U.S. Rifle, Cal. 30-06, M1 Garand

My father fought with the 1st Marine Division in the campaigns for Cape Gloucester, Pelileu and Okinawa during the Second World War. The more I read about these actions, the more I am amazed and thankful that he made it through all of them without being wounded or killed. I am a former Marine myself, and earnestly can't comprehend the brutality of that struggle.

"Scorpions in a bottle..."

Below is a photo showing my father (center) in action during the advance on the airfield during the battle of Cape Gloucester, on New Britain, where he earned a commendation for saving a radio jeep which was the battalions sole means of communication at the time. Yeah, I'm pretty proud of him. The jeep was mired in a stream, and he worked for twenty minutes to get it unstuck, while Japanese snipers took pot shots at him. He looks back and says he was pretty stupid to risk his neck like that.

I need to remind him of that the next time he's chastising me for some of my intellectually deprived ideas...

Notice his shiny new M1 Garand held lovingly in his arms.

No less a warrior than Gen. George S. Patton Jr. called the M1 Garand "The greatest battle implement ever devised".

At the time, it really was a revolutionary rifle. The United States was the first nation to field a reliable semi-automatic battle rifle during the Second World War, and John Garand's rifle proved itself on every front during that far reaching and horrible calamity.

Here is a beautiful example of an M1 Garand that my Dad bought from the Civilian Marksmanship Program a few years ago:

This was at the time (about 2004) an example of the "Service" grade M1 obtained from the CMP.

Overall it is in wonderful condition, and appears nearly new.

The reason for that is a double edged sword so to speak.

The rifle appears nearly new, because it IS nearly new. To a shooter, this is a dream rifle, obtained for a song and in pristine condition. However, its pristine condition belays the fact that it has been reworked at an arsenal at least once. Note the serial number above, which is 473xx. Production records place this as a June of 1940 production range. Right at the beginning of the M1 Garand production run. In the end, a total of 4,040,000 Garands were produced. That makes this one, an early serial numbered unit very valuable right? Wrong. The receiver is old, and early, and that's cool. However it's the only thing on the rifle that dates from that period.

This isn't unusual, in fact it's the "norm" for these rifles. There were extensive programs during and after World War 2 to repair, refurbish and otherwise keep battle ready as many Garands as possible. Consequently, almost every rifle around was sent back to a repair depot at least once, where field armorers would disassemble and replace worn or damaged components. Note the "National Defense Eagle" in the stamp above. This shows that this stock is a Korean War era USGI replacement.

Despite this, the cartouches, such as this circle-P proof, are unused crisp. I sincerely doubt this rifle was ever issued after being rebuilt at that time. It is a mix-master of parts, but they are all "like new". Some purists detract value on such rifles. If I were a "Pure World War 2" collector, I might agree, but the history of the M1 Garand transcends WW2, and to omit it's later contributions, is to deny it the accolades it very richly deserves.

Star marked barrel...

...with a manufacturer's date of 9/51.

The M1 Garand is a semi-automatic, air-cooled, magazine fed shoulder weapon firing the .30-06 cartridge. It is loaded via an 8 round en-bloc clip from the top. Care must be taken during this procedure or the shooter will soon be diagnosed with a malady known as "M1 thumb", as the bolt will automatically close on the loaders thumb if not careful.

 

The M1 was so successful, that when the U.S. Army began thinking of a new battle rifle to replace it, they eventually adopted the M-14, which was an evolutionary successor, and was essentially a select fire M1 Garand with a detachable 20 round box magazine.

My father's Garand is now in my care, though it will always be known to me as "my father's Garand". Many of the rifles in my collection have passed from my Dad to me, even though I still hope he has many years left on this earth, yet of all those rifles, strangely, it is only this rifle which I call "My fathers". I think it goes back to the picture at the top of this page. Semper Fi, Dad!

 

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