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Lee-Enfield Rifle No.8 - in .22in. RF calibre

We offer a representation of the War Office User Handbook for the No.8 rifle

and see also: The Rifle No.8 "(T)" Sniper training rifle


The design of the Lee-Enfield Rifle No.8 was the outcome of much research and trialling immediately after the 1939-45 War. At least two prototypes had been made and trials rifles built up for testing. The recommendations of the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs were taken into account after a number of each of the various designs ( including the No.5 and No.6 .22RF rifles ) had been passed, over a period of about four years, to the SMRC for assessment and trials by selected Clubs and by some military units. In the event, many civilian shooters were beginning to use very capable target rifles produced by BSA, but particularly a significant number of very accurate and well-built target rifles from the U.S.A. This dramatically reduced the likelihood of civilian sales of the No.8, which was thus largely, but not entirely, restricted to production for the military.

Below are the two designs selected as the No.8 trials rifles. The upper one is the "Match" rifle ( this one is serial no.16 of approximately 100 built ) and the lower example is the "Infantry" version ( serial no.6 again of approximately 100 built) - and the configuration finally chosen for production.

The Match rifle, with a barrel only a fraction short of 29 inches,was acknowledged to be the more accurate rifle. The difference in accuracy between the Match and the Infantry models, with a barrel length of 23.2", was not deemed sufficient to outweigh the superior handling of the shorter barrelled weapon, particularly in view of the intended use of the rifle for cadet and training purposes. The performance of the shorter barrel was still adequate for modest competition use at the time the design was being put into production. However, E.G.B. Reynolds suggested, in his 1960 book "The Lee-Enfield Rifle", that had the Match rifle been adopted, military shooters would have been able to compete with civilians on a more equal footing.

Shown below are the actions of the two trials rifles; Match to the left and Infantry to the right


The Match rifle was fitted with the Parker-Hale Model 5C rear target aperture sight as used on the No.4 rifle. The PH 4 sight - introduced in 1946 - would very likely have been considered for this rifle,

but the arrival of the No.5 sight in 1947 superseded any such intention.The eyepiece is the P-H/A.G.P. " Thin wall" single hole bell-style unit.

The Infantry and production rifles were fitted with a standard BSA manufactured No.4 folding leaf rear-sight calibrated for 25, 50 and 100 yards

with the additional markings for the "Harmonisation" elevation setting as used for Landscape Targetry.

A point particularly worthy of note is that both the trials and early production rifles were built up on the lightened action of the No.5 so called "Jungle Carbine" rifle designed for paratroop and close-quarter operations. Compare the image below right, of the left hand side of the action beneath the rear-sight, with that of the standard No.4 action used for the No.9 rifle.


Interestingly, the action used for the .22RF No.5 shortened rifle was also that of the No.4, probably because, at the time the .22 was being prototyped, the lightened action was still in comparatively short supply and needed to maintain production of the .303"CF service weapon.



Lest you had, in thepast, been researching these rifles on the internet, you should note that the R.E.M.E. (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) Museum, near Reading, for a time, illustrated on its website's weapons collection page, a rifle described as a No.8.However, this rifle appears in standard No.4 configuration, with a standard length bolt and No.4 design bolt-head and could not have been a number 8. This has now been recaptioned as as the Royal Navy's No.9 .22RF, being the No.4 conversion by Parker-Hale with the sleeved barrel. This latter rifle was a further, and cheaper, variation on the B.S.A. & Co's No.7 rifle made for the Royal Air Force.

One oddity, seen during our research, was a No.8 converted by fitment of S.M.L.E. No.1 woodwork and nose-cap, and shortened to give the appearance of a Lee-Enfield No.1 (or indeed .22RF No.2 or Mk.III) carbine. To our knowledge, this could only be an enthusiast's conversion. Shortened S.M.L.E. rifles are usually only found in the realms of Australian trials carbines, e.g. their "shortened, lightened rifle", the precursor to the Australian No.6 rifle, itself the Antipodean version of the British No.5 " Jungle Carbine". An S.M.L.E furnished carbine on a No.4 type action is (unless you know differently) simply unheard of in military production.

Below is shown the final production version of the shorter barrelled "Infantry" rifle variant, being that selected from the two prototype designs as providing adequate accuracy combined with the best weight and handling characteristics. This rifle significantly increased enthusiasm towards small-bore target rifle shooting post-war (WWII) and was in part responsible for a resurgence of both military and civilian small-bore service style competition. To this day it is still in use by Cadet units and continues to fulfill the criteria of the task for which it was designed. Such has been the level of usage of the No.8 rifles that it proved necessary in more recent years to return many for Factory Thorough Repair (FTR). This has resulted, as some have been sold out of service, in the availability of examples in comparatively good condition with accurately shooting barrels. Large quantities of spares have also offered opportunities for 'as new' rifles to be built up for commercial sale.


Immediately below are LH and RH images of the final production 'weapon' - The Enfield Rifle No.8 Mark I

The standard production rifle was simply marked thus

The receiver is that of the No.5 service rifle with its milled cuts to lighten the action for original use with that "Jungle" carbine, but it is further machined to permit the solid .22 barrel to protrude rearwards into the body by a distance designed to accommodate the shorter overall length of the .22 bolt. This allows a considerably shorter travel than usual on most conversions of the full-length No.4 rifle; this was associated with a faster actioning with the Nos.5 and 7 magazine-fed rifles, but was hardly relevant to the production No.8 rifle other than for rapid-fire practice. Indeed, the system for the No.8 evolved, with minor adjustments to permit cheaper mass-production, from those designs first seen on the.22RF No.5 and No.6 trials rifles between the end of the War and 1946. A similar bolt, but slightly more complicated and longer, was utilised on the British No.7 rifle produced for the Royal Air Force. (Please view the appropriate pages for further information on each of these rifles).

Unlike the majority of .22 rimfire rifle chambers, the leed ( the point at which the rifling commences forward of the cartridge chamber) is tapered from the groove diameter to the lesser diameter between the lands. This taper to the full groove depth occurs over a little more than eight tenths of an inch. Most .22 barrels have a near square edge to the start of the rifling, whith very little chamfer. When the leed of a No.8's barrel is inspected by someone not aware of this, an incorrect assessment that the leed is seriously worn may be made; and this could result in a decision not to purchase a perfectly satisfactory rifle.

The No.8 was fitted with a grooved single-shot loading platform as illustrated above, and the magazine aperture in the base of the receiver body was blanked off. The steel pressing, shown below, is stamped with the BSA factory code number "M 47 C". Whilst BSA designed and manufactured the No.8 rifle at the Shirley factory on the outskirts of Birmingham, a significant number, probably the greater, of rifles were produced at Fazakerley, the Royal Ordnance Factory in Lancashire.

Identification of the place of manufacture is possible by inspection of the code markings on the rifle. If as issued, sights and parts such as the cocking piece wil be stamped "F" on the Fazakerly production and "B" on the Shirley production. BSA rifles should carry their "M47C" M.O.D. trade reference code on the LHS of the butt-socket, the magazine well base-plate and the underside of the butt wrist behind the butt-socket.

There are varying dates offered by various pundits for the approval, adoption and introduction of the Rifle No.8 Mk.I to Land Service. Ian Skennerton quotes approval on 24th. September 1948; Herb Woodend gave early 1949 as the date for approval; E.G.B. Reynolds quoted introduction as 7th. September 1950, and J.E. Smith advises adoption as having been in 1951. Skennerton does remark that the rifle appears to have one of those few actually introduced prior to its inclusion in the List of Changes( LoC).

Precise dating of a particular rifle's manufacture by serial number can be a loose estimate only. Of Ian Skennerton's quoted figure for the initial requirement of 76,000 rifles, we have not for certain ascertained either whether all were manufactured, or the exact date of cessation of production. One of the highest serial numbers of which we have been made aware is A 22699 of BSA manufacture (M47C) and dated 1951, with its bolt of matching number; just 128 on from the rifle illustrated above. It would appear that the fore-end of rifle number A22699 has at some time been replaced, or perhaps that the rifle has been assembled from available parts, as the wood carries the even higher serial number of A22742. As a guide, the rifle illustrated above has a base-plate dated 1950, and butt wood dated 1951. Significantly lower serial numbered rifles are therefore likely to have been manufactured between 1950 and 1951. As of January 2020, we have been further advised of a rifle, with all matching numbers, serialled A22750, also of 1951 date.

If you have any further information or have record of higher serial numbers and/or later date markings, then do please let us know at: HARC-MCRRS


It can be seen that the bolt travel is virtually half that of the .303in. calibre rifle

and that even this bolt-head required complex machining. That of the British No.7 rifle even more so. ( See comparisons )

Most of the preceding

training rifles and the

post-war trials rifles

were fitted with the

familiar brass or steel

butt plates of the

Service rifles they were

designed to simulate.


Not so the No.8; possibly as a result of input from the civilian

clubs, the No.8's rubber butt plate was a sensible use of the design already

utilised on B.S.A.'s target rifles. It is moulded with the familiar 'Piled Arms'

logo of the Birmingham Small Arms Co., as applied to their many varied

manufactured items from arms to motor and push bicycles, cars, and a

plethora of unlikely products including, of all things, a patent design for

an 'automatic' telescopic aluminium shoe-tree given the unlikely trade name "T.A.T."

Lest this should be found difficult to believe,


perhaps proof should be provided..........................

...... in the form of the "TELESCOPIC AUTOMATIC TREE"


The rear-sight fitted to the No.8 was, as has already been mentioned, the leaf from the No.4. This was recalibrated with settings for 25, 50 and 100 yards - the usual .22RF calibre ranges - but had an additional setting "H" at the upper extremity of the slide. When elevated to this mark, the point of impact was approximately 27" above the point of aim at 25 yards. This feature permitted shooting at the military 'Landscape ' TARGETS without actually hitting the costly poster printed target. The fired shots hit a 'Sky-Screen' above the landscape picture and could be scored using a 27" plumb-line arrangement. Details of this system, still in use today in a modified form, are to be found on the "TARGETRY " page.

The letter "B" struck on the top left hand corner of the

leaf is the BSA code marking for small parts.

The fore-sight block was similar to that for the No.4 rifle, but was sized to fit the larger diameter barrel. Although shorter, the No.8 barrel, of fractionally over 41 inches in length, is actually heavier than that of the .303in. No.4 rifle.

The perforated protector wings eased lateral adjustment of the fore-sight blade.

The shallow rifling is tapered out to almost bore diameter at the muzzle. It is a six-groove rifling with a right-hand spirol and a pitch of ! turn in 16 inches. The leed (lead) of the rifling is unusually a chamfer tapered from nothing at just ahead of the chamber to full groove depth in less than a half inch. The rifle weighs 8lb. 14 oz. in standard configuration. The sight radius, considerably less than that of the No.4, is just over 27 inches.

The Enfield Pattern Room collection, now at the Royal Leeds Armouries, holds three versions of the No.8 rifle. Their reference no.RB398 is the Match Model of BSA manufacture, and RB 396 being the ROF Fazakerley pattern for the issue Infantry model, and marked on the left side of the action body as " .22 NO. 8 Mk. I ". Both of these rifles were manufactured in 1949. The third example is RB 397, being a commercial model with tunnel fore-sight and ' fine adjustment aperture backsight', and manufactured in 1952.

The commercial variant of the No.8 is far less common, perhaps not least because they were likely to prove less competitive in the civilian target shooting arena. These rifles were probably sold out privately from BSA after the initial military contract was complete, when surplus rifles were released to the civilian market.

Such specially built commercial rifles enjoyed a superior finish to both the metal and woodwork.

They were not as elaborately or finely finished as the trials rifles, but far above that of the military bound production.

Below are images of such a rifle with the most usual light coloured beech wood stocking


For their expected use as a target file, the rear-sight leaf was removed and the Parker-Hale PH5D rear-sight fitted.

This unit was exactly that which was already in available for the Enfield No.4 target rifles by now commonly in use for civilian competition, particularly at long-range, at such venues as Bisley ranges in Surrey.



This commercially sold rifle is devoid of military markings, which were removed when the receiver was drawn from stock.

Only the serial number remains.

The No.4. based fore-sight block is adorned with a target type Parker-Hale fore-sight tunnel dovetailed as the standard issue fore-sight arrangement. It is a directly 'swapped' unit which easily permits a quick change to enable the rifle to be used again for Service competition.


A nice touch is the fitment of the Parker-Hale screw drum to contain the considerable selection of fore-sight elements available.

These elements are the same as those used with most small-bore and some full-bore target rifles throughout the 'Fifties' and beyond.

The accuracy of these rifles, even after many years of use, is not to be sneezed at. A lightly used privately owned commercial rifle will still be capable, in practised hands, of competing at an unexpectedly high level in modern competition. The trigger may need fine tuning to improve let-off, but even this particular rifle has shot a 97 ex 100 on the current N.S.R.A. 1989 indoor short range target; this would be a commendable score with a modern Anschutz or equivalent target rifle. A British correspondent domiciled in Germany has advised us that his old service issue No.8 will still shoot a one-and-a-half-inch group at 100 yards, so don't be too quick to blame one of these rifles for a poor shoot!

We are fortunate to be in the position to show a facsimile of an article published

in the Summer 1952 issue of the National Small-bore Rifle Association's quarterly journal - "The Rifleman"

In the preceding Summer issue, there was a short mention of this upcoming article, which read .....

The New Number 8 Rifle

'It is interesting to record that arising from an article in these pages by the late A.G. Banks, and deliberations by a Committee of Experts, which included senior N.S.R.A. officials, the Ministry of Supply has produced a .22 rofle for issue to H.M. Forces.

The tests which were carried out with prototypes as far back as the S.M.R.C. National Meeting held at Ham and Petersham in 1946, have shown the rifle to be favourably comparable with the present-day commercially manufactured target rifle.

The model now being issued to H.M. Forces has a 26" barrel and is fitted with an open blade foresight and an aperture backsight, which is adjustable only for elevation, and the peep-hole is on the large side.

Parker-Hale have, with their usual enterprise, designed a new back-sight which can be fitted into the No.8 rifle They have also modified their standard small-bore aperture foresight to fit the No.8. Both sights are available from the N.S.R.A.

A fully illustrated description of the new rifle, from the able pen of Mr. V.H. Gilbert, former British small-bore champion, will appear in our next issue.'

The reference to the trials of 1946 relates to the presence of a small number of the prototype rifles taken by to that year's main S.M.R.C. meeting for testing, by the small-bore shooting fraternity, to gain opinions upon their suitability as both training and target rifles. The basic configuration these rifles was evidently effectively that of the No.5 rifle, but the specific models are referred to as the ".22 No.6 Rifle" by articles in subsequent journals. The Autumn 1952 article follows below.

The New No. 8 Mk. 1 Rifle



THE CONCEPTION of the No. 8 Rifle is probably the highest compliment that has been paid to the work of the N.S.R.A. and small-bore rifle shooting in the national interest, by the War Office, since the inception of the sport. It represents admittance that the finest training in marksmanship and future use of military calibres or weapons is obtained through .22 target shooting.


The idea that the Government should sponsor the design and production of a .22 rifle based on the No. 4 service rifle for this purpose goes back to the closing days of the last war and had reached a state of prototype design by the time that the S.M.R.C. held the first post­war National Meeting at Ham and Petersham in 1946. At that time several rifles were available for loan to competitors at the meeting so that opinions and criticisms could be obtained.


The policy was then to produce two models: one of military shape with service type sights and action but of carbine size, otherwise similar to the No. 4, the other with longer barrel, ring foresight, aperture quarter-minute rearsight and adjustable trigger for the keen. type of target shooter.


The writer's main interest naturally centred in the second of these objects at that time and although later decisions of high level policy and finance have dictated the production of one model only based on the first conception, some rifles of the latter type were produced and the knowledge gained from them has not been lost.


It is perhaps encouraging to report that whilst in process of designing and fitting a suggested form of extension rearsight for the target model, a personal opportunity presented itself to fire the weapon from the shoulder, and the best group of 10 shots at 100 yards with the best match ammunition then available measured -kin. between extreme shot centres. A result which could only be considered a credit to the most expensive imported weapons and certainly a feather in the cap for a mass-produced type rifle.


The final model which is now on issue to the Army, T.A., and Junior pre-Service units is illustrated in its Service form below.

The backsight has little to commend itself to the target shooter having only one fixed aperture, one minute click elevation and no windage adjustment, and a position on the body too far ahead of the eye for normal prone shooting technique.


The foresight is a robust and ingenious fixture which can be readily removed and replaced by a standard fitting of tunnel aperture sight with interchangeable ring elements for target work (see Fig. 5).






Length overall (normal butt) ... ... ... ... ... ... 41 inches

Length of barrel ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 23.36 inches

Weight ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 8 lb. 14 oz.

Number of grooves... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 6

Twist of rifling ( 1 turn in 16")... ... ... ... ... ... Right-hand

Sight radius ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 27.14 inches

Barrel dia. (at muzzle)... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ¾ inch

Barrel dia. (at receiver) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ⅞ inch

Head space ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .046 in. ( + or- .001 in.)

A unique feature of these rifles is the bore and rifling. The rifles are normally bored, parallel to a diameter of .2160 in. with a straight "lead" or taper from the chamber to bore diameter of approximately 2 in.- 2½ in. in the samples tested. The rifling or grooves, however, taper in depth throughout the length of the barrel and are only approximately .015 in. deep at the muzzle.


Bullets accordingly emerge practically free from engraving, having been subject to a steady squeeze down each groove which in theory should help to give the most effective gas seal and maximum spin, without shearing or stripping of the driving force. In practice, both the samples tested gave groups at 100 yards in which a varying percentage of shots showed evidence of "keyhole" effect, or unstable flight, apparently related to ammunition velocity and shape of bullet, being almost completely absent with one particular brand of imported Match ammunition.


It is perhaps significant that this ammunition was the only one of various British and American brands tried which was so formed that the bullet received engraving from the "lead" before it was fired. It is the writer's considered view that the barrels are extremely good and the theory of taper grooves is sound, but are spoilt by the "lead" which should be modified to ensure that all brands of available ammunition, particularly the British makes, are accurately centred in the bore and engraved by the grooves when the bolt is closed before the gun is fired. [See Military RF Ammunition Specification]





Readers will be interested to learn that all rifles made at the Royal Ordnance factories are group tested on a modified form of "Enfield" machine rest with I.C.I. Rifle Club ammunition at 100 yards, and must place nine out of every ten shots fired into a 2 in. group. I am given to understand that general production passes this test with ease. Confirmation and some interest may be aroused by the illustrations of two composite 80 shot groups, in one case made up entirely of two brands of American Match ammunition, and the other I.C.I. Rifle Club ammunition, both fired from the shoulder and each with two No. 8 rifles.


The trigger Mechanism is a modified form of Mauser action in which thesear is pivoted in a separate cradle to increase the mechanical advantage and separate the requirements of first second pull for military and target shooting needs, with the advantage that both can be adjusted in final pull-off weight by screw adjustment. The action can be readily appreciated from the diagrams in conjunction with the following explanations.


With the weapon cocked, the trigger (15) is pressed and rotatesinitially about the cradle pin (17) as a fulcrum, levering down the sear in its cradle (11) and rotating both about the common axis pin (46) against the combined pressure of springs (8) and (9). As soon as pin (18) engages with the cradle, the first pressure ceases and leverage is transferred to that point. Continued pressure now brings down the sear relative to bolt and cradle and eventually the striker is released. Sear engagement is normally adjusted and pre-set to 0.03 in. by screw (12) before the rifle leaves the factory and will not normally require adjustment.


The change to single action for competition use is a simple matter — outer spring (9) is removed and screw (18) advanced after release of its locking screw until the first pressure is completely removed.


Trigger weight can then be adjusted to 3 lb. by the slotted spring cup (10). This cup is grooved and provided with a ball clicking action for each 4 revolution for positive location and convenience of adjust­ment by 24 oz. increase or decrease of trigger pressure per click.


The bolt release and safety catch are standard with the No. 4 as also the general arrangement of the bolt itself, apart from detail of the bolt head and firing pin contained therein, the latter being separate from the striker and main spring assembly and immediately accessible by unscrewing the bolt head with the fingers.


Competition Use. Apart from the alteration of trigger pressure, conversion to competition use requires substitution of the ring type foresight attachment which is a simple job : removal of the battle type rearsight and attachment by two screws of an approved pattern rear-sight having the requisite six hole eyepiece and 4 minute click adjust­ments. The rearsight illustrated is the P.H.5D. obtainable from the N.S.R.A. and is not an issue with the rifle (Fig. 6).


Stocking. The woodwork on the rifles is either walnut or beech stained and oil polished to an attractive and serviceable finish.


Three standard lengths of butt are available (short 12½ in. long, medium 13 in. and long 13½ in.); each is interchangeable and fitted with a grooved rubber butt plate which effectively eliminates slip on the shoulder.


The main support is, of course, the fore-end which is attached to the body by the rear swivel screw and is arranged to bear solidly on the body of the action and on the barrel at the front end.

When correctly bedded the barrel should lie centrally on the wood free from any lateral influence and require a pressure of 3-5 lb. to separate the two. It should return exactly to its point of bearing and be free from any other strain or stress.


The sling loops or swivels are of standard width to take a 1¼in. wide strap or sling and the whole of the steel work and metal parts are anti-rust (phosphate process) treated followed by a dull black stoved-on finish.

attractive as the normal high polish and gun blue to which most shooters are accustomed, it is far more likely to stand up to rough usage, field use, or even storage in damp club rooms or lockers.

All in all the rifle has a lot of good points and is well suited for the purpose for which it was designed. It is not intended to attract the expert but should be deservedly popular with the juniors, and rank and file of riflemen.


Supplies can be made available for civilian rifle clubs through the N.S.R.A. if the demand warrants placing a bulk order. Price will depend on quantity and will be subject to negotiation with the Ministry of Supply.



A Lee-Enfield No.8 Rifle with late FTR (Factory Thorough Repair) marking

Captain Peter Laidler, now retired Senior Armourer of the Warminster Small Arms School Corps, said of the rifles so marked.

These markings were not unusual in service life but I've never seen one outside the UK military.  There was a big programme to refurbish about 400 or more No.8 rifles after the completion of the L39 and 42 programme at Enfield.  Enfield had a large stockpile of No.8 spare parts, including barrels and bolts, taken into store from the closure of The Royal Ordnance Factory at Fazakerley.  Enfield were well supplied with the parts standard to the usual No.4 of course.  You will often see these 1971 and 72 FTR'd No.8's with B.S.A. marked parts too, especially barrels.  This is because when the B.S.A. No.8 production contract finished (ca.1953) they kept the remaining parts in their store UNTIL it became known that BSA were also making No.8 rifles for New Zealand (those with the "DA" serial number prefix) contrary to their contract.  This was put down to ' oversight'.  As a result of this, and to prevent BSA making more No8's or supplying spare parts, they were ordered to forward their remaining stocks of spare parts to Fazakerley.  When ROF Fazakerly closed, the stock was transferred to Enfield and subsequently used in the post '71 FTR programme.  Really, this was a timed programme to help keep the Enfield factory occupied.

There are still school Combined Cadet Force and county Air Cadet Force units with No.8 rifles, but now that they are no longer maintained at military expense, their days are numbered.  Perhaps these are the real LAST Enfields."
1985 saw the 125th. Anniversary of the introduction of the Army Cadet Force in 1860 - the same year that the National Rifle Association commenced activities on their ranges at Wimbledon Common, where Queen Victoria fired the first shot. (Prior to the NRA moving in 1890 to their new base at Bisley in Surrey).

For the 125th. the cadet force issued a postcard of the No.8 rifle.

With a key for the part numbers on the rear face.

The next three images have been kindly contributed by an Italian correspondent

Above; the marking " .22NO8MKI " is followed by the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield's character of the superimposed letters "D" and "E", and the Twentieth Century two-figure year representing the 1971 refurbishment.

Similar markings are also to be found on many L39A1 target Lee-Enfields, and the Palma Match /Envoys and other contemporary rifles produced at RSAF Enfield when .303" calibre rifles were being replaced by, and refurbished for, the 7.62mm NATO cartridge.

The butt-socket above had already been stamped at the time of inclusion of the No.5 casting of the action body in the assembly of the No.8 rifle in 1950.

The observant viewer will have noted that the butt-socket has been struck twice. Inept stamping would occasionally leave a second light mark by a stamp bouncing on the ironwork, and whilst this may have occurred with the part number stamp "CR 324" (CR is a prefix standing for Carbine or Rifle). This was not the case for the date stamp.

The BSA Shirley factory code "M 47 C" is stamped beneath the part number.

What is unusual is that, although the year date has also been twice stamped, itwas patently not as a double-bounce. The year 1951 has been clearly added separately. We can only assume that, perhaps, assembly commenced in 1950 but was not completed until the following year, requiring an update, but without the first date being barred-out. There are obviously alternative explanations, but "Yer pays yer money, and takes yer choice" on that score.

The part number on the butt socket has oft been mistakenly quoted as a rifle's serial number - surprisingly even in military circles.

In the same way as the action body, the magazine-way filler base-plate under the rifle is stamped as part number "CR345". (see previous images on this page).

Above; this rifle has been fitted with the Parker-Hale PH5C rear target sight that mounts with a machine-screw low into the side of the body, and a long shanked bolt that passes through the pivot holes freed up by removal of the standard folding leaf-sight.

Beneath the rear-sight mounting plate, just forward of the safety-catch, can just be seen the bottom of a counter-bored threaded hole that passes through into the curved centre of the bolt-way. This hole is to be found only on the No.5 based actions converted for the No.8 rifle, and is usually blanked off with a small cheese-headed machine screw. No, we can not presently advise what it was intended for. Perhaps you can tell us?


A particularly interesting development point, in the history of the No.8 rifle, came to light only in early 2011.

Further research by Capt. Peter Laidler from the Small Arms School at Warminster has revealed the existence of what can best be described as a Rifle No.8"T".
Captain Laidler has kindly afforded us permission to here copy his notes on the subject.


" In June/July 1977, there was a General Staff Requirement (what we call simply ‘a GSR’) of January that year that stated:

….the sniper gains little in value in shooting in the indoor range or theatre as he cannot use the No.8 rifle fitted with the No32 telescope or in darkness, with the IWS. It is suggested that fitting the (L42) rifle sight pads to the No.8 rifle would enable the No.32 sight and IWS to it for use indoors. ITDU are to trial the suggested proposal and to assess the adjustment that would need to be made to the No32 telescope and the IWS when fitted to and fired using the No8 rifle at 25 yards

[Notes: (1) See - 'IWS' (Individual Weapon Sight); (2) The ITDU is the 'Infantry Trials and Development Unit' at Warminster : Ed]

The choice of the standard No.8 rifle was because there were plenty in stock and utilizing these would save considerable expense. The idea was not new. It certainly wasn’t because, 10 years before, similar No.9 type telescoped rifles had been used for the same purpose. And the current No.8 rifle when fitted with the No.4 butt was similar in operation and appearance to the L42 rifle. And anyway, if need be, it would be a simple, local exercise to fit a production L42 fore-end and handguard to the No.8 rifle. Indeed, there was still 1959 dated authority, to units engaged in the large scale training of recruits, that, in order to create realism to the shooting training programme, No.4 butts could be fitted to the No.8 rifle…….. but I digress.

Two No.8 rifles were supplied together with several sets of body pads (presumably from stripped or redundant No.4 or L42 rifles). These were fitted at the ITDU workshop. The first thing that became apparent was that the No.8 rifles with tapered body sides (the ex. Fazakerley No.5 bodies, where they utilized old No.5 stocks) were unsuitable for any such conversion.

The long and short of the trials is that what the team wanted was impossible to achieve! They wished that any converted No.8 rifle would stand alone WITHOUT a separate sight, and that the sight would be transferred from the L42 rifle that the sniper was using on the course. There were obvious problems. Firstly, NO sniper wanted to upset his finely zeroed No.32 telescope (they were L1A1 by then, but let’s not spoil their paperwork…..) that he KNEW would retain its zero when removed and replaced. Indeed, some refused to remove them once zeroed in! Some trials were undertaken to ascertain what adjustment would be needed to change back and forth on the courses. Alas, they were flogging a dead horse. After all, that’s WHY the telescope is numbered to the rifle in the first place.

Additionally, the fixed focus No.32/L1A1 telescopes were quite incapable of focusing down to such short ranges and have to be adjusted at the objective to do so. Quite why the trials team did not suggest that the idea had some merit providing that a small supply of redundant telescopes were made available is not clear. There were certainly stockpiles (albeit small….) of Mk2/1 telescopes that could have been utilized.

Anyway, the trial ended and, in September 1977, at the suggestion of the trials team, Lt. Col. Randall put the matter to bed. But the question is still there………. Have these two enigmatic No.8T rifles emerged onto the commercial marked yet? Do you have one still with the pads or the tell tale holes? Don’t all jump up, because, while we don’t know the serial numbers, they do carry the engraved markings of the ITDU authority. "

Should you be fortunate enough to discover one of these two rifles, do let us know. We'd be absolutely delighted to be able to picture one here.

In the absence of the real thing we will in due course otherwise perhaps have to engineer a mock-up in Photoshop.

In the meantime, it should be remembered that, in relation to small-bore sniper training rifles, this proposal for a No.8 "T" was nothing new; in fact, proposals for a .22RF conversion of a No.4 rifle to a sniper trainer were taken one step further. A smal number of such rifles were built and used at the Small Arms School - see the Rifle No.4T in .22 inch calibre.

Below is a copy of the trigger adjustment detail of the No.8 rifle.

This is taken from the classic book on the history and development of the Lee-Enfield Rifle

written by Major E.G.B. Reynolds in 1960 - no collector's library should be without one!


Particularly for anyone fortunate enough to possess a No.8 rifle, the following extract, from S.A.T. Pamphlet No 11 - Weapon Handling, 1955, may be of interest.



1. Aim - To exercise individuals and rifle groups in rapid fire.
2. Notes - You can also run this exercise on a 25-yards range, and use any type of rifle.
3. TARGETS - Ten falling plates about one inch square for each team. To make them, take pieces of tin one inch by one inch and a quarter, make a quarter-inch cut in the centre of a one-inch side, and bend the two quarter-¬inch pieces to form a stand.
4. Firers - Teams of four.
5. Conduct - On the command "Fire ", the teams start shooting, and, the plates fall as they are hit. A knock out competition can be run on these lines.
6. Winners - The team that knock down all the plates in the shortest time (or, in the event of a dead heat, with the fewest rounds).


1. Aim - To show that good fire effect is possible even without a proper aiming mark.
2. target - The backs of representative TARGETS .
3. Conduct - Each man fires a five-round group at the centre of his target.
4. Scoring - Add together the score for the size of the group and the application score from the other side of the target.


1. Aim - To exercise NCOs in recognition and in giving fire control orders, and private soldiers in recognition and firing.
2. TARGETS - Landscape target set up for harmonized shooting (see Infantry Training, Volume I, Pamphlet No 3, 1955 (WO Code No 8903), Chapter 2, Section 9.
3. Firers - Teams of six.
4. Conduct - See Pamphlet No 3, Chapter 2, Section 9. 5. Winners -The team with the highest score.


1. Aim - To exercise section commanders in controlling fire and indicating TARGETS , and sections in recognizing TARGETS and in fire discipline. All platoon weapons can be used, but only No. 8 rifles can be actually fired.
2. TARGETS - See Infantry Training, Volume iii, Pamphlet No 33, 1952 (WO Code No 8713), Chapter 6. 3. Conduct - Make up a simple tactical setting in the form of narrative and problems. For instance, describe a section in defence and practice both the routine of defence and the action when enemy appear at different ranges.


At the request of a reader whose rifle is missing its firing-pin assembly, we have added images of the bolt arrangement, and detail and dimensions for the unit itself.

It can be seen that the arrangement is not dissimilar to that of the Lee-Enfield No.7 Rifle.

The .303in Centre-Fire service rifle bolt-body has been shortened, and the unique No.8 bolt-head, which is shorter than that of the No.7 rifle, allows for the return of the barrel's breech end rearwards into the receiver (see receiver images earlier on this page). This significantly reduces bolt travel.

The .303in rifle's striker, shown at the bottom of the above image for comparision, is suitably shortened and re-threaded for the cocking-piece, the tapered firing pin section removed, and the forward flange faced-off to bear upon the rear of the firing-pin unit. The main striker spring is also shorter.

Below are three images of the bolt-head, top showing "crossed pennants" military acceptance mark; underside - showing shaping for cartridge feeding from the single-loading platform; and front breech face - showing the recess for the .22RF Long Rifle case head and offset firing-pin hole, along with coss-sectional profile. This simpler than that of the No.7 rifle, for which the bolt-head is required to pick rounds up from the 5-shot magazine, and extract and eject the fired cases clear of the magazine protruding into the receiver.


The No.8 rifle bolt-head manages with a single extractor, whilst the No.7 bolt-head requires an second opposing extractor/case-steadying spring to hold the case and preclude its dropping "into the works" before it can be ejected.

The firing-pin unit comprises of a striker block drilled to accept the firing-pin itself and a seperate pin beneath to hold the return spring in position. The pin and spring rod locate into two holes drilled in the rear of the bolt-head. The upper one is the through-hole to the firing-pin aperture, and the lower hole is blind and of a smaller diameter for the spring pin. The spring is thus held betwixt the striker block and the rear of the bolt-head.

The cocking-piece is also specific to the No.8 rifle, requiring shaping and slotting to afford the cocking-on-opening faciilty unique to this Lee-Enfield training rifle, and the special trigger design.


The firing-pin unit is shown below in a further three images.





The dimensions of the firing pin unit are as follows:

O/A Length inc. striker block...................................................... 2.208"

Firing-pin shank length ............................................................. 1.487"

Shank diameter ........................................................................ 0.120"

Firing-pin front section length ..................... 0.610" - including radius from larger rear diameter.

Firing-pin front section diameter .................................................. 0.086"

Diameter of firing-pin pressed into striker block to shoulder is also approx. 0.086"

Thus firing-pin total rod length = 1.480 + 0.610 + 0.118 = O/A unit length of 2.208"

Firing-pin anvil thickness - front to back ........................................ 0.118"

Firing-pin anvil width .................................................................... 0.199"

Firing-pin anvil height ................................ 0.348" - being radiussed to profile of bolt-body bore.

Spring support rod O/A length .............. 0.475" - of which 0.118" is pressed into striker block.

Rods' PCD ........................................... as hole seperation in bolt-head, i.e., approx. = 0.180"

Spring support rod diameter ........................................................ 0.080"

Spring length (uncompressed) ...................................................... 0.900"

Spring outer diameter ................................................................... 0.121"

Spring wire diameter .................................................................... 0.010"

Spring ............................................ 14 full coils plus 2 flattened end coils



January 2020

It has been reported that the British Government may, as a part of UN and Ministry of Defence policy, possibly be destroying the entire military stock of near seventy-year-old No.8 rifles. However, a FoI (Freedom of Information) request, made by an interested party, has been answered with confirmation that just 2,065 unserviceable rifles have been destroyed, but that 6,956 rifles are still held. These remaining No.8s will be sent to D.E.S.A. (the Defence Equipment Sales Authority), who will try to sell them "at some point in the future".

It has been declared that, if the rifles cannot be sold, they would be destroyed in line with Government policy.

One can take whatever consolation, comfort, or otherwise, there is to be had from that statement. Only time will tell.

As can be seen below this note, a similar situation held in New Zealand only a few short years ago. Public protest at the loss of military heritage, not to mention the associated loss of potential public funds by not offering these rifles for sale to legally entitled and already suitably vetted collectors, resulted in a sensible change of heart by the NZ Government. The No.8 rifles, and a few others of historic worth, were put up for public auction. A considerable amount of money was procured for the public purse, and National honour was satisfied.

There may still be time for the British Government to take such an opportunity at home, rather than simply pander to alarmist trends in the UN and European government that would destroy anything firearms related, including innocuous rifles such as this single-shot .22 inch calibre rimfire No.8 rifle specifically designed as a small-bore target rifle for the Forces, rather than see it in public hands; that public having footed the bill for the manufacture and purchase in the first place. One has to ask why, when collectors have already been vetted and approved to hold such firearms, any Government should feel it has the right to throw them away without attempting to safely recover at least a part of the expenditure on our behalf. Obsolete British small-arms were once sold abroad rather being put onto the home market, but such sales are known on sad occasions to have back-fired - even upon British servicemen. Thus the Ministry of Defence has for some years had a policy of destroying such arms rather than risking their appearance where they were not wanted. This has been a perfectly sensible option for weapons of war, but not all military firearms are such, and the No.8 rifle is a fine example of one that is no different from any other small-bore target rifle used every day by British target shooters. These rifles have indeed been in use by cadets in many British schools over several generations.

We would recommend that any collector who may wish to acquire one of these superb British rifles, or assist others to do so, should write to their M.P., or follow any other suitable route that may lead to further Government consideration of the subject, and perhaps even a reversal of the destruction decision. Do not forget to mention that the No.8 rifle is not a weapon of war, and was never designed as such; it is a simple and basic .22RF target rifle, the many admirable years of service and history of which can safely be honoured and continued by collectors and shooters of classic target competitions - in a perfectly acceptable new civilian context. Our heritage ought not to be unnecessarily destroyed where there are suitable alternatives.

There was an interesting occurrence concerning those No.8 rifles (March 2009) previously in use by New Zealand's various Cadet Forces. Their Lee-Enfield No.8 and Lee-Enfield No.9 rifles were taken out of service, and it was proposed by some NZ authorities that they should be destroyed. A campaign, by shooters and collectors of such historically significant rifles, convinced those authorities that both New Zealand's military heritage and the nation's coffers would be better served by the sale of these non-threatening firearms to collectors such as themselves. In the event, a total of 450 rifles were saved from destruction. The sale was handled by Turners Auctions, and their catalogue may still be available at

Included in the auction were 285 of the No.8 rifles, 116 of the No.9 rifles and 53 of the L59A2 - .303 No.4 Drill Purpose rifles.
To obviate the purchase of large quantities by dealers, collectors were allowed to buy a maximum of one of each type. One such purchaser has written to us to say ........."With our new acquisitions, a lot of us are now in need of information from sites such as yours. Congratulations on a great site, and thankyou for providing a great source of information."

We are grateful to this enthusiastic collector, who has provided this image of the rifles displayed at the sale. The picture is a sight for sore eyes.

For more information on the sale (and other photos) you can go to: MilitariaNZ.freeforums

More recently, the use of the No.8 rifle by cadets required a Weapons Handling Test to be undertaken.



1. Cadets and CFAVs who are qualified to be issued with the No. 8 Rifle are to be competent in its use. Passing the WHTs proves this competence.


2. WHTs are to be taken as follows:

a. At appropriate stages during the relevant training, where applicable, and on its completion.

b. Within six months prior to live firing. Results

3. Results are to be recorded in the appropriate unit personal record.


4. Prior to taking WHTs Cadets and CFAVs are to have completed the rifle lessons contained in The Cadet Manual.


5. WHTs are to be conducted as follows:

a. Conducted by a qualified Skill at Arms (SAA) Instructor who has passed the WHTs within the stated time frame.

b. Tests are to be completed consecutively and are to be carried out in barracks.

Definition of Standards

6. The standards to be achieved in WHTs are as follows:

  1. Pass — Pass in all tests.

  2. Fail — Fail in any test.

7. Training Performance Standards. A Cadet or CFAV is considered competent on achieving the pass standard. Failure to meet the pass standard indicates that the Cadet or CFAV is not competent in the use of the rifle. Retesting is to be carried out after completion of remedial training.

WHTs No. 8 Rifle

Test No








No 8 Rifle Table

Before the cadet/CFAV is called forward, lay the rifle on the ground unloaded, bolt closed and the safety catch not applied.

Order the cadet/CFAV to pick up the rifle and put it on the table. Keeping the muzzle pointing in such a direction that no damage will arise in the event of an accident dis- charge, the cadet/CFAV should:

a. Pick up the rifle. b. Push the safety catch fully forward. c. Open the breech by moving the bolt to the rear.

d. Check the cham ber is empty/ clear.
e. Lay the rifle on the table with the bolt open.

The cadet/CFAV passes the test only if all the actions are carried out correctly.



No 8 Rifle Table

The rifle is laid on the table from the previous test. The instructor is to close the bolt but not apply the safety catch.

Order the cadet/CFAV to hand you the weapon from the table. Keeping the muzzle pointing in such a direction so that no danger will arise in the event of an acciden- tal discharge, he should:

a. Pick up the rifle.
b. Push the safety catch fully forward.
c. Open the breech by moving the bolt to the rear.

d. Check for himself that the chamber is empty/clear.
e. State the rifle is unloaded.

f. Hand it over to the instructor with the bolt open.

The cadet/CFAV passes the test only if all the actions are carried out correctly.

Test No








No 8 Rifle

1. The instructor is to lay the rifle on the floor, bolt open, safety catch forward. The sights are not to be set at 25.

2. No ammuni- tion to be used for this or any other test. This is to be explained to the cadet.

1. Order“PronePosition – Down – Load”. The cadet/CFAV is to go through the actions of loading the rifle.

2. The action is completed when the bolt is closed and the safety catch is set at Safe (on).

Question the cadet/CFAV

3. Why must a .22 round be hand fed into the cham- ber until resistance is felt?

The cadet/CFAV passes the test only if all the actions are carried out correctly.

The cadet/CFAV passes the test only if all the actions are carried out correctly and questions answered correctly.


If the round is not correctly seated in the chamber it may cause a premature explosion.


Sight Setting and Misfire Drill

No 8 Rifle

Rifle loaded from Test 3.

1. Order a range (25m).

a.The cadet/CFAVis to fold up the rear sight and set it to the range ordered

b. The instructor is to check the sights.

2. Order “1 Round – In Your Own Time – Go On”.

3. Order “Misfire”.

a. The cadet/CFAV should remain in the aiming position for 5 seconds. Order “Round Not Fired”.

b. The cadet/CFAV should then unload the misfired round and place it aside.
c. Load the next
round and carry on firing.

1. The cadet/CFAV passes the test if they make 2 or less mistakes and he answers the ques- tions correctly

2. If the cadet/CFAV fails to comply with any rule of safety whilst carrying out the test he fails regardless of suc- cess in any other part of the training test.

Test No








No 8 Rifle

Question the Cadet/CFAV

1. Order “Stop-Unload”. The cadet should:
a. Open the breech by moving the bolt to the rear. Look into the chamber to ensure it is clear, then close the bolt.

b. Bring the rifle into the shoulder, aim at the target or bullet catcher and oper- ate the trigger. Open the breech and lower the back sight.

2. Order “Stand Up”. The cadet should :
a. Lay the rifle down on its left side.

b. Stand up, leaving the rifle on the floor, with the bolt open.

Question the Cadet/CFAV

1. What must you NOT do with a misfired .22 round?

2. What action would take if:

a. A bullet is not heard or seen to Strike the target? b. The noise made by the explosion of the round going off is less than nor- mal?


1. The cadet/CFAV must state: Under no circumstances will a misfired round be re- loaded in an attempt to refire it. The misfired round must be kept sep- arate.


a & b, Inform the Range Conducting Officer

Marking: P = Pass – A pass standard in all tests.
F = Fail – Any safety mistake or a fail in any test.


October 2014 saw the M.O.D. seeking tenders for a replacement for the outgoing No.8 Cadet rifle, offering a contract for 10,000 units at an anticipated overall cost of six million pounds. The published tender notification is copied below.

It will be seen that the requirement is for a single shot .22RF rifle of "civilian appearance", thus promising a straight forward target rifle with little of the military benefit, from a training point of view, that may have been derived from a rifle with some resemblance to a service model. The refrence used for this rifle at the tendering stage appears to be "N8RR".


Tender: Rifles, Ministry of Defence, Land Equipment

Tags: Public sector tenders: Defence and security |
Published: 4 Oct 2014 - 06:55 am Print article: Printer-friendly page

Type: Contract notice (public sector contract opportunity). OJEU reference 336808-2014.
Organisation: Ministry of Defence, Land Equipment, Bristol.
Deadline to submit tender response: Thu 30 Oct 2014 Deadline has passed.

Further information can be obtained from: The above mentioned contact point(s)

Specifications and additional documents (including documents for competitive dialogue and a dynamic purchasing system) can be obtained from: The above mentioned contact point(s)

Tenders or requests to participate must be sent to: The above mentioned contact point(s)

I.2) Type of the contracting authority
Regional or local authority

I.3) Main activity

I.4) Contract award on behalf of other contracting authorities/entities
The contracting authority is purchasing on behalf of other contracting authorities: no

Section II: Object of the contract

II.1) Description
II.1.1) Title attributed to the contract by the contracting authority:
Number 8 Replacement Rifle (NR88).

II.1.2) Type of contract and location of works, place of delivery or of performance


NUTS code : Telford and Wrekin: UKG21

II.1.3) Information on framework agreement
II.1.4) Information on framework agreement
II.1.5) Short description of the contract or purchase(s):
Rifles. Number 8 Rifle Replacement (N8RR), the UK MOD has a requirement to replace the current in-service Number 8 Rifle due to obsolescence. The rifle must meet but are not limited to the following Key System Requirements (KSRs):

The system shall be able to fire the following current, in-service .22in Long Rifle (.22LR) rimfire cartridges: 'Round .22 inch ball' L5A2 (ADAC - 10501-02) and 'Round .22 inch ball Tenex Ultimate' L9A1 (ADAC - 10502-02)

The system shall not be able to accept a magazine of any type.

The system shall be based around a manually fed, bolt action rifle that is designed to be fired from the right shoulder.

The system shall have a manual safety catch that is separate from the bolt and trigger action.

The system shall be suitable for firing from the following positions: Prone

The system shall have a discrete, civilian appearance.

The weapon system shall have a modular iron sight sub-system that offers 'Basic' and 'Advanced' capability.

The system's peak instantaneous (C weighted) noise level at the firer's ear shall not exceed 135dBC during firing.

The system shall not be adversely affected when dropped from height in accordance with DEFSTAN 07-85, Part 4, Issue 1, Para 8.14, Para 10.4 (Drop Test).

The system shall pass a DOSG Design Safety Assessment.

II.1.6) Common procurement vocabulary (CPV)
CPV code: Rifles: 35321200

II.1.7) Information about subcontracting
II.1.8) Lots
This contract is divided into lots: no

II.1.9) Information about variants
II.2) Quantity or scope of the contract
II.2.1) Total quantity or scope:
Under the Number 8 Rifle Replacement project the UK MOD has a requirement for a rifle to replace the current in-service equipment.

The Authority may seek to procure up to 10 000 rifles in one financial year, however, this is subject to funding availability. A service element will be required for an initial period of 2 years to facilitate spares, consumables and repairs, with options to extend this period to up to 5 years. There is also a requirement for necessary manuals, user guides and training materials.

Estimated value excluding VAT: 6 000 000 GBP

II.2.2) Information about options
Options: yes

Description of these options: The Authority intends to let the resulting contract, subject to funding availability, with options to procure up to 10 000 rifles, plus spares and to extend the duration of the contract including service element up to a maximum of 5 years.

Provisional timetable for recourse to these options:

in months: 60 (from the award of the contract)

II.2.3) Information about renewals
This contract is subject to renewal: yes

II.3) Duration of the contract or time limit for completion
Duration in months: 60 (from the award of the contract)


You may also view a representation of the War Office User Handbook for the No.8 rifle

For comparison, see collective images of the bolts for the Rifles Nos. 5, 7 (British), 8 & 9.

See also the page on the .22 MARTINI and the LEE_ENFIELD TRIGGER PULL

Click here for Chronology of Enfield genre Training Rifles, Adapters & Cartridges


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