Tag Archives: drill and training rifles

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 26

CURRENT PRODUCTION, CONTINUED

“Plastic-Rubber” Training Models

Wellington Surplus Stores in Perth Australia sell a series of black training rifles. At this time it is unknown who actually manufactures these training rifles. They are made of a plastic material but are sold under the name of “Plastic-Rubber”. These rifles have no moving parts. They are currently selling the following training rifle models.

Daisy 1903 Replica Drill Rifle

In 2003 Daisy Outdoor Products introduced a non-firing drill rifle patterned after the 1903 Springfield Rifle. This rifle was designed specifically for drill purposes and is extremely strong. The black stock is made from a high density plastic material and all other parts are made from steel. It also has an operating bolt and functional sights. It can be purchased with a padded rubber *** plate to prevent floor damage. Although the company identifies this model as a drill rifle it is probably best described as a training rifle. In 2008 the US Navy let contract number N68836-08-P-1833 in the amount of $140,288 for an unknown number of these drill rifles. They are also being used by Navy ROTC units. The Daisy Replica Drill Rifles are among the most durable and functional rifles of this type. They can be purchased directly from Daisy Outdoor Products.

Recently while doing research on the internet, John Spangler located a US Navy document relating to the Navy supply sole search order to purchase 600 Daisy 1903 drill rifles and related replacement parts. This document is dated in 2009 and also it had other relevant information relating to the Navy Contract for Daisy drill rifles. NAVEDTRA 37123-B mandates that all of the Navy drill rifles will be replaced by the Daisy 1903 drill rifle. The Navy has over 18,000 Daisy 1903 drill rifles currently in use. These were procured under contract N00140-02-C-G605 at a cost of $3.7 million. The current purchase request for additional 600 Daisy 1903 drill rifles and related replacement parts is estimated at $269,622.

Singapore Print Dummy Rifles

Singapore Print is a division of Sean Shauna Enterprise. Singapore Print is a large printing company that has a wide range of printing specialties. Little is known about the design or production of these dummy rifles. Their dummy rifles are made of a plastic material and have little detail. They are advertised to be “near to realistic architecture and weight”. The M16 is 34″ long and the Mark IV is 35 3/4″ long. Singapore has a National Defense Corps. This is a paramilitary organization that also deals with social and cultural aspects of the lives of their young people. There are about 20,000 young people active in this government sponsored group. The following illustration shows a young man holding one of these dummy drill rifles.

The DrillMaster Driller’s M14

(Prototype Pictured)

The DrillMaster BayonetDrillMaster Bayonet

Spinning with the DrillMaster Bayonet

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

Malcolm MacPherson is a retired school teacher who started collecting drill and training rifles over 40 years ago.

 

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 25

CURRENT PRODUCTION

There are a variety of drill and training rifles being produced today. Most of them have very high detail due to modern production techniques relating to the injection molding of plastic materials.

There is a category called Airsoft Guns. The sport of Airsoft started in Japan in the 1980’s. In Japan it was illegal to own firearms but there was considerable interest in them, so a company started producing spring-powered replicas of firearms that fired 6mm plastic balls. Since that time the Airsoft sport has become popular all over the world. These Airsoft guns are very highly detailed and can cost over a thousand dollars. Although many of these Airsoft guns could be used for training purposes, they fall outside the scope of this study due the fact that they fire a projectile.

Currently there are a number of retail outlets selling non-firing replica firearms. These plastic replicas range from the flintlock era to modern firearms. They are being used in movies, TV and theater productions. There is also some small interest by collectors of specific firearm models. There is no evidence that they are being used for drill or training purposes and therefore are not included in this study.

Parris – 30 The Parris Manufacturing Co. is still producing a drill rifle constructed from wood and metal. These rifles are covered in detail in another section of this study.

DrillAmerica M1 Garand Replica

This drill rifle is manufactured and sold by Glendale Industries. They are located in Northvale, NJ and sell a broad line of parade items. Their web site is www.ParadeStore.com. They have been very generous in sharing information and a quality photograph of the Garand Replica. Their M1 Garand is the only replica drill rifle that is accurately detailed and also weighted to provide the same handling characteristics as the original rifle. Most other drill rifles are much lighter in weight, which greatly changes their handling characteristics. The production of this drill rifle grew out of an expressed need for a high quality Drill or Parade rifle. The first version of this rifle was introduced in 2002 and since that time has been improved based on customers’ suggestions. It is made of a high-impact plastic and can be purchased with either a fixed or a movable bolt mechanism. The parts that replicate the metal parts on the original rifle have the appearance of being chrome plated. Another notable feature of this rifle is that the metal butt plate and the soft rubber pad are reversible for use indoors or outdoors. The rubber butt pad was designed specifically for use on school gym floors to prevent damage. Glendale Industries is the sole distributor of this high quality replica of the M1 Garand. At this time they are producing about 5000 units a year.

The DrillAmerica M1903A3 Replica

The newest addition to the DrillAmerica line will be available in August 2012.

Mark 1 Parade rifle

The Mark 1 parade rifle is advertised as a modified version of the Springfield rifle. However, the stock profile and bolt handle shape have the same appearance as the Pattern 17 Enfield rifle. It is only 39 inches long as compared to the 43″ length of the Springfield or the 46″ length of the Enfield. It is made of polystyrene and weighs 3.25 pounds. It can be purchased with a white, brown or black colored stock. The parts that replicate the metal parts on the original rifle have the appearance of being chrome plated. The Mark 1 has no sights or moving parts. It is sold by several retail outlets dealing in parade items.

Red Guns

Red Guns are new category. These are sometimes referred to as “rubber guns” but they are made from various plastic materials. This category include examples of pistols, rifles and shotguns. For the purposes of this study I will only be dealing with rifles. They are such close replicas that they could be easily mistaken for real firearms. To prevent this from happening they are dyed a bright red or blue color. An Australian firm is distributing similar replicas in black color that are nearly impossible to tell from the original firearm. It is uncertain if these would be legal in the United States. The Red Guns are being used for training purposes by the military, ROTC units and Law Enforcement agencies. They offer the same handling characteristics as the real firearm at a small fraction of the cost.

Armament Systems and Procedures, Inc. (ASP, Inc.) is a company that was founded in 1976 by Kevin Thomas Parsons. They are located in Appleton, Wisconsin and produce a wide variety of police and personal defense items as well as the Red and Blue plastic training rifles. These plastic training rifles are made of a patented solid silicon-epoxy resin and have no moving parts. A number of retail outlets are selling Red Guns but it appears that ASP produces all of the Red and Blue Training Rifles. Currently ASP is producing the following training rifle models.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: The last one, Current Production, Continued

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 24

JAPANESE TRAINING RIFLES

Starting in the 1920’s, the Japanese government required all junior and senior high school boys to have two hours a week of military training. Several companies started producing the necessary training rifles for this purpose. Unfortunately most training rifles did not bear markings that identified their origin. These training rifles had no standard design and were often made from older models of military rifles or parts from these rifles. Therefore you will find many variations of the same model. There are known models that used 1888 Mauser, type 99, type 30, and type 38 rifle parts. These training rifles continued to be produced until the late 1930’s. Some of these rifles could not be fired while others would fire wooden bullet blank ammunition. Many of the blank firing rifles were made with smooth bore barrels. Rarely would any of these rifles fire the standard service round. Nearly all of these training rifles could carry bayonets.

Type 38 Arisaka Training Rifle

The type 38 rifle was introduced in 1905 and production continued until the end of WWII. The change from 6.5 mm to 7.7mm ammunition began in 1939. During the 1920’s and 1930’s a number of the Type 38 rifles were converted into training rifles. Some of the Type 38 training rifles were designed to fire a 6.5mm wooden bullet blank cartridge. Others have no chamber in the barrel and were not designed to fire although they have the necessary parts to do so. They have cast iron metal parts and would never withstand the pressure of the service round. All of the training rifles have a smooth bore barrel and a solid tang on the receiver.

The Type 38 type training rifle shown below has a barrel that is loosely threaded into an extension on the front of the cast iron receiver. The barrel is held in alignment by the rear sight base and the smooth bore barrel has no chamber. The firing pin tip is too short to reach the face of the bolt. It is obvious that it was never intended to fire even the blank rounds. Although the parts are well finished they are rather coarse castings, being generally oversize. None of the metal parts have been hardened and there is considerable upsetting on mating parts. There is little evidence of heavy use so the parts must be very soft.

On the right side of the butt stock there is a small metal plate with Japanese writing and it has the number 39 stamped into the surface of the plate. The receiver has no markings other than the number 67 which is stamped into the left side of the receiver just above the wood surface. Overall, this training rifle is in good original condition. I would assume that this rifle saw very little use.

Type 38 Variation

This is an unusual training rifle variation. It has a cast iron receiver with a steel dust cover. I suspect that this specimen was made in the early 1930’s when materials were still plentiful. It is chambered for the 6.5 mm wooden bullet blank and has a smooth bore barrel. It was brought back by a GI following WWII, complete with sling and bayonet.

Japanese training rifle bayonets are basically the same shape as the standard service bayonet. However, they are not heat treated and can be easily bent. They are generally not sharpened and have some rounded edges. Often the grips are held on with wood screws. Then scabbards are nearly service quality but somewhat thinner.

1888 Mauser Training Rifle

This training rifle was based upon an obsolete model 1888 Mauser that had been a military rifle for the Japanese prior to 1900. It has had considerable modification. The barrel sleeve was removed, the magazine cut off and some action parts replaced with crude copies. This Japanese training rifle is made entirely out of wood and is 56 inches long. This is considerable longer than the standard military arm. It is approximately the same length as the Type 99 with a bayonet mounted. Because of this I suspect that this was made late in WWII when steel was very scarce. It has Japanese four characters on the right side of the butt stock. It is said to have been brought home by a US soldier following the WWII.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: Current Production

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 23

U.S. PORTABLE BUILDING CORP.

No specimen found to date. The photograph is of an accurate replica that was developed from the advertisement.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment:

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 21

LONG BRANCH TRAINING RIFLE

The Long Branch Training Rifle was produced at the Long Branch Arsenal near Toronto, Canada in 1943 and 1944. There is no evidence that these training rifles were used anywhere other than in Canada. They were used for preliminary rifle training of all forces requiring ground defense training. There was only one model but they were marked either 1943 or 1944 depending on the year that they were produced. A total of about 4000 training rifles were produced during that period. They continued in use until about 1950.

They worked on the same principle as the Swift Training Rifle but had a much simplified mechanism. They were also patterned after the SMLE service rifle and actually used a SMLE bolt body. Although there were those who questioned the value of such a training rifle, the Long Branch had distinct advantages over the Swift. The simplified mechanism was equally effective and it was much cheaper to produce. In most aspects it was a closer replica of the SMLE service rifle.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: British Drill Rifles

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 20

SWIFT TRAINING RIFLE

The Swift Training Rifle system was developed in Great Britain in 1941. At the start of WWII there was a severe shortage of usable firearms both by the military and the general population. This was due to the policy of disarming the population following World War I. American hunters and shooters contributed sporting rifles to arm the British citizens when it was feared that Germany was going to invade England. The Swift Training Rifle is one of the most complex training rifles ever produced. In principle it had two needles that moved forward when the trigger was released and they pierced a paper target that was held in a frame near the muzzle. This allowed the instructor to evaluate the sight picture and whether the rifle was being canted. Viewing the sectional drawing of the Swift shows clearly the complexity of working parts. Before the Swift was ever produced, the military had serious concerns about the practicality of such a device. Under the stress of severe shortages of weapons the Swift went into production late in 1941.

The Swift Training Rifle was used by the British Home Guard. This was a group of approximately 1.5 million older civilian men who were being organized to defend the British shoreline. The RAF also formally adopted the Swift and the ground crews started training with them early in 1942. There were approximately 16000 Swift training Rifles produce from 1941-1943. There were four different configurations of the Swift which were designate MK I, MK II, MK III and MK IV. The MK I and MK II are generally patterned after the Pattern 14 Enfield rifle. There were some modifications made in the MK III and the MKIV to make them look and feel more like the SMLE rifle which was the primary rifle of the British Army. All of these training rifles have a one piece stock and function in the same manner. There is a spring loaded mechanism in the butt stock that requires that the rifle be pulled firmly against the shooters shoulder in order to make the trigger function. You will notice a small ring located at the base of the butt stock that holds the mechanism in the locked position. This ring must be removed in order to use the training rifle.

Since this was a complete system, the training rifles and a sight testing frame were packaged in a very well made wooden transit case. A separate target frame was included with a shipment of rifles. These training rifles are extremely well made and were expensive to produce. One has to wonder why their efforts were not directed toward producing functional rifles.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: The Long Branch Training Rifle

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 19

BAYONET FENCING RIFLES

The following are examples of fencing rifles that were used by the United States and Great Britain. The first two illustrations show examples that are the same length and weight as the 1903 Springfield. The second illustration is a close replica of the SMLE used by Great Britain.

This bayonet drill rifle has no markings but is probably Eastern European and possibly East German. The design of the sling mounting seems to be similar to the Russian Mosin. The end of the barrel has a padded knob and the shaft is spring loaded.

The bayonet fencing rifle shown below was made by the English firm of Webley & Scott in 1914. It has Canadian markings on the barrel assembly. The long forward extension is spring loaded and retracts into the barrel assembly on impact.

M 14 Training Rifle

Very little information has surfaced relative to this training rifle. This skeletonized rifle is made of aluminum and closely resembles the M 14 military rifle. A photograph exists that shows these rifles being used by Marines for bayonet drill practice. It has no moving parts but can carry the standard M6 service bayonet. It seems unusual that it was not supplied with a special padded bayonet if it was specifically designed for bayonet drill. The rifle is unmarked but was probably made between 1957 and 1963 when the M 14 was being used by the US military. Since this training rifle is made of aluminum, I would suspect that it was also used in situations where the rifle would be subjected to wet conditions. It is also possible that an aluminum casting was the most economical way of producing a training rifle for whatever the need might have been. There is an additional rod below the barrel that is not typical of the M14 rifle. I suspect that this rod was designed to reinforce the rather slender aluminum barrel which would have been susceptible to bending. The cut outs in the aluminum stock appear to have been made and located to replicate the weight and balance of the M14 military rifle.

Although this rifle does not meet the general requirements of a training rifle, it may have met very specialized training needs. I will classify it as a bayonet drill rifle rather than a training rifle until further information surfaces.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: The Swift Training Rifle

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 18

Steyr M. 95 Drill Rifle

The Steyr rifles were the primary rifle of Austrian-Hungary during WWI and they were also used by Bulgaria and Greece. Rifles surrendered to Italy after WWI were used by Italy during WWII. The work done on this drill rifle appears to have been an arsenal conversion. There is a large well finished slot in chamber area of the barrel. This is really the only visual way of identifying that the rifle has been altered. It is uncertain if the bolt has been altered in any way. Due to the design of the action it is very unlikely that the firing pin has been removed. In all probability all that was altered was to remove the tip of the firing pin. There are no marks to identify when or where this work was done. These rifles have been on the surplus market since WWII so the work could have been done anywhere in the world. I doubt that anyone would have used this approach to produce drill rifles for the civilian market. If I were to guess, I would likely identify it with the Italian military.

Unidentified

This drill rifle is a very close replica of the 1903 Springfield. Although it has no moving parts, the receiver and bolt are more like the Springfield than any other replica that I have seen to date. It has all of the features of the Springfield and they appear to be the appropriate size and in the correct location. All of the metal parts are made of cast iron and they have not been polished to a smooth finish. The stock appears to be made of pine and stained to look like walnut. It is unfortunate that it has no identifying marks.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: Bayonet Fencing Rifles

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 17

UNIDENTIFIED DRILL RIFLES

There are a number of unidentified drill rifles that have similar characteristics. They are generally unmarked in any way that would identify their origin. They are generally machine made and not one-of-a-kind, although individual specimens of the same model may not be identical. They also may be conversions of obsolete military rifles that were intended for nonmilitary applications. It appears that in most cases they were manufactured between 1900 and 1925. Their variety makes them interesting. At this late date, it is unlikely that most of these will ever be identified.

All of the metal parts on this drill rifle are made of cast iron and none of them are movable. It is well made and a close replica of the 1903 Springfield rifle. The number 238 is stamped into the wood in front of the forward sling swivel. Another rifle of the same make has the number 303 stamped into the wood on top of the butt stock close to the butt plate. I would speculate that they are serial numbers. There are no other identifying marks.

The receiver of this drill rifle is made of cast iron. The bolt is made from a ½” diameter steel rod. A bolt stop controls the travel and rotation of the bolt. The barrel is made of a wooden dowel and the front sight is made of wire. There is no butt plate but there is a narrow piece of wood inset vertically into the butt to strengthen the area. The non-movable trigger is also made of cast iron. There is a stamp on the side of the stock near the grip but it is so small that it is unintelligible. There are no other identifying marks.

This drill rifle was made from a 1891 Russian Mosin rifle. It appears to have been made to look as much as possible like the 1903 Springfield rifle. It may have been a Bannerman conversion that was further modified. The magazine has been cut off and the trigger guard reshaped. All unnecessary parts have been removed and the firing pin cut off. Both front and rear sights have been removed and the barrel shortened.

This Quaker gun is based on the 1895 Dutch Manlicher rifle. The sights have been removed and the magazine cut off. It has a full length wooden barrel which makes the gun much lighter in weight. It is the same overall length as the 1903 Springfield rifle. This type of drill rifle was made for use by youth organizations.

This rifle is unmarked and is difficult to place with any certainty. It has the appearance of a non military rifle but it is 43″ long, which is long for a toy. It has a wooden barrel and no lock mechanism or barrel bands. If it had more detail I would suspect that it was probably a toy. It appears to be machine made, which means that it is unlikely it is one of a kind. It has many of the characteristics of a drill rifle and it could have been produced for youth drill corps. It has been included here as a drill rifle to encourage collectors not to overlook such specimens but to retain them for further study.

This is a war relic from the Vietnam War. It is obviously hand made and is only marginally functional.

This wooden drill rifle is interesting in several ways. No information has surfaced to give any insight into who may have produced this wooden drill rifle. It is entirely made of wood but it has a very accurate profile of the 1903 Springfield rifle. There is a very high probability that these were produced between 1915 and 1920. On the right side of the receiver area of the stock the number 103933 has been stamped into the wood. Since there are no other identifying marks, I would presume that this is a serial number. If so, there were more of these drill rifles produced than any other similar type that has surfaced to date. To have produced and sold this number of wooden drill rifles they must have advertised widely during the WWI period. It is hoped that an advertisement from this period will be found that will identify this drill rifle.

This is another example of an early drill rifle that is very simple yet probably too long to be a toy. It is 40-1/2” long , has a wooden barrel and metal bands. It has the appearance of a musket rather than a modern bolt action rifle. I suspect that this was designed for drill purposes at a boys military school.

This unidentified drill rifle is obviously patterned after the 1903 Springfield. It is close to the same overall length and has a stock profile similar to the Springfield. It has a stacking swivel and two sling swivels and the front barrel band has a bayonet lug. However, the receiver and sights are significantly different. The receiver is abnormally long which makes the upper hand guard much shorter than the Springfield. The receiver has a bolt with a bolt handle that can be pulled straight back to engage a sear mechanism attached to the trigger. When the trigger is pulled it allows the bolt to spring forward. The bolt does not rotate. The fixed sights are much higher than the sights on the Springfield and are a different shape.

This is one of those rifles that is hard to classify. It has many of the characteristics of a training rifle but it probably was designed as a drill rifle. There are no markings on the rifle that can be used to identify the maker. I suspect that it was made between 1910 and 1930.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: Steyr M95 Drill Rifle

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 16

REQUARTH GUN

These drill rifles were made by F.A. Requarth Co. in Dayton, Ohio. Frederick August Requardt was born in Germany in 1835. The family emigrated to the United States (Verona, Ohio) and Americanized their name to Requarth. In 1852 he left their Ohio farm and became an apprentice wood turner with a Dayton firm called Blanchard & Brown Co. In 1860 he opened his own wood turning business in Dayton where the business prospered. The Wright brothers bought spruce from him to build their first airplane. He guided the business for 50 years until his death in 1910. The company is still in the lumber business today. They suffered two setbacks in the early 1900’s. In 1913 a huge flood damaged their business and in 1915 they suffered a catastrophic fire that destroyed their building.

They made a drill rifle that was patterned after the 1873 Springfield Rifle and sold to a variety of youth organizations and military schools. The exact dates of this production is unknown. However, it is possible to piece together an educated guess. Literature indicates that some of these drill rifles were made for the Boys Brigade. The Boys Brigade was a youth organization that promoted rifle drill, as well as other fun activities having Christian values. It was a world wide organization that started in Scotland in 1883. The American branch of the Boys Brigade was started in 1887. The drill rifle production probably started shortly after that date and ended at the time of the flood in 1913. By the time they had rebuilt the business, the demand for drill rifles had started to diminished and by the end of WWI in 1918 the demand was practically non existent. I would speculate that they produced these drill rifles between 1887 and 1915. Some of the drill rifles had a brass plate on the left side of the stock. This plate always carries the name THE REQUARTH GUN and some also carry the name and address of the distributor.

It has been determined that at least three different distributors sold these drill rifles. The following names have been found on this plate.

  • Cincinnati Regalia Co. Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Pettibone Mfg. Co. Cincinnati, Ohio
  • William Read & Sons, Boston Mass.

All of these companies sold sporting goods and/or military and band items. One specimen only lists The Requarth Gun and the Dayton, Ohio address. It is presumed that this specimen was sold directly from the factory. There are also specimens that have no plate or any other form of identification. The drill rifles was generally patterned after the 1873 Springfield in that it had a side hammer and a hinged breech block but in all other features it was unique. It is 47 1/4″ long, which is about an inch shorter than the 1873 Springfield Cadet model. The lock mechanism was made of cast iron and was rather crude in design and execution. For all of it’s shortcomings, it was more elaborate than many other drill rifles of that period. It would be interesting to find an advertisement that indicated the cost. There were two different models (A &B) that were basically identical with the exception of a bayonet lug on the Model A. Little is known of the bayonet other than that it was a socket bayonet and that it was held in place by a cylindrical pin in the front sight location.

The stock appears to have been made of maple and stained or painted to look more like walnut. The barrel is an integral part of the stock and was stained or painted black. There is a short barrel section the extends past the end of the stock. This extension has a short metal sleeve over it. The butt plate is made from a thin piece of sheet metal. There is no evidence to suggest that they ever had any barrel bands or sling swivels. All of the metal parts appear to have been originally nickel plated but are now often found to be well browned from rust. The trigger mechanism was simple but not well designed or heat treated. Many of the surviving specimens have a trigger that no longer  functions to catch or release the hammer.

From the paper, Non-Firing Drill and Training Rifles, by By Malcolm MacPherson

The next installment: Unidentified Drill Rifles