Skip to comments.M1 Garand: Our New Service Rifle (Original 1938 Review)
Posted on 05/18/2012 11:00:10 AM PDT by Mikey_1962
For more than thirty years the Ordnance Department endeavored to obtain a satisfactory semi-automatic or self-loading rifle to replace the bolt action Springfield. These efforts were not confined to the development within the Department. Invitations were extended periodically to gun designers in this country and abroad to submit weapons for test, and tests were made of those received which showed any promise of meeting the specifications prescribed.
During this period of thirty odd years many rifles were received and tested. Mechanisms embodying every known principle of operation were represented in the many types submitted.
After many tests of various calibers, it was decided that the caliber .276 cartridge developed sufficient power for a shoulder weapon and that the use of this smaller cartridge would facilitate the design of a reliable and durable self-loading rifle within the prescribed weight limit and would also reduce the load of the individual soldier due to the lighter weight of the cartridge. Of the several rifles in this caliber submitted for test, two were outstanding: the Pedersen; and the Garand, designed and developed by Mr. John C. Garand. Both Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Garand carried on their development work at the Springfield Armory.
A number of each of these types were manufactured and submitted to the services for test. Both rifles performed very well. However, to adopt a weapon of this caliber involved further complication of the supply problem by the introduction of another type of ammunition.
In the meantime, Mr. Garand, who has been in the employ of the Ordnance Department at the Springfield Armory for the past eighteen years as a designer of automatic weapons, completed a test model of a semi-automatic rifle designed to function with either the Caliber .30, M1, Model 1906, or the caliber .30, M1, service cartridge. This rifle appeared so promising in its preliminary tests that decision to adopt the caliber .276 was held in abeyance. The results of continued tests of the caliber .30 weapon were so excellent that the caliber .276 project was abandoned altogether and the caliber .30 weapon as developed by Mr. Garand was adopted as the standard shoulder weapon of our Army. This action was taken in January, 1936.
The new rifle, with which our troops are to be equipped, is officially known as the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1, and popularly as the Garand Semi-Automatic Rifle. It is of the gas-operated type and employs an en-bloc type of clip holding eight rounds. It varies somewhat from the conventional type of gas-operated weapon in that there is no hole drilled in the barrel is provided with a sleeve and just as the base clears the muzzle, a small amount of gas is diverted through a port at the muzzle into a cylinder where it impinges upon the piston of the operating rod, driving it to the rear. The location of the port at the muzzle rather than at some point nearer the breech permits the use of gas at a lower pressure, thereby decreasing the stresses on the operating parts of the rifle. The rifle has seventy-two component parts, which include springs, pins and screws; weighs about nine pounds; is forty-three inches overall in length; has a pistol-grip type stock; and provision is made for attaching a bayonet.
The rear sight is mounted on the receiver as close to the eye as possible and is of the aperture being seven-hundredths of an inch. The front sight is of the blade type protected by guards similar to those on the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1917.
The first production models were completed and delivered to troops in August, 1937. Since that time a small but constant monthly production, limited by the equipment available, has been maintained.
The total number of rifles for which funds have provided to June 30, 1938, is approximately 7500, and it is expected to complete the delivery of these during the current calendar year. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1938, funds have been provided for the manufacturer of and additional quantity of rifles, and funds have also been provided to greatly increase the equipment, such as new and more modern machines, tools, jigs, fixtures and [gages], required in the production of this weapon. These additional facilities will permit a much greater daily production rate than is now available.
In the meantime, the rifles which have been delivered to troops continue to give excellent service. Every organization so far equips has submitted enthusiastic reports of their performance under all conditions which have been encountered. Demands for this rifle to replace the Springfield are increasing tremendously as its superiority is realized from actual experience with it. This undoubtedly will result in greatly increased yearly appropriations for the production of larger quantities. Even so, it will take several years to complete the rearming of the Regular Army and the National Guard, and as priority will undoubtedly be given to equipping these organizations, it will probably be many years before any of these rifles will become available for other purposes.
Anybody know why they were considering .276 caliber?
Love ‘em too. Got two myself.
The .270 caliber bullet riding on the same powder makes a hell of a weapon. Fast, flat & hard hitting.
Favorite rifle evuh!
Well, except for my Springfield M1A in .308.
All I have are the 8 round clips , D’oh
What ever happened to the rifles that were supposed to be coming home from Korea?
I thought you lost them in a canoeing accident?
O’Bozo has banned then.
My Dad talked about “M-1 Thumb”.
“Anybody know why they were considering .276 caliber?”
I thought the ones that were supposed to be getting dumped on the market were carbines.
I don’t have a definitive answer, but it appears that after The Great War there was a line of thought among the various War Departments that a .30 caliber cartridge was more powerful than necessary for most purposes, and a .276 cartridge was adequate and, being lighter, lessened the load carried by an infantryman.
I loved the M-14. Once you humped the thing long enough you never noticed the weight.
Look at the ballistics of the .270 and 30-06. The .270 is flatter shooting when you compare bullets of similar weight.
I think it boiled down to we had a lot of .30-06 ammo, and didn't want to change. Note that the US military is still looking at .270 or 7mm bullets for their next cartridge. The 6.8 SPC for instance.
For the same reason we still are:
I hunt with the .270 (Browning A-bolt). Great power, and the round trajectory is as flat as the surface of a glacial pond at sunrise. I wish my dad hadn’t sold his old M1 though. I’d love to own one now.
~7mmx50 (.27) has been shown over and over by numerous different studies, starting in the 1920's, to be the perfect military round.
Curiously, the 7x57 Mauser had it right from the very beginning.
I love my Garands though.
“I think it boiled down to we had a lot of .30-06 ammo, and didn’t want to change.”
Precisely. The US military was sitting on tens of millions (if not billions) of .30 M1906 rounds left over from World War I. And per standard governmental procurement practice of the time, existing supplies had to be used up before a new design could be implemented. (Which is also why other interwar developments, such as the improved M1 .30-06 cartridge and the pistol-grip stock for the Springfield rifle, were not introduced until almost the eve of World War II. The leftover supplies from 1918 had to be used up first.)
Military spending in the 1920s and 30s was dismal at best (this was the optimistic era of “no more war” sentiment and the Kellogg-Briand Pact), and the military visionaries who saw the value of a semi-automatic rifle in future battle realized they would have a hard enough job trying to justify the money to replace millions of Springfield and Enfield rifles. Justifying new ammunition as well would likely have been a non-starter for the whole project.
About a decade ago, I had the opportunity to fire a Garand M-1 and a German Kar Mauser at Ft. Meade’s Rifle Range. Both rifles were the standard infantry rifle of that time.
There is NO comparison!
The Garand, though heavy and lovingly cared for didn’t rattle or make noise, outside of its sling and stacking swivels.
There was no slop between the metal to metal components and furniture. The clip of 30.06 rounds needed some force to insert with the thumb of my left hand.
The magazine/charging cover snapped back sharply with little help and the Garand SOUNDED like something forceful, authoritative and intimidating when squeezing off rounds for sighting and dope. The recoil with a properly adjusted sling was there. To relax and ride up. Then fall back into where it had been before. An absolute dream to shoot!
The Kar, on the other hand rattled wood to wood and metal to wood. With noticeable slop and looseness in the travel of the bolt.
A less than satisfying lock between bolt and barrel. A less than confident feel when squeezing a trigger that didn’t break evenly or consistently. Though, after settling in. The rifle did have decent, relatively tight groupings at 100 yards.
My Garand & my M1A. Love ‘em both!
There was at the time, and still is btw, a school of thought that the .27 caliber is about the ideal for combat purposes.
Hence the drive to 'upsize' the 5.56 to 6.5 mm (.255 caliber).
Bob the Nailer likes it (Night of Thunder).
Might depend on when and where the Kar.98 was made. The one I had was a 1941 Mauser, one of the “Soviet capture” rifles that was overhauled and put into war reserve. Save for having a slightly stouter recoil, I’d say it was every bit as good as any 1903 Springfield I’ve ever fired.
The British before WWI had decided to go to the 7mm and developed a new rifle, the pattern 14 Enfield for it. Their decision might have been greatly influenced by the fact that the South African Boers used the 7mm Mauser with great effect against them around the turn of the century.
When WWI began, the decision was made to stick with the .303 to prevent supply problems. I think I have read that Churchill himself made the decision.
The pattern 14 was chambered for .303 and contracts made to have it built in America. When the U.S. got involved in the war, we could not provide enough 03 Springfields and the decision was made to modify the Enfield for the 30-06, thus the 1917 Enfield.
Nope. ‘twas a tornado.
Same way I lost that Kar.98 I mentioned...(sniff)
I don't know if it is true, but I read somewhere that the .276 Pedersen also had an ever so slight taper to the case which would make extraction easier than with a straight walled case.
There were also crew served machine guns developed in the same caliber for the same reason. But as said upthread, millions of stored 06 rounds dictated the final decision.
I shot one of my M1s yesterday, trying out some new reloads. I also own several K98k Mausers, and the ones in original condition are just as solid as any Garand. The “Hitler Garand”, the G43, is a different story. They’re a slap-dash midwar effort, and they do rattle when shaken. They also tend to break parts with much use, as they were made to be overpowered for reliability in the extreme cold of the eastern front. If you own one of these, be sure and put a “shooter’s kit” in it, consisting of a smaller gas vent and new springs, before you shoot it.
Garand’s original design was a 10-round gun- the smaller .276 facilitated that.
I have owned a bunch of Mausers. None of them were loose in any way except that when the bolt is all the way back it has some play which is the way they meant it to be. I forget why but I have read that.
When I arrived at Fort Knox in ‘69 I,a kid from a middle class Boston suburb,had never even *seen* a firearm let alone fired one.However,I soon came to realize that rifle range was the only enjoyable part of BCT.We qualified with both the M-14 and the M-16 and I felt much more comfortable,and scored higher,with the M-14.
My dad had an M1, and showed me what “M1 Thumb” meant. Scared the hell of out me to load the thing. It was a nice rugged rifle though.
I was just pinging Archy to chime in with his links and much greater knowledge on the M1 .30/.270 subject.
My dad had an M1, and showed me what M1 Thumb meant. Scared the hell of out me to load the thing. It was a nice rugged rifle though.
That has always puzzled me. I am right-handed and always load the Garand with thumb on top of the clip and palm against the RH side of the rifle, little finger edge of palm toward the bolt handle. In the rare case the bolt doesn’t hang up on the first round, the bolt handle hangs up on the fleshy side of the palm above my little finger.
Just like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, seat clip securely with thumb and slap bolt handle to strip and chamber first round.
Anyone else do that?
I always enjoy reading Arch’s comments and his large arsenal of images. Also a lot of interesting information which I probably would not see anywhere else.
I sometimes wonder how one person could know so much.
I’m left handed so it was always a little awkward for me.
“I also own several K98k Mausers, and the ones in original condition are just as solid as any Garand.”
Amen. My K98 is actual battlefield salvage, and was in better shape than a new WASR-10...
Sure. That’s how they taught it in the service.
Where many people get M-1 Thumb, I believe, is that they don’t pull the bolt all the way back...and it hangs up on the follower instead of latching open. At that point, when you push down on the follower, either with your thumb or with a clip, it WILL go forward! When latched back, the follower has to be shoved practically to the bottom of the magwell (don’t try this at home, just take my word for it) before the latch releases the bolt.
The trick is to 1.) yank it back HARD till it stops, and 2.) look at the bolt face. There’s an air gap between the follower and bolt face when the bolt is locked back properly.
I’ve never heard that it was “meant” to be loose like that...I assumed it “just was”. In full retraction the bolt is held stable only by a little stub of the bolt body and the locking lugs, whereas further forward there’s more of the bolt body, receiver guideways and charger bridge to hold it steady.
You load the M-1 with an 8 round clip. You push the clip in with your thumb, the bolt closes, and you get your thumb out of the way while the bolt closes- hopefully.
When you are not paying attention, you forget to remove your thumb in time and the bolt slams into your thumb. It happens to everyone ONCE. It does really hurt.
I’ve never had it happen while loading a clip...only when closing the bolt on an empty chamber—when you HAVE to put your thumb into the “line of fire”.
(And if it only happens ONCE, then there’s two people out there who’ve gotten away with not getting it, at MY expense!)
Archy is Seldom Seen, but High Impact.
"At the time of its introduction, the .276 Pedersen was a solution to a significant problem. The US Army wanted a general issue autoloading rifle that would fire the .30-06 cartridge, but such a rifle was prohibitively large with existing designs such as the Browning Automatic Rifle and French Chauchat. A weapon of the same weight as the M1903 needed to fire a smaller cartridge. Pedersen's cartridge was viewed as a compromise as it was underpowered compared to most military rifle cartridges. This decreased recoil energy made possible a reliable, lightweight semi-automatic rifle with existing technology. Despite these early problems with semi-automatic designs, Garand's design was eventually able to handle the .30-06 cartridge; the need for a lighter caliber dissolved. The Pedersen rifle was unsuitable for the .30-06 and it, too, was dropped."
The Pedersen design involved a recoil-operated toggle-top bolt, much like a Luger pistol. It operated on a delayed-blowback principle instead of a locked breech design, which is probably why the standard .30-06 cartridge was too powerful for it. It also required dry-wax lubrication of the cartridges to enable reliable extraction of the spent cases, which the Army testing board found unacceptable. So while the rifle design was found unacceptable, the board was impressed enough with the .276 cartridge to continue working with it.
The only “serious” competitor the Garand faced was Melvin Johnson’s recoil-operated rifle of 1941, which actually did see some limited service with the Marines and OSS.
The Pedersen T1E3 was a delayed blowback operated rifle that used a toggle link lock (similar to the German P.08 Luger pistol); the Garand T3 was a conventional gas operated rifle. The .276 Pedersen T1E3 had a major drawback: it required lubrication of the cartridge to work in the action of the T1E3. Frankford Arsenal developed a proprietary dry lubricant so the cartridge would not stick in the T1E3 chamber due to its lack if primary extraction — a problem not shared by the Garand T3 rifle.
Tests held in 1929 showed the T1E3 and T3 rifles superior to other candidate rifles. Improvements were requested, including a redesign of the T3 to accept the .30-06 caliber. The Board ordered 20 each of the improved Pedersen and Garand rifles for testing.
The Army's infantry Board tested the T1E3 and T3E2 in 1931. It reversed itself and switched from favoring the T1E3 for production to the T3E2 design. One reason was the T3E2 (Garand) rifle only had 60 parts and the T1E3 (Pedersen) had 99 parts. The Board also recommended the rifle caliber be upped to .30-06. The .30-06 caliber Garand rifle was designated I1E1. Army Chief of Staff, GEN Douglas MacArthur, recommended the .30-06 caliber due to the huge amount of ammunition on hand and the likelihood of war in Asia.
The Infantry Board met once more in January of 1932. The Board decided to drop the T1E3 Pedersen from consideration, the T3E2 (.276 Garand) continued in limited procurement, and the T1E1 (.30 Garand) continued in development. Four years later the improved T1E1 rifle (T1E2) was cleared for production on 7 November 1935, and type classified as the M1 on 9 January 1936.
Between its type standardization in 1936 and its replacement by the M14 rifle in 1957, approximately 6,25 million M1 rifles were made. Producers were Springfield Armory, International Harvester (Korean War), Harrington and Richardson (Korean War), and licensed production by Beretta in Italy for NATO.
The .280 “controversy” led to all manner of problems decades later.
Along with the new .280 cartridge, the Royal Small Arms Factory design staff had created a revolutionary new rifle, the EM-1 and EM-2 “bullpup” designs. While both cartridge and rifle offered a lot of promise, Prime Minister Churchill wisely saw the need for a united caliber among NATO forces, and rejected the .280 cartridge and the EM rifle program in favor of the 7.62x51 cartridge and an inch-adapted version of the Belgian FN-FAL rifle design (the legendary L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle).
The design staff was very resentful at being rejected, as can be imagined...and about twenty years later, when the development committee for the L1A1’s replacement was formed, the head of the committee was one of the design team veterans of the rejected EM program. And instead of adopting an established design from another country, he decided that, by gum, the new British service rifle would be “an EM rifle”!
After a long series of developmental problems, engineering ineptitude, pirated design details, rigged tests, and suppressed complaints from the end users, the descendant of the EM-2 design replaced the L1A1 as the L85 Individual Weapon (better known as the SA-80). Their first major combat use was during the First Gulf War, and they were a disaster. The German arms firm of Heckler & Koch had to be called in to redesign the rifles and make them, if not ideal, at least more serviceable.
As the debacle of the M-14 rifle program contributed to the closing of Springfield Armory in 1968, likewise the grand scandal of the SA-80 blew up the reputation of RSAF-Enfield and led to its eventual dissolution soon after the SA-80 program was completed.