As the original U.S. armory, Springfield Armory manufactured all sorts of firearms between 1777 and 1968. Their 1942 M1 Garand is the most treasured firearm in my safe. It was armory refurbished in 1947, and my father bought it for me as a birthday gift in 2000. This firearm was a beauty right off the rack, with new walnut stocks.
After inspecting and lubricating the Garand, my dad and I took it to a nearby public outdoor range for some bench rest shooting. Using a Caldwell rifle rest and firing off the bench from 50 yards, my dad — who had always been a good shot — did very well with the Garand even though he had never shot one before. It was one of the most enjoyable range sessions of my entire life.
About the M1 Garand: A Powerful and Capable Defender
The M1 Garand is a true battle rifle, capable of engaging targets well beyond the 250-yard effective range of the M16’s intermediate cartridge. But there are tradeoffs for everything. The M1 Garand is a large and heavy arm. Weighing in at approximately 11.6 pounds, the M1 Garand sports a 24-inch barrel and is 43.5 inches long overall.
Its stocks are generally walnut, although other less expensive hardwoods have been used. The front sight is a simple post with protective ears. And the rear sight is a click-adjustable peep. While specialized optics can and have been adopted (the M1D Sniper rifle is particularly prized), the M1 earned its legendary status as an iron-sighted rifle.
The M1 operates from a fixed magazine and loads with an eight-round EnBloc clip, made of spring steel. It remains in the Garand’s magazine until the last round is fired and is ejected along with the very last round with a loud ping.
The Garand has an amazing combat record. In WWII alone it went from the frigid cold of the Battle of the Bulge to the steaming jungle heat of the Pacific theatre and stayed in the fight. It continues to be a viable option today if attention is paid to operating requirements.
If you are firing an M1, be aware the Garand ammunition used during WWII and beyond fires at a lower pressure than modern day .30-06 hunting and sporting ammunition. Modern high-pressure ammo can damage the operating rod. Fortunately, various companies produce special M1 Garand ammunition loaded to WWII pressures. Winchester is the latest to produce such ammunition.
There is no reason to use hot .30-06 ammo in a Garand. The new Winchester M2 ball load delivers 2,740 feet per second muzzle velocity and 2,500 foot pounds of muzzle energy from its 150-grain FMJ bullet.
Shooting the M1 Garand Rifle
My M1 Garand is now 81 years old. When I realized I hadn’t shot it for 13 years, I decided it was time to rectify that situation. I enlisted a friend to shoot the M1 with me who hadn’t had the opportunity to fire one before.
I gave him an overview of the M1 operation and loaded a clip. He began firing at 50 yards standing unsupported. He experienced a seventh-round jam, possibly due to the Garand not being properly lubricated, which I cleared. The seven rounds landed in an 11-inch group in the center of the target, with a bit of drift to the left.
Then it was my turn with a fresh clip. All eight rounds fed and fired properly, and the clip ejected with the classic ping. Using the same target, I sighted on the head and managed a 7-inch group that was centered off to the left. I was satisfied with the accuracy and view the failure to feed as a hiccup. It was a joy to get behind the trigger again after so many years.
Who Should Own an M1 Garand?
The first thing I did when I got home was to lube the M1 magazine system with some Wilson Combat Gun Grease. M1s run better with grease than with lighter oils. I also looked up the Civilian Marksmanship Program to see if they still have M1 Garands for sale. They do, and the requisite M1 shooting matches have become even more popular. There are also plenty of Garands for sale through Guns International, although they can get rather pricey.
M1 Garands are far from extinct. In good condition, they are 600-yard rifles that would serve well in outer perimeter defense, where their eight-round magazines won’t be a detriment. They can be fired rapidly and accurately, plus reloaded quickly with practice. Garands can withstand all kinds of abuse and keep running, which has been proven through 20-plus years of active military service.
Civilian Marksmanship Program: TheCMP.org
Guns International: GunsInternational.com