M1 Garand Rifle Review
M1 Garand (Foghorn for TTAG)
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Let’s face it. The vast majority of guns are rather boring. Not from a “yee-haw!” perspective, but from the perspective of mechanical ingenuity and history. The modern AR-15 may be the best example. As popular and functional as it is, an AR is re-packaged 50-year-old technology that’s so plastic and cold that it has no soul.

But in the world of firearms, the M1 Garand is the antithesis of soullessness. In a world of expensive special purpose firearms, it still holds its own in terms of usability and effectiveness for almost any purpose. And believe it or not, it’s still relatively cheap to buy.

What initially drew me to the M1 Garand was its history. The first rifle I ever bought was a re-arsenaled 1928 production dragoon pattern Mosin Nagant model 1891, a beautiful rifle with a rich history. I enjoyed pouring over every inch of her, wondering about the men and women who may have carried her and what they must have gone through during the war.

Little hints, like the area under the receiver where the finish had been worn off from being carried or the evenly spaced gouges in the stock that could only come from barbed wire scratching against it gave me glimpses into the history of a silent witness whose real story will never be known.

M1 Garand Rifle Review

But there’s a difference between these two firearms. The Mosin Nagant was a rifle produced in peacetime by a people hopeful about the future. Stalin had only recently come to power, and the effects of collectivization had yet to be understood.

The effect of this lack of urgency is evident in everything including the elaborate (and painted!) crest and serial number on the receiver. Wartime production urgency saw all of that including the arsenal mark changing to be easier and quicker to mass-produce.

M1 Garand Rifle Review

My M1 Garand was produced under much different circumstances. According to the serial number it was produced in January of 1944. Hitler was the master of Europe. The Japanese were still a major threat in the Pacific, and victory was far from certain. The invasion of Western Europe by the allies was inevitable, even if victory didn’t seem to be. At that point in the war, they still needed more weapons and materials to support the effort.

This is what differentiates this rifle from the others I own. The people who made my M1 Garand, from the person parkerizing the receiver to the final inspector hammering the DoD acceptance stamp into the barrel at the end of the line, made this rifle with the thought in their mind that it would go to one of our boys in the armed forces in the defense of the United States and her allies. Every other rifle I own was manufactured for the civilian market and as a result, they somehow feel different to me. But not this one. This one was made with a purpose.

The historical aspect to this rifle goes well beyond the role it played in world events. The M1 Garand and its mechanisms formed the basis for almost every battle rifle to be adopted by the U.S. armed forces to this day. The Garand’s connection to the M14 is obvious, but the little things (like the extractor / ejector mechanism on the bolt) endure in modified versions that are being used in M16 variants that are in use today.

The importance of the M1 Garand can be more fully understood by comparing the M1 to other “standard issue” infantry weapons of the day, so please excuse me while I indulge in a little historical blathering. By the 1930s the modern world was beginning to understand the lessons learned in the Great War, and indiv

idual firepower became the watchword of the day.

Submachine guns were coming into wide adoption, but they only provided a benefit at close range. Everyone wanted a firearm that provided similar firepower to a machine gun but was as accurate over great distances like a bolt action rifle, and while various “chocolate in my peanut butter” solutions were coming to light, none of them provided the same elegant solution to the problem that John Garand did.

M1 Garand Rifle Review

Like the Vickers machine gun, Garand decided to try to trap the gasses venting out the front of the rifle by using a bolt-on muzzle device. These first rifles (dubbed “gas trap Garands”) had the rifling in the barrel stop at the beginning of the gas port, with the last section of barrel simply a smoothbore extension of the gas system. Later models would rifle this section of barrel, but the gas trap design would inspire the Nazi G41(m)‘s muzzle device half a decade later.

But getting the gun to cycle was one thing — keeping it loaded was a completely different beast. Anyone who’s ever participated in a 3-gun competition will tell you that the trick to shotgun shooting isn’t so much firing it quickly as keeping it loaded, especially when you need to do it one round at a time.

External magazines in the 1930s were still rare on anything except a SMG, and stripper clips were painfully slow and difficult to use. The solution was an “en bloc” clip that was loaded into the gun with the ammunition. But to that point, only single stack clips were in use (like in the Carcano) and getting them out of the gun was an issue.

M1 Garand Rifle Review
The M1 Garand’s 8-round en bloc clip

Enter the double stacked en bloc clip. This allowed more rounds to be loaded (8 rounds compared to 5 in the K98 Mauser or Springfield 1903), and a spring-loaded mechanism flung the clip free after the last round allowing fresh ammunition to be loaded. In this way the M1 Garand beat out almost every other infantry weapon of the day (the bolt action Lee-Enfield SMLE had a 10-round magazine) by a wide margin for most rounds on target in a single minute.

Quick to fire, rapid to reload and accurate downrange, the Garand was truly the finest battle implement ever devised. And for many uses it still is the cat’s pajamas. It’s ideal for situations like hog hunting, where you need a powerful round to take the hog down and rapid firing for getting as many as you can before they run away.

What really seals the deal for the M1 Garand is that any American can have one of these shipped straight to their door, no FFL or transfer required. The Civilian Marksmanship Program (or CMP) will box up and ship one of these beauties to any American that meets the easy-to-achieve requirements and has about $700 to their name.

Despite being nearly 70 years old, this M1 Garand still shoots like it’s fresh off the assembly line. Its two-stage trigger is crisp and clean, the action functions flawlessly, and I still get sub-MOA three-round groups. It’s an accurate shooter and, as Tyler found out, it’s often too much for steel plates to handle.

M1 Garand Rifle Review

The M1 Garand is a masterpiece of firearm engineering…the perfect blend of wood and steel. It’s an amazing piece of history, both for its engineering achievement and the role it played in history. It’s a gun with a soul and a purpose, and my favorite rifle of all time.

Specifications: US Rifle, Caliber .30, M1 (M1 Garand)

Caliber: .30-06 Springfield
Barrel: 24″
Size: 43.5″ overall length
Weight: 9.5 lbs.
Operation: Gas Operated Semi-Auto
Finish: Parkerized
Capacity: 8 rounds in en bloc clip
Cheapest CMP Price: About $600

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
For a full power rifle cartridge out of a 68 year old gun I was delightfully surprised. Again, refer to my one shot kill on a steel plate from 50 yards.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
Personally, I find the M1 Garand to have the perfect proportions for my body. Everything just fits right.

Ergonomics Firing: * * * * *

Reliability: * * * * *
68 years of rusting away in the back of a supply depot and it still runs like a champ.

Customization: *
There’s nothing to do. And even if there were anything to do it would be blasphemy to attempt to do anything except put on a new stock.

Overall Rating: * * * * *
Every American should own one of these in their collection, and at that price you really have no excuses.


This review was originally published in 2012. 


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  1. “And believe it or not, it’s still relatively cheap to buy.”
    “This review was originally published in 2012.”
    …. (sigh)…

    • Field grade is still a available for $650 via the CMP.

      Even though I have an incredibly nice Service grade Springfield I picked up 3 years ago for $750, after seeing the Field grade my friend got earlier this year, I’m tempted to pick up another as a shooter.

      Given his sample of one, it’s a perfectly fine rifle. A little more worn looking, a little more dinged up wood, but it runs great and is plenty accurate.

    • The article seemed familiar to me. The pickin’s have gotten mighty slim from the CMP. Sure glad I got my Special Grade in 2011.

    • …was a re-arsenaled 1928 production dragoon pattern Mosin Nagant model 1891…

      Garbage rod. J/k

      Kinda. A lot of them were garbage rods. Pitted, rusty, dark nasty pitted bores. Take you so long to clean it, you never want to shoot it again. Some of them were ok.

    • Yes, he is also incorrect about “any American can have one of these shipped straight to their door, no FFL or transfer required”. Clearly he does not live in a blue state like NJ. It still has to ship to an FFL and incur all the usual NICS and transfer fees, and that’s on top of CMP having enormous delays and almost nothing to choose from.

  2. Mine is an H&R model, from the early 50’s, in 30-06 Springfield. She still shoots like an absolute dream! God bless the M1 Garand.

  3. I love my CMP M1 – however, mine had to be shipped to an FFL and then transferred to me.

    • Same here. Although CMP isn’t bound by GCA’s *federal* transfer laws they won’t violate state UBC laws such as in Oregon and presumably your state.

  4. “The vast majority of guns are rather boring.”

    Most of the conversation about guns centers around the insanity the left has with them. If not for that, little would get noticed.

  5. Speaking of the M-14 and M1-A1, the police claim that they were outgunned by Frederick Hopkins. Frederick Hopkins fired 39 rounds. The police fired 390.

    • Sounds about right to me.

      When a guy’s hitting officers at 200 yards with rifle fire, and they’re
      carrying 9mm pistols, that’s pretty much “outgunned” in any book.

  6. It’s a nice gun, once you modernize it with a Champion plastic stock, Ultimak sight rail, adjustable gas plug, and threaded muzzle adapter. Then you can use full power ammo, an optic and/or laser, muzzle brake/compensator/suppressor.

  7. I like the Rifle and it was a turning point but the fudd starter to this article just made me skip it

    • Flannel daddy said don’t worry about it. Hold the clip down until you are ready to release it, and your thumb will be fine. Also, modern ones solved that issue.

      • Mine was made in ’55. Thumb-mashing was still alive and well, so I don’t know what you mean by “modern”.

    • M1 thumb smarts, or so I’ve been told. I’ve managed to avoid it since I got mine from CMP 34 years ago. When they were truly affordable at $165.

      • Being Left Eye Dominant, while it looked a bit unusual, I fired a Garand in National Match Course Competition, and Long Range (1000 yards) for a number of years. Mr. Garand’s rifle turned out to be a pretty good target arm.

  8. Why was the last new gun review over a month ago? I love Garlands, but even this article is years old. Someone get threatened with shutting down the site or something?

    • “Why was the last new gun review over a month ago?”

      Write one up, and send it to Dan…

  9. One of the best darn rifles ever made. My grandfather thought very highly of the Garand when he was in service.

    The M1 Carbine he was issued (Combat Engineer), not so much.

    • The Rookie:
      The same guys that ballyhoo the M1911 in .45ACP poo poo the M1 Carbine, which delivers twice the muzzle energy of the .45ACP. Go figure.

        • And has a 20-rd mag rather than 8!

          And can be carried IN ADDITION TO a 1911 .45 auto.

        • Unfortunately, the “somethings” didn’t respond favorably to M1 Carbine rounds. Read up on Korea and WW2. Easy to carry, but not
          an “authoritative caliber”.

  10. An observation on Milsurps. Mosin-Nagants made in peacetime are rougher than western nation guns made in wartime.

    I have a 1938 91/30 and the metal work, fit, and finish are far worse than 1944 Mausers, ’43 Lee-Enfields, mid war Garands, etc.

  11. When I went through Basic Training in Jan. 1961 we used the M-1 Garand. The Army didn’t have enough M-14’s at that time for training. I still love that old War Horse!

  12. I love the classics, but I’d still buy a modern one before I buy a classic. And by classic, I mean authentic early WW2 version.

  13. There is just something about when you let the action fly, feeling it load, instills confidence.

    • Agreed. I focus on AR shooting for service rifle competition, but everything about a Garand seems more solid. After shooting a match with a Garand, even my 17 pound AR seems like a chintzy toy in comparison.

      • Well, the M16/AR15 was also designed with the Defense Acquisition Cycle in mind: The winner of the contract goes to the one that met the most requirements at the lowest cost.
        In short, the lowest bidder.
        And a AR feels like it.
        Just cannot get excited about it.

  14. Sorry don’t get the AR angle. The AR may be super common now and boring from that standpoint. But from a design perspective it was pretty unique. It’s still pretty unique.

    “AR is re-packaged 50-year-old technology that’s so plastic and cold that it has no soul.”

    An argument used by a fudd or two as an excuse to exclude such from the protections of the constitution.
    Not saying that’s your specific intent.

    The AR was so well executed that manufacturers trip over themselves trying to meet consumer demand half a century after it was introduced.

  15. The Garand is the Fudd wet dream. A rifle designed by a Canadian that ultimately gets fielded by a huge international war machine to save the world.

    A barrel in excess of 20″ inches…
    An unthreaded barrel at that…
    A gas system that can’t handle full power loads…
    A fixed magazine arrangement that takes less than ten rounds…
    A magazine that’s very difficult to modify to accept detachable magazines…
    A magazine that tells your adversary when you’re out of ammo…only fair…
    And no good place to put anything extra, accessories aren’t covered by the 2nd amendment anyway don’t ya know…

    • I’m no Fudd by any stretch of the imagination but I love shooting my M1 and 03.

    • “ A magazine that tells your adversary when you’re out of ammo…only fair…”

      Yeah, because with all the shooting of high power rifles and machine guns, not to mention any bombing/mortar fire that might also be goin on. All the while being subject to all of this without any kind of hearing protection, the enemy is going to hear the en-bloc eject from 50-100 plus yards away…right!
      You just might be a Fudd if…

      …You believe any of what you wrote.

      • Good reply. I fired the M1 for qualification four times in the USMC and two times in the USMCR. You only hear the clip ejecting if you are the last one firing during the rapid fire strings. That old urban legend about the clip ejecting giving the enemy a clue that you are out of ammo is just so much bull pucky.

        • All combat occurred in the 50-100 yard range whilst simultaneously taking mortar, machine gun fire so all combatants where 100% distracted and unaware? Never not?

          Haha, the you must be a Fudd for criticizing the Garand is definitely unique, especially in context.

        • “All combat occurred in the 50-100 yard range”

          actually, surveys after wwii showed that infantry rifle combat distance averaged 21 feet. not yards, feet.

  16. I’ve always thought of the BAR and how Browning must of put everything he had into its design knowing he was sending it to not only help our boys but into his own sons hands to keep him alive. The thought of the stress and worry.
    Make it good, make it strong, make hell come from the end.

  17. A good article. The only correction I would make is that the Moisin-Nagant was developed in 1892 and entered service in 1898. Without checking a history text, I can’t recall the exact dates of the last Russian-Turkish war but that and the development of the Mauser caused the Russians to develop the Moisin-Nagant. Stalin was a long way from power in the 19th century. The czar was still the head dude. Now that I am thinking about it, the Moisin-Nagant might have been instigated by the Russo-Japanese War which took place sometime in the 1890s. Again, I haven’t researched history, but that was hardly the kumbaya period that the original author of this article seems to think was existing in Russia in the 19th century. The Russian peasant was significantly unhappy with his lot and there were uprisings all over Russia. The czar’s hold was tenuous at best. The Moisin was developed to meet the threat of aggression from Russia’s perceived enemies as well as uprisings in the homeland. A quick review of the Russo-Japan War would indicate whether the Moisin was used in that conflict or not.

  18. I was incorrect in my dating of the Russo-Japan War. Here we go: “Russo-Japanese War
    The Russo-Japanese War was fought between the Empire of Japan and the Russian Empire during 1904 and 1905 over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of military operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria, and the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow. . .”

    So the Moisin most likely was used by front line troops in that war which saw Russia go down in ignominy and shocked the world that a minor country comprised of short yellow men could defeat a large white country. Sort of like LBJ’s pissant small southeast Asian country.

    Stalin wasn’t to come on the scene for another 20 years and the transition from the czar’s regime to the communist regime was anything but peaceful. Read about the war between the White Russians and the Red Russians.

  19. The only problem with the CMP is that you have to join a fudd gun club to qualify.

    • And that can be a problem. The only gun club that qualifies for CMP status is 65 miles away up a mountain. Yes I would love an M1 but I have a hard enough time finding time to go shooting as it is without adding a couple of hours in a car to do so.

      • The Garand Collectors Association (theGCA.org) qualifies, you can join online for $25/year, and they electronically upload your membership to the CMP. Every month you get a really nice printed magazine with articles and high quality pictures.

  20. Why exactly does every German gun have to be called a Nazi Fill-In-The-Blank? It just means you are totally clueless that Germans would actually fight for their country too.

    • From 1933 until 1945 a German who was fighting for his country was fighting for hitler and his degenerates, also.

    • No Red, actually there were hundreds of thousands of German Soldiers who fought for and totally bought into the Nazi final solution, and therefore were complicit in the evil genocide perpetrated on 6 million Jews.

    • “you are totally clueless that Germans would actually fight for their country too”

      they don’t get it, they’ve been taught all their lives to think entirely in terms of nationalist==evil. as their culture becomes overwhelmed with the officially mandated doctrine (by the same people) that america==evil and white==guilty and that justice==reparations (like the versailles treaty) they might begin to get it.

      • Hah, you know you’ve left a stupid comment when the neo-Nazi propogandists excitedly agree in their reply.

        I don’t think all nationalists are evil, but I’m fairly certain the Third Reich didn’t have the moral high ground.

  21. The M1Garand is by far and still the best rifle of ALL TIME. I reload all my M1 AMMO so as not to damage the gas rod and chamber by using commercially bought Ammo that’s a BIG NO NO

    • 47gr, +/- 1gr, of IMR4895 behind a 150gr bullet, as I’m sure you know. 4164 in a pinch, though I don’t remember the charge. I don’t recall ever shooting surplus M2 or equivalent reloads out of mine.

    • C’mon the best rifle of all time has to have you handloading specifically for it to protect its delicate innards?

  22. “AR is re-packaged 50-year-old technology that’s so plastic and cold that it has no soul”, that has to rank right up there in the all time top 10 dumbest lines ever written in the history of TTAG. And that’s saying something considering all the really stupid $#it written by Robert Farago back in the day.

  23. Monday fired 3 rounds from an M-1 3 at each of 2 cemeteries. Would take one in a heartbeat.

  24. I pined for an M1 rifle for some years when I started shooting, but they were always a little out of reach money wise. I don’t remember them ever being “cheap”.
    In the very early ’80s, I heard that the new Springfield Armory (Geneseo), was assembling Garands from new and surplus components and MSRP was $550. I ordered one and waited 9 months for it to arrive and have never been disappointed. It’s an awesome rifle that shoots like a dream. They started the S/Ns at 7 million so as not to be confused with GI guns. Mine is number 7001698.
    I’ve since been fortunate to own many firearms of many descriptions. But if I could keep only one, it would be my Garand hands down.

  25. I got mine through the CMP in 1990 for $165. Never issued and has a 1966 inventory mark on the barrel under the stock. Shoots like a dream. Serial number suggests its one of the last ones made. Too bad its so expensive to shoot.

  26. John Garand was well aware of detachable box magazines, they had been around since the 1918 BAR. He also designed the rifle around .276 cal ammo – ten of them. The en-bloc clip – and the .30-06 cartridge (after all, it was a depression and they had a zillion of them on hand) was mandated by the Ordnance dept. for (mostly) logistical and ammo expenditure concerns Which didn’t work out as intended, as GI’s would often just expend the last two or three in order to load a fresh clip.

  27. When I saw $700 for a Garand I thought this was a late April Fools entry, but instead it was just a recycled article from a time long, long ago.

  28. “But there’s a difference between these two firearms. The Mosin Nagant was a rifle produced in peacetime by a people hopeful about the future. Stalin had only recently come to power, and the effects of collectivization had yet to be understood.”

    This is some of the stupidest drivel I’ve seen on this site. The Mosin was designed as a result of the lessons learned in the Ottoman War of 1877-8. By 1891 it was ready for production and in 1904-5 it was used in the Russo-Japanese War. The people making the rifles weren’t “hopeful about the future”; they were making guns to go to war. Geez.

    As for Stalin only just coming to power, what a laugh. Like Lenin was a nice guy who got hoodwinked by Stalin or something. Stalin was Lenin’s enforcer until Lenin had a stroke and Stalin took over. Lenin was none too friendly about people’s rights; right to own a gun, right to free speech, even a right to eat the food you grew on your farm. (the forced redistribution of food did not start under Stalin, he just did it more)

    So sad to see such crap on a gun site.

  29. People tend to think of the M1 Garand as a near religious icon but in reality it was a primitive attempt to make a semi-auto battle rifle and it fell far short of expectations.

    The Garand had a tendency to break op-rods

    It did not have a stock liner which resulted in the stock being pounded by the action and then loosening up causing loss of accuracy.

    It was not all that reliable as blowing dust and sand will jamb one up on the second round and I have seen this happen and ditto on any mud you get into it.

    The right bolt lug has no roller on it like the later M14 had and that results in the bolt galling the receiver and when that gets bad enough the gun starts to malfunction that is why the military issued special lubriplate grease to lube the gun with which of course did not last long in the snow and rain and it was not possible to use grease desert conditions.

    The enblock clip was an abortion and often resulted in soldiers firing off their last couple of rounds and deliberately wasting them because you could not top off the enblock clip or eject a partially loaded clip as quickly as you could a box magazine.

    The M1 was better than a bolt gun because it was the only game in town back in the day but in modern times it is pretty much of an obsolete joke.

  30. Since no one has pointed it out yet, the section on SMGs were the only magazine feed “rifles” and all others, other than the Carcano were stripper clip feed is flat out ring.

    German Gewehr 88 (since 1905 replaced by stripper clips), the Mexican Mondragón, the French Berthier Mle 1890 and RSC Mle 1917, the Italian M1870/87 Vetterli-Vitali and M1891 Carcano, the various (Romanian, Dutch, Portuguese) turnbolt Mannlichers, the Austro-Hungarian straight-pull Steyr-Mannlicher M1895, the Hungarian FÉG 35M, and the US M1895 Lee Navy, M1 Garand and Pedersen T1E3.

    All but the Hungarian FEG 35m predate the M1 Garand.

    The Enfield has a detachable magazine, though that isn’t how it has been used. Just a short list. If you’d like, I can list out all of the detachable magazine rifles there were that predate the M1 Garand (BAR 1918 being another one). Savage model 99 was a commercial implementation.

    Yes, magazines were expensive and particular troublesome for rifle caliber weapons. But it was as much about doctrine and just not needing them yet.

    It wasn’t a new or novel idea. It was simply a well executed one in the Garand.

  31. “As popular and functional as it is, an AR is re-packaged 50-year-old technology that’s so plastic and cold that it has no soul. But in the world of firearms, the M1 Garand is the antithesis of soullessness.”

    the ar was developed because the m1 proved ineffective, almost irrelevant, in wwii.

  32. Basic in 1962. Trained with M1’s. Ft. Gordon Ga. Winter. Wind rain and snow and red clay. Known distance range. We got points for shooting in the right direction. The M1’s were well used long before we got them. They would shoot when they damn well pleased. Lot of respect for the troops that used them during the war, it wasn’t the rifle, it was the troops that used them. The rifles were newer then. The military, then and now, use what they’re given. It is not the soul of the firearm, it is the soul of the user.

  33. Even in 2012 the M1 wasn’t exactly cheap… let alone good f****** luck trying to find one now… or an M14 or even a .30-40 Krag bolt action for anything other than arm and a leg… Managed to find a British .303 for “dirt cheap” and rough as cactus balls for $250 but ammo for it in 2021… yeah.
    Military history and the rifles that were used back then were and still are relevant but every one that is for sale now requires a left nut, your first born, and a deal where your soul is required…
    How can anyone enjoy such things of beauty and functionallity when it’s gone beyond the scope of the average person?!
    Even a Mosin in poor-ish condition is knocking on the door of over $700.
    Here’s a bit of advice to anyone holding these poor rifles hostage… knock it off! Quit Bogarting them like they’re made of Rhodium.
    Understood that they are becoming more and more rare but damn,
    how about giving us poor vets of the new era a chance to own a piece?

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