The M1 Garand (officially designated as United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1 and later simply Rifle, Caliber .30, M1, and also abbreviated as US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1), was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "The Greatest Battle Implement Ever Devised" by General George S. Patton, the Garand officially replaced the bolt-action M1903 Springfield as the standard service rifle of the United States Armed Forces in 1936 and was subsequently replaced by the selective fire M14 in 1957. However, the M1 continued to be used in large numbers until 1963 and to a lesser degree until 1966.
The M1 was used heavily by U.S. forces in World War II, the Korean War, and, to a limited extent, the Vietnam War. Most M1 rifles were issued to Army and Marine troops, though many thousands were also lent or provided as foreign aid to America's allies. The Garand is still used by drill teams and military honor guards. It is also widely sought by the civilian population as a hunting rifle, target rifle, and military collectible. The name "Garand" is pronounced variously as /ɡəˈrænd/ or /ˈɡærənd/. According to experts and people who knew John Garand, the weapon's designer, the latter version is preferred. It is now available to civilians in the original .30-06 chambering, as well as in .308 Winchester.
Though the U.S. Army became interested in self-loading rifles with the Bang and Murphy-Manning of 1911, and there were pre-production models in 1916, the M1's origin properly dates to 1919, when armies around the world were realizing standard rifle cartridges were more powerful than necessary for typical engagement ranges, leading to heavier rifles than really required. The Army trials in the 1920s had a .256 inch minimum caliber requirement, compared to the .30-06 then standard.
Canadian born firearms designer John C. Garand, working at the Army's Springfield Armory, began with a .30 caliber primer-operated breech. Twenty-four rifles, identified as "M1922", were built at Springfield in the summer of 1924, and at Fort Benning during the summer of 1925 they were tested against models by Berthier, Hatcher-Bang, Thompson, and Pederson, the latter two delayed blowback types. This led to a further trial of the improved "M1924" Garand against the Thompson, ultimately producing an inconclusive report. Therefore, the Ordnance Board ordered a Garand variant .30-06, while in March 1927 the Cavalry Board reported trials between the Thompson, Garand, and '03 Springfield had not led to a clear winner, leading to a gas-operated .276 model.
During the spring of 1928, both Infantry and Cavalry Boards ran trials with the .276 Pedersen T1 rifle, calling it "highly promising" (despite its use of waxed ammunition, shared by the Thompson). On 13 August 1928, a Semiautomatic Rifle Board carried out joint Army, Navy, and Marine Corps trials between the .30 Thompson, both cavalry and infantry versions of the T1 Pedersen, "M1924" Garand, and .256 Bang, and on 21 September, the Board reported no clear winner. The .30 Garand, however, was dropped in favor of the .276.
Further tests by the SRB in July 1929, which included rifle designs by Browning, Colt-Browning, Garand, Holek, Pedersen, Rheinmetall, Thompson, and an incomplete one by White,[nb 2] led to a recommendation that work on the (dropped) .30 gas-operated Garand be resumed, and a T1E1 was ordered 14 November 1929.
Twenty gas-operated .276 T3E2s Garands were made and competed with T1 Pedersen rifles in Spring 1931. The .276 Garand was the clear winner of these trials. The .30 caliber Garand was also tested, in the form of a single T1E1, but was withdrawn with a cracked bolt on 9 October 1931. A 4 January 1932 meeting recommended adoption of the .276 caliber and production of approximately 125 T3E2s. Meanwhile, Garand redesigned his bolt and his improved T1E2 rifle was retested. The day after the successful conclusion of this test, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur personally disapproved any caliber change, in part because there were extensive existing stocks of .30 M1 ball ammunition. On 25 February 1932, Adjutant General John B. Shuman, speaking for the Secretary of War, ordered work on the rifles and ammunition in .276 caliber cease immediately and completely and all resources be directed toward identification and correction of deficiencies in the Garand .30 caliber.
On 3 August 1933, the T1E2 became the Semi-Automatic Rifle, Caliber 30, M1. In May 1934, 75 M1s went to field trials; 50 were to infantry, 25 to cavalry units. Numerous problems were reported, forcing the rifle to be modified, yet again, before it could be recommended for service and cleared for procurement on 7 November 1935, then standardized 9 January 1936. The first production model was successfully proof-fired, function-fired, and fired for accuracy on July 21, 1937.
Production difficulties delayed deliveries to the Army until September 1937. By September 1939, Springfield Armory had reached an output of 100 per day. Despite going into production status, design issues were not at an end. The barrel, gas cylinder, and front sight assembly were redesigned and entered production in early 1940. Existing "gas-trap" rifles were recalled and retrofitted, mirroring problems with the earlier M1903 Springfield rifle that also had to be recalled and reworked approximately three years into production and foreshadowing rework of the M16 rifle at a similar point in its development. Production of the Garand increased in 1940 despite these difficulties, reaching 600 a day by 10 January 1941, and the Army was fully equipped by the end of 1941.
Following the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Winchester was awarded an "educational" production contract for 65,000 rifles, with deliveries beginning in 1943. The British Army tested the M1 as a possible replacement for its bolt-action Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk III, but rejected it.
John Garand points out features of the M1 to Army Generals.
The M1's semiautomatic operation gave United States forces a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot recovery time over individual enemy infantrymen in battle (German, Italian, and Japanese soldiers were usually armed with bolt-action rifles). General George S. Patton called it "the greatest implement of battle ever devised." The impact of faster-firing infantry small arms in general soon stimulated both Allied and Axis forces to greatly augment issue of semi- and fully-automatic firearms then in production, as well as to develop new types of infantry firearms.
Much of the M1 inventory in the post-World War II period underwent arsenal repair or rebuilding. While U.S. forces were still engaged in the Korean War, the Department of Defense determined a need for additional production of the Garand, and two new contracts were awarded. During 1953-56, M1s were produced by International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson. A final, very small lot of M1s was produced by Springfield Armory in early 1957, using finished components already on hand. Beretta also produced Garands using Winchester tooling.
The M1 proved an excellent rifle throughout its service in World War II and the Korean War. Surplus M1 rifles also armed many nations allied to the USA postwar, including West Germany, Italy and Japan. Some Garands were still being used in the Vietnam War in 1963; despite the M14's official adoption in 1957, it was not until 1965 the changeover from the M1 Garand was completed in the active-duty component of the Army (with the exception of the sniper variants, which were introduced in World War II and saw action in Korea and Vietnam). In other components of the armed forces, such as the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and the Navy, Garands continued to serve into the 1970s or longer.
Some military drill teams still use the M1, including the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, the Norwegian Royal Guards Drill Team, the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Guard, almost all Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and some Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) teams of all branches of the U.S. military. The Greek Army Evzones (presidential) Guard still uses M1s and it was used as a training rifle in the Greek army even in the late 90's.
The M1 Garand with important parts labeled.
The M1 rifle is a gas-operated, semi-automatic, clip-fed rifle. By modern standards, the M1's feeding system is archaic, relying on clips to feed ammunition, and is the principal source of criticism of the rifle. Officials in Army Ordnance circles demanded a fixed, non-protruding magazine for the new service rifle. At the time, it was believed that a detachable magazine on a general-issue service rifle would be easily lost by U.S. soldiers (a criticism made of British soldiers and the Lee-Enfield 50 years previously), would render the weapon too susceptible to clogging from dirt and debris (a belief that proved unfounded with the adoption of the M1 Carbine), and that a protruding magazine would complicate existing manual-of-arms drills. As a result, inventor John Garand developed an "en bloc" clip system that allowed ammunition to be inserted from above, clip included, into the fixed magazine. While this design provided the requisite flush-mount magazine, the clip system increased the rifle's weight and complexity, and prevented it from being fired without a clip, such as while reloading.
Garand's rifle was originally chambered for the .276 Pedersen cartridge, charged by means of 10-round clips. Later, it was chambered for the then-standard .30-06 Springfield. With this new cartridge, the M1 had a maximum effective range of 440 yards (400 m), with the capability of inflicting a casualty with armor-piercing ammunition well beyond 875 yards (800 m). Because of the larger diameter of the .30-06 cartridge, the modified magazine held only eight rounds.
Two of Garand's patents, showing the original gas trap design and revised gas port system.
Garand's original design for the M1 used a complicated gas system involving a special muzzle extension gas trap, later dropped in favor of a simpler drilled gas port. Because most of the older rifles were retrofitted, pre-1939 gas-trap M1s are very rare today and are prized collector's items. In both systems, expanding gases from a fired cartridge are diverted into the gas cylinder. Here, the gases met a long-stroke piston attached to the operating rod. The operating rod was therefore pushed rearward by the force of this high-pressure gas. Then, the operating rod engaged a rotating bolt inside the receiver. The bolt was attached to the receiver via two locking lugs, which rotated, unlocked, and initiated the ejection of the spent cartridge and the reloading cycle when the rifle was discharged. The operating rod (and subsequently the bolt) then returned to its original position.
An M1 Garand en bloc clip loaded with eight .30-06 Springfield rounds.
The weight of the M1 varies between 9.5 lb (4.31 kg) and 10.2 lb (4.63 kg) unloaded (depending on sling type and stock wood density)--a considerable increase over the previous M1903 Springfield. The length was 43.6 inches (1,107 mm). The rifle is fed by an "en bloc" clip which holds eight rounds of .30-06 Springfield ammunition. When the last cartridge is fired, the rifle ejects the clip and locks the bolt open. Clips can also be manually ejected at any time. The "en-bloc" clip is manually ejected by pulling the operating rod all the way to the rear, and then depressing the clip latch button. Much criticized in modern times, the en-bloc clip was innovative for its era. The concept of a disposable box magazine had not been embraced and en-bloc clips were cheap and reliable. It was even harder and slower to reload than the M1903 rifle. Contemporary rifles with the ability to easily top-off a magazine included the Johnson M1941, the obsolete Krag-Jørgensen  and the Lee-Enfield No1 and No4.
The rifle's ability to rapidly fire powerful .30-06 rifle ammunition also proved to be of considerable advantage in combat. In China, Japanese banzai charges had previously met with frequent success against poorly-trained Chinese soldiers armed with bolt-action rifles. Armed with the M1, U.S. infantrymen were able to sustain a much higher rate of fire than their Chinese counterparts. In the short-range jungle fighting, where opposing forces sometimes met each other in column formation on a narrow path, the penetration of the powerful .30-06 M2 cartridge enabled a single U.S. infantryman to kill up to three Japanese soldiers with a single round.
Ejection of an empty clip created a distinctive metallic "pinging" sound. In World War II, reports arose in which German and Japanese infantry were making use of this noise in combat to alert them to an empty M1 rifle in order to 'get the drop' on their American enemies. The information was taken seriously enough that U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground began experiments with clips made of various plastics in order to soften the sound, though no improved clips were ever adopted.
The M1 Garand was one of the first self-loading rifles to use stainless steel for its gas cylinder, in an effort to prevent corrosion. As the stainless metal could not be parkerized, these gas cylinders were given a stove-blackening that frequently wore off in use. Unless the cylinder could be quickly repainted, the resultant gleaming muzzle could make the M1 Garand and its user more visible to the enemy in combat. The M1 Garand was designed for simple assembly and disassembly to facilitate field maintenance. It can be field stripped (broken down) without tools.
Inserting an M1 "en bloc" clip.
The Garand is loaded with a full clip of eight rounds. Once all eight rounds are expended, the bolt will be automatically locked back and the clip ejected (with a distinct metallic ping), readying the rifle for the insertion of a fresh clip of ammunition. Compared to contemporary detachable box magazines, the M1's "en bloc" clip is light, simple, and only has to be oriented with the rounds pointing forward prior to charging the rifle (the clips have no top or bottom).
Once the clip is inserted, the bolt snaps forward on its own as soon as thumb pressure is released from the top round of the clip, chambering a round and leaving it ready to fire. It is advisable for the operator to ride the bolt forward with his hand (in order to prevent the bolt from closing on his thumb, resulting in "Garand thumb" or "M1 thumb"), and to strike the operating rod handle with his palm to ensure the bolt is closed.
The M1's safety is located at the front of the trigger guard. It is engaged when it is pressed rearward into the trigger guard, and disengaged when it is pushed forward and is protruding outside of the trigger guard. Contrary to widespread misconception, partially expended or full clips can be easily ejected from the rifle by means of the clip latch button. It is also possible to load single cartridges into a partially loaded clip while the clip is still in the magazine, but this requires both hands and a bit of practice. In reality, this procedure was rarely performed in combat, as the danger of loading dirt along with the cartridges increased the chances of malfunction, instead, it was much easier and quicker to simply manually eject the clip, and insert a fresh one, which is how the rifle was originally designed to be operated. Later, special clips holding two or five rounds became available on the civilian market, as well as a single-loading device which stays in the rifle when the bolt locks back.
In battle, the manual of arms called for the rifle to be fired until empty, and then recharged quickly. Due to the well-developed logistical system of the U.S. military at the time, this wastage of ammunition was generally not critical, though this could change in the case of units that came under intense fire or were flanked or surrounded by enemy forces. The Garand's en-bloc clip system proved particularly cumbersome when using the rifle to launch grenades, requiring removal of an often partially loaded clip of ball ammunition and replacement with a full clip of blank cartridges.
It is recommended that very slow burning powders and heavy bullets not be used in the Garand. This is an issue especially important to handloaders, as the pressure curve of slower propellants can put too much pressure on the gas piston, bend the operating rod, and adversely affect the Garand's accuracy. The Garand is best used with bullets of about 150 grains weight, as in "Ball, Caliber 30, M2" ammunition.
Both official and aftermarket accessories were plentiful for the Garand rifle. Several different styles of bayonets fit the rifle: the M1905 and M1942, both with 16-inch (406 mm) blades; the Model 1905E1 with shortened 10-inch (254 mm) blade; the M1 with 10-inch (254 mm) blade; and the M5 bayonet with 6.75-inch (152 mm) blade.
Also available was the M7 grenade launcher that fitted onto the end of the barrel. It was sighted using the M15 sight, which fit just forward of the trigger. A cleaning tool, oiler and greasepots could be stored in two cylindrical compartments in the buttstock for use in the field. Because of the limitations of the Garand's clip-loading magazine, the rifle proved less than ideal for use in launching 22 mm rifle grenades, and the M1903 Springfield was retained for use in that role long after grenade launchers for the Garand became available.
The M1907 two-piece leather rifle sling was the most common type of sling used with the weapon through World War II. In 1943 a khaki canvas sling was introduced that gradually became more common. Another accessory was the winter trigger, said to have been developed during the Korean War. It consisted of a small mechanism installed on the trigger guard, allowing the soldier to remotely pull the trigger by depressing a lever just behind the guard. This enabled the shooter to fire his weapon while using winter gloves, which could get "stuck" on the trigger guard or not allow for proper movement of the finger.
Rifle, Cal. 30, M1C with M84 telescope and rear sight protector.
Rifle, Cal. 30, M1D with M84 telescope and T-37 flash suppressor.
Most variants of the Garand, save the sniper variants, never saw active duty. The sniper versions were modified to accept scope mounts, and two versions (the M1C, formerly M1E7, and the M1D, formerly M1E8) were produced, although not in significant quantities during World War II. The only difference between the two versions is the mounting system for the telescopic sight. In June 1944, the M1C was adopted as a standard sniper rifle by the U.S. Army to supplement the venerable M1903A4.
The procedure required to install the M1C-type mounts through drilling/tapping the hardened receiver was inefficient in terms of tooling and time. This resulted in the development of the M1D, which utilized a simpler, single-ring Springfield Armory mount. The M1C and M1D first began to be widely used during the Korean War. The U.S. Marine Corps adopted the M1C as their official sniper rifle in 1951. The U.S. Navy has also used the Garand, rechambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO round.
The T20E2 selective fire prototype was designed to feed from 20-round BAR magazines.
Two interesting variants that never saw service were the M1E5 and T26 (popularly known as the Tanker Garand). The M1E5 is equipped with a folding buttstock, while the T26 uses the standard solid stock, and has a shorter, 18-inch barrel. The Tanker name was also used after the war as a marketing gimmick for commercially-modified Garands. Another variant that never saw duty was the T20E2. This variant is a Garand modified to accept Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) magazines, and has selective fire capability, with semi- and fully-automatic modes.
The T26 arose from requests by various Army combat commands for a shortened version of the standard M1 rifle for use in jungle or mobile warfare. In July 1945 Col. William Alexander, former staff officer for Gen. Simon Buckner and a new member of the Pacific Warfare Board, requested urgent production of 15,000 carbine-length M1 rifles for use in the Pacific theater. To emphasize the need for rapid action, he requested the Ordnance arm of the U.S. 6th Army in the Philippines to make up 150 18" barreled M1 rifles for service trials, sending another of the rifles by special courier to U.S. Army Ordnance officials at Aberdeen as a demonstration that the M1 could be easily modified to the new configuration. Although the T26 was never approved for production, at least one 18" barreled M1 rifle was used in action in the Philippines by troopers in the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (503rd PIR).
During the 1950s, Beretta produced Garands in Italy at the behest of NATO, by having the tooling used by Winchester during World War II shipped to them by the U.S. government. These rifles were designated Model 1952 in Italy, and eventually led to variants of their own, the best known of these being the BM59 series.
The M1 Garand became the standard U.S. service rifle in 1936, but the former standard M1903 Springfield continued in use. The M1903A4 model Springfield was a bolt action sniper rifle that remained in use for years due to its superior performance. The U.S. rifle M1C or M1D (Sniper's) is the standard U.S. rifle M1 with telescope M81, M82, or M84 mounted on the receiver and a cheek pad laced to the stock. The cone shaped flash hider M2 or prong flash hider T37 is furnished as an accessory with the M1C and M1D models. The 1952 Marine version of the M1C had a different scope and flash hider. The M1C and M1D sniper versions of the M1 Garand were standardized in 1944. The M1C was used late in World War II and was the main sniper weapon for the U.S. Army in Korea. Few M1D models were produced before the end of World War II. Many standard M1s were converted to M1D during the Korean War, but few made it to that war. During the early years of the Vietnam War, the M1D was the official U.S. Army sniper rifle until it was replaced in the mid-1960s by the M-21 7.62mm Sniper Rifle.
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