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One of the scenes in the Boot Camp section of Full Metal Jacket has the recruits marching their barracks holding their rifle in one hand and their crotch in the other, chanting "This is my rifle, this is my gun; this is for fighting this is for fun".

I think I understand the purpose of this drill in the narrative of the movie, but what on earth could be its military use?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In USMC culture, a "gun" is a large artillery piece, and this chant (which is apparently genuinely used by Marines) is to train the new recruits not to make the civilian mistake of referring to a rifle as a gun.

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Hah, reminds me of Scent of a Woman when Charlie says "Where'd you get the gun, Colonel?" only to get corrected by Marine Col. Slade saying "Piece or weapon, Charlie, never a gun." – Napoleon Wilson Aug 24 '13 at 12:03
Do you have a source that says it is genuinely used by Marines? – Flimzy Aug 24 '13 at 16:09
Nothing I consider authoritative, hence my hedging and using the word "apparently" - sorry! – James McLeod Aug 24 '13 at 16:30
In fact Sean Penn also references this line in DePalma's excellent Vietnam treatment Casualties of War. Though, this might as well have been a reference to Full Metal Jacket in particular (even if that was released only two years before). – Napoleon Wilson Jun 5 '14 at 23:32

I first heard, "this is my rifle, this is my gun" in a high school ROTC class on the M-14, in 1970, from an Army SgtMaj Chaney.

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This doesn't give the purpose of the drill – Chenmunka Jul 9 at 17:37

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