A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 17

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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

Comments 2

  1. Really great reference info – should be published as a book!

    Per Malcom McPherson’s invitation “that other interested collectors will share photos and information on unique specimens”, I have two that are quite interesting and “unidentified”.

    I am interested to share photos and observations as I am a collector myself. Neither one has any markings. One appears to be an all wood full size 1903 Drill Rifle (with metal front site, trigger, trigger guard, sling swivels and stacking band) while the other is perhaps a toy, though actually fabricated on an original 1903A3 stock. It is also all wood (other than the trigger guard and missing sling and stacking swivels). It is extremely unique in that it features a 4 prong, star-shaped wooden trigger that allows “semi-automatic” fire that create a loud popping sound in an internal sound box.

    I do hope these are of interest to the subject and would greatly enjoy sharing photos, observations and answering questions.

    1. Post

      Mr. Merino,

      Thank you for your comment. I agree, the information in this series could very well be an ebook. I published all of the information with Mr. McPherson’s permission to hopefully reach as wide an audience as possible.

      Your rifles sound interesting! As far as sharing information and photos, my website is not set up for interaction like that.


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