Just found this news article, please read it all, incl. page2 as it say's it all.
Read & weep.
I cant comment on the effectiveness on the SA80 myself having had no chance to fire one although i have handled them a few times.
My info comes from my mate (a para who joined military early 2001 iirc). A left hooker although has always shot right handed. His impression of the SA80 is that its an OK gun as long as its cleaned regularly and well maintained. He got the SA80 A2 just before he went to Iraq and although he said it was better, he has not been as presise as to why. The main complaint I've heard from other users is its general length rather than reliability for when bayonets are required.
compared to other 5.56 rifles the SA80 i agree was a mistake, The M16 /M4s or G36s would have been a lot better. But the rifle does seem to get some flack that it doesnt necessarly deserve (i cant comment on pre 2001 problems). Certainly wouldnt be my first choise of gun if we were allowed SLRs again though.
I remember reading an article about the straight pull SA80 ( I think Cadet version, please correct me if I'm wrong) which was in civilian ownership and the article was unbiased but did mention it made a very good target rifle. I've never been a fan of the bullpup design but I've only shot them in 22 config.
I imagine the price for us target shooters would be quite high and compared to an AR price they would be expensive.
I'd still like to try one though.
Fond memories of shooting my fathers Sterling(issued to SNCO's) and an SLR and a GPMG @ Senelager Ranges back in 1980 when i was a scaley brat. To be honest I was too young to realy appreciate it. I'd love to do it now.
I often think back to those oh so wonderfull time's in the 80's and how I hated the SMG, SLR, LMG or GPMG. But now as I'm getting older I realize that they did the job, and didn't break all of the time.
In ten year's served I saw a total of 3 weapon's that had been broken.
The first while at JLR-RAC in Bovvy, a pratt led his SLR accross two tree stump's & sat on it during his lunch break, damage done, the thing looked like a warped piece of wood, result, the pratt got kicked out!
Then come the 2 SMG's, one was chewed by the turret monster, the other was lost overboard (from a panzer), and the rest of the tank's following had their fun with it, as only 65ton's of chieftain's can.