Save the No.8 rifle before it’s too late!

Many generations of shooters had their first taste of the sport thanks to the venerable old .22″ No.8 rifle used by the cadet forces. Are we going to stand by and let the MoD scrap them all?

After nearly seven decades in service the venerable No.8 is due for replacement within the next few years. So what’s going to happen to the thousands of rifles on issue to cadet units across the nation?

Like the straight-pull L98A1 cadet rifles before them, they’re likely to disappear without trace into the melting pot. This would be a crying shame and it’s about time we got up and did something about it before it’s too late.

As recorded on the Historic Arms Resource Centre’s excellent website (see bottom of page), New Zealand sold off its entire stock of No.8 and .22 No.9s to civilian buyers a few years ago. 450 historic and much-loved rifles were saved from destruction.

What we need is a campaign for the MoD to release its No.8s and remaining spares to the shooting public. Perhaps the HBSA could take the lead? The market for No.8s is huge – even battered ex-NZ examples change hands for upwards of £800 these days – and while the financial return would be relatively insignificant, surely every little helps the Treasury. From memory there’s several thousand No.8s on issue – possibly a total fleet of 10,000+.

Provided the sale process was managed intelligently so as to maximise the financial return to the MoD (perhaps drip-feed them out via auction at 3 month intervals?) that’s potentially £8,000,000 for the defence war chest. A powerful sell to an MP looking to make a name for himself after the election…

The No.8 also has the advantage of not looking remotely like anything “military” in the modern argot. Even non-shooters who were cadets will remember the old No.8 and think “what’s the harm in selling them off?”

What say you, fellow shooters? How shall we start lobbying the MoD to save these historic treasures for the enjoyment of generations to come?

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2 thoughts on “Save the No.8 rifle before it’s too late!

  1. Mike Jenvey

    It sounds a very good idea – but you would have to persuade MOD to appoint a sales agent (costs + commission from the sales?).

    Also, the No 8s are scattered around the countryside at the different cadet unit locations (& a few diverse parent units). There would have to be some kind of central collection system; perhaps not easy to find somewhere to hold a large number of rifles securely – & also allow access for public viewing (if required) & subsequent collection in person.

    Might add a few £££ into the public coffers to cover the projected £6m cost of the No 8 replacement. I think that £500 a pop is a bit optimistic, one sold at Christies in 1994 for £86 – that’s about £150-£180 today!

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  2. Mike Jenvey

    I’ve been in contact with the MOD “sponsor” for the No 8 rifle. It would seem that that it will be very be difficult, if not impossible, to save any No 8 rifles (in working condition) for private individuals.

    This is because of the rules set out in JSP886 for the disposal of firearms – all seems to be thrown at DSA who would then have to gift them (if deactivated) or have them destroyed. Shame, as I think that there are about 1000 in a deactivated state (spares & training) & some 5000 working rifles amongst the cadet organisations. Even £250 per rifle would bring a very good revenue.

    Out of service date for the No 8 is yet to be finalised, as the replacement is still under tender & if it goes to contract, it will obviously have some kind of lead time. Hopefully I will get more information nearer the time.

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