The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Three collectable air rifles originally designed for military purposes

Robert Morgan looks at a trio of air rifles that were designed for military training purposes, though that did not go entirely to plan

collectable air rifles

One of the most famous British air rifles ever produced, the Webley & Scott MKII Service

I’m taking a look here at three collectable air rifles. All share a common theme in that when they were designed by their respective manufacturer they almost certainly all had the theme of military training in mind. In the end only one was ever used as a military trainer, but more of that later. (Read have you got an old air rifle from the 80s and 90s tucked away? It could be worth more than you expect.)

Collectable air rifles

The ability to swap barrels and calibres made the Webley a legend


The first rifle probably needs no introduction as it is probably one of the most famous British air rifles ever produced. I hazard that most people with even only a passing interest in airguns will have heard of – the Webley & Scott MKII Service. The name is a bit of a misnomer because there was never a MKI ‘Service’. The earlier air rifle was simply an adaptation of the MKI air pistol produced at the time. Despite Webley’s hopes of the military adopting it as a training tool, orders never materialised. However, it was a successful rifle in its own right with a production that ran between 1932 and 1945.

A lot of its success was down to the Webley name, which was well respected and well known at the time. Also, the ability to swap barrels and calibres easily was a feature that would make it a bit of a legend in collecting circles, the scarce .25 barrel being particularly sought after. At auction, an average to good example can be obtained for between £300 and £500. The addition of an extra barrel and the extremely sought-after cased three-barrel set will push this well into four figures.

BSA Military Pattern

The BSA Military Pattern is a real rarity


The next rifle is a real rarity, the BSA Military Pattern. Basically an improved model D with the addition of a dummy bolt and military woodwork, BSA only had the military in mind when they built these. Weighted to imitate the .303 Enfield service rifle at 9lb 4oz, it would seem that the military were not impressed as, between 1906 and 1914, it is believed fewer than 400 were produced across two variants. Most collectors will never be fortunate enough to own one, but should you happen across one today, be prepared to pay well over £2,000.

It is believed that fewer than 400 BSAs were built between 1906 and 1914

collectable air rifles German Mars

The fact that the Mars was made in large numbers means it is affordable


Lastly, we have a German Mars 115. This rifle is the only one of the three that was adopted for military training. Looking like the Mauser rifle, it cocked via the bolt handle and fired lead BBs, repeating out of a concealed magazine. The Germans were great fans of training rifles and actually had a number of models in their stable as well as small-bore rimfire rifles that imitated their larger cousins. The detail used was quite incredible really, with the rifles being fitted with dummy cleaning rods and sights of similar form to their full-bore counterparts. All these features make these rifles quite sought after. Made in larger numbers, they do tend to be more affordable for the collector. Expect to pay around £300 for a tidy one at auction.

German Mars 115 air rifle

The German Mars 115 is the only rifle of the three used for military training