A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 9

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My only interest in the Parris Mfg. Co. toy rifles is in their bolt action models that were generally patterned after the 1903 Springfield rifle. However, some general information is useful in understanding their development. It appears that Cecil Parris was the driving force in developing their toy gun market. He was younger that William Dunn and had a strong sales background and it would have been natural for him to have wanted to expand their market. In 1943 Parris approached Maurice Greiman about designing a toy gun that would fire small corks and the successful development of this first “pop gun” started them in their toy business. When Parris purchased the company in 1949 they already had a well-established toy business.

With each toy rifle you got a well-designed document that gave the standard military manual of arms and showed pictures of their line of toy guns. Unfortunately these documents were not dated but those that show the Clarinda, Iowa address were printed between 1944 and 1951. In one such booklet, they show two “clicker” models that were non-firing toys and seven models of different sizes that were “cork shooters”. They also show a “cork shooter” pistol that appears to have been patterned after the Colt Woodsman automatic pistol. This pistol was sold under the name of “Strait Shooter”. There were two different groups of rifles, one called “Trainerifles” and the other called “Cowboy Pla Guns”. Both used the same lever action cocking lever and had similar profiles. The main difference was that the Trainerifles came with a canvas sling attached. They also produced a “Shoot- Rite Gun” which was also cork firing. This was available singly or as a complete “Indoor Trainer Kit” which included movable “Ro-Target” that spun when the cork hit the target. This gun was substantially more refined and had front and rear sights. It is interesting to note that this booklet does not show any toys guns patterned after the 1903 Springfield rifle. At this time they were still producing a Drill Rifle similar to the full size military training rifle. I would assume that they felt that this model was too large to be appropriate for the toy market and as such was not included.

It should be noted that from the very start of the production of bolt action toy drill rifles there were minor variations in their size, shape and marking. All of these models carry the TRAINERIFLE designation. Although you may find drill rifles that vary slightly in length, it appears that there were only five different sizes of bolt action toy rifles produced. The smallest is the SMALL FRY TRAINERIFLE which was 23 ½” long and had a different type of bolt action. It had a trigger mechanism that made a clicking sound when pulled and is definitely a toy. This model appears to have gone out of production soon after the company moved to Tennessee. Production records no longer exist so it is impossible to determine precisely when specific models were introduced, modified or dropped from the line. For a short period of time about 1960 they list a model No. 11 cork shooting drill rifle. This is the only bolt action drill rifle designed to fire any form of projectile.

In the earliest listing of toy rifles made by the Parris Mfg. Co. in Clarinda, Iowa the prefix A is used on several of their earliest models. The prefix B has been verified to indicate models that had a rubber bayonet attached. The prefix K was used on models specifically designed for the Kadets of America. The Kadets of America were organized in 1953 and stopped functioning in 1970. The prefix M appears on bolt action models patterned after the 1903 Springfield military rifle. It appears that at various times the letters K and M were “mixed and matched” on the same models. (K-23, M-23, K-M-23). The number designations appear to be a means of identifying the relative size of the non-firing toy drill rifles. The smallest being #20 and the largest #30. It should be noted that their model No. 11 fired corks and does not have an M designation.

The following bolt action drill rifles all have the same action as the original military training rifles made by Parris-Dunn. They were introduced into the toy line in 1955-56 and were offered with a rubber bayonet at this time.

Approximate Overall Length and Model Designation

  • 30″ K-21
  • 33″ K-23
  • 39″ M-K
  • 43″ (Full Size replica) M-30


The early model K-23 illustrated below was made about 1956. What is unique with these early models was that they were designed to carry a rubber bayonet. You should note that on this model the barrel is longer than on later models and that it has a metal tab on the barrel near the forearm. This metal tab fits into small recess in the end of the bayonet handle. The barrel length is 3 9/16″ from the muzzle to the inside of the tab. The barrel length of later models ranges from 2 1/2 – 3″, which is too short to mount the bayonet. If the barrel has no tab, the toy drill rifle was not designed to carry a bayonet. It is uncertain when the change occurred but it is probable that after 1970 no bayonets were available.

The following appears to be a later variation for mounting a rubber bayonet on the muzzle of a K-23 Parris Mfg. Co. Toy Drill Rifle. You will note that there is a small bar inserted into the wood below the barrel. I suspect that this was the system that was used during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as this would have been less expensive than mounting the tab on the barrel.

The next installment: Rubber Bayonets

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

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 8

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Following the completion of their military contracts for the Parris-Dunn Training Rifle in 1943, they continued making a similar model for the civilian market. In 1949, William Dunn retired and sold the company to Cecil Parris. Parris renamed the company the Parris Manufacturing Company and continued to produce toy guns and drill rifles in Clarinda until 1951. In 1952, he moved the company to Savannah, Tennessee. The company is still located in Savannah and continues to produce a variety of toys.

The earliest information concerning the civilian production of Parris-Dunn Corp. drill rifles is a flier showing what they called the Victory Trainer. This came in a Standard and Deluxe model. The Standard model has a fixed wooden bolt, a simplified trigger and a raised wooden platform for a rear sight. It was the same size and shape as the Parris-Dunn Training Rifle. The Deluxe model appears to be identical to their military contract Training Rifle. Both of these models have a metal butt plate marked:

In March of 1946 the Parris-Dunn Corp. celebrated the production of their 2 millionth gun. This number included (335,000) military contract training rifles, (200,000) similar civilian models, and (1,465,000) drill rifles and other assorted toy guns. Mr. Greiman indicates that they had production capabilities to produce over 3000 guns a day.

Parris-Dunn TraineRifle
This specimen is the only Parris-Dunn marked toy TraineRifle that I have located that is the same general size and shape as the military models. It appears to be a composite of features taken from both of the military models. It has traces of the original Parris-Dunn decal remaining on the right side of the stock. The stock has the identical profile and thickness of the Victory 1942 Army model. The radius of the curved surfaces on the top and bottom of the stock is slightly greater than the Army model and is more similar to the Navy model. This tends to make the sides of the stock to look more flat. The finger groove on the fore arm is 7-1/2″ long as compared to 6-1/2″ on the military models. The front and middle bands are painted on the stock, the barrel is made of wood and there is no bayonet lug which are all features found on the Army model. The wooden barrel on the TraineRifle is 3-5/8″ long as compared to a 3-1/4″ length on the military models. The swivels, receiver and bolt are identical to the military models. The trigger, trigger guard and adjustable rear sight are identical in appearance and function to the Navy model. The butt plate is the same size and shape as the Navy model but has different markings. This marking is also found on the Standard and Deluxe models of the Victory Trainer which were made for civilian drill groups following the completion of the military contracts in 1943. I would guess that this TraineRifle was produced between 1945 and 1948. It appear that Parris-Dunn was attempting to use up the parts that were remaining from their military contracts and decided to add a full size TraineRifle to their toy line. It is interesting to note that this size TraineRifle never appears in any of the Parris-Dunn advertising but surfaces in the Parris Mfg. Co. advertising in 1955-56.

Parris Mfg. Co. M-30 TraineRifle
This toy bolt action training rifle was made by the Parris Mfg. Co. It was part of a line of toy rifles that they produced after the company moved from Clarinda, Iowa to Savannah, Tenn. It was the largest in the line and was probably developed primarily for use by the Kadets of America drill teams. It has many of the same characteristics of the earlier Parris-Dunn TraineRifle. The following illustration shows their similarity.

There is a significant difference in the weight and quality of the materials. The stock is made of pine and stained to look like walnut. The front and middle bands are painted black on the wood surface and there is no recess in the top of the front band. There is no metal butt plate. The face and a strip around the butt are painted black. The barrel is a thin metal tube also painted black. The trigger assembly and trigger guard are made of thin sheet metal. The trigger makes a clicking sound when pulled. This is accomplished by snapping a lever over a thin wooden strip. The stacking and sling swivels are very similar to those on the original military training rifles. This model was designed to carry a rubber bayonet and has a thin metal strip attached to the under side of the barrel to hold the bayonet in place.

One unusual detail is the adjustable rear sight. This sight appears to be identical in material and workmanship to those used on the military contract training rifles. I am certain that every attempt was made to reduce the production costs of these TraineRifles. Most of the TraineRifle production had a decal on the side of the stock. Even when a decal was not applied or has worn off, they are easily identified as being very different from those produced by Parris-Dunn. They were produced from 1955-56 until at least 1970. The current M-30 model that they produce is a much simplified and a slightly shorter version but it retains the familiar bolt action.

The next installment: Toy Drill Rifles

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

Kentucky’s Junior Guard Program

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If you are a member of the military drill world then you have most likely heard of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Program) which is in hundreds of high schools across the nation; ROTC, the senior program that is in hundreds of colleges and universities, is the senior partner. Each branch of the military has an ROTC program: Army, Marines, Navy and the Air Force. The Coast Guard has two JROTC-like programs with one in southern Florida and one in North Carolina. The Merchant Marines don’t have a program, but do have the Merchant Marine Academy.

Now, let me introduce you to a fairly new program that is only in the state of Kentucky: Jr. Guard. It’s the Army’s National Guard program for five Kentucky high schools. Make that four Kentucky high schools. The school board at Lincoln County High School has deemed it necessary to remove the program. Here is part of a message a Marine friend of mine received:

“Good evening Sgt., i was wondering if you could do me a favor? You see, this September, i will be enlisting in the Marine Corps. We had a program in my high school that was dropped because of budget cuts. The thing is, the school never payed us anything, they never did anything for us, we were funded through the national guard, and then the national guard stopped funding us, we paid out of our pockets. Then on the last day of school, they fired our instructor, SFC Eddie Jones and took the program out of high school. For me and other Jr Guardsmen, this was our life, most of us plan on joining the military here soon. We were using the program to prepare us, but they cut it out. and well, i was wondering, if you could like the page Help Save Jr Guard at LCHS and maybe say something about it? We would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your time Sgt. Semper Fi

Please go here to “Like” the page and add your support.

Folks, we need to save student programs: band, JROTC, art, all of these types of classes that enrich the lives of the students beyond the measure of test scores. The types of classes/programs that help shape and build the character of the students taking part. Read here how the program has improved the students!!

Some information about this great program:

  • The JR. Guard program is a collaborative partnership between our Youth Service Center and the 1/623rd Kentucky Army National Guard. The program began in the 1995-96 school year with approximately 15 students. The idea was to target “at-risk” kids who were falling through the cracks of our educational system. Students are provided with a JR. ROTC-like opportunity that links our school and the military. Through this opportunity we hope to find a niche for those students who may not be able to find there way elsewhere in the school.
  • The students in the program are linked with National Guard who serve as mentors. These mentors meet with the students on a regular basis.
    -They participate in experiential activities that demonstrate the value of classroom learning with adult guardsmen.
  • The students are taught things like self-discipline, rappelling, marching, drill and ceremony, use of night vision goggles, map reading, marksmanship, military etiquette, first aid, physical fitness, and the list goes on and on.
  • The culmination of the year brings the students to our annual FTX (Field Training Exercise). At the FTX, students put into play, what they have been practicing all year long.
  • During the 1998-99 school year, the Kentucky School Boards Association, through their Public Education Achieves in Kentucky (PEAK) Award, recognized [the program’s innovative] design because it enhances student learning and promotes public education.
  • While the program initially targeted an “at-risk” population, the popularity of the program has grown so that there is a waiting list every year of the students and parents who want to participate in the program.
  • We have seen a reduction in disciplinary problems with these students and a dramatic improvement in student self-esteem and achievement.
  • Currently the program includes students in grades 6th-12th at participating schools. The schools that are participating are in 8 different school systems across the state of Kentucky

I found this info here.

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 7

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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

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 6

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Victory 1942 model

Mark I Navy model

Unfortunately, no Parris-Dunn production records still exist, so all of the information relating to them has been pieced together from other sources. An early employee by the name of Maurice O. Greimann wrote short article in 1984 concerning the Parris-Dunn Corp and his information has been invaluable. In 1943 Mr. Greimann came to work for the Parris-Dunn Corp. as an electrical engineer. When the work shifted to making Training Rifles he became involved in their production and designed the firing mechanism for the first toy guns they later produced.

The Parris-Dunn Corporation was founded by William G. Dunn and Cecil L Parris when they formed a business partnership in 1937. Each of these men brought unique contributions to this partnership. Although Dunn had no formal technical training he, like many great inventors, could see the interrelationships that existed between different mechanical devices and could modify or combine them to solve problems. Parris had a background as sales manager for the Kari-Kleen company of Souix City, Iowa and was a talented merchandiser. Initially Parris was the President of the corporation and Dunn the Vice-president but during the war years their positions reversed.

William G. Dunn (1883-1968) ran a hardware business in Clarinda, Iowa in the early 1900’s. In 1917 he formed the Dunn Counterbalance Company operating out of the back of his hardware store. He eventually built a factory on South 15th Street in Clarinda and the name was changed to the Dunn Manufacturing Co. He was a very talented inventor and eventually held patents for 75 different mechanical devices, many of which were related to the early automobile and aircraft industry. In 1934 he developed a wind driven generator that was designed for farm use. His primary invention was a device to control the speed of the propeller on this device. In 1936 he formed a partnership with Cecil Parris in order to better promote his generator business. In 1937 they sold 37,000 of these units. When WWII broke out in 1941 their wind generator business was declared nonessential and they were only allowed to make repair parts for the units already in use. There was a severe shortage of military firearms at the start of the war and they were approached by US Army Ordnance to produce a non-firing training rifle. Shortly after, the US Navy also expressed interest in this project but they wanted some slight modifications in their model.

In July of 1942 the Army let contract 271 ORD for 35,000 training rifles of their pattern at a cost of $166,000. In August the Navy let contract NROS 10993 for 190,000 training rifles having their changes at a cost of $903,000. In October of 1942 the Army contract was completed and in November they finished the first Navy contract. In January of 1943 the Navy let contract NORD 808 for 110,000 additional training rifles and in June that contract was completed. The total cost of the 300,000 rifles produced for the Navy was $1,384,000. The cost per rifle for the first contract was $4.75 and for the second contract $4.37. By the time of the second contract, Parris-Dunn could no longer get walnut wood for the stocks as all of it was going to arsenals that were making functional military rifles. They had to start using a cheaper grade of wood during the last contract which lowered the unit price.

Prior to the start of the military contracts Parris-Dunn recognized that they did not have sufficient personnel to produce the required number of training rifles in a short period of time. They put together another organization called Parris-Dunn Associates to undertake this important project. I have a document that contains the following: “C.L. Parris, W.G. Dunn and H.E. Davidson, Copartners, doing business as Parris-Dunn Associates”. At this time I have not been able to identify H.E. Davidson. They immediately expanded into all of the available building space in the area and hired more employees. This number grew to 250 during the peak of their production. They sub-contracted much of the work to 14 different businesses. The wooden stocks and sights were manufactured at their Clarinda plant and all of the assembly and finishing was also done there. They had that capacity to produce over 3000 training rifles a day. They became so efficient that the company voluntarily returned $228,000 to the Government as excess on allowable profit. On July 23, 1943 Parris-Dunn Associates received the coveted Army-Navy “E” Production Award.

After the completion of their military contracts they continue to produce 200,000 of a civilian model for drill corps, schools and ROTC programs. The civilian model was essentially the same as the military models but had different markings. In November of 1945 The Nave classified their training rifles as surplus and offered them for sale at $7.75. This price included a plastic bayonet and scabbard. Nothing is known concerning the disposition of the Army training rifles. The Parris-Dunn Training Rifle is not a very accurate replica of the 1903 Springfield Rifle. It has a similar profile but is thinner in cross section and 3 pounds lighter in weight. The receiver, bolt and trigger mechanism are simple and crude by comparison to the Springfield. It has the general feel and appearance of a toy. It was reported that these training rifles were not very popular with soldiers and sailors that were required to use them during basic training. It must be noted that there were no other alternatives available at the time.

The Army model was marked on the butt plate:

The Navy contract rifles were marked on the butt plate:

The stock and the bolt mechanism are identical on both models and both models have two sling swivels and a stacking swivel. The following differences will help identify each model.

The typical Army Model

  1. It have a simple trigger that does not move.
  2. It has a sheet metal trigger guard.
  3. It either had no middle barrel band or it had a painted black stripe to simulate this band.
  4. It has no bayonet lug.


The typical Navy Model

  1. It has a movable trigger that makes an audible click when pulled.
  2. The trigger guard was made of cast iron
  3. It has a metal middle barrel band.
  4. It has a bayonet lug on the metal front barrel band.


Specimens with the Army butt plate marking have been found with some Navy model parts. This is probably due to the Army and Navy contracts overlapping. William Brophy indicates that there are unmarked specimens of these training rifles. An interesting fact appeared while I was examining a U.S. Training Rifle Co. Specimen. The rear sight on the Parris-Dunn Training Rifle is an exact copy of the rear sight on the U.S. Training Rifle which was produced in 1917. Because of the way they were mounted this cannot be chance or a case of interchanging parts at a later date. Maurice O. Greiman indicated that the rear sights were made in the Parris-Dunn plant in Clarinda. It would be interesting to know how Parris-Dunn got the tooling to produce them or if they possibly produced the original sights for the U.S Training rifle Co. All of the Navy contract training rifles were supplied with a plastic bayonet and scabbard. One of the changes specified prior to the start of the first Navy contract was to attach a bayonet lug on the forward band. This probably indicates that no bayonet lug was planned on the Army model. However, there a known specimens of the Army model that have a bayonet lug. This may have something to do with the Army and Navy production overlapping and that it was more economical to use one style of front band. Early in WWII there was a critical shortage of steel.

As little steel as possible was used in the manufacture of the training rifles and plastic was substituted for the blade of the bayonet. The bayonet was designed to fit the training rifle and they would not fit on any of the standard U.S. military arms. Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Co. and Beckwith Manufacturing Co. each had military contracts to supply the plastic bayonets. Victory Plastics had a contract to produce scabbards for the bayonet. All of the bayonets are marked U.S.N Mk. I. on one face near the hilt and on the other side either B.M. or P.B.C. The scabbards are also marked U.S.N. Mk.I. The contract price of the bayonet varied but it ranged from $1.50 and $1.70 and the price of the scabbard was $0.75.

The next installment: Parris-Dunn Variants

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

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 5

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The US Training Rifle Co. produced a non-firing training rifle during World War One. At the start of the war there was a severe shortage of serviceable rifles for training purposes. Krag rifles were brought out of storage and put into service as training rifles even though they could not fire the1906 cartridge. This shortage led to the development of the non-firing US Training Rifle. The United States Training Rifle Co. and the Wood-Art Machine Co. were involved in the production of the US Training Rifle. The relationship between these companies is an enigma. Examination of Boyd’s Philadelphia Business Directory, the Industrial Directory of New Jersey, and correspondence with the US Navy give some insight into their relationship. During 1917, both companies used the same business address at 420 Stephen Girard Building and early in 1918 they both moved to 1201 Colonial Trust Building in Philadelphia, PA. The Wood-Art Machine Co. also had a “factory” (at an unknown address) in Woodbury, NJ. During this period both companies had the same officers. James E. Baum was president, Wadsworth Cresse was treasurer, and Stephen Robinson was Secretary.

With few available records, it was impossible to find out much about these companies. However, I would speculate that these companies were in reality one organization that was operating under two different names for economic reasons. It is entirely possible that neither company produced any of the components that went into the US Training Rifle. They may have subcontracted all of the parts and merely assembled them in the Woodbury facility. To me this seems probable as they produced 10,000 training rifles in approximately 125 days. If they had produced all of the parts, I feel that it would have required a prohibitively large facility and work force. There is no record of any such large manufacturing facility in the Woodbury area at that time. The first listing of the Wood-Art Machine Co. appears in 1917 and the last in 1919. From this I must conclude that the Wood-Art Machine Co. was formed specifically to produce the US Training Rifle.

The US Training Rifle was an accurate reproduction of the 1903 Springfield rifle, which was the standard US military rifle of the period. It was not designed to fire but had the same weight and balance as the 1903 Springfield. The bolt was designed to operate in the normal manner. It was equipped with a bayonet lug that would mount a standard 1903 bayonet. The US Training Rifle Co. did not produce any bayonets or accessories for their training rifles. The top of the front receiver ring is stamped:


There are no serial numbers on any of the metal parts. Several specimens have 3/8″ – 1/2″ high block numbers stamped into the wood near the butt plate. They are not in a consistent location but they all are below the 10000 units that were produced. At this time I would speculate that they are a serial number.

On July 2, 1917, Ralph Earle, Chief of the Ordnance Bureau of the United States Navy, contacted the US Training Rifle Co. concerning their advertisement which had just appeared in the Army and Navy Journal. There were discussions within the Navy departments concerning value of a non-firing training rifle but it was determined that, due to the shortage of arms, it was the only available option. On August 22, 1917 the Wood-Art Machine Co. agreed to produce 10,000 training rifles for the US Navy at a cost of $6.10 each at their factory in Woodbury, NJ. At this time they estimated that they could start delivery on September 1, 1917. On September 19, 1917, the Bureau of Ordnance submitted a requisition to the Wood-Art Machine Co. for 10,000 Training Rifles. On October 25, 1917, Navy contract #32435, requisition 383, for 10,000 training rifles was let. The price per unit was increased to $6.15 due to the cost of shipping them to the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York. The first deliveries to the Navy Yard were to start November 1, 1917. It appears that the contract was completed in March of 1918. The total cost of this contract was $61,500.

In all probability the Navy sold off all of their serviceable training rifles as surplus following the war. With the availability of large quantities of surplus rifles, I doubt that there would have been much demand for non-firing training rifles. It is possible that the US Training Rifle Co. had a sufficient number of parts remaining after the completion of the Navy contract to assemble some additional training rifles and they probably continued to do so until the supply of parts was depleted. It seems likely that their entire production would have numbered less than 11,000 units. There are unmarked specimens of the US Training Rifle. It is probable that they were produced late in the production run or after the Navy contract had been completed.

There are photographs of two US Training Rifles that have slightly different contours of the hand guard. The contour that has a raised section near the rear sight is shown in the earliest advertisement in 1917. The hand guard that does not have this raised section is obviously a simplification and was probably later production. It is unknown when this change occurred. It seems likely that the majority of the training rifles would have had the simplified hand guard. Due to their scarcity it is impossible to make any accurate assessment.

In its day, the US Training Rifle was the most sophisticated training rifle ever produced and is an excellent replica of the 1903 Springfield.


Joint Service Order of the Colors

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Military Joint Service Colors Order
Military Joint Service Colors Order

The regulation that directs this order of precedence was Department of Defense Directive 1005.8, Order of Precedence of Members of Armed Forces of the United States When in Formations (31 October 1977) and now that information is contained in each service drill and ceremonies or protocol manual. The more interesting part of the story is the history behind why that precedence is observed by the Department of Defense.

Click here to read All About the Color Guard and Color Guard Flag Protocol.

Joint Service Order and Rules

  • A joint service color guard may consist of two or more departmental flag bearers.
  • Senior service standards are followed (i.e. if the Army is present, all moves and positions come from TC 3-21.5 for regulation drill).
  • Order: The team is formed in line formation (abreast) from right to left with the right rifle guard in the first position (Soldier), followed by the US (Soldier), Army (Soldier), Marines (Marine), Navy (Sailor), Air Force (Airman), Coast Guard (Coastie), and the left rifle guard (Marine).
  • The team stands and marches at Close Interval.
  • Both guards go to Right Shoulder, not the outside/outboard shoulder.
  • All flagstaffs must be guidon staffs 9.5′ tall*.
  • All flags are 4’4″ x 5’6″ with gold fringe*.
  • If all departmental flags do not have battle streamers, none of the flags should have them.
  • No other flag is authorized in the formation (including foreign national, state, and territory).

*The standard is stated above, but staffs may be 8.5′ with 3′ x 4′ flags, but this should be rare.


Seniority of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps is obscured by the divergent elements of the intentions of the Continental Congress as compared to the realization of those intentions. Although the intention of the Congress to establish an Army is apparent in several resolutions of June 1775, the realization of those intentions was not effected until 01 January 1776 when General Washington stated in his orderly book, “This day giving commencement to the new Army which in every point of view is entirely Continental.” Likewise the Navy which the Congress created by resolution in October 1775 was not to be realized until several months later. The process of procuring and outfitting ships as well as enlisting and commissioning personnel was a time consuming one.  The commander in chief of the Navy and other officers were not commissioned until 22 December 1775.

The Marine Corps, on the other hand, even though established by resolution on 10 November 1775, was actually a force in readiness before the Army or the Navy. Samuel Nicholas was commissioned a Captain of Marines on 28 November 1775, a month before the first officer of the Continental Navy was commissioned. In fact, the only facts that correspond to the present parade order of Army, Marine Corps, and Navy respectively are the dates when their first officers were commissioned, in June, November, and December of 1775. Indeed, the Marine Corps’ claim to being the oldest integral force in being results primarily from fortunate circumstances. The Corps was much smaller and more closely knit than either of the other services, and its origin was not complicated by the existence of provincial and local forces already in the field.

Thus, the Continental Marine force was all regular Marines from the beginning during the period when the Army was an amorphous mass of mixed Continentals and militia, and the Navy lacked ships.  The Marine Corps, therefore, could be considered the first truly “federal” armed services branch of the United States of America. In any case, the present order of parade precedence has become one of our foremost military customs and as the foregoing has indicated, there is little evidence to support any change in that order. The present order of parade precedence is defined in DoD Directive 1005.8 as Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force. Therefore, by analogy, the order of display of colors in any fashion, to include service branch seals, should be in the same order.

There are other lines of reasoning for the precedence of Marine Corps colors before Navy colors, but these versions are less popularly accepted as the above. Here are two:

  1. The foundation of the Continental Navy is recognized as being on 13 October 1775 when Congress authorized the outfitting of two vessels “of ten carriage guns.” This is the date we quote as the Navy’s birthday. The Marine Corps was established the following month, on 10 November 1775.  Jump ahead to 03 June 1785 when Congress authorized the sale of the one remaining naval vessel, the frigate Alliance. This was the end of the Continental Navy. For the next several years, the nation had no Navy, until 27 March 1794 when Congress authorized the construction and purchase of six frigates. This is the foundation of the U.S. Navy as we know it today.
  2. Although the Continental Navy was established by Congress on 13 October, 1775 – it disappeared when Congress had the Continental Navy’s ships absorbed into the War Department. The Department of the Navy, which today encompasses the Marine Corps, was not established until 30 April 1798 – well after the 10 November 1775 establishment of the Marine Corps.


  • For the USAF, the commander does not assume Attention when calling commands, but performs all of the movements with the rest of the team.
  • The gold ceremonial cord and tassels is not authorized in the Flag Code and US military for any display or color guard.
  • Gold fringe is not authorized for the American flag for all Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard colors displays and color guards. The Flag Code forbids attaching anything to the flag.
  • It’s a good idea to call the supplementary command of Colors (“Bearers” for pallbearers, and “Firing Party”), for all commands whenever performing in funerals or with other elements (ex. Colors, Present, ARMS).
  • Fixed bayonets or using sabers/swords is not authorized for a color guard. Only US Army and Marine Corps designated Cavalry color guards use swords/sabers when mounted and dismounted.

A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 4

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The Boys Brigade (Dummy Rifles)

The first Boys Brigade was started by Sir William Alexander Smith on October 4, 1883 at Free Church Mission Hall, Glasgow, Scotland. His purpose was to develop “Christian manliness” by the use of semi-military discipline and order. He desired to promote habits of obedience, reverence, discipline and self respect in the young men of his church. This program was designed for boys 10 to 21 years of age. The Boys Brigade rapidly expanded in the United Kingdom and eventually reached around the world. At the turn of the century it involved tens of thousands of young men. The young men had simple uniforms comprised of a jacket, tie, trousers, white haversack and a pill box hat. During the early years of this organization dummy rifles were used for military drill. This practice was discontinued following WWI. The Boys Brigade promoted such activities as patriotic parades, athletic contests between Companies and service projects.

The Boys Brigade was organized much like the military. It was broken up into Regions, Districts, Battalions and Companies. The leadership was comprised of Warrant Officers who were adults who had undergone special training. Older boys who had received special training could become officers and all held the rank of Lieutenant. Each post had one Captain who reverted to a Lieutenant at the end of his tour of duty. The older boys also held the Non-Commissioned Officer rank based partly on age. The minimum age for each rank were as follows. Lance Corporal -age 14, Corporal – age 15, Sergeant – age 16, Staff Sergeant -age 17. All ranks wore appropriate rank insignia or chevrons.

There was a central organization that published the Boys Brigade Gazette. This was a sophisticated news letter that described the Boys Brigade activities form all regions of the world. It should be noted that the Boys Brigade is still in existence but is significantly modernized from it’s early beginnings. The American Region of the Boys Brigade was started in August of 1894 with a call form the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in New York City for 500 volunteers to form the Baptist Boys Brigade.


The Boys Brigade appears to have been non-sectarian involving all branches of the Christian Church. You will find references to Catholic and Protestant Boys Brigades. Current references to the Baptist Boys Brigade tend to refer to all early Boys Brigade units in the United States. Of particular interest to me is the fact that Francis Bannerman sold a considerable number of non-firing drill rifles to Boys Brigade units. There is very little documentation relating to these drill rifles. The following photographs can be found on the Glesca Pals web site. They are excellent examples of the type of uniforms and non-firing drill rifles that were in
use from 1883 – 1918 by Boys Brigade members.

Of particular interest is the photo of a very refined SMLE dummy rifle. Several of these replica wooden rifle were borrowed from a Boys Brigade Company to be used in the 195th Glasgow company display in the centenary year, 1983. No information is available that would indicate their origin. Since the SMLE rifle was adopted in 1902, it seems probable that they were produced between 1902 and 1918 when the Boys Brigades discontinued the use of drill rifles. However, it is also possible that they were specially made at a later date for some ceremonial purpose. There is a wealth of detailed information relating to the Boys Brigade on the internet.

The next installment: The US Training Rifle Co.

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


A History of Drill and Training Rifles Part 3

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The Francis Bannerman History

You can find a very complete but concise history of the Bannerman family and information relating to Bannerman Island by clicking here. Most of the later Bannerman catalogs had a one page history called “Blowing Our Own Horn”, that is a good example of his promotional ability. His catalogs were widely advertised in pulp and sporting goods magazines. Bannerman Catalogs have been of great interest to gun collectors and sportsman for the past 125 years.

The following 1888 Bannerman catalog is representative of their early catalogs. This is a small (4 x 5 1/2″) 12 page booklet that has a brief description of a few military items and a blank space to write in the price of each item. These early catalogs had no illustrations. The lack of a printed price allowed for a price change without reprinting the catalog. This also indicates that this catalog format was probably used between 1865 and 1888. It is uncertain when the first catalog was printed, but it was very likely soon after he started business in 1865.

1888 Bannerman Catalog Cover

The first illustrated catalog was produced in 1889. This catalog had 25 pages that were 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ in size.

1889 Bannerman Catalog Cover

In 1907 the catalog was 7 x 10″ in size and had grown to 259 pages.

1907 Bannerman Catalog Cover

In 1910 they produced the first full size catalog which was 9 x 11 1/2″. All of the catalogs are dated but only a few are numbered. There is little information available relating to the years a catalog was produced. I have verified that the following catalogs exist.

1888 1927
1889 1933
1900 1936
1903 1940 #25 , 75th anniversary
1904 1945
1907 1946
1910 first large catalog 1947
1913 1949
1917 1954 #28
1923 1955
1925 1966 100th anniversary

For 1940 to be catalog #25 there are 14 years missing. Since we do not know when they produced the first catalog it is uncertain where the missing years fall. Although no 1915 catalog has been found, I feel that it is highly probable that one exists because it would have been their 50th anniversary. Because of the spacing, it seems probable that about half of the missing years fall between 1917 and 1940. I believe that all of the catalogs following 1940 are accounted for.

In the 1888 catalog there are two drill or training rifles that are identified as “Cadet Rifles”. There is little information relating to these rifles but by looking at the same rifles in the 1889 catalog it is certain that they were designed for Military School or Boys Brigade use. There is a more detailed description of the cadet rifles in the 1889 catalog.


1888 &1889 Cadet Rifle Advertisements

The following illustrations are from pages 41 and 42 of the 1907 Bannerman catalog. This catalog has the most information I have found relating to the types of drill and training rifle that this firm produced. The illustration of a percussion drill rifle was taken from a 1925 catalog and is the only drill rifle identified in the catalog of that year. You will note that it is the same as the first rifle shown on page 41 of the 1907 catalog. The following text was taken from the 1933 catalog. This was the only information relating to drill rifles in that catalog. None of the later catalogs have any specific drill rifle information in them. It seems probable that Bannerman continued to offer some form of drill rifles until the late 1930’s.

The next installment: The Boys Brigade (Dummy Rifles)

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