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Jan. 26, 1943: An infantryman is on guard on Grassy Knoll in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands during World War II.  (AP Photo)

By EC in CA

Loyal readers of this humble periodical will recall that from time to time we venture to provide our thoughts on new models of firearms before they are available for purchase at your neighborhood hardware store. This past month, we had the pleasure of testing a new rifle developed for the U.S. Army. Since you may never get a chance to operate one, we invite you to turn the page to learn how our afternoon at the Army’s armory in Springfield, Massachusetts went . . .

The military’s current rifle, the venerable M1903, is a five-shot repeating rifle operated with a bolt-handle mechanism. In the nearly two decades since our boys put away the German Empire for good, there have been many advances in the realm of modern mechanics. This has led our military leaders to seek a new rifle to replace the current one.

The bidding, testing, and selecting process for the new rifle was, as described by my sources within the Ordnance Department, rigorous and thorough but straightforward and impartial. In the end, the Army brass has decided on a rifle that they will call the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1. Designed by a Canadian fellow named Garand, it fires the same .30-’06 cartridge as the M1903—which you are sure to know already is the minimum size and gunpowder load needed for effective use in modern warfare.

What has the Department of the Army thinking this new mechanical wonder is so swell? First of all—semi-automatic operation. The tried-and-true reliability of a bolt-action mechanism is now being replaced with a gas-operated auto-loading system. My sources indicated that reliability of such a system was and still is a concern, but ultimately the glamour of modern conveniences won out.

The other gee-whiz feature of the M1 is its insertable clip for the ammunition. Rather than loading the cartridges one-by-one, the clip holds an impressive capacity (eight rounds!) and loads the whole lot in one motion. After locking the bolt back, the soldier simply lines up the clip and presses fully downwards, inserting the clip until his thumb is inside of the action. This new method of loading appears to be quite simple and pain-free. Additionally, Mr. Garand was smart not to design the rifle with a protruding magazine- such a contraption would be easily lost by a soldier in the heat of hostilities.

As for performance, the M1 rifle shoots and handles rather admirably. At a mere ten pounds, this lightweight piece is ready to be carried over the trenches and through the forests. The accuracy of its fire is nearly as precise as its predecessor, likely due to a similar sighting and aiming system. And, lastly, when one fires the final cartridge, the gun produces a satisfying ringing sound as it ejects the clip. This feature is likely to be a great aid to the firer to re-load his weapon.

Despite our skepticism of the necessity of the fancy mechanisms that dominate the design of the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1, we concede that it is indeed a good firearm that might very well be a satisfactory replacement for the M1903. But the truth about guns is that they are simply mechanical objects—it’s how they are used that matters. Given our decisive victory over the Kaiser and his nefarious cohorts, the powers of the world look as if they will nevermore come to arms in such a colossal fashion. And if that turns out to be the case, the M1 may never get a chance to prove its mettle on the field of battle.

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    • I’m going to go to sleep now and dream this was written August 11th 2016 for US armed forces . It truly is an article for the ages , I LOVED IT !

    • Eight rounds with more accuracy and kill power at greater distances is fine for me . I will use mine first and retrieve my AR when they get closer .

  1. Now I do realize that these are military arms by design, but will they ever be marketed to Americans in the civilian sector?

    • NO Stop that crazy talk. This is a military assault weapon of fearful power and must be kept in Korean warehouses never to return to the US

      • Yah! You can still order one mail-order, delivered to your door. GCA ’68 notwithstanding. The ways of the Congress are truly amazing!

        But, it’s just a battle rifle; not one of those assault weapons that spews fire and death with the thing that goes up!

      • I would never own one of these things full auto , not legal without all that red tape , too dangerous and much too scary . I would not have anything but a refab. or replica .
        Good morning UTAH , Love the NSA . God bless you guys .

  2. New from The Springfield Armory, the most over-rated nerfed service rifle in US military history, THE M1 GARAND! Even though it was trounced in all the reliability tests by every other rifle in the competition except in Arctic snow, we think it’s just swell! Oh, and we have to issue a memo to make sure and not issue enough gun oil, to say, the Marines if they have to do an island hopping campaign, forcing them to loot dead Japanese for their gun oil in a desperate attempt to keep their rifles working. Wouldn’t want them getting soft! Rose colored nostalgia will immediately make this rifle an uncriticisable classic in spite of it’s provable flaws and we can’t wait!

    After a few major wars we plan to follow up with a new version called the M-14 that will include features we deleted from the original design to ingratiate it with the Army Ordinance Board because they’re complete morons, like a detachable box magazine similar to the BAR first fielded in 1917, and a waste ammo button that they those same morons will insist would be a good idea to include on a shoulder fired .30 cal rifle that weighs less than nine pounds and has no compensator.

    This new version will go on to be replaced for political reasons by a rifle called the M16 that won’t be ready as a service rifle for about twenty years or so, but even though it’s already not working 100% in it’s early configuration, we’ll dick it up for further just for funnsies so that we get a lot of good men killed in a pissing contest with a dickless bureaucrat! This rifle will go on to be the last service rifle ever fielded by the US military as it somehow manages to avoid being replaced by design after design that are better at a glance, provably better after testing, but not offered by a company with it’s bribery channels in order.

    So buy Springfield Quality. Buy it for a lifetime!

    • Next thing this guy will be spouting is that we should never have given up the Colt Single Action Army for that new fangled autoloader the Army bought back in ’11.

      • Hardly. Single Action Armies have really weak springs that seem to enjoy breaking just as you need them to work.

    • OK, you made me do it. I went downstairs to my library and hauled out my copy of “Hatcher’s Boof Of the Garand,” copyright (c) 1948 by Maj. Gen. Julian S. Hatcher, USA.

      Therein, it is easily found that your rant is unfettered nonsense on stilts. Specifically, but not nominally:

      1. The “Springfield Armory” to which you’re probably referring didn’t exist in WWII. The real Springfield Armory did. The real Springfield Armory was located in (of all places) Springfield, MA, and wasn’t a private sector company. It was part of the United States Army and was run by the Army and War Department. “War Department” was what we called the part of the government that fought (and won) wars, back when we were concerned with winning wars, and we didn’t have foreign policy formulated by inbred Ivy League graduates in furtherance of their own agendas of grift and clandestine renumeration.

      The Springfield Armory (the real one, prior to Vietnam and the machinations of one Robert Strange McNamara, may he roast in Hell) of old conducted extensive testing and development on small arms designs for the US military, without private renumeration or profit motive. The real Springfield Armory was part of the Ordinance Dep’t of the US Army, and both were administered by the War Department, and the monies used for the functioning of Springfield Armory were part of the War Department’s budget set by the US Congress.

      Springfield Armory helped John Moses Browning (insert a rousing chorus of of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir here) develop the 1911, the M2 machine gun, the 1919 machine gun, the BAR, among other designs.

      Back in those days, the War Department couldn’t fall back on standards groups like SAE, ASTM and AISI for steel specifications, so in the pre-WWI and through to WWII era, the War Department set specifications for steels used in armaments and military products. These steels would be noted with a “WD-xxx” specification number. Some of the WD steels have direct substitutions from AISI steel specs to this day – and some others have been replaced with better steels. An example of the direct replacement would be the replacement of the WD Steel Number 3312, and WD Steel Number 3115 with WD Steel Number 8620 for both the receiver and bolt (respectively) for more rapid development. The bolt and receiver were both normalized, then carburized (or case hardened, since the specified steels are too low in carbon content to harden through on a quench), then quench in oil, then temper at a relatively low temperature to result in some very high surface hardened layers 0.015 to 0.020″ deep.

      2. Springfield Armory conducted tests of all the semi-automatic rifles entered in the bidding to become the Ordinance Department’s next main rifle design. There were examples submitted by John Pedersen, Auto-Ordinance, Berthier, Colt, and the USMC heard entries from CPT Johnson and Winchester as well.

      Garand’s first design used a primer blow-back (ie, the primer cut moving rearwards out of it’s pocket actuated the action). This is a hair-raising design when one thinks about how the parts will wear, but it proved pretty reliable. All other designs in the first round either needed extensive and regular lubrication (the Auto-Ordinance rifle needed to be run sopping wet), or required lubed ammunition (the Pedersen rifle required the ammunition be dipped in a solution of wax dissolved into carbon tet. The carbon tet would dry off, leaving a thin, clear layer of wax.) to enhance reliable extraction.

      3. Between the first round of acceptance testing and the second, several other entrants, including a couple from Europe, entered the competition. Some of the entries were not far enough along to be anything but a crude prototype. The one thing that could be said for both the Garand and Pedersen entries is that both of these designers had done their homework before arriving at the test. Their rifles were fully finished and functional.

      The other entries fell out of the competition due to a variety of factors – lack of reliability, lack of ease of manufacturing, too many parts to allow for easy cleaning & maint in the field, etc.

      4. The second-to-last round of rifle tests were down to the Garand and Pedersen’s Schwartzlose-inspired design (At this point, I’ll wager that I’ve lost most people on the finer points of semi-automatic actions). Both rifles were chambered in .276 Pedersen, a round which would have been superior in exterior ballistics to the .30-06. The Garand design performed well, and picked up additional favorability on the issues of field maint, manufacturing and lower costs. Oh, and the Garand en bloc clip had no “up” or “down” to it. The Pedersen clip could be inserted upside down and then you were going to have to haul it up and turn it around. This makes a difference to an infantryman who has to reload a weapon in the dark, without light. The Garand really has an advantage here – you can reload it without having to learn Braille. The pointy ends go forward, then there is no “up” or “down.”

      5. When it was all said and done, the last two rifles in the competition were the .276 Pedersen and the Garand.

      Then came a critical decision about the ammunition. There was no stockpile of .276 Pedersen ammo. But there was a large stockpile of .30-06 ammo post WWI. Pedersen’s design needed the case taper and lubrication of being waxed to insure reliable extraction; it really could not function with the .30-06 ammo extant. John Garand, having lived and worked inside the Ordinance Dep’t, saw the handwriting on the wall in the early 1930’s before the .30-06 ammo became an official issue: Garand could see that if he wanted his rifle accepted, he’d better make sure his design worked with the .30-06 ammo then stockpiled. He did.

      Further, Garand knew something about the selection criteria. The issue of reducing parts count, making a weapon easier to field strip and clean, easier to assemble under rushed circumstances, etc – mattered. Mattered a fair bit, too.

      When the decision came down in the Great Depression that the Army & Ordinance Dep’t didn’t have the money to develop the .276 Pedersen, and that they’d better make the most of the .30-06 production they did have, there was no longer any debate what rifle the US Army would choose: The Garand. Pedersen’s rifle needed a wholly new round, with a lubricated case in order to field the rifle. That simply wasn’t going to happen. Not with all the weapons already using the .30-06: The 1903 (and later 03A3), the 1917 machine gun, the subsequent 1919, the BAR, the “United States Rifle, cal .30, Model of 1917,” … and with the stench of war on the wind, there was no way to re-chamber all of those weapons to .276 Pedersen. None, and I mean “none, what-so-freakin’-ever.” Hell was going to freeze over 10′ thick first. Adopting a new infantry round where all their other weapons would be fed .30-06 ammo? Wasn’t going to happen. Military supply logistics being what they were, having “one round to rule them all” in light arms was a good thing. This mattered all the way to the front lines – if you had a squad of riflemen and didn’t have en-bloc’ed or loose .30-06 ammo, you could strip rounds out of a cloth or link belt for the 1919’s, etc.

      So for all those reasons, the Garand won, and won hands down. Now, in the USMC, there was one other entry that came into some acceptance, the M1941 Johnson rifle. Melvin Johnson was a Marine who developed this rifle on his own, and it was a credible semi-auto rifle. It suffered from three issues that took it out of the running: a) vertical stringing of its shots, b) the recoiling barrel meant that you couldn’t mount a bayonet on the barrel and use the rifle in the classic bayonet moves, because the barrel would stroke the action and dump a round, c) it had more small parts, making it prone to parts loss during field stripping.

      And then there were the impolitic remarks that Cap’t Johnson made during the development of the rifle. When the biggest customer will be the US Army, it might be a wise idea to tone down the usual Marine Corps inter-service rivalry and trash talk a tad.

      6. The USMC, being what they are, placed heavy emphasis on accuracy at longer ranges, specifically 300 yards. The Garand put more hits per minute onto a target at 300 yards than the 1903, the Johnson or the Winchester offering the USMC entertained.

      7. Making an infantry rifle isn’t merely an exercise in gunsmithing and clever inventing. The military back then didn’t buy weapons in one-by-two quantities. What won wars was industrial manufacturing capacity. If you had a better product that was more complicated, then odds are your idea was going to lose. And this wasn’t the case in only infantry weapons. The P-38 Lightening was arguably a superior plane to either the P-51 or the P-47. All our highest scoring aces flew P-38’s. In the end, it didn’t matter. As soon as either the P-51 or P-47 had the range of the P-38, the P-38 started being phased out of use in many fighter groups, because the logistics of supporting a single-engine fighter was (and is) easier than a two-engine fighter.

      This is also why we persisted with the Sherman M-4 tank, even as inferior as it was to the German tanks. The Germans couldn’t match our production rate of Shermans with their lovingly hand-crafted, almost bespoke, battle tanks. Where the Germans produced hundreds to maybe a couple thousand of their vastly superior tank models, we produced nearly $50K Sherman tanks. Our tanks used gasoline instead of diesel, because everything else in our transportation chain and forward weapons inventory used gasoline.

      Back then, there were no CNC machines. To make guns in large numbers, you had to line up row upon row of machines (mills, lathes, shapers, etc), each performing one “setup” in machining. The Garand rifle was easier to produce than the competing designs. It was easier to field strip, and the larger parts therein lent to the rifle being reliably field stripped and re-assembled with all its parts retained in the field. The rifle was easy to reload, even in the dark. The M3 “Grease Gun” was easier & cheaper to produce than the Thompson, and so on.

      Compared to some of the losers the Ordinance Dep’t had backed prior to WWII, the Garand was the right rifle for the time in which it came about, for the right reasons. In the history of US armed conflicts, the Garand in WWII stands out as one of the few times the Ordinance Department got it “more right” than the other guys.

  3. I didn’t realize that the M1Garand used .30-06 cartridges. I was thinking it used a .30 caliber, but of a different case length.

    Now I’m starting to think that the .30 caliber I was thinking of first, actually applies only to the M1 Carbine, which until five minutes ago I’d assumed was simply a shorter barreled version of the M1 Garand.

    Can the Garand use any .30-06 cartridge, interchangeably as with those for a bolt action rifle? It can sometimes be tricky using a cartridge associated with one action type in a firearm of another action type, even if chambered for the same round. Substitutions aren’t always exact, either, if some subtle difference is called for.

    • Just Wiki the rounds and you’ll get all the deets (and pics). The M1 Carbine is a very different and far less powerful round than the .30-06. Further, the Carbine has an external mag in 10, 15 and 30 round capacities, and weighs a mere 5.2 lbs empty. The Garand was designed for a FMJ round, but if overall length is the same, it should feed properly any other .30-06 round. The M-14, on the other hand, was designed for .308, the shorter round being more reliable in full auto operation. The commercial M1A Springfield rifle (which is essentially a semi-auto only version of the M14) is in .308, as I recall.

      • The M1A is rated for the 7.62 NATO round. It should fire the slightly higher pressure .308 as well, but I only use the 7.62×51 in mine.

    • The M1 operates at specific pressure. M2 ball is 150 grain FMJ. Match shooters typically favor Federal Gold Medal Match or roll their own with the 168 grain Sierra Match King. IIRC there is also a 170-something Match King too. You do NOT want to fire commercial heavy hunting loads in an M1, it’s a good way to bend the op-rod.

    • The Garand was designed around the low pressure M2 ammo which only pushes a 150gr bullet. The M1 ammo uses a 174gr that as has been said will bend the op rod. The .30-06 actually has enough case capacity to come within about 150fps of .300 win mag velocities out of a good bolt-gun if you’re brave enough. RL22 and 208 AMAXs seem to be the favorite.

      • The M1 was never designed around the M2 ball load, and the M2 ball is not a “low pressure” round?

        The M1 was designed using the M1 ball (174 grain) the M2 ball (152 grain) was a later development and was designed because the National Guard complained that the M1 load had too much range.

        Both the M1 ball and M2 ball (and M2 AP) are full pressure rounds. The concern with the Garand is with slow powders (mostly developed after WWII) that keep the pressure high at the gas port.

        • Let’s just tell people , if they ever get their hands on a 1936 -1963 M1 Garand ,do not attempt to run any modern ammo through it . The pressures may damage the receiver and or barrel and could potentially lead to a catastrophic failure . See your neighborhood reloader before using .

      • I agree! Totally! I mean, I picked up all the firearms knowledge I’ve ever had on my way down the birth canal, just like I assume all of us did. It’s not like I had to ever learn anything new about firearms as I went along. Isn’t it fun to denigrate people who know less than us about topics? Good thing we know everything about everything, ever. Otherwise that would probably make us huge screaming pile-of-shit hypocrites, wouldn’t it? Good thing we’re not that.

  4. When I saw the headline in an e-mail notification, I thought this was about Springfield starting to put out new production Garands…

        • Perhaps not a current offering, I haven’t kept up. Just search for “sa inc m1” and you’ll find plenty of info.

        • Some years ago, Century sold M1s that they assembled from Beretta-made receivers, barrels, & gas-tubes, with surplus GI FCGs, magazine internals, bolts, & new US-made furniture. As with some CAI rifles, YMMV….. but they are considerably more affordable than a vintage M1, and less worrisome to spend a day at the range with. The ones I’ve encountered also seemed to have been built with more care than CAI AK-pattern rifles.
          I bought one new a couple years ago for less than half the price of a wartime/CMP M1, and it has suffered from none of the problems commonly attributed to CAI-built guns.
          That it isn’t a vintage M1 makes me far less nervous about dinging it up, and it not being a war-horse doesn’t bother me in the slightest. While I’d not show up to a Garand competition with it, the rifle has allowed me a taste of the history that I otherwise would never be able to afford.

          • Unlike early Italian western replicas, there’s not a thing wrong with the Italian M1. I’d be skeptical of a century-assembled anything, but some good stuff made it through their hands too.

        • SA did a limited run of them like ten years ago and chambered them in .308. As others have said CMP is still the best place to get an M1.

    • I’m not aware of anyone making new Garand receivers, but there are companies that put the old ones to good use. Fulton Armory has a nice (and expensive!) line-up:

      They also roll their own M14 semi autos. And unlike Garands, those are on their own receivers.

      I haven’t personally tried either, but I own a FAR-15, and it’s a good rifle. If their quality is similar for other offerings, it should be a great option.

  5. Say a rifleman fires 3, or 4 rounds, and then wants to “top off”. Can rounds be inserted into the clip area with the action open?
    I would prefer a military rifle with a magazine that can be quickly changed, then when the solder has more time, he can top off the mag he earlier withdrew.
    Anyone on this blog ever get an “M1 thumb”?

    • You can, but it helps to have 3 hands and you have to hold your mouth right. Not practical. The bolt does not stay back if there are any rounds in the magazine. And yes, I have experienced M1 thumb. It effing hurts.

      • You blowtorch a paperclip (or equivalent) to white-hot, then use it to burn a hole in your thumbnail to release the blood underneath. Pain gone, a few weeks until the hole in the nail grows out, it was easy.

  6. Just have to ask- my M1A has .308NM (National Match) stamped on the barrel. Now I was wondering, is the Loaded and other higher end models with the NM barrels chambered for the .308 while the Standard model is 7.62 Nato?

    • Do NOT attempt to chamber 30-06 in a barrel chambered for .308 in ANY firearm! DUH! Also do not try to fire .44 magnums out of a .357.

      • Rereading, an M1A is .308, and has little relationship to a Garand, you need to do some research here. Yes, it is a derivative, But an M1A is decidedly NOT an M1 Garand, and an M1 carbine is yet another complete different rifle.

        • He is not asking if he can shoot .30-06 out of his m1a. He is asking is .308 and 7.62×51 interchangeable or are there differences like with .223 and 5.56

    • 7.62 nato aka 7.62×51 is basically the same outer cartridge dimensions as .308win. The brass is generally thicker in the military cartridge. The “big” difference is in the chamber, the nato chamber has a longer throat. When reloading either, one uses .308win dies. Full length resize brass to a couple thousandths less than the chamber dimension.

    • If memory serves the difference between a 7.6×51 NATO and a .308 WINCHESTER is that Winchester kicked out the shoulder or something like that. Basically the word is that an in spec 7.62 chamber won’t close a bolt on a .308, BUT a .308 chamber will close on a 7.62 round just fine. They commercialized the cartridge because there are some areas of the US and the world that made it illegal to own or hunt with rifles that shoot military cartridges, and as a commercial cartridge .308 beats the ban because it’s technically a different cartridge, even though a rifle chambered in it will have no trouble feeding military surplus ammo.

  7. Love it, had quite a chuckle and I’m sure there are still a few jokes in there I missed (read: didn’t get). Clever entry.

  8. We used these in ROTC in 1964. When I got to the Army in 1966 we had transitioned to the M-14. When I arrived in Vietnam in August of 1968 I was issued an M-16, the vine grabber with the three-prong suppressor. Later in 1967 we were issued the M-16A1 with the closed end suppressor. I would love to have an M-1. They were easy to do dismounted drill with.

  9. It’s a good chuckle, but the part about “mere ten pounds” is somewhat anachronistic. Garand was actually one of the heaviest infantry rifles of the period, because it was a semi-auto of the same dimensions as your typical bolt rifle of the era, and firing the same full size cartridge (FG 42 had the same problem). It was a whole pound heavier than M1903, Mosin, K98 or Lee-Enfield.

  10. Saw a photo years ago from one of the frequent revolutions in Haiti. A guy was laying very flat-out prone on the street with an M-1 Garand balanced on his left fist, shooting at the opposition. I will guarantee you he was hitting more opponents than any 6 of his buddies with their AK47s on full auto, and at a much greater distance, using far less ammo. If you haven’t owned and shot an M-1 extensively, feel free to withhold your criticism.

  11. LarryinTX I wasn’t talking about loading .30-06 into an M1A, was looking at what Ralph had talked about earlier where he said he wouldn’t use .308 in his M1A. There seems to be an ongoing debate about the difference between 7.62×51 and .308 and I just wanted to get your guys take on it.

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