The No.8 Rifle is a bolt-action .22 caliber rifle evolved from the Lee-Enfield .303 No.5 with target shooting in mind. They are simple hand-fed rifles and were originally designed to be used by military marksmen firing in civilian competitions, before being turned over to the cadet forces. Currently, the No.8 is used by the British cadet services as a basic target rifle. Quite a few examples are in civilian ownership worldwide, especially following the disposal by the New Zealand cadet forces of their No.8 and No.9 rifles at auctio Use in the British Cadet Forces
To be allowed to fire the rifle, a cadet must be formally trained on the weapon by a qualified instructor and pass a standardised Weapon Handling Test. The WHT tests the cadet's knowledge of safety with firearms, reactions to range orders and to rifle defects (misfires). Once the cadet has passed his WHT there are various marksmanship tests available, which vary depending on service.
In the modern day the No.8 is sometimes the first rifle which British cadets use. Cadets may progress to the L98 Cadet Rifles (an adaption of the SA80 series of weapons) and the L81 A2 Cadet Target Rifle.
Typically fired at a range of 25 yards, the rearsight can be adjusted to allow fire at 50 and 100yds. A harmonisation setting is also provided for firing at specially designed targets. The No.8 can also be fitted with two types of sights: The more common leaf sight, allowing adjustment for elevation only, is simpler to use and more robust, but the standard of accuracy that can be achieved with this sight is lower than can be achieved with the Parker Hale PH5D sight, which allows for windage adjustment as well as elevation, in 1/4 minute-of-angle clicks. It is also more delicate than the leaf-sight and not generally found in cadet service. The Parker-Hale 8/53 sight adaptor unit can also be fitted to the leaf rearsight, allowing for windage adjustment without the removal of the issued sighting system. It screws on through the sight aperture and therefore introduces a large elevation difference, rendering the range markings on the sight useless.
Generally, the No.8 is a reliable rifle and can provide a good introduction to target shooting for newcomers to the sport, although, as a rimfire rifle, it can be prone to misfires through wax lubricant from the ammunition building up around the chamber. The cadet services favour it for ease of use and safe handling, as it is fitted with an easily identified safety catch located to the left of and just below the rearsight.