The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle was an AT rifle used by Great Britain during World War II.


The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle[N 2] was intended to be the standard infantry anti-tank weapon of the British Army, only to be overtaken by the PIAT.[2][N 3] The Boys rifle used the .55 Boys Cartridge (13.9 mm) which could penetrate up to 21 mm of armor at 302 meters with a muzzle velocity of 747 m/s.[3] It was fed by a five-round box magazine and had a rate of fire of up to ten rounds per minute. However, the recoil of such a powerful and large cartridge certainly did not win the weapon any favorable opinions from its infantry operators. Nor did the type's laborious maintenance requirements and tendency to reveal the firer's position via sheer sound.[4]

The Boys weighed some 16 kilograms and had a total length of 157 centimeters, restricting the mobility of the weapon.


  • Boys Mk I*: Operational experience led to the introduction of a modified version of the weapon, designated Boys Mk 1*, and designed to speed up production. The Mk I* featured a number of changes, such as a simpler, perforated, muzzle break in place of the original circular design and a Bren gun style bipod instead of the mono-pod.
  • Boys Mk II: In 1940 there were plans to introduce a lighter version, designated Boys Mk 2, and intended for use by airborne troops. Featuring a shorter barrel, the project was quickly terminated, as this version would have produced a more violent recoil effect then that demonstrated by the Mk 1.[2]


Royal Irish Fusiliers marching near Arras, October, 17 1939

Soldiers of the Royal Irish Fusiliers marching near Arras, France, October 1939 with a Boys AT Rifle

The Boys Anti-Tank Rifle first entered service in the late 1930s. As the long barrel and heavy weight made it difficult to carry, the type was usually mounted on a Universal Carrier. An alternative use was as the main armament of some light armored cars. Following the introduction of the PIAT for anti-tank work, the Boys was used as an anti-personnel weapon in the Eritrean and Cyrenaica campaigns, where is proved effective at splintering the rocks used as cover by the enemy.

France received an unspecified number of Boys AT rifles in exchange for a quantity of 25 mm (0.98 in) Hotchkiss anti-tank cannons. Germany also used a limited number of captured Boys rifles for a short while after the evacuation from Dunkirk. Known as the 13.9mm Panzerabwehrbusche 792(e), they were used to supplement German defenses during the construction of the Atlantic Wall. A small number were used by the United States Marine Corps, as anti-dugout weapons during the Philippines campaign in early 1942.[N 4]The type was little used after 1941 however, and declared obsolete in 1942.[2] Total production amounted to almost 69,000 examples.[5]


  1. The book Rapid Fire by A. G. Williams gives overall length of 1.61 m, barrel length of 0.91 metres and weight of 16,6 kg,[1]
  2. The official designation was Rifle, Anti-Tank, 0.55 in, Boys, Mk 1. Originally known as the Stanchon Gun. the rifle was renamed Boys to honour the principle designer, who died shortly before the weapon entered service.[2]
  3. Disney produced a training film for the Boys anti-tank rifle, which was released in 1942, by which time the weapon was generally regarded as obsolete.
  4. There is no record of how these examples reached the Pacific Theater. [2]


  1. Williams, Anthony G. Rapid Fire - The Development of Automatic Cannon, Heavy Machine Guns and their Ammunition for Armies, Navies and Air Forces. Airlife Publishing. 2000. ISBN 1-84037-122-6 Page 252.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 War Machine Magazine issue 105 - Anti-Tank Weapons of World War 2"
  3. Bishop, Chris. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. Amber Books Ltd. (2014), Page 227
  5. Williams, Anthony G. 2000. Page 213.

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