Rifle, Anti-Tank, .55 in, Boys

Rifle, Anti-Tank, .55 in, Boys

Infobox Weapon

caption=Boys Anti-Tank Rifle Mk I
name=Boys Anti-tank Rifle
type=Anti-tank rifle
origin=flagcountry|United Kingdom
era=World War II
production_date=1937 -
service=1937 - 1943
manufacturer=Royal Small Arms Factory
used_by=See Users
wars=World War II
spec_type=Bolt action rifle
caliber=.551 in (13.9 mm)
part_length=910 mm
cartridge=Kynoch & RG .55 Boys (13.9x99mmB)
feed=5 round detachable box magazine
rate=~10 round/min
velocity=747 (later 884) m/s (2,450.1 ft/s) (2,899.5 ft/s)
weight=35 lb (16 kg)
length=5 ft 2 in (1.575 m)
variants=Mk I, Mk II
range=20 mm penetration at convert|100|yd

The Rifle, Anti-Tank, .55in, Boys commonly known as the "Boys (or, often and incorrectly,"Boyes") Anti-tank Rifle" was a British anti-tank rifle. There were two main types, an early model (MK I) which had a circular muzzle brake and T shaped bipod, and a later model (Mk II) that had a square muzzle brake and a V shaped bipod. There were also different cartridges, with a later one offering better penetration.


The eponymous creator of this firearm was Captain Boys (the Assistant Superintendent of Design) who was a member of the British Small Arms Committee and a designer at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield. It was initially called "Stanchion" but was renamed after H.C. Boys as a mark of respect when he died a few days before the rifle was approved for service in November 1937.


A bolt action rifle fed from a five-shot magazine, the weapon was large and heavy with a bipod at the front and a separate grip below the padded butt. In order to combat the recoil caused by the large 0.55 inch (13.9 mm) round, the barrel was mounted on a slide, and a shock absorber was fitted to the bipod along with a muzzle brake on the barrel.

The weapon was effective to about 300 yards (280 m) as an anti-tank and anti-vehicle weapon. There were two main service loads used during the Second World War, the W Mark 1 (60 g AP at 747 m/s) and the W Mark 2 ammunition (47.6 g AP projectile at 884 m/s). Later in the conflict, but too late for service use, a much more effective high velocity round was developed, this fired a tungsten cored Armour-Piercing, Composite Rigid (APCR) design at 945 m/s. The W Mark 2 projectile was able to penetrate up to 3/4 inch (20 mm) of armour at 100 yards (~91 m). The armour plate inclined at 70° from the horizontal ie 20 degrees from the direct line angle of fire - the effective thickness being ~21.5 mm. Its effective range against unarmoured targets (e.g. infantry), was much further.

Although useful against the early tanks, the increases in vehicle armour during WW2 left it largely ineffective for anti-tank duties and it was replaced in service by the PIAT anti-tank weapon. It still saw some use against bunkers, machine gun nests, and lighter vehicles. In the Western Desert the large bullet could throw up splinters from rocks to cause casualties and it continued to be used in the Pacific theatre against Japanese tanks; the Japanese did not replace their older lightly armoured tanks, spread out across the Pacific and South East Asia, with newer ones until later in the war. The weapon had been designed with these lighter tanks in mind.


*British Army
*Australian Forces - Nicknamed "Charlie the bastard" (because of its heavy recoil compared to other, smaller-calibre rifles at the time)
*Republic of Ireland Army
*Canadian Forces
*New Zealand Army
*China - some eventually rechambered for .50BMG rounds and used experimentally as sniper rifles
*United States Marine Corps
*Finnish Army - as 14 mm pst kiv/37, during the Winter War and the Continuation War.
*Rifles captured after the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Forces in Norway and France were given the name Panzerbüchse Boyes in German service.

The Boys Rifle was sometimes also mounted on a Universal Carrier ('Bren Gun Carrier').

External links

* [http://www.antitank.co.uk AntiTank.co.uk]
* [http://www.winterwar.com/Weapons/FinAT/FINantitank2.htm#boys Winterwar.com]
* [http://www.jaegerplatoon.net/AT_RIFLES2.htm Jaegerplatoon.net]
* [http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-weapons/allied_ww2-b.htm Digger History]

World War Two training videos
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rODm7HF5lFU]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9lIO8AL3ds]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsifcQnSv94]

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