It all began with shooting club members, Dave Walls and David Caig, having a go at building replicas of two of 19th century Colt pistols - from photographs. An expert on Colt revolvers told them, "If you built these just from pictures, you should be in the business of making guns."
A CHANCE MEETING
At a local shooting event the two Daves (Caig right, Walls centre) met the future World Champion and double Olympic Gold Medalist, Malcolm Cooper. He, too was impressed with their Colt replicas and suggested they design their own rifle.
The Caig, Walls, Cooper partnership led to the formation of Accuracy International in 1978. By 1981, Caig and Walls had only just built their third prototype, but it was a rifle with the unmistakable features, including the thumbhole stock, which would prove so significant in AI's future success...
AI's first military sale was eight Precision Magazine (PM) rifles to the UK's Special Boat Service (SBS) in 1985, immediately followed by 32 more to the Special Air Service (SAS). Unlike all other sniper rifles at the time, which were modified hunting weapons, the PM was designed from scratch as a rifle exclusively for snipers.
L96A1: GREEN MEANIE
With his reputation as a marksman, the UK MoD invited Cooper to submit a tender for the British Army's new sniper rifle. Up against the big boys, nobody expected AI's 7.62 PM to win. Designated L96A1 and nicknamed "Green Meanie", the order arrived on 11th March 1995. It was time to move production out of Dave Wall's garden shed.
At the request of Swedish armed forces, the L96 was modified to operate reliably in cold environments and designated AW (Arctic Warfare). The modified design resulted in an order for 1,100 rifles in 1991. By the late 90s, the L96 had been superceded by the AW, which in various configurations and calibres remains in service with 60 countries worldwide.
AW50 .50 BMG
The late 1990s also saw the introduction of other models including the awesome AW50 anti-materiel rifle which was adopted by the UK MOD and Australian armed forces.
AE AND AICS
Designed specifically to meet the needs of US law enforcement agencies, the AE rifle was introduced in 2002. Also aimed at the US market, for civilian shooters who wanted to enhance the performance of a Remington 700 platform, the AICS (Accuracy International Chassis System) was a perfect solution.
THE PARADIGM SHIFT
AI was sold to an investment group in 1999. The transaction resulted in a very high debt load which ultimately led to AI being put into administration in 2005. A small group of investors including Dave Walls, David Caig and Tom Irwin, an independent US contractor, stepped in and AI's future was eventually secured.
A FRESH START
The revived AI comprised 7 employees and 4 owners. New CNC machines and fixtures were introduced and modern manufacturing techniques and processes (Six Sigma) adopted to enhance quality and reduce cost. This fresh approach to engineering and manufacture was matched with the acquisition of new business...
L115A3: SILENT ASSASSIN
In 2007, the UK MOD awarded AI a contract for 582 AW338 systems to replace the L96A1. Designated L115A3, it entered service in 2008. In Afghanistan, 2009, British sniper, CoH Craig Harrison broke the world record for the longest confirmed kill in combat with two consecutive hits at a range of 2,475 m (2,707 yds) using a L115A3 rifle system.
LATEST AND GREATEST
Building on the successes of AW and AE series rifles, AI's latest generation AX and AT models combine the accuracy, reliability and ruggedness of their predecessors with the additional benefits of improved ergonomics and greater adaptability and versatility.
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
Increasingly successful, AI has expanded into an additional facility, whilst investment in technology has continued apace. Having won a contract from US armed forces to supply a new Sniper Rifle Stock System (SRSS) and a further contract to supply magazines, AI is also now firmly established with a manufacturing base in the US.