Breaking down the Nairobi rifle of SAS Christian Craighead

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January 2019 feels like a decade ago at this point, but I’m sure many of us remember the pictures coming out of Nairobi. Five Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked civilians at the DusitD2 complex, and an unlikely hero emerged. At the time, an unnamed, masked SAS commando showed up to save lives and kick ass. His pictures became famous as he escorted civilians out and engaged the enemy. We know him now as Christian Craighead. We know the man, but about his rifle? Today we are going to break down Craighead’s Nairobi rifle.

The Nairobi rifle base gun

In contrast to the rest of the British Army, the British SAS do not use the L85 rifle, a weapon that’s arguably one of the worst modern service rifles. Instead, they have teamed up with the Commonwealth and use Colt Canada rifles. The Colt Canada C8 series rifles are essentially AR-15s, or M4/M16s at their core.

From Craighead’s Instagram

The C8 represents the carbine version of the rifle; the British call it the L119, with Craighead using the L119A2. The L119A2 takes the C8 and heavily modernizes it. The weapon features a monolithic upper receiver designed by LMT.

The rifle is produced in two barrel lengths, a 10-inch, and 15.7-inch barrel. The Nairobi rifle uses a 10-inch barrel. Monolithic uppers are very rigid, and this helps the accuracy and zeroing of both large optics and laser aiming devices.

Understandably the rifles use 5.56 and use pretty standard M4/M16/AR15 controls. There are a few changes, the most common being the larger Colt Canada charging handle and an ambidextrous safety and ambidextrous magazine release. The weapon has a safe, semi, and full auto mode.

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The Optic – SIG Romeo4T

When the Nairobi rifle first surfaced, people were shocked to see a SIG optic. SIG’s optics are rather new, so it was a nice surprise. SIG’s Romeo4T is a compact red dot optic that’s part of their premium-grade optics. It’s got a solar backup panel, a selection of four different reticles, and an interchangeable mount.

This was not a standard-issue optic but provided for Test and Evaluation. Apparently, the SAS purchased a few more Romeo4T optics eventually.

The Stock – Magpul CTR stock with riser

The L119A2 seems to come with the Magpul CTR stock, a six-position collapsing stock. It’s a simple stock, but it’s very well made and is a proven stock platform. It’s more minimalist than several options. Craighead seems to have attached a riser to allow for a higher cheek weld when using his optic. I’m not sure if that’s just something he prefers, or if it’s standard among SAS commandos.

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The Light – Surefire M620

The Surefire M620 is distinct from the other M600 models by its mounting platform. The mounting flatform tells us it’s an M620. The M620 is a 500-lumen white light with 13,000 candelas. Surefire lights are tough as nails and have been the choice of numerous military forces across the world. Craighead seems to have an IR filter sitting on his light.

Magazine – Magpul Gen 3

The Nairobi rifle feeds from a Magpul P-Mag, specifically the Gen 3 model. Gen 3 represents Magpul’s attest effort and is their toughest, most reliable magazine yet. It’s rugged, works in the worst environments in the world, and is the standard magazine for the United States Marine Corps.

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Sling – Proctor Rifle Sling

I could be wrong here, but it seems that Craighead used the Proctor Rifle Sling, which would be an odd choice. The Proctor sling is a 2.3-ounce minimalist design that comes ready to mount. It’s relatively easy to adjust and is simplistic but effective.

Suppressor – Surefire FA556SA

I’m not a huge suppressor guy. I love them but can’t identify most suppressors just by looking at them. So, I’m trusting some online sources that said that the suppressor on the Nairobi rifle is the FA556SA. On a 10-inch rifle, a suppressor is a godsend. It helps reduce noise which is especially valuable for shorter-barreled rifles as they tend to be on the louder side. It also helps tame muzzle rise, and reduces muzzle flash, as well as concussion.

Laser Sight – LA-5 PEQ 15

See that weird-looking box in front of the optic? That’s a laser aiming device. It’s used mostly in conjunction with night vision for aiming under night vision. However, it does have a visible laser with numerous IR options. I would say Craighead likely didn’t fight much at night with the Nairobi rifle due to the awkward placement of the device. It’s present but out of the way as well. I’m not sure why else he’d set the device up this way, but he is clearly a competent professional.

Who dares wins

Christian Craighead certainly lived up to the SAS’ motto that day. He stormed in to assist local security forces, took down at least two of the five attackers, and saved countless civilians. He did this with a mask on, a pair of Armani jeans, and his Nairobi rifle.

This event was one of the first times the L119A2 was seen in an operational capacity and showed us once more that Stoner’s gun will never die.

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.