Drill Rounds

Drill rounds have been in use since the dawn of the cartridge rifle as a safe means to train with the operation of a weapon with no risk of a cartridge going off and injuring someone. The term ‘Drill Round’ refers to a dummy rifle cartridge that is the same length and design as a service cartridge, but with no propellant or percussion cap. Normally these cartridges have some sort of distinguishing feature that allows their identity to be confirmed even in the dark- holes and grooves being the most common methods. As might be expected, with such a long service life there are many variations of drill round for the various .303 Lee Enfield rifles. I have a selection of these rounds in my collection and hopefully these will give a flavour of the evolution of the round.

Dummy Drill MkIV

This type of drill round was approved in 1910 and consists of a reject brass case with a wooden Mk VII spitzer type head and four small holes drilled in the body of the case:0931B42E-047F-4496-8187-CD2B301FD13CThis example uses a MkVI ball case dated 1909, with a circular strikethrough to indicate its drill status:569F45F0-60D2-4E61-AFE5-8ABDD25B9038

Clip of 5 Drill Rounds

This clip of 5 drill rounds dates from around the First World War and consists of five brass cases, with large holes drilled through to indicate drill status. The heads are made of wood and are of the earlier MkIII drill round type. The pointed spitzer bullets were found to be to fragile so a return to round heads was made. The cases themselves are sub standard reject 1911 dated brass cases, with a circle struck through the markings to indicate their use as drill rounds. The holes drilled through the cases are some of the largest seen on drill rounds, clearly allowing them to be identified by touch alone in the dark. The clip holding the five rounds is of the earlier WW1 pattern:7DDD2D39-D6A0-453D-A921-D78B64BC01BF

Dummy Drill MkVI

These drill rounds were the first to be made of white metal and feature deep grooves in the case to allow easy identification. The cases are made of cupro-nickel and the MkVI was introduced in the dying days of WW1:E6BE1654-DAE9-482C-BB01-853FB641B0E4The headstamp shows these are MkVI rounds made by Royal Laboratory, Woolwhich:


Drill Round MkVIII

These rounds were introduced as an expedient in WW2 and like their WW1 counterparts consisted of reject brass cases with wooden heads. In this instance their drill status is indicated by long flutes down the case. Again the wooden heads were found to be too delicate for regular use:16CD1B98-C6B8-4EC8-949F-7C0F020D40B8

Drill D Mark 10

Post war rounds are very similar to the MkVI rounds but chrome plated rather than being made of white metal:4156D4C6-26A5-4626-A7DA-A03EEA2ED5ADThese examples are dated to the 1950s and the RG headstamp indicates they were made by the Royal Ordnance Factory, Radway Green, Cheshire:DEA3556B-22FA-4AC8-BFD4-4C1B92A57D78

This small selection barely scratches the surface of British drill rounds, however I hope it gives some pointers for identifying rounds you might find. For further reading, the best resource on British small arms ammunition I have found on the web is https://sites.google.com/site/britmilammo/home

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