One feature of the SLR that was unusual in British Army doctrine was that it could be fired from the left shoulder by left handed shooters. This was a method of firing not easily performed on its predecessor, the Lee Enfield, as there was a bolt handle to be manipulated and firing from the left shoulder was certainly impossible on the SA80 as it would have deposited hot brass cases in the firer’s face.
With the SLR having the ability to be fired from the left shoulder, it was decided to accomodate left handed shooters further by offering them a left handed respirator that would allow them to continue to fire from the left shoulder whilst in NBC equipment. Visually the left handed S6 is identical to the much more common right handed version we looked at here, except that the canister is mounted on the opposite side of the facepiece:
Placing the respirator alongside a standard right handed soldier’s example clearly shows the difference:
The cannister is identical to that used in the right hand version, but the threaded connector is on the opposite side:
Other than this feature, the mask is a standard S6, so it has a head harness, secured with strips of elastic, each of which have a metal buckle to adjust them with:
The inside of the mask has the usual inflatable face seal, expiration valve and conecting points for spectacles:
This particular facepiece was manufactured in 1982, as indicated by the date moulded into the rubber:
The letters LBR indicate that this mask was made by the Leyland and Birmingham Rubber Company, who had the contract to make al the S6 facepieces.
The left handed respirator came in three sizes, small, medium and large, to accomodate most face shapes. the size, and the fact that this was a left handed model were moulded into the rubber on the opposite side of the facepiece to the date:
A special left handed haversack was produced for this respirator that moved the spare canister to the opposite side to allow the mask to be carried in the correct orientation. Sadly I don’t have one of these haversacks yet, but I will be looking out for one on my travels from now on.