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After the British adoption of the Accuracy International PM as the L96A1 sniper rifle, other nations began to give a very serious look at the company and its rifles. One of the first was Sweden, which requested a rifle like the PM/L96 but with a few changes to better suit the northern environment of Scandinavia. The bolt body surface area was reduced with scalloped relief cut to prevent ice form locking up the bolt, and a 3-position safety designed to allow the bolt to be cycled while still locking the trigger. Use of the rifle with gloves was eased by increasing the size of the stock thumbhole and giving the magazine floor plates protruding grasping tabs. The result was an excellent rifle, and was adopted into service by the Swedes in 7.62mm NATO, becoming known as the Accuracy International “Arctic Warfare.”
British special forces took note of the improvements, and opted to purchase some of the Arctic Warfare rifles themselves. While the weapon was formally classified as the L118A1 (fixed stock) and L118A2 (folding stock), only very small numbers were acquired and it did not replace the L96. The rifles were in fact simply commercial AW rifles sold to the UK, not specially made. A number of features were added over the basic commercial model including improved bipod mounting options and a rear monopod foot, and in British service they were issued with a wide selection of additional kit. This included both thermal and image-intensifying (aka night vision) optics to mount in front of the L17A1 3-12x Schmidt & Bender scopes, backup iron sights, thermal straps, and suppressors.
Although only used in small numbers, the L118 rifle would be the transitional weapon leading to the L96’s eventual replacement by the .338 Lapua Magnum Arctic Warfare Magnum as the L115. Thanks to Steve Houghton, for providing me access to this rifle! If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out Steve’s newly released book, “The British Sniper: A Century of Evolution”. It can be found at:
PO Box 87647
Tucson, AZ 85754