12 May 2016 – The Ministry of Defence has released the full and unabridged servicing manuals for the .22″ No.8 cadet training rifle following a Freedom of Information request.
As revealed on the MoD FOI disclosure log, the seven Army Equipment Support Publications relating to the No.8 are available in one continuous PDF file.
This is a big boost for civilian owners of .22″ No.8 rifles, as these manuals contain the latest – and quite probably last – MoD thinking on how to maintain the last serving examples of the Lee Enfield series.
UK Shooting News understands that some cadet units are being ordered to start returning their No.8s to central depots for disposal and destruction, ready for the issue of the new Savage cadet rifle.
There has been no word from any clubs or national associations as to whether the No.8s can be saved and sold to clubs and collectors in order to preserve these long-lived examples of British military, cadet and target shooting heritage.
It would probably take a public campaign aimed at ministers in the MoD to ensure the release of the No.8s to civilian shooters. Of the greatest importance, as the authoritative Historic Arms Resource Centre webpage on the No.8 makes clear, is that despite their military ownership these rifles were never weapons of war; rather, they were purposefully designed as target rifles for target shooting and to compete in civilian competitions.
With that important distinction from most military firearms in mind, their preservation for future generations to learn and enjoy the sport of shooting comes ever so slightly closer.