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Rubber Ducks - Training Military Recruits

Fake weapons are used to teach soldiers how to safely handle a firearm.

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Rubber Ducks - Training Military Recruits
Updated June 15, 2011

In the U.S. military, the term “rubber duck” refers to a fake weapon that is used to help safely train new recruits.

Basic Training

The U.S. military issues its soldiers fake weapons during basic training before they have learned to properly handle and discharge a real gun or rifle. The use of fake weapons during the early part of basic training is considered safe for military recruits and their instructors. These fake weapons are affectionately known in the military as “rubber ducks” or “rubber duckys.” The fake weapon is usually modeled after an M16 rifle and weighs as much as the real weapon. Soldiers practice with the rubber ducks during bayonet drills, water survival exercises, and while marching.

Rubber ducks are also used by soldiers during ceremonial drills and practices. Many recruits even use the fake weapons when learning how to properly stand at attention. Many rubber ducks are actual M16 rifles that have been decommissioned and filled with rubber or plastic. Some of the fake weapons are completely rubber and have been manufactured to comprise the exact shape and weight of a real M16 rifle.

Phased Out In Some Areas

Although popular and widely used across the U.S. military, some branches of the service are beginning to phase out the use of rubber ducks during basic training – notably in the U.S. Air Force. Some military trainers prefer to issue new recruits M16 replicas that have all the internal parts of a real rifle but without the ability to fire. This allows soldiers to learn how to strip and reassemble a M16 rifle during training. This is a useful and necessary skill to have during real combat operations.

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