Which Drill Rifle is Better: Glendale or Daisy?

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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 1903

The Daisy Drill Rifle M1903 Replica

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.

DrillAmerica M1903

The Glendale DrillAmerica M1903 Replica

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.

Comments 13

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  1. I own a Drill America rifle, but we use daisy’s at school so I’ve never really worried about rust. Though We have to clean the rifles and can’t find anything online, so I was wondering do we keep scraping off the rust with brushes, or do we have to blue them or add some type of rust prevention?

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      This is a great question.

      There are videos online as to how to blue a rifle and you could do that. I local school here where I live asked a gunsmith how much it would be to break down their rifles, blue them, and then reassemble all of them. The total was over $100 each. If you have specific funding and can run your rifles down to the shop and have them professionally blued, great. It might help to have a disassembling and reassembling party so the cadets can take part in the process and it could also save you a few bucks.

      You could try to blue one yourself and if it works, start on the rest. Note, my rifle technician, Matt Pereau, blues one of his rifles and he said it was very difficult.

      Lastly, you could keep doing what you are doing and brush the rust off. I also suggest maybe a rust-preventing paint after you eliminate as much rust as possible with a wire brush. Tape off the areas that don’t need painted with that blue painter’s tape and then carefully spray paint the metal parts. You must be very careful not to be to heavy with the paint as it accumulates and drips and that would make the rifle look bad.

      Let me know what you choose and how it goes.


  2. Hello im very new to armed exhibition (this is my first year) so as you can imagine im dropping my rifle alot. Most in grass so im not worried about finish. My main concern is in my rotc program we have both rifles. We only practice with the daisies but compete with the drill america rifles because they are shiny and look better. However upon dropping one the screw head that catches to hold the bolt closed went completely under the metal plate it is supposed to catch on and bent the whole reciever outward. These rifles are probably a year or two old. I was wondering if any improvement to the durability was made to the metal. If so im going to purchase a drill america rifle. If not im going for the more durable daisy. Thank you.

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  3. The drillamerica rifle is nice but breaks VERY VERY easily, with our daisies we drop all the time during exhibition but they are hard to break, I MEAN REALLY HARD. But we dropped our drillamericas once and totally snapped two in half. IN HALF!

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      Hi Jake,

      Thanks for the comment. When Daisy first came out with their drill rifle, they had similar problems. Glendale is working to perfect their 1903 DrillAmerica and it will take time.

      There’s no better ceremonial rifle and I’m sure that the exhibition aspects of the rifle will catch up quickly.

    2. I just but a drill america rifle I dint even attempt to throw it, it just feels too delicate, or flimsy, but either way it is a nice looking pice of plastic, but I noticed that the top part of the rifle is diffrent from the rest of the stock, its a smooth glossy plastic, and it feels like a hollow shell; REALLY flimzy feel to it. I’ll stick to the daisy rifles we use in rotc I’ve never seen one broken, ive only ever heard of it. Plus they make a nice sound when u hit them right!

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  4. First of all, I have to tell you how much I love this website. I’m a squad leader and exhibition instructor of the Armed Drill team here in Snohomish Company, MCJROTC, and everyone knows to check in here if they have a question about anything drill.

    I wanted to ask a question about the balances and weights of the rifle. Snohomish Company has an armory full of the Daisies, and I’m very familiar with it’s balances and weight distribution.

    Buying rifles for practicing at home has invariably been a question asked by cadets, as we cannot loan out any of the Daisies from the armory. So, if a cadet wanted to buy the much cheaper Glendale M1903, would their performance with the armory-issue competition rifles be affected if he learned how to spin and drill on the Glendale? Or would it not affect the performance on the Daisy?

    Cadet LCpl Machado

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      C/LCpl Machado,

      Thank you for the great question and also, thank you very much for the nice comments! My goal is to help educate and it looks like I’m accomplishing my goal!

      Now, on to your question: the fine folks at Glendale have worked to create the best drill rifle available. The DrillAmerica 1903, now available in three colors, was created with painstaking accuracy to make the balance point right at the front of the “lower receiver” (those words are in quotes since it really isn’t a lower receiver, just a representation of one). The Daisy’s balance is very close to the same spot. There shouldn’t be much of a difference, really. There are a couple of cadets at one of the schools where I teach who have DrillAmerica 1903s at home while we drill with the Daisy Drill Rifle at school.

      If you were going from a demil M1903 to one of the two drill rifles, then I would say you’d possibly have some troubles since both drill rifles are solid with no “give” whatsoever while a real rifle has some “give” since the stock and other parts have a little “play” in them. That is a tough transition for some.

      Please pass along my best to your instructors and teammates!


    2. Hi, I am part of the armed squad at Daniel Boone High School MCJROTC. We use Daisys for JV/ first year drill and Springfield’s/03’s for Varsity Drill. We have several national championships for armed and unarmed drill. I started learning armed with the daisy and I actually prefer it. In my experience the daisy is the better rifle but I could be wrong. – Cadet Cpt. Bledsoe

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