Most people interested in Diemacos, Colt Canada rifles and UKSF Impressions are now familiar with the L119A2 as used by UKSF, and first seen in use at Ex Winchester Accord. This L119A2, with the full rails top and bottom and partial rails to the front on the sides, with single slots to the rear sides and slick areas between, is fast becoming the ‘classic’ form.
Those with keen eyes and their ears to the ground may also know of the other variant (pictured above) of the L119A2 in British service, which features full side rails and a different sling mount. This second variant has been dubbed L119A2.5 informally by a couple of observers, but it seems to be really an alternate version of the same A2. Indeed while the full rail variant of the A2 is a contemporary to the familiar part rail type, in developmental terms it seems less advanced. Honestly, who uses the side rails in the middle?
It would seem therefore, more of a L119A1.9, if it must have a nickname.
As far as I can determine, the partial rail version is standard issue for UKSF units which have switched to the A2, while the full rail has been issued to other none UKSF users of the A2. Exactly what units I won’t expand upon.
All of this begs the reasonable question, ‘why the second variant?’
I learned of the full rail variant, some time before the only public picture about (as shown in this article) became public. I initially supposed these might be trial units which were tested before the design was later refined into the part rail type issued to UKSF – I am assured however this is not the case.
This is speculation – but I can suppose only two potential reasons, since I can’t fathom any functional benefit:
- The full rail versions seem very similar to Canadian C8 IUR models used by their military and RCMP – although as yet I haven’t found an exact match, since most RCMP ones feature QD slots. It is possible the full rail IUR uppers were in stock at Colt Canada at time of order, and the production line was blocked out with other orders, so the full rail version would allow for a much shorter lead time and was therefore accepted.
- Alternatively use of a full rail version may have been chosen since it, atleast at first glance, is more similar in features to an M4, which is a comparatively more common weapon, and so may arose less attention.
If anyone has any other hypotheses or guidance then please do proffer them – either for an addendum to this article, or private background knowledge.
The 15.7 in L119A2 upper is known about, and indeed a public picture is now available. It is not known at the moment if a long variant of the full rail version exists or is issued.
So no answers – but some interesting questions.
It is also interesting to note the single QD sling end plate used on the full rail version, which I believe to be Magpul ASAP-QD – an interesting alternative for those who dislike the standard ASAP.
As an aside, note the GG&G Vertical Grip, as alluded to in the recent The Reptile House article on the subject. On top of the picture from the London Bridge attacks, this is the second sighting of the accessory and makes it the stand out choice for those wanting an unquestioningly legit vertical grip for an A2.
As a thought for the partial rails and the reasons surrounding them could this possibly be in relation to weight saving? Given weight can be at a significant premium. Just a thought.
Almost certainly – it’s wasted rail space adding weight and machine work for areas which are rarely used. The question isn’t so much why the partial rail variant exists, but rather why the full rail variant was procured.