This article could be easily based on bias: Joes Rivas, the owner of Glendale Industries, is a friend of mine. I could say that his rifle is the best, but I won’t, I’m going to let you make the decision after listing the pros of each rifle:
The Daisy Drill Rifle has been around the longest, so Daisy goes first.
The Daisy Drill Rifle was the first M1903A3 replica to be mass produced on a very wide scale specifically for drill. It is a very durable toy rifle (yes, legally, it is nothing more than a toy). The Daisy has been replacing JROTC demilitarized rifles (M1, M14 & M1903) now for several years and cadets have been using it just as long with great benefits. The parts are even interchangeable with a real M1903 rifle. The stock comes in a black resin only. If you damage the stock, scars can be sanded and even filled-in. What’s not to like?
Well, here is a point to not like: rust. The Daisy’s metal parts are bare, just like a real rifle, and are subject to rusting. The schools I work with in Florida, store their rifles in rooms that are not air conditioned in the summer and that moisture builds up and rust is the outcome. You then have to disassemble the rifles, sand the rust and oil or paint the metal and then put it back together. The stock is also slippery. Tape is usually the workaround for this, but it’s still not the best surface for gripping if you don’t want to tape it.
The Glendale DrillAmerica M1903 Rifle
The newest addition (Aug 2012) to the replica industry, the DrillAmerica M1903, in many respects, is like the Daisy. Here are some differences: all of the metal parts are painted black (no rust!) or, and this is a huge plus, the rifle comes in chrome! The stock comes with a wood grain-like finish and, another big plus, the upper band comes with a bayonet lug! It is a truly beautiful piece of equipment. The stock is smooth, but not as slippery as the Daisy and easy to grip. What’s not to like with this rifle too?
Here’s something that may be not pleasing: the stock. If you damage the stock, you’ve just scarred the wood grain layer and that cannot be fixed to look the same. Of course, you can completely sand down the stock and paint it whatever color you wish (as you can with the Daisy). Some individuals think the DrillAmerica is the “wrong color.” UPDATE (June 1015): There are now three stock colors! and Glendale also has new stocks with reformulated resins to create a virtually unbreakable stock!
What’s DrillMaster’s choice? I own a Daisy Drill Rifle and I like it. It’s a good, solid rifle and I’ve been working on mine to make it black and gold and attach an upper band with a bayonet lug. I’m going to use it as my tinker rifle, since I cannot physically spin anymore. For the pluses listed above and the sheer beauty of the rifle, I’m going with the DrillAmerica M1903, of which I own three, as my choice for performances. I can attach a DrillMaster Bayonet to it right away. I’ll deal with the scarred stocks when they happen.
And, the DrillAmerica M1903 is $70 less in black and $130 less in chrome.