The M1 Garand is known by many names such as M1, M1 rifle, M1 Garand or just the Garand but the correct service name is US Rifle, Caliber .30, M1.
It’s a gas operated, self loading rifle meaning the shooter does not has to manually operate the bolt the load a new cartridge into the chamber.
It has been used during WW2 and the Korean War and was replaced in 1958 by the M14 although it was also used in the Vietnam War. It’s still being used today by drill teams and honor guard details.
“The greatest battle implement ever devised” – Patton
The US have been showing interest in a semi automatic rifle since the beginning of the 20th century. During WWI, it produced the Perderson Device, which turned the M1903 Springfield rifle into a semi automatic rifle although it did fire a pistol-caliber cartridge. The goal behind developing a semi automatic rifle was that the believe existed that this could prevent the WWI stalemate. For that reason, the Thompson Submachine gun and the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was developed. These weapons had some major disadvantages, the Thompson Submachine wasn’t accurate at long range since it fired .45 pistol caliber ammunition and the BAR was too heavy. The development continued throughout the 1920’s with the design by John C. Garand to be considered the best. There were others such as the Winchester 1907 and Remington Model 8 but neither had the capacity to handle the .30-06 service round. This requirement was set because this caliber was used in the M1903 Springfield, the BAR and the M1919 Machine Gun. Early examples were produced in 1933 and the first field trials were conducted in May 1935. It would take until 1937 for the first deliveries to arrive. By the end of 1941, the army was fully equipped, just in time before WW2. The Garand first saw action in early 1942 during the defense of the Philippines. Production would start in 1937 at 10 rifles a day at the Springfield armory and reached 100 per day two years later. By 1941, 600 rifles a day were produced. Following the outbreak of WW2, Winchester was contracted to produce an additional 65.000 rifles. During WW2, a total of 5.4 million rifles were produced. During the Korean war, the department of defense decided more were needed. In addition to Springfield and Winchester, International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson in which International Harvester alone produced more then 300.000 M1 Garands.
John C Garand
Garand’s fondness for machinery and target shooting blended naturally into a hobby of designing guns. In 1917, the United States Army took bids on designs for a light machine gun, and Garand’s design was eventually selected by the War Department. Garand was appointed to a position with the United States Bureau of Standards in Washington D.C. with the task of perfecting the weapon. The first model was not built until 1919, too late for use in World War I, but the government kept employing Garand as an engineer with the Springfield Armory starting from November 4, 1919 until he retired in 1953. In Springfield, Massachusetts, Garand was tasked with designing a basic gas operated self-loading infantry rifle and carbine that would eject the spent cartridge and reload a new round. Designing a rifle that was practical in terms of effectiveness, reliability, and production, stretched over time; it took fifteen years to perfect the M1 prototype model to meet all the U.S. Army specifications. The resulting Semiautomatic, Caliber .30, M1 Rifle was patented by Garand in 1932, approved by the U.S. Army on January 9, 1936.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Garand had designed and built a prototype bullpup rifle. It fired the same cartridge as the M1, but the magazine, action and shape were completely different. It was a select-fire design, and had a firing rate of about 600rpm. When Garand retired in 1953, the second version of the T31 was incomplete, and remained so. The project was scrapped, and the gun was retired to the Springfield Armory museum in 1961.
Garand never received any royalties from his M1 rifle design despite over half a million M1 rifles being manufactured as he transferred all rights regarding his inventions to the U.S. on January 20, 1936. A bill was introduced in Congress to award him $100,000 in appreciation, but it did not pass. Garand remained in his consulting position with the Springfield Armory until his retirement in 1953.
The Garand fired the .30-06 rifle cartridge, as did the M1903 Springfield, the BAR and the M1919 Browing Machine Gun. What does .30-06 mean? The .30 is the caliber of the bullet in inches and 06 the year it was introduced (1906). It remained in service until the 1970’s when it was replaced by the 7.62×51mm NATO and 5.56×45mm NATO calibers.
The Garand in Combat.
No doubt the most notable impact of the M1 was its success in combat, proving that virtually every other infantry rifle in the world was outgunned. The M1 gave a US infantry squad the firepower to take on and overcome an enemy platoon armed with bolt-action rifles, as was common in WW2 such as the German K98 Mauser, the Japanese Arisaka Type 99 or hte Italian Carcano M91 rifles. Although the M1 was not renowned for its accuracy, most troops felt confident of their ability to hit the enemy and they were definitely confident of its ability to put the enemy down. Why is the Garand loaded from the top It was believed that magazine fed rifles were inappropriate for standard issue rifles. Soldiers would lose the magazines rendering the rifle useless (a point proven unfounded by the M1 Carbine). Furthermore, magazine loading would increase the risk of clogging the rifle with dirt and debris. What causes this distinctive ping sound. The ping sound is heard when the en bloc clip is ejected from the rifle. Rumours are that the enemy was alerted by this ping sound and knew the shooter is out of ammo. This is not the case, combat is so loud and chaotic that the ping could not be heard.
Several accessories were used with the Garand rifle. Several different styles of bayonets fit the rifle: the M1905, with a 16-inch (406 mm) blade; the M1 with a 10-inch (254 mm) blade (either made standard or shortened from existing M1905 bayonets); and the M5 bayonet with 6.75-inch (171 mm) blade.
Also available was the M7 grenade launcher that could easily be attached to the end of the barrel. It could be sighted using the M15 sight, which was attached with screws to the left side of the stock, just forward of the trigger. A cleaning tool, oiler and grease containers could be stored in two cylindrical compartments in the buttstock for use in the field.
The M1907 two-piece leather rifle sling was the most common type of sling used with the weapon through World War II. In 1942, an olive drab canvas sling was introduced that gradually became more common. Another accessory was the winter trigger, 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.
The sniper versions of the Garand were modified to accept scope mounts and were produced in two versions (the M1C and the M1D), 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, but few saw combat; wartime production was only at nearly 8000 M1Cs. The mounting of the scope for the M1C was done by drilling holes in the receiver and was an inefficient and time consuming process, therefore, with the M1D, the scope was mounted on the barrel.
There were other versions such as the Tanker Garand, which was basically a Garand with shorter barrel and a folding butt-stock. The version was never approved for production. Another variant that was never produced was the T20E2, which was a Garand that accepted 20 rounds BAR magazines