M-1 Garand [Automatic Rifle]:

Development History

After the United States entry into World War One, there were attempts to convert the M1903 rifle from bolt-action to semi-automatic.2 It was during this period when John Cantius Garand arrived on the scene of firearms. Garand, who was a young man of 30, moved to New York City from Canada after the United States entered World War One. After learning of the arms problem, he decided to try to make a rifle.

Garand's first rifle was built and tested before Hudson Maxim, who suggested the rifle be presented before the Naval Consulting Board. After a period of dealing with governmental red tape, officials determined Garand's rifle had merit and arranged to pay Garand for his services. After his first design was turned down by the military, Garand was transferred to Springfield Armory in November, 1919.

During the next half decade, Garand created many rifle designs, but all of them had one feature in common: That was that the primer of the spent cartridge was used to operate the rifle's action. When the military changed the design of the M1906 cartridge, Garand could no longer use this operating principle. It was at this time when John Pedersen came up with a new design in a totally new caliber, .276. Pedersen was an expert of his day in weapons design, so the military then ordered Garand to build his rifle design around the new .276 caliber. Between 1927 and 1931, the military held many tests to see if either the Garand or Pedersen design was better. While the military argued against the .276 caliber, Garand's .276 caliber design was recommended for adoption on 4 January 1932. On 25 February 1932, the Army Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, put an end to the caliber issue, stating "this change will introduce an element of chaos, confusion and uncertainty which, when magnified under war conditions, would more than counteract the beneficial effect of any semi-automatic rifle." With this statement, MacArthur ordered the development of a .30 caliber rifle to begin anew.

This did not delay Garand's work because he had already developed a design to fire the .30 caliber on his own time in anticipation of such a decision. The new .30 caliber design proved to be good enough to change its designation from 'Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30, T1E2' to 'Semi-Automatic Rifle, .30, M1' on 3 August 1933. Two more years of testing and changes would pass before the rifle was adopted as the United States Rifle, caliber .30, M1 on 9 January 1936. This event was quite significant because the United States became the first country in history to adopt a semi-automatic rifle as its standard military rifle.

As with the M1903, the M1 rifle spawned sniper variations. The M1C and the M1D, standardized in July and September, 1945 respectively, both mounted the telescope used on the rifle to the left to allow the top-loading M1 to be reloaded, but differed in the way the telescope was mounted to the rifle. Neither weapon was truly successful in the sniping role.

The June 25, 1950 North Korean invasion of South Korea caught the United States small arms production establishment totally unprepared...again. No M1 Rifles had been manufactured since August 1945, but during this interconflict period, Springfield Armory had refurbished and prepared various types of World War II small arms for long term storage. In June 1950, Springfield Armory prepared to resume M1 Rifle production. This process included the acquisition of machinery, physical plant layout, updating engineering drawings, and the hiring and training of a production labor force. Over six months passed before Springfield Armory produced its first M1 rifle.

Spplement Springfield Armory, the Ordnance Department decided to contract for additional M1s with Harrington & Richardson Company (H&R) of Worchester, Massachusetts and International Harvester Company's (IHC) Evansville(Indiana) Works plant. Contracts were signed in early 1952. IHC had never produced any type of small arms before, but was chosen primarily due to its geographic location. There was widespread concern about the dense concentration of defense-related industries on the East Coast of the United States. U.S. military planners determined these facilties were venerable to Soviet manned bomber or missile attack, therefore, defense production facilties should be dispersed throughout the middle sections of the United States. These other companies only produces a relatively small number of the rifles.

An armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, which officially ended the Korean War. Both World War II and 168,500 newly manufactured Springfield Armory M1 Rifles, were available in sufficent numbers to equip all United Nations troops. Although both other companies stopped production, Springfield Armory continued M1 Rifle production into 1956 at a reduced schedule.

Between the years 1953 and 1963, Springfield Armory new-built and modified existing M1 rifles into nearly 45,000 M1 National Match rifles. On 17 May 1957, the adoption of the United States Rifle, Caliber 7.62mm, M14 officially marked the end of production of the M1 rifle. But a shortage of M14 and M16 rifles during the Vietnam War prompted the U.S. Navy to have a special chamber insert built to allow the M1 to use NATO-standard 7.62mm M80 Ball ammunition and first standardized the rifle as the M1E14, then later as the Rifle, 7.62mm, Mk2 Mod 0.22

Service History

The M1 was affectionately nicknamed the "Garand," after its designer. The rifle proved to be quite accurate, durable, rugged and reliable. The only "faults," with the rifle came from the use of its clip. The clip held only eight rounds in a staggered grouping. The rifle could not be "topped up" in the middle of battle because of the way the clip operated. After the last round was fired from the rifle, the clip ejected with a distinctive sound. Other than these small "faults," the M1 was exceptional. The M1 Rifle was also distributed to several nations under many American military assistance programs.

During the Vietnam War, the M1 served as a training rifle for troops inducted into the U.S. Army. It still serves in the training rifle role for the U.S. Navy. The M1 was the main rifle of many military reserve units until the mid-1970s (for example, the M1 was seen in the hands of Illinois National Guard troops during confrontations between Guardsmen and demonstrators outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention complex), when it was replaced by the M16. To this day, the M1 also fulfills a ceremonial role with all branches of the military, in color guard and honor guard units. Like its predecessor, the M1903, the M1 rifle served this nation very well during times of conflict and peace. It will be remembered for many years to come.

For more information about the M-1 Garand, go here

Weight: 9.50 lbs.(4.32 kg) (empty).
Caliber: 30-06 (7.62 x 53 mm).
Barrel Length:24 inches (61.0 cm).
Overall Length:43.6 inches (110.3 cm).
Action:Gas Operated.
Mode of Fire: Semi Automatic.
Range:1800 feet (539 meters).
Magazine:8 rounds (Uses Stripper Clip).
Cost: $1,100.
Made in: USA (Has been made in Indonesia as well).
Special: Powerful and long range combat rifle although very hard to control on fully automatic. Many civilian semi-automatic versions exist at a variety of price range. The rifle is available with wood, laminate, fiberglass, and sythetic stocks.

[ M-1 Garand, M-14, M-16, Springfield, and Harrington & Richardson are copyright of their respective owners. ]

Writeup by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa ) and by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2001, Mischa & Kitsune. All rights reserved.