Wooden vs. Plastic Rifles

Which option is the best for me?

Rifles have been a part of the color guard activity since the days of military pageantry. Traditionally, these nonfunctioning rifles were made from wood with metal parts to look just like their functioning counterparts. Since then, the shape has been simplified and fine-tuned for optimal balance for those high-flying spins. One of the newest innovations in equipment has been the development of wood-alternative rifles like the Endura Drill Rifle, made from high impact ABS plastic.  Wood rifles are still quite popular and won’t be going away anytime soon, but the plastic alternatives have “broken the mold” in what we come to expect from one of the most recognizable pieces of color guard equipment.  

Endura Drill Rifle- Plastic

One of the first decisions you will make when choosing a rifle is “wood or plastic.”  While both of these options have benefits and drawbacks, ultimately the choice comes down to your own preferences. 

While many still consider wood rifles (like the Ultra Spin Wood Rifle) the obvious winner, plastic rifles still have many features that make them appealing for beginners and advanced performers.  While plastic rifles are not completely indestructible, they do tend to hold up much better over longer periods than their wood counterparts. 

Ultra Spin - Wooden Rifle

Here are just a few of the pros and cons: 



  • Lighter weight – great for beginners and experienced performers alike.   
  • Great for use with teams practicing/performing on turf/grass fields.   
  • More consistent weights from rifle to rifle 
  • Do not need to be taped (but it is encouraged to help with longevity) 
  • Nearly indestructible (under normal use) 
  • 3 sizes available 
  • Water damage and moisture is not a concern 


  • More prone to breaking when repeatedly dropped on pavement/concrete (recommend taping to give added strength).   
  • Can bounce when dropped.   
  • After continued use (and abuse) some warping may occur 



  • The traditional favorite of color guards 
  • 3 sizes available  
  • Perfectly balanced for use with beginners as well as experienced performers 


  • Must be taped to help prevent breakage  
  • Weights vary due to nature of using wood material, which can lead to inconsistent batches.   
  • Water damage can occur if not properly cared for 

There’s definitely an art to taping your rifle correctly. Done right, it will prevent damage while giving you the best possible grip. Make sure you check out our article, “Taping Your Color Guard Rifle” for tips and a feel downloadable instruction sheet. 

We hope this information assists you in making the most informed decision for yourself or your color guard when it comes to your rifle purchase. Our Sales Team would love to answer any further questions you may have about our Ultra Spin and Endura Rifle by phone at 1-800-457-3501, Monday through Friday from 8 am – 5 pm, or by emailing sales@bandshoppe.com 

Will Stevenson

Will is a member of Band Shoppe’s Sales Team and the leading member of product development.
He has been involved with pageantry arts, teaching color guard, and designing for 20 years.