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When I took my trip to the Deep South a few weeks ago to go do my part against the wild hog population, I also crossed another item off my gun bucket list along the way. I purchased a gun from the CMP depot in Anniston, AL . . .

And not just any gun, a Service Grade M1 Garand manufactured in December 1942. She received a new barrel somewhere along the way and then didn’t appear to get much more exercise as the muzzle gauged at ½ and the throat gauged at 1 1/2. With a zero being brand new, and a five being plumb worn out, those numbers are spectacular. I have no way to verify whether this rifle saw action or not, but I’d like to think it did. And like I mentioned in my QOTD, I’m very much in love.

Nick wrote a really good primer on buying a CMP firearm that you should peruse if you haven’t already. Unfortunately, Nick didn’t make much mention of the “walk-up” program that the CMP runs. If you make it to one of their two depots, you can pick out your own Garand and have it shipped right to your door. And that my friends is worth the price of admission.

Coworkers of mine have waited months to receive a Garand that a CMP employee pulled off the rack at random. So if you’re serious about getting a Garand, you should go to the actual location and pick the one you want. Alabama is a beautiful state and this is a once in a lifetime experience.

So what will you need? All the things Nick mentioned and a smile. The people working the depot are seriously nice. Pick out your gun(s) – they’ll let you buy 12 per year – fill out some paper, hand over your documentation, wait for a background check to run, pay them and either take your gun home or have it shipped to you. A few days later, you’ll receive a FedEx shipment with your gun inside a pretty green case that lets everyone know just how special you are.

I hope the pictures help you enjoy this as much as I did. Put it on your bucket list, and make the trip. You absolutely will not regret it.

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  1. Can someone explain to me the benefits of spending that much money on an old military rifle vs spending the money on a new modern rifle? I understand the historical value and all… But I still dont see it. Then again I’m not big on outdated weapons (at least ones that aren’t full-auto).

    Anyone care to enlighten me?

    • A new modern rifle is just that…a new modern rifle. A Garand, an M1 Carbine, a 1903A3, an Enfield SMLE Mk III, a 98K, a Mosin Nagant, an Arisaka….those are historical artifacts. They were the weapons that helped decided the fate of the world.

      They’re not as pretty, they’re not as accurate as some plastic stocked, fiber optic sighted, titanium coated modern wonder rifle. I wouldn’t use one to defend the homestead from the rabble. I have safes full of them because I love their history, their beauty, and the stories behind them.

      To each his own. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      • Yeah, I’m with LTC F. I just got a 1938 Mosin Nagant. It’s in pretty good condition, except for being full of cosmoline, which is going to be a mini-project to clear out. The wood is nice and unmarred, the barrel looks good, and the metal parts look pretty free from wear. All in all, purchase price, shipping, FFL fee, and tax, the whole thing was less than $200.

        If I really wanted to hunt around in the local area I might have found a better deal, but this was fine for me. I like it because I’m going to have a piece of history that I can shoot. This is the same rifle that the Russians used to repel the Nazis. It’s the same rifle that the top Soviet Snipers used to record the hundreds and hundreds of confirmed kills each that made them so famous.

        For me, it’s also an opportunity to shoot a powerful rifle for not a lot of money. 7.62x54R is some of the least expensive ammo out there. “Spam can” surplus can be had for $80 for 440 rounds. That’s almost as cheap as bulk 9mm.

        • stick it in a black plastic bag and hang it in the sun, cosmoline will melt and dribble out. I hope you don’t live in Alaska as that might foil this approach.

        • Close enough, Seattle. The 10 day forecast has four days of “mostly cloudy”, which is about as sunny as it’s expected to get, with temperatures expected to max out at 66 degrees.

          Unless I’m willing to wait until the middle of July or August, I think I’m going to have to take a more active approach.

        • I recommend your cleaning kit, an old t-shirt (and some scissors to cut smaller pieces), and a jar of cheap mineral spirits. Take it all the way apart, and you’ll be amazed how quickly everything but the barrel comes clean (in my experience, that takes forever).

        • If the missus doesn’t mind sacrificing a cookie pan (not sheet) and stinking up the kitchen a bit, the way I get the cosmoline out of my Nagants is to put the parts on a cookie pan in the oven at about 250 degrees. No where near hot enough to affect heat treating, more than hot enough to melt Satan’s choice of preservatives.

    • The same reason a Colt SAA costs over $1k, when you can get a Glock (or other plastic gun) for half the price. Nostalgia.

    • A number of reasons.

      1. Nostalgia (as others have mentioned)
      2. The Garand is more powerful than an AR, has a longer sight radius and is thus more accurate (generally) when using open sights. The length of the rifle also means that it swings well (it acts like the pole a tightrope walker uses to balance) if you are shooting at moving targets.
      3. Gas piston/op rod system is robust and reliable. The magazine system employed is simple and reliable as well.
      4. The Garand, while heavy by modern standards, is not all that much heavier than an M4 that when saddled with tac-light, bipod, ACOG, etc etc.
      In fact, though the ammo is much heavier, the en-bloc clips are much lighter than an AR/M16 STANAG magazine. The point being that the weight difference is less than some might have you believe.

      One might argue that our troops in Afghanistan would be better served (in some circumstances) with a rifle along the lines of a Garand than they are with their 14.5in barreled poodle shooters. Certainly if the enemy is 400 meters away shooting down at you from a hill side and hiding behind light cover, a Garand is looking good in comparison to an M4. An 8in pine tree is Cover if your talking M4s, it becomes Concealment if you are talking M1 Garand.

      This is why the Army is now reissuing M14EBRs to troops in the field in Afghanistan.

      5. But mostly its just cool to have a piece of history that also happens to the rifle equivalent of the Hammer of Thor.

      • The magazine system employed is simple and reliable as well.

        Well, that’s assuming you manage to keep all of your fingers attached after loading it.

  2. Just got mine, CMP special in .308. Brand new barrel, stock in mint condition. Can’t wait to shoot it. Thought that the .308 might get me a better quality rifle since the demand for the .30-06 might make good ones in that caliber rarer. Did it have an effect? I’ll never know, but I’m really happy with what I got.

  3. The folks at Anniston are great. I happened to luck out and stop in on a Wednesday, which is apparently the day they stock the racks. When they found out I was active duty military (I think my snazzy haircut gives me away) a very nice gentleman “suggested” that I look very hard at “this one over here” or “that one…no next one to your left.” I got a great rifle (with what was an almost new barrel) with beautiful wood and met some really great people.

    Definitely worth the trip.

  4. Quick question to clarify their requirements. It says “Firearms Owner Identification Cards that included live fire training. – FFL or C&R license” as being eligible – that does mean that having a FFL or C&R license makes you good to go, right? Just a bit confused since it says it includes live fire training before that.

    I live in Ohio and want to take a trip up there…not sure if I’d grab another M1 Carbine while I’m there or just get a Garand.

  5. I’ve got a Special Grade M1 Garand coming any day now (just waiting for shipping and tracking confirmation). But one o’ these days I’d like to take a long weekend and drive to the shop in Ohio, buy another or maybe a carbine and, while I’m there, maybe ride some roller coasters.

    Get ’em while you can.

    • Hard to say because they’re no longer available except from the two stores (walk in) or by auction. But it will certainly be dependent upon grade.

      South Korea has something like 800,000 of them but The Big O won’t allow them be repatriated. Personally, I could live without one because I don’t think they’re really that great as rifles go and ammo is scarce. But I’d still like to have one just to have it.

      • That’s because the Korean’s want to CHARGE for rifles that we LOANED them. They should just give them back and we should be able to buy them.

  6. These are beautiful, historical rifles with an action worth remembering if not reintroducing. Are they “the best” available rifles in today’s world? Probably not. But if forced to defend hearth and home with one, I think a practiced shooters could do just fine. After all, if it worked for Sheriff Brody when he killed that giant shark…

    • Long, heavy and maybe more gun than anyone needs but if it’s all you have at the moment, you may be outfought but you’ll never be outgunned.

      Just think, when USGIs were carrying Garands, everybody else was carrying bolt-actions. All excellent bolt-actions but still bolt-actions. It was a devastating advantage.

  7. I’m going to wait for the sets from Korea to come over. Trust me they will, even if it takes another year. Probably bring my dad along for the ride as the ONLY WWII rifles we don’t have yet are a garand and arisaka. I’d like to start my own collection out with some good old springfield armory wood and steel.

  8. Ohio! Alabama!! Don’t they know there actually is more U.S.A. that extends past the Mississippi River?!?!?! Maybe put a store on this side of the country. I’d suggest Arizona, but maybe that’s selfish of me. I’d drive to NV, CO, NM, or even UT for this! the government is welcome to keep politicians at that end of the country, but bring some CMP this way.

    • +1 to this. Maybe they keep it all east of the Mississippi because all the good ol’ boys out west would suck up all the surplus they could, and the gubment can’t have crazies like you and I running around with ‘military surplus rifles’ endangering the public! For the children!

    • As an Ohioan, I’m very much aware of what’s east of the Mississippi – the People’s Republic of California!!

      But yea, I agree, it’s pretty stupid that CMP doesn’t have any other locations.

  9. There are stats about that tens of thousands of rounds more were required for every kill in Vietnam compared to rounds fired in WWII. (I tried a quick Bing search that yielded widely varying numbers.) One of the factors may have been the M1 Garand with .30-’06 versus the 5.56 Nato, so I wouldn’t quickly discount it against some new weapons.

    A friend has one, and I’ve had the pleasure of shooting it. You can pretty consistently keep rounds on a paper plate at 100 yards without too much finessing, and with pretty mild recoil. The only real downside to me was its heft, but a lot of guys smaller than I am carried them around literally for years.

  10. Great write up, definitely makes me want to travel instead of ordering online. Especially given knowledgeable folks like yourself gauging and grabbing the best rifles 🙂

    As far as the more rounds per kill in Vietnam, I would blame Puff the dragon of pain, spewing a hundred rounds per second from the countless miniguns in use more than the stopping power of 5.56. Also of note, we dropped more ordinance in Vietnam than both sides did in WW2

  11. I would suggest getting to Anniston on a Wednsday as the selection is pretty well picked over by Saturday. The Folks at the arsenal are very helpful and with all those guns and nice people what’s not to like?

  12. One other nice item about the “walk-in” option is that you can possibly find a rifle not listed on the Website. I was able to go to Camp Perry a few weeks ago and pick out a Service Grade Winchester, which the CMP Website had shown as “Sold Out – No Longer taking Orders”. On top of that, the rifle arrived at my house 2 days later!

  13. Had a chance to stop in at Anniston last week and what a change in a year! They only had a few dozen or so rifles available for walk-ins and the least expensive was $995. Compared to my visit last year in the fall to Camp Perry, the price of the rifles have basically doubled.


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