Does a Drill Rifle Type Matter?

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Commentary, Drill Teams, Honor Guard, Instructional 8 Comments

Hypothetical situation (yet common):

“Well we use M1 Grands and ours weigh 15lbs.”

Oh. Really?

That would be Garand, named after the man who created the rifle, Canadian-born, John Cantius Garand.

For some reason some Drillers think that the heavier the rifle is, the better a Driller you are. This is simply not true. All rifles, including 2lb color guard rifles, require training, skill, finesse and strength, just to name a few qualities. A lighter rifle can be used very effectively if the Driller actually uses the lighter weight to his/her advantage.

There are three types of M1 rifles: the Garand, carbine and tanker model. The latter two are not used for drilling since they are quite short. The Garand weighs around 8.5lbs if it is demilitarized well. If it is demil’d poorly, it will be heavier and will not be a very good drill rifle.

The M1903 comes in a couple of different models. The difference is in the butt stock and the A3 version is the best to drill with since the small of the stock is smooth and tapered. It also weighs around 8.5lbs if demilitarized well.

The M14 is the heaviest of the drill rifles coming in at a hair over 10lbs. It is a Marine Corps standard and has been for decades.

Don’t get hung up on weight. It’s about how the equipment is used.

Comments 8

  1. Hey Drill Master, I am also looking into getting a Drill Rifle for Exhibition. I only practice at school and I would like to practice at home. The Glendale and Daisy Drill Rifles are being sold at an obnoxiously high price right now (Above 300 including shipping). Something I found on was a D1A Air Rifle from Springfield Armory. It weighs 9.9 pounds and seems to be a very sturdy replica, I am still trying to decide what to buy. I am also looking at the lighter rifles on Glendale, but I wanted something thats a similar weight. Would that rifle be a viable option, and what slings would I be able to attach?

    1. Post

      Great question! I went to the website and there isn’t A D1 rifle, but there is an M1 carbine and M1A (M14 equivalent). Neither of those would work because the upper hand guard isn’t long enough.

      Prices are insane now and are only getting worse!

  2. I have a question about weight.

    I am an older adult (60) who is interested in getting back into armed ceremonial drill for fitness and possibly for honor guard work with my local veterans organization. I want to pretend to be young again and learn how to do the fancy stuff (spins, aerials, etc). Heck, I might even try competing, who knows? I’m retired now and can do what I want.

    It’s really hard to find the Glendale or Daisy M1906 drill rifles right now (except in white, which wouldn’t be as versatile). Would there be any advantage to purchasing Glendale’s lighter MAS1 to get started with, should I just wait and get the 9-lb rifle when it becomes available again in May or June? I don’t mind spending the extra $100 to get started while I’m highly motivated, but I don’t know how hard or easy it would be to transition to the heavier model later.

    I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

    1. Post
  3. We have some old 1903a3 30-06 rifles for our Ceremonies…my American Legion Post is small. I usually take care of these rifles. Now things need maintenance and probably replacement parts. I am asking if anyone has this same problem? I have to cope with these rifles as best we can. At our Memorial Day Parade I noticed other drill teams have M1 rifles for their Marchers. Is their anyway I can get M1’s by trading our old rifles back to the DCM? Is there an easier way to do this? Thank You

    1. Post

      Mr. Guerrera,

      The M14 is the only rifle loaned out by the government now. See this article: You might want to exchange your 1903s.

      The M1 Garande that you might see carried by other veteran units for colors could very well be the replica rifles from Glendale Parade Store at The DrillAmerica rifle is quite popular with many programs since it is a replica it does not require special storage or upkeep like a working rifle.

      I removed your email address from the text as that can lead to unwanted contact.


  4. I have a few question I was hoping you could help me answer. Fairchild AFB Honor Guard has been contacted by the Secretary of the United States Air Force asking why we use the M-14’s as ceremonial weapons. I looked in the training guides and numerous websites but, haven’t found the answer my leadership is happy with. The Secretary of the United States Air Force wants to change the ceremonial weapons from the M-14 to the M-16. I, myself, don’t believe the M-16 is very ceremonial. If you could contact me with the history and reasoning of why we use the M-14 during ceremonies, the information could help the Base Honor Guard continue using these ceremonial weapons.

    1. Post

      An email is on its way, but here is what I said:

      Hello A1C Black,

      If you’ve read through my bio, you’ve seen that I’ve worked in the AF’s BHG system for 17 years and I still work sporadically with units.

      How strange that the SECAF would contact your team and (possibly) leave all of the others alone. Every BHG, to my knowledge, uses the M14 for firing party details including the AFHG, Army HG, Marine Corps HG, Navy HG and even the Coast Guard HG. I even used the M14 when stationed overseas. But this does not help you very much with the ammunition you need to respond.

      The M16 is not a ceremonial weapon, as you rightly stated. It is used around the world at American installations, however, and these are mainly Army. The M16 is more of a “fighting weapon” and l can safely say that it looks terrible in ceremonies (colors, cordons & firing party).

      It’s quite possible that the SECAF is looking to cut even more spending due to the sequestration, but at the expense of ceremonial quality: The M16 has fewer parts, is a newer rifle and is made of plastic and metal. The M14 inventory is aging, wood stocks are expensive and replacement parts are fewer and fewer which is why bases don’t have M1903s or M1 Garands anymore- if they do, they are quite lucky.

      I really don’t know that this is a battle that the BHGs can win, sadly. The M14 and M1 Garand are perfect ceremonial weapons for any element and the M1903 with its bolt action is also great for everything but firing party where it is not all that practical.

      I’m sorry that I cannot be of more help to you, when it comes to money and the military, lowest bidder always wins and we suffer to some extent.

      Thank you for your service to our country and also for stepping up and serving on your BHG- Semper ad Honorem (Always for Honor).

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