L129A1 Design Requirement
The rifle was designed and manufactured by Lewis Machine & Tool Co (LMT), based on a requirement and specification provided by Law Enforcement International (LEI), who saw the need to fulfil the role of an accurate long range semi-automatic 7.62mm rifle. The design requirement was for an effective and reliable assault rifle, but with superior accuracy to fulfil the DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) role.
L129A1 – A Purpose Built Solution
Both LEI and LMT saw the need to provide a purpose built engineering solution. LMT’s proven 5.56mm CQB/MRP design platform was ideal for this, and was re-designed in the larger calibre. A match grade “cut rifled” barrel, manufactured from stainless steel, was selected for the application. The design allows the barrel to be readily changed for one of a different length, quickly changing the role of the rifle from sniping to close protection or CQB . The L129A1 rifle also features LMT’s two-stage precision trigger, for improved performance.
Tender for “Sharpshooter”
The new rifle was designated LM308MWS for the US civilian market and an export variant designated LM7.
In August 2009, The British Ministry of Defence opened a tender for 440 new 7.62mm “Sharpshooter” rifle as an urgent operational requirement for Afghanistan. A number of European and US companies participated in the tender, with LEI submitting the LM7.
Operational in Afghanistan
After initial trials the HK 417 and LM7 were short listed. In October 2009, the contract was awarded to LEI. The LM7 was officially adopted for service in early 2010, under the British Army designation “L129A1”.
The rifle went operational in Afghanistan in May 2010. At the time of writing (September 2010), the rifle has proved popular with the forces, who have found it to be accurate and to function reliably in difficult combat conditions.