seems. That was the case when we examined this Steyr AUG. From the barrel and bipod it appeared to be an AUG in an HBAR or Heavy Barrel configuration but on closer inspection we found that it was in fact a rifle receiver, bolt and bolt assembly and chassis that had been paired with an HBAR barrel assembly.

New Movie.Movie_Snapshot
Vic with the Steyr ‘HBAR’ (Vic Tuff)

Ordinarily, the HBAR could be modified to fire from an open, rather than closed, bolt. This example has the standard AUG progressive trigger for semi and full-auto. It does not have the modified bolt carrier, striker or trigger mechanism.

The HBAR has a 4x optic, rather than the rifle’s 1x, while the HBAR-T can be fitted with an optic like a Kahles ZF69 6×42.

1.jpeg
A dedicated ‘LMG’ marked AUG stock and bolt carrier (Vic Tuff)

Adoption of the AUG HBAR does not appear to have been widespread and Steyr don’t currently list it as an option amongst their upgraded AUGs. For more Steyr we have previously examined a Steyr AUG SMG conversion and a Steyr MPi 81. We’ll take an in depth look at the AUG and AUG HBAR in the future.


If you enjoyed the video and this article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters. You can also support us via one-time donations here.


Specifications (for a standard AUG HBAR):

Overall Length: 35.5in (90cm)
Barrel Length: 24.4in (62cm)
Weight: 8.6lb (3.9kg)
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt – the HBAR typically fires from an open bolt, but this rifle-based example fires from a closed bolt.
Capacity: 30 or 42-round box magazines
Calibre: 5.56×45mm

Steyr AUG Para 9x19mm Submachine Gun

The Steyr AUG or Armee Universal Gewehr (Army Universal Rifle), is one of the earliest Bullpup military issued rifles (if not the earliest) adopted by a military, i.e. the Austrian Military as the Stg77 in 1977. Other early bullpups being the British L85 (SA80), and the French FAMAS. The AUG went on to be adopted by the Australian military and eventually licence built there as the Austeyr F88, the New Zealand Defense Forces, Irish Army, and various other military and police forces worldwide.

AUG PARA
Belgian Federal Police officer with AUG 9x19mm SMG (source)

In 1990, Steyr developed the first variant of the AUG/9mm Carbine and a 9mm conversion for the AUG-A1 rifle. The conversion consists of a new bolt group, barrel and magazine-well insert. The AUG/9mm Carbine uses the standard 25 round or 32 round magazines from the Steyr MPi 69/81 submachine gun series which is also a Steyr product. Whilst the conversion of standard rifles with the conversion kit is perfectly viable there were difficulties with the standard ejection port due to fired cases rebounding back into the action and also striking the firer!

The 9mm conversion ‘kit’ was replaced with the second variant of the ‘dedicated’ AUG Carbine in 9mm with an improved magazine-well adapter and an ejection-port shield or barrier, this could also be retrofitted on existing 5.56mm housings as an improved conversion kit including an ejection-port shield. However, in 1995 a dedicated AUG /9mm Carbine was introduced with the ejection-port shield molded as an integral part of its stock/housing (the marketing of the 9mm conversion kit being discontinued).

AUG 9mm carbine
Steyr AUG-SA 9x19mm Carbine Conversion (RIA)

Steyr AUG A3 XS
The latest iteration of the weapon the Steyr AUG A3 XS, note the lack of ejection port on the left side and the picatinny optics mounting rail (source)

The AUG/9mm Carbine the barrel does not have a flash suppressor, but has a threaded section behind the muzzle to allow the mounting of aftermarket suppressors etc. The barrel mounts exactly the same as the 5.56mm barrel but does not have a gas tappet system as the 9mm carbine functions as a closed-bolt, blowback. The bolt of the 9mm variant is integral with what is normally the bolt carrier in the standard AUG, the bolt face is machined directly in the bolt carrier face.

AUG PARA1
Belgian Federal Police officer with AUG SMG with ejection port case deflector (source)

Users of the 9mm variant are mostly police or security forces, notably the Kuwaiti Military Police fielded the 9mm SMG/carbine for some time until surplused a few years back. Ironically the 9mm SMG/carbine is fielded by the Belgian Federal Police whilst the Austrian Gendarmerie used to field the FN (Belgium) manufactured UZI!

If you enjoyed the video and this article please consider supporting our work here.


Specifications:

Calibre: 9x19mm
Action: Blowback
Overall length: 61cm (24 inches)
Barrel length: 32.5cm (12.8 inches)
Weight empty: 3kg (6.6lbs)
Magazine capacity, rounds 25 or 32 round box magazines
Cyclic rate: ~700 rpm


Bibliography:

Sub-Machine Gun: The Development of Sub-machine Guns and Their Ammunition, M. Popenker and A.G. Williams (2011)

Steyr AUG Submachine Gun Manual, Steyr(1990)