A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 10

DrillMasterHistory 4 Comments

Rubber Bayonets and Kadets of America

Rubber Bayonets

I have spent considerable time and have made many contacts in the toy field and have found no definitive information relating to the production of rubber bayonets that were used on the Parris Mfg. Co TraineRifle and Daisy Sport Trainer. The Daisy Sport Trainer Model 634 was produced from 1966 through 1969 and all of this production had a bayonet lug on the fore arm and carried a rubber bayonet. The first illustration of the Parris Mfg. Co. rubber bayonet appears in their 1954 catalog. It is shown as a separate item but indicates that it can be attached to the #4, #2A and MO-1 TraineRifles, which were all lever action cork guns. All models that were later offered with a bayonet attached carried a B prefix (B-MO-1). There is no mention of the Model 23 or 30 bolt action TraineRifles in the 1954 catalog. In their 1956 catalog both of these bolt action models were offered with a bayonet attached. It is unknown when the Parris Mfg. Co. stopped providing a bayonet with their toy rifles. It seems likely that production stopped about the time of the Vietnam War in the early 1970’s.

During the 1960’s most of the companies that had been producing rubber toys had converted to the use of vinyl materials rather than rubber. This presents a problem as the bayonets are clearly made of rubber and this material is identified in some of the advertisements. There were several companies that had produced rubber toys prior to WWII that stopped producing any toys by the early 1950’s. It appears that the Auburn Rubber Co. which was located in Auburn, Indiana, is the only company that continued producing rubber toys into the time period in question. It is known that they produced toy rubber knives. However, there is no record that they produced any rubber bayonets. Unfortunately, there are no identifying marks on either the Parris or Daisy rubber bayonets. The Auburn Rubber Co. began utilizing vinyl material about 1954 and by 1957 was
primarily using this material for their toy production. Although this would have been very late in their production of rubber toys, I believe that there is a high degree of probability that both of these bayonets were produced by the Auburn Rubber Co.

It is hoped that additional information or advertisements will be discovered that will confirm this suspicion. In recent years, Parris Mfg. Co. has only produced a Kadet model (29-1/2” long) and a slightly shorter version of the M-30 model that is 42″ long. This model has less detail than the earlier M-30 rifles.

Some odd Trainerifles have surfaced that are marked differently or that have no identification of any kind. Most of the Trainerifles that have been produced have a decal on the right hand side the butt stock. The design of this decal has changed at various times but they all identify the as a Trainerifle. All of the full size Trainerifles that were produced in Clarinda, Iowa had a butt plate that is stamped with the name and the Clarinda, Iowa, address. Some of the models produced after the company moved to Tennessee have metal butt plates and do not. These butt plates may or may not have any identification markings on them. Unmarked specimens that were produced by the Parris Mfg. Co. are easily identified by the characteristic bolt and action which has remained unchanged since the 1940’s. White stocks became available for all models about 1958. Currently Parris is marketing several different toy rifles that carry the Parris name but are being produced in China.

The decal shown below has a distinctive BB on the Trainerifle logo. This does not appear on the early Trainerifle logo’s. Since it has the Kadets of America symbol it probably was used between 1960 and the early 1970’s. There is no documentation that clearly identifies the meaning of the BB letters. It is known that the Parris Mfg. Co. produced a lever action toy rifle that shot either corks or BB’s. Although the model No. 11 bolt action was designed to fire corks, there is no evidence to suggest that any of the later bolt action drill rifles had a mechanism to fire BB’s.

Soon after the move to Savannah, Tennessee, the Parris Mfg. Co. started using a wooden cartridge in the front of the bolt. This was spring loaded and retracted into the bolt body when the bolt was closed. As the bolt was opened the gold colored cartridge reappeared. It also applied pressure on the bolt to hold it in the closed position. In later production the wooden cartridge was replaced by a plastic cartridge. Often a cartridge is incorrectly called a bullet. I suspect that this was the case here. It appears that all of their early toy drill rifles had a bayonet lug. The BB may stand for – Bullet & Bayonet.

Kadets of America

It appears that the development of the different size Drill Rifles is associated with the formation of the Kadets of America organization. This organization was founded in the spring of 1953 by Cecil Parris to encourage boys and girls to become interested in being members of an organized drill team. There was a complete line of Kadets of America merchandise. This included Official Kadet Trainerifles. In their handbook it states that the Official Kadet Trainerifles had nickle plated metal parts. It appears that only the barrel, bolt body and bolt handle were nickle plated. During the same period they were also producing Trainerifles that had painted metal parts for the general toy market. Obviously the “Official” designation was a merchandising ploy to enable them to sell more drill rifles and related accessories, but it also appears that Parris believed that young people would benefit from a paramilitary experience. The following brief history appears in a 1960 copy of the Kadets of America Handbook.

I located the cover sheet and back page of “The Kadet News” which was a bi-monthly newsletter of the Kadets of America. It is dated June, July 1958 and has a picture of founder Cecil Parris on the cover. The Kadets of America stopped functioning in 1970. They very likely went out of existence due to the antiwar sentiment relating to the Vietnam War.

Next installment: The Daisy Sport Trainer

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

Comments 4

  1. I’ve only just come across your wonderful site. My older brother in the 50s had one of the smaller Springfields with the wooden bullet and rubber bayonet. In the early 60s I had one of the KOA lever action rifle that fired corks, I’ve only just come across a photo from an old Kadet catalogue that shows they were originally BB guns that explains how well made they were for just a cork ‘pop gun’


    Coincidentally, I watched a public domain film ‘When the Girls Take Over’ that show both the government forces and the Castro type insurgents on ‘Hondo Rico’ (filmed on Puerto Rico) carrying small children’s models of the Springfields with the KOA sticker still on the butt!

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  2. I bought a brown KOA rifle in 1960 and was prmptaed to join the Kadets of America after reading the manual that came with it (the one shown in lyour article). I was a corporal in the Rainbow Division (Norfolk, VA) and given a white drill team rifle.rifle in reocgnition of my organizint the Ocen View Company. The whit rifle was identifcal in all respectds but without a rubber bayonet. I also have the Civil war musket, which came with a rubber bayonet, and the musket handgun, al otah which I still have. The musket used individual gree caps and fired small cork minnieballs. I still have all four if there are any q. It is a shame that this organiation does not still exist today. They first taught me the manual of arms and how to march such procedreus as “column right, even while exectuinb the “Kadet Twirl.”

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