For King and Country: Meet Britain's Small Arms of World War II

For King and Country: Meet Britain's Small Arms of World War II

As war clouds gathered over Europe, Britain considered the future of small arms.

Boys Anti-Tank Rifle

While not technically an infantry weapon, the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle did see a variety of uses during the early stages of World War II. The gun was developed by Captain H C Boys prior to the war, and it was adopted for service in 1937. It was used against lightly armored German tanks and combat vehicles, and Britain also supplied Boys to Finland for use against the Soviet Union in the Winter War.

However, by 1941, as tank armor increased, the gun was essentially ineffectual as an anti-tank weapon. The .55 Boys cartridge was still useful against bunkers, machine gun nests, and light-skinned vehicles, and the gun remained in service until 1943 when it was replaced by the American .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on

This article first appeared in December 2020.

Image: Imperial War Museum / Wikimedia Commons