British Army is replacing most of its 3,000 7.62mm L96A1 sniper rifles with one
modified to use the .338 (8.6mm) Lapua Magnum caliber round. The Accuracy
International "Super Magnum" rifle is basically a L96A1 "Arctic Warfare" rifle
modified to handle the larger, 8.6mm Lapua Magnum round. The new rifle (the
L118A1) weighs 15 pounds (without a scope), is fifty inches long and has a 27
inch barrel and a five round magazine.
Snipers in Iraq, and
especially Afghanistan, have been calling for a longer range round, but find
the 12.7mm (.50 caliber) weapons too heavy. The .338 (8.6mm) Lapua Magnum round
has an effective range (about 1,500 meters) about 50 percent greater than the
7.62mm standard NATO round. The 8.6mm
round entered use in the early 1990s, and became increasingly popular with
police and military snipers. Dutch snipers have used this round in Afghanistan
with much success, and have a decade of experience with these larger caliber
rifles. British snipers in Afghanistan are also using the new round.
Recognizing the popularity
of the 8.6mm round, Barrett, the pioneer in 12.7mm sniper rifles, came out with
a 15.5 pound version of its rifle, chambered for the 8.6mm.