Greatest Battle Implement Ever Devised?

By Jim Secrist

The M1 Garand Rifle is one of the greatest rifles ever made. It was invented by John C. Garand who worked at the Springfield Armory. It was designated as the U.S. Rifle Caliber .30 M1 and was the primary Battle Rifle for US Forces in WWII and Korea. These rifles also saw action in Viet Nam. The rifles were manufactured for the US Government starting in 1936 and ending in 1957, and are still being manufactured today for commercial use. These rifles are part of our heritage and are a reminder to all of us of the trials of war that our servicemen endured. Who knows what the outcome of WWII would have been without the Garand?

The M1 is somewhat complicated when compared to standard bolt action rifles of the period. With its reliability, 8 round clip, quick loading and high degree of accuracy, the M1 was the first highly-used semiautomatic service weapon. M1 shooters know about the "M1 Thumb", a condition that exists when ones thumb gets closed in the bolt (avoid this as your blood stains devalue the rifle). I have seen a few M1's that have went full auto for two or three bursts due to a worn sear in the trigger group.

The M1 Garand is a air cooled, gas operated, clip-fed semiautomatic shoulder weapon and is generally chambered in 30-06. It has a 8 round embolic clip that is ejected on the last round. It is designed with a peep sight system that is adjustable for windage and range. Rifles produced before July 1940 were of the gas trap design. These rifles are very rare and are highly sought after by collectors; basically they have a different type of gas operation system. Rifles produced after July 1940 have a gas port design.

The M1 Garand is fairly heavy (about 11 1/4 pounds loaded with sling and cleaning equipment.) Therefore it has a somewhat mild recoil, which makes it pleasant to shoot.

Ammunition used for the M1 Garand rifle should meet military specs, because of the gas operation and the possibility of slam fires with non hardened primers. Heavy bullets or high pressure loads should not be used in the M1 (reloaders should use faster burning powders than 4350, and CCI 34 Primers in my opinion). Bullets should be kept in the 150 to175 grain range. Corrosive ammunition was used in the original rifles. Surplus ammunition should be regarded as corrosive unless you know for sure it is not.

The M1 Garand has been produced by several manufacturers, but most were produced by Springfield Armory. Winchester, Harrington and Richardson and International Harvester also produced these rifles for the US Government. M1 Garands were also made in Italy (Breda and Beretta), some US Garands will have Italian parts on them because of European rebuilds. Garands made in Japan and China may not have interchangeable parts and were never used by US armed Forces.

Commercial Garands have been produced for a number of years by several manufacturers. Most use GI surplus parts for the bulk of the rifle, with a non-GI receiver. Springfield (which has nothing to due with the original Springfield Armory) is the most popular of these manufacturers.

The M1 Garand is highly prized by collectors and shooters alike. Finding an all-correct M1 Garand is very difficult. Most Garands have been through many rebuilds and have had the barrel changed at least once. Counterfeit parts and markings make it very difficult for the majority of firearms enthusiasts to determine authenticity. Lots of M1 Garands were cut in two and sold as scrap. A scrap cut-up M1 could be welded back together and used to build a rifle. Lots of these rifles look and shoot well, and most of the owners are unaware that the rifle they shoot is a reweld. Barrels are sometimes also rewelded with the combination of a unissued 03 Springfield Barrel fitted with a cut-up M1 Garand Barrel. Stocks and cartouches are the most counterfeited parts. Inspector stamps are available for rent by mail.

Shooting the M1 Garand is very popular; it is still preferred as a match rifle by many competitors. This is one of the most popular rifles used for the ViMSAR shoots. I have seen these rifles shoot 1 MOA consistently, although a 4 inch group at 100 yards with military surplus ammunition is the usual for a surplus battle rifle. Many rifles have been rebarreled to the ever-popular 308 NATO Round. Some rifles have a sleeve placed in the chamber to allow the use of the 308 round in a 30-06 chamber. The US Navy had lots of these sleeves added to M1's during the 1960s and there were 308 chambered barrels added by the Navy. These Navy modified rifles with the sleeve may fail by the sleeve being ejected with a spent shell; they are however, a highly sought after prize by M1 Collectors.

Several variations of the M1 Garand have been produced or changed by modifying existing M1's. Variations include National Match, Snipers, Tankers and folding stock models.

M1 Garands were also used by several other countries. Most rifles were refurbished rifles from the US that were loaned or leased to other governments. Most recently returned rifles from foreign governments have been Korea, Denmark and Greece. It seems like M1 Garands are available at most gun shows and some sporting goods stores. A M1 Garand in good condition with a serviceable barrel usually starts at around $600.00 and up. I recently saw a Gas Trap rifle with no wood priced at $5200.00; when I returned to the table it was gone. The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a good way to purchase a M1 Rifle for a fair price.

Maintaining the M1 is a bit more complex than with bolt action rifles. A minimum of tools is required to field strip the M1. Army Field Manual FM 23-5 is a good reference when caring for your M1. Oil should not be used on the rifle except for exterior surfaces. Proper lubrication is a must for operation of the Garand. Rifle Grease (in low temp - 0 Deg F applications, 10 wt oil may be used) and should be applied to:

  1. Camming surface in hump of the operating rod
  2. Underside of barrel where operating rod rubs on barrel
  3. Operating rod spring.
  4. Bolt lugs and receiver areas where bolt slides or comes in contact with receiver
  5. Camming lug on hammer
  6. Fork on top of rod catch

Use caution not to wear the crown of the barrel when cleaning. Special care should be given when using corrosive ammunition; barrels can be ruined in a few hours if the rifle has not been properly cleaned.

My first recollection of seeing a M1 rifle was when I saw it carried by Marine Honor Guards in a Memorial Day Parade. I was fascinated watching the rifleman fire the rifle at the cemetery, a salute to the veterans buried there. This is a tradition that is still followed today. I learned about the M1 and how to field strip it in Basic Training in the US Navy. I have spent many hours researching, restoring and shooting the M1 Rifle, and still have a lot to learn. I have talked with several WWII and Korean Vets who carried these rifles; most all have a fondness and several have told me without the M1 they would have not survived the war. General George S. Patton may have been correct when he said in January of 1945: "In my opinion, the M-1 Rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised."


By James Lindsey

Length: w/o bayonet 48.5 in.
Length: w/bayonet 65.4 in.
Weight w/o bayonet & sling: 11.3 lb
Barrel: 28.7 in, 4 grooves, right hand twist
Magazine: 5 round integral box
Ammo: Russian Light Ball M'08; bullet 148 gr, charge 48 gr
Muzzle Velocity: 2850 fps
Effective Range: 1000 meters

The Mosin-Nagant rifles are a plentiful and inexpensive surplus rifle that has enjoyed a lot of recent popularity. The movie "Enemy At the Gates" caused a surge in interest in the rifles. It fires the 7.62x54r cartridge, which happens to be the longest serving currently used round in the world at almost 120 years. They are reasonably powerful and accurate, providing a good surplus bargain for today's shooter.

The Mosin-Nagant first served Russian forces in 1891 and was supplied in large numbers to just about every country that was supported by the Russians. These rifles are still being used actively in many parts of the world such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

The optimistic effective range of the rifle is 1000 meters. However, most find that the iron sights limit the range to about 500-750 meters. 3-4 inch groups at 100M are attained with the carbine, and smaller groups with the 91/30 can be achieved.

The rifle was made with varying levels of quality and finish. The most popular versions available for about $125 are the 91/30 and the M44. The 91/30 is the longer version and are the basis of the sniper variants. Some were even made in the United States and supplied to our forces. The rifle, "U.S. Rifle, 7.62mm, Model of 1916" is one of the more obscure US service rifles. They have been built, supplied, captured and shuffled around the world to many countries in large numbers.

Notable users of the Mosin-Nagant are: Simo Häyhä from Finland, who is credited with 505 enemy kills in 15 weeks using a M28 version of the rifle; Vasily Grigoryevich Zaitsev, featured in the film "Enemy At the Gates" had 242 verified kills, but the unofficial tally may reach 400; Lyudmila Mikhailivna Pavlichenko, a female Russian Sniper is credited with 309 kills with this rifle.

For today's shooter they are readily available at gun shows and most used gun shops. The quality ranges from excellent to unsafe. Some of these have been bouncing around the communist world for well over half a century, so an inspection of the rifle is indicated before purchase. The bore quality suffers because of the use of corrosive primed cartridges, so this is the most important aspect to check. Bright shiny bores can be found. The Tula made versions are preferred, they have a star around an arrow on the top of the receiver.

For the 91/30, the former sniper versions can be determined by looking for the filled scope mounting plugs inside the left hand side of the receiver. These are the choice and most sought after versions since they were the pick of the litter before being used in sniper service. Many people use these as a basis for building up a restored sniper. The mounts and scope however are almost impossible to find as original Russian issue and many aftermarket companies produce the scopes and mounts now. The short 3.5 power "PU" scope is the most popular.

The Finnish built versions are considered the highest quality and typically cost several times what the Russian versions cost.

Stocks can be found intact, many have arsenal repairs and laminates can be found especially in the M44 versions. Many are sold with the ammunition pouches, oil can, utility tool and cleaning brush as a package deal. They can come with lots of cosmoline so a thorough cleaning is recommended as the cosmo can cause a 'sticky bolt' syndrome when the rifle heats up. The short stock seems to be related to needing to aim the rifle while dressed in thick Russian winter uniform.

Ammunition is readily available in both surplus (corrosive) and retail form. The ammunition is actually relatively inexpensive, adding to the value for the surplus shooter.

All in all, it's easy to find a nice Mosin-Nagant that shoots very accurately and more importantly to many: Inexpensively!



Rifle Type soon to come.

Information soon to come.

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