Royal Marines hit the range and practise CQB with new KS-1 assault rifle
The Royal Marines have been getting hands-on experience with their newest weapon – the Knight's Stoner rifle, better known as the KS-1.
Their training at Barry Buddon saw them spend time on the range and practising close-quarters battle drills with the new rifle, which has several features to improve accuracy and ergonomics.
The KS-1, which is designated L403A1 in British service, boasts a muzzle signature reduction system, an improved optical sighting system and can be fired from the left shoulder more easily than the current L85 assault rifle.
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What features make the KS-1 special?
The new rifle can be fired ambidextrously, meaning shooters can shoot it either left or right-handed. This increases its usefulness during CQB (Close Quarters Battle) when approaching and firing around corners from the left-hand side.
In order to improve accuracy, the KS-1 has been fitted with a 1-10x magnification scope, allowing the shooter to zoom in on their intended target. The weapon is also equipped with a red dot reflex sight for close engagements and a digital thermal sight for low-visibility conditions.
The weapon weighs only 3kg and is adjustable at the butt stock. This allows the shooter to adjust the length of pull – the distance from the centre of the butt pad to the centre of the trigger blade – depending on their build and the clothes and body armour they are wearing. This is fixed on the L85.
Unlike the bullpup design of the L85, the KS-1's magazine housing is forward of the trigger guard, making magazine changes faster.
The rifle has been designed with a match-grade two-stage trigger – which means after an initial amount of pressure is put on the trigger to get it to its break point only a small increase in pressure is then needed to fire the weapon. This makes shot release far smoother, enhancing accuracy.
A noticeable feature of the KS-1 is the way high-pressure gas is pushed out of the vents at the back of the suppressor rather than being sent back towards the user after a round has been fired.
The gas from the fired cartridge is also used to power the mechanism that disposes of the used case and inserts the next round into the chamber.
What do the marines think of the KS-1?
Sergeant Gilbert of 45 Commando Royal Marines described it as an improvement compared to previous weapons.
He said: "The weapon system itself is quite intuitive to use.
"The control systems are on both sides of the weapon so they're really easy to pick up and use for someone who hasn't used it before.
"Compared to anything else we've used before, ergonomically, it's a lot more stable, it’s a lot more intuitive to use.
"The weapon system itself is better balanced, so for a user on the range and going forward into operations it’s going to be a lot better weapon system for us. Overall, it's a bit of a step change in the capability.
"The sight system itself, you can zoom into times 10 magnification on it, which is again an enhancement over anything else we’ve had before.
"A lot of the weight is forward of the magazine housing where previously the weapon systems we’ve used everything was sort of in the butt of the weapon.
"So for us to manipulate and throw the weapon around as we're running makes it a little easier and a bit better to use."
The KS-1's usefulness will be key to future operations, particularly those of the Royal Marine Commandos and the Army's Ranger Regiment.
Troops who could operate in the heat of the desert, or the cold temperatures of the Arctic could benefit from the new rifle, resulting in a more practical and powerful fighting force.
Royal Marines have previously tested the weapon in Norway, and the recent training at Barry Buddon introduced more troops to the KS-1.
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