News|Industry News

By Drew Bryant
September 12th, 2023,

Recently, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence selected Knight’s Armament Company (KAC) KS-1 as its new service rifle for Ranger Battalions and elements of the Royal Marine Commandos. The KS-1 was a part of the UK’s Project Hunter, launched to solicit qualified applicants to select a new Alternative Individual Weapon (AIW) to replace the SA80/L85 series of rifles and Colt Canada L119s currently used by Rangers and Royal Marines. The Knight’s KS-1 official nomenclature will be known as the L403A1. The Knight’s build reportedly defeated entries from Heckler & Koch, SIG Sauer, Daniel Defense, and Glock.

The new L403A1 will supplement L85A2 and L85A3, which currently equip most UK armed forces. UK-based Edgar Brothers will procure the latest rifles from Knight’s Armament, and the contract is worth $110 million. The agreement details 10,000 new L403A1 over the next decade. The British Military has placed an initial $16 million order for 1,620 AIW systems, which the British military has recognized. The first rifles will be fielded by the Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB), which can expect to see the initial batch of L403A1 delivered by the end of 2023. The Royal Marines Strike Companies and Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron will also be among to receive the British military’s new combat rifle.

The KS-1 is the latest iteration of the SR-16 from Knight’s Armament. The KS-1 features a 13.7” barrel and weighs 6.88 lbs unloaded. Its overall length is 32.2” with the stock collapsed and 34.2” extended. Knight’s QDC/MCQ-PRT suppressor weighs in at an additional 13.9oz and adds over 2” in weapon’s length. The L403A1 (KS-1) will be outfitted with an LPVO from Vortex and Aimpoint ACRO P-2, along with the Knights Corn Cobb suppressor, which was mentioned before.

Below are some quotes from various people from the UK Ministry of Defence who were part of Project Hunter and involved in procuring the L403A1.

The UK’s Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge, said:

“This is another example of how we are committed to investing in the most advanced battlefield equipment to back our troops on the battlefield. This advanced rifle’s ability to help soldiers maintain the stealth edge not only protects them but delivers a war-fighting advantage over our adversaries.”

DE&S Dismounted Close Combat Portfolio Leader, Colonel Paul Cummings, said:

“Project Hunter has been a fabulous example of close collaboration with the user community and strong engagement with industry to deliver game-changing capability at pace. This is another example of the enormous commitment of the men and women in DCC to deliver battle-winning capability into the hands of the user, and I’m enormously proud of what they have achieved. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Edgar Brothers as we move into the production phase.”

The British military has had a love-hate relationship with the AR platform during its military history. The AR has been used in various roles within the British army since the 1960s. Project Hunter represents a dynamic change in philosophy and a significant procurement of AR-pattern rifles for their military. This paradigm shift could influence future projects and acquisitions by the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

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