A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 7

DrillMasterHistory 4 Comments

The Parris-Dunn Variant

This Parris-Dunn variant is unusual in many ways. This configuration is previously unknown and subject to speculation. At this time I believe that it is an early prototype of the Navy model. It is known that when the US Navy approached Parris-Dunn about producing a training rifle, they wanted several design changes from the Army model. Four of these changes were a functioning trigger, a bayonet lug, an adjustable rear sight and a steel barrel section. They also wished to increase the overall weight of the rifle as the Army model weighed less than 4 pounds. By making a cast iron trigger assembly, adding a steel barrel section and a steel front band with a bayonet lug, the weight was increased to over 5 pounds. It is my judgement that this prototype was designed to bring the weight of the rifle up to the weight of the 1903 Springfield. This was accomplished by adding a solid steel bolt and a cast iron upper hand guard. This brought the weight up to over 7-1/2 pounds. There were also some miner alterations to make the rifle appear more like the Springfield. The most obvious was a modified striker on the bolt. They also made the front portion of the hand guard integral with the forearm and scored along the bottom edge to make it appear as though it was a separate part.

Apparently the heavy cast iron hand guard and modified bolt were not adopted. I would guess that the additional cost of these features out weighed any perceived benefit. All of the other features are identical with the final configuration of the Navy model. The butt plate has unique markings that also lend credence to the fact that it may be a prototype. The PD 5 probably stands for Parris-Dunn and the fifth modification in the development process of the Navy model. If this proves to be a prototype it is, without a doubt, the most rare Parris-Dunn training rifle. Unfortunately, there is little likelihood that this can ever be verified.

The Parris-Dunn Variant 2

This is the second rifle of this type to have surfaced. It is identical to the one that I own with the exception that it has no markings on the butt plate. It has the number 77 stamped into the wood on the bottom of the fore arm near the stacking swivel. It is missing the middle barrel band but there is evidence on the upper hand guard that it originally had this band. It weighs 7 pounds 8 ounces, which in also very close the weight of my rifle. This rifle adds to the evidence that suggests that these rifles may have been prototype rifles. The following areas are unique to these rifles and are not found on any other Parris-Dunn civilian or military models.

  • The 7-1/2 pound weight is about 2 pounds heavier than any other model.
  • The cast iron upper hand guard.
  • The steel bolt body and special cocking knob.
  • The groove in the sides of the fore arm to simulate a separation of the upper hand guard.
  • The lack of any consistent marking on the butt plate.

If these training rifles were designed to be sold in the civilian market, all evidence suggests that they would have had typical Parris-Dunn markings on the butt plate. They are clearly not one of the contract rifles that were used by the Army or Navy.

Parade Rifle
The following Parris-Dunn Training Rifle is a typical example of a Parade rifle. It has been extensively refinished and the metal parts chrome plated. This work was done at a later date as Parris Dunn never produced any training rifles finished in this manner. Such modifications are interesting but generally reduce the value as a collectors item.


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

Comments 4

  1. It seems I have one of these rifles as well marked PO 5 parris Dunn clarinda Iowa that is the only marking I can find.

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  2. While at my local Cabela’s a few years back I found two Parris Dunn Training Rifles on the used rifle rack. Already owning one myself I noticed that one of them was different from the rest of the ones I saw at gun shows. The difference was the weight and the bolt, trigger housing and upper forearm were made out of solid metal. Both of the rifles had the same price on them so I purchased the odd ball one. Once I got it home I did a little research and found a passage in The Malcolm MacPherson book about it possibly being a prototype. Being a small time military collector I took it to a couple of gun shows in my area and showed it to what I consider people in the know about everything military.None of them were familiar with this rifle. I contacted the Parris – Dunn Company and had correspondence with the current President of the company. He was unable to supply me with any information about the manufacturing of this rifle, how many were made etc. After reading your article on this model I am convinced that I have one of the rifles mentioned.
    The metal and wood are in very good condition. The bolt and trigger work. It has the folding rear sight and the bladed front sight. The sling swivels and stacking swivel along with the bayonet lug are on the rifle. The butt plate has

    Made in U.S.A.
    Parris – Dunn Corp.
    Clarinda, Iowa

    On the right side of the trigger the number 12 is stamped. With the standard canvas military sling in weighs in at 7 pounds and 14 ounces. I was able to purchase the plastic bayonet and scabbard to complete the rifle. Pictures can be made available upon request

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