M1 Garand Rifle – A Brief History

A brief history of the M1 Garand Rifle.

M1 Garand Rifle

M1 Garand Rifle

Unofficially named ‘The Garand’ after its legendary designer, John Garand, the M1 Garand Rifle is one of the most famous firearms in the history of the United States. General George S. Patton once said the M1 is “the greatest implement of battle ever devised.” The official name is “United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1” and is the rifle that officially replaced the US Army’s bolt action Springfield M1903. While the Springfield M1903 was used during World War I, the M1 Garand saw military service extensively during World War II, the Korean War and even some in Vietnam.

Patton & The M1

Patton & The M1

The M1 is a gas operated, semi automatic rifle with an eight round clip which was a huge improvement in firepower over the Springfield bolt action. Both the M1903 and the M1 Garand use the .30-06 cartridge which stands for .30 caliber and was introduced in 1906. In metric the .30-06 is 7.62×63. With a bolt action rifle you have to manually ‘load’ each cartridge by moving the bolt with your hand. The beauty of the M1 is that you can fire eight rounds basically as fast as you can pull the trigger. This provided a significant advantage to US troops if they were facing an enemy who was still using a bolt action rifle. The gas expended from the prior round is channeled back into the rifle and that gas pressure is used to ‘load’ the next round into the firing position.

An interesting side note to the M1 is that after the eight rounds are fired the clip will automatically eject from the rifle. Upon exiting the clip makes a rather loud metal ‘ping’ sound. While this makes it very clear to the soldier firing the weapon that they are now out of ammunition it also notified any enemy soldiers nearby of the same thing! Thinking the American soldier is now out of ammunition enemy troops would then charge. Of course, Americans are great at taking a possible bad situation and using it to their advantage. The story is that GI’s would take an empty clip and drop it down on a rock or hard surface making the ‘ping’ sound making the enemy think they were now out of ammo. Having heard the ping they would charge the American’s only to be quickly taken down by the quick thinking American’s and their M1’s.

John Garand

John Garand

Actually from Canada, John Garand went to work for the Springfield Armory in 1924 and he began working on the early version of the .30 caliber auto loading rifle. Many years of trial and error took place and even on one occasion the US Army decided against the .30 M1 and withdrew it from consideration. During several qualification tests over the years from various manufacturers like Browning, Colt, Thompson and others the front runner was a .276 caliber rifle. But finally in 1932, no other than famous Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur refused to allow any caliber change from .30. The Army still had huge stockpiles of .30 caliber for the M1903 and it just made sense to choose a successor that utilized the same ammunition. In 1937 the Army took possession of the first production M1’s which Springfield was producing at only ten rifles per day. Production increased to 100 per day during the next two years and reached 600 per day by January 1941.

The Army adopted the M-14 in 1957 which was an improvement over the M1 with it loading its ammunition in a magazine instead of the en-bloc clip the M1 uses. It was not until 1965 though that the US Army officially ended its use of the Garand. The Army National Guard, the Army Reserves and the Navy even used the rifle well into the 1970’s. Today it is still a favorite of Honor Guards, target shooters, hunters and collectors. The M1 Garand is available for purchase though the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) http://www.odcmp.com/

M1 Garand Army Poster

M1 Garand Army Poster

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