The History of the M1 (from Wikipedia):
The M1 Garand[nb 1] is a .30 caliber semi-automatic rifle that was the standard U.S. service rifle during World War II and the Korean War and also saw limited service during the Vietnam War. Most M1 rifles were issued to U.S. forces, though many hundreds of thousands were also provided as foreign aid to American allies. The Garand is still used by drill teams and military honor guards. It is also widely used by civilians for hunting, target shooting, and as a military collectible.
The M1 rifle was named after its Canadian-American designer, John Garand. It was the first standard-issue semi-automatic military rifle. By all accounts the M1 rifle served with distinction. General George S. Patton called it “the greatest battle implement ever devised”. The M1 replaced the bolt action M1903 Springfield as the standard U.S. service rifle in the mid 1930s, and was itself replaced by the selective fire M14 rifle in the early 1960s.
Although the name “Garand” is frequently pronounced /ɡəˈrænd/, the preferred pronunciation is /ˈɡærənd/ (to rhyme with errand), according to experts and people who knew John Garand, the weapon’s designer. Frequently referred to as the “Garand” or “M1 Garand” by civilians, its official designation when it was the issue rifle in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps was “U.S. Rifle, Caliber 30, M1” or just “M1” and Garand was not mentioned.
French Canadian-born Garand went to work at the United States Army’s Springfield Armory and began working on a .30 caliber primer actuated blowback Model 1919 prototype. In 1924, twenty-four rifles, identified as “M1922s”, were built at Springfield. At Fort Benning during 1925, they were tested against models by Berthier, Hatcher-Bang, Thompson, and Pedersen, the latter two being delayed blowback types. This led to a further trial of an improved “M1924” Garand against the Thompson, ultimately producing an inconclusive report. As a result, the Ordnance Board ordered a .30-06 Garand variant. In March 1927, the cavalry board reported trials among the Thompson, Garand, and 03 Springfield had not led to a clear winner. This led to a gas-operated .276 (7 mm) model (patented by Garand on 12 April 1930).
In early 1928, both the infantry and cavalry boards ran trials with the .276 Pedersen T1 rifle, calling it “highly promising” (despite its use of waxed ammunition, shared by the Thompson). On 13 August 1928, a semiautomatic rifle board (SRB) carried out joint Army, Navy, and Marine Corps trials between the .30 Thompson, both cavalry and infantry versions of the T1 Pedersen, “M1924” Garand, and .256 Bang, and on 21 September, the board reported no clear winner. The .30 Garand, however, was dropped in favor of the .276.
Further tests by the SRB in July 1929, which included rifle designs by Browning, Colt–Browning, Garand, Holek, Pedersen, Rheinmetall, Thompson, and an incomplete one by White,[nb 2] led to a recommendation that work on the (dropped) .30 gas-operated Garand be resumed, and a T1E1 was ordered 14 November 1929.
Twenty gas-operated .276 T3E2 Garands were made and competed with T1 Pedersen rifles in early 1931. The .276 Garand was the clear winner of these trials. The .30 caliber Garand was also tested, in the form of a single T1E1, but was withdrawn with a cracked bolt on 9 October 1931. A 4 January 1932 meeting recommended adoption of the .276 caliber and production of approximately 125 T3E2s. Meanwhile, Garand redesigned his bolt and his improved T1E2 rifle was retested. The day after the successful conclusion of this test, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur personally disapproved any caliber change, in part because there were extensive existing stocks of .30 M1 ball ammunition. On 25 February 1932, Adjutant General John B. Shuman, speaking for the secretary of war, ordered work on the rifles and ammunition in .276 caliber cease immediately and completely and all resources be directed toward identification and correction of deficiencies in the Garand .30 caliber.:111
On 3 August 1933, the T1E2 became the “semi-automatic rifle, caliber 30, M1”. In May 1934, 75 M1s went to field trials; 50 were to infantry, 25 to cavalry units.:113 Numerous problems were reported, forcing the rifle to be modified, yet again, before it could be recommended for service and cleared for procurement on 7 November 1935, then standardized 9 January 1936. The first production model was successfully proof-fired, function-fired, and fired for accuracy on July 21, 1937.
Production difficulties delayed deliveries to the army until September 1937. Machine production began at Springfield Armory that month at a rate of ten rifles per day, and reached an output of 100 per day within two years. Despite going into production status, design issues were not at an end. The barrel, gas cylinder, and front sight assembly were redesigned and entered production in early 1940. Existing “gas-trap” rifles were recalled and retrofitted, mirroring problems with the earlier M1903 Springfield rifle that also had to be recalled and reworked approximately three years into production and foreshadowing rework of the M16 rifle at a similar point in its development. Production of the Garand increased in 1940 despite these difficulties, reaching 600 a day by 10 January 1941, and the army was fully equipped by the end of 1941. Following the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Winchester was awarded an “educational” production contract for 65,000 rifles, with deliveries beginning in 1943.
The M1 Garand was made in large numbers during World War II, approximately 5.4 million were made. They were used by every branch of the United States military. By all accounts the M1 rifle served with distinction. General George S. Patton called it “the greatest implement of battle ever devised.” The impact of faster-firing infantry small arms in general soon stimulated both Allied and Axis forces to greatly increase their issue of semi- and fully automatic firearms then in production, as well as to develop new types of infantry firearms.
Much of the M1 inventory in the post-World War II period underwent arsenal repair or rebuilding. While U.S. forces were still engaged in the Korean War, the Department of Defense determined a need for additional production of the Garand. Springfield Armory ramped up production but two new contracts were awarded. During 1953–56, M1s were produced by International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson in which International Harvester alone produced a total of 337,623 M1 Garands. A final, very small lot of M1s was produced by Springfield Armory in early 1957, using finished components already on hand. Beretta also produced Garands using Winchester tooling.
The British Army looked at the M1 as a possible replacement for its bolt-action Lee–Enfield No.1 Mk III, but it was rejected when rigorous testing suggested that it was an unreliable weapon in muddy conditions. However, surplus M1 rifles were provided as foreign aid to American allies; including South Korea, West Germany, Italy, Japan, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Iran, South Vietnam, etc. Most Garands shipped to allied nations were predominantly manufactured by International Harvester Corporation during the period of 1953-56, and second from Springfield Armory from all periods.
Some Garands were still being used by the United States into the Vietnam War in 1963; despite the M14’s official adoption in 1957, it was not until 1965 the changeover from the M1 Garand was completed in the active-duty component of the army (with the exception of the sniper variants, which were introduced in World War II and saw action in Korea and Vietnam). The Garand remained in service with the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and the Navy, well into the 1970s or longer.
Due to widespread United States military assistance as well their durability, M1 Garands have also been turning up in modern conflicts such as with the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some military drill teams still use the M1 rifle, including the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Guard, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, almost all Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and some Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) teams of all branches of the U.S. military.
The M1 Garand with important parts labeled.
The M1 rifle is a .30 caliber, gas-operated, 8 shot clip-fed, semi-automatic rifle. It is 43.6 inches (1,107 mm) long and it weighs about 9.5 pounds (4.31 kg).
The M1’s safety catch is located at the front of the trigger guard. It is engaged when it is pressed rearward into the trigger guard, and disengaged when it is pushed forward and is protruding outside of the trigger guard.
The M1 Garand was designed for simple assembly and disassembly to facilitate field maintenance. It can be field stripped (broken down) without tools in just a few seconds.
The rifle had an iron sight line consisting of rear receiver aperture sight protected by sturdy “ears” calibrated for 100–1,200 yd (91–1,097 m) in 100 yd (91 m) increments. The bullet drop compensation was set by turning the range knob to the appropriate range setting. The bullet drop compensation/range knob can be fine adjusted by setting the rear sight elevation pinion. The elevation pinion can be fine adjusted in approximately 1 MOA increments. The aperture sight was also able to correct for wind drift operated by turning a windage knob that moved the sight in approximately 1 MOA increments. The windage lines on the receiver to indicate the windage setting were 4 MOA apart. The front sighting element consisted of a wing guards protected front post.
During World War II the M1 rifle’s semiautomatic operation gave United States infantrymen a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot recovery time over enemy infantrymen armed primarily with bolt-action rifles. The semi-automatic operation and reduced recoil allowed soldiers to fire 8 rounds as quickly as they could pull the trigger, without having to move their hands on the rifle and therefore disrupt their firing position and point of aim. The Garand’s fire rate, in the hands of a trained soldier, averaged 40–50 accurate shots per minute at a range of 300 yards (270 m). “At ranges over 500 yards (460 m), a battlefield target is hard for the average rifleman to hit. Therefore, 500 yards (460 m) is considered the maximum effective range, even though the rifle is accurate at much greater ranges.”
En bloc clip
An M1 Garand en bloc clip loaded with eight .30-06 Springfield rounds.
Loading the M1.
Unloading an M1 “en bloc” clip.
The M1 rifle is fed by an “en bloc” clip which holds eight rounds of .30-06 Springfield ammunition. When the last cartridge is fired, the rifle ejects the clip and locks the bolt open. The M1 is now ready to reload. Once the clip is inserted, the bolt snaps forward on its own as soon as thumb pressure is released from the top round of the clip, chambering a round and leaving it ready to fire. Although it is not absolutely necessary, the preferred method is to place the back of the right hand against the operating rod handle and press the clip home with the right thumb; this releases the bolt, but the hand restrains the bolt from slamming closed on the operator’s thumb (resulting in “M1 thumb”); the hand is then quickly withdrawn, the operating rod moves forward and the bolt closes with sufficient force to go fully to battery. Thus, after the clip has been pressed into position in the magazine, the operating rod handle should be released, allowing the bolt to snap forward under pressure from the operating rod spring. The operating rod handle may be smacked with the palm to ensure the bolt is closed.
Contrary to widespread misconception, partially expended or full clips can be easily ejected from the rifle by means of the clip latch button. It is also possible to load single cartridges into a partially loaded clip while the clip is still in the magazine, but this requires both hands and a bit of practice. In reality, this procedure was rarely performed in combat, as the danger of loading dirt along with the cartridges increased the chances of malfunction. Instead, it was much easier and quicker to simply manually eject the clip, and insert a fresh one, which is how the rifle was originally designed to be operated. Later, special clips holding two or five rounds became available on the civilian market, as well as a single-loading device which stays in the rifle when the bolt locks back.
In battle, the manual of arms called for the rifle to be fired until empty, and then recharged quickly. Due to the well-developed logistical system of the U.S. military at the time, this wastage of ammunition was generally not critical, though this could change in the case of units that came under intense fire or were flanked or surrounded by enemy forces. The Garand’s en-bloc clip system proved particularly cumbersome when using the rifle to launch grenades, requiring removal of an often partially loaded clip of ball ammunition and replacement with a full clip of blank cartridges.
By modern standards, the M1’s feeding system is archaic, relying on clips to feed ammunition, and is the principal source of criticism of the rifle. Officials in Army Ordnance circles demanded a fixed, non-protruding magazine for the new service rifle. At the time, it was believed that a detachable magazine on a general-issue service rifle would be easily lost by U.S. soldiers (a criticism made of British soldiers and the Lee–Enfield 50 years previously), would render the weapon too susceptible to clogging from dirt and debris (a belief that proved unfounded with the adoption of the M1 Carbine), and that a protruding magazine would complicate existing manual-of-arms drills. As a result, inventor John Garand developed an “en bloc” clip system that allowed ammunition to be inserted from above, clip included, into the fixed magazine. While this design provided the requisite flush-mount magazine, the clip system increased the rifle’s weight and complexity, and made only single loading ammunition possible without a clip.
Ejection of an empty clip created a distinctive metallic “pinging” sound. In World War II, reports arose in which German and Japanese infantry were making use of this noise in combat to alert them to an empty M1 rifle in order to ‘get the drop’ on their American enemies. The information was taken seriously enough that U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground began experiments with clips made of various plastics in order to soften the sound, though no improved clips were ever adopted. According to former German soldiers, the sound was inaudible during engagements and not particularly useful when heard, as other squad members might have been nearby ready to fire. Seasoned U.S. infantry soldiers would sometimes purposely toss an empty en-bloc clip creating the same sound a Garand makes when it has fired its last shot and is empty, in an effort to draw out the enemy, with varying degrees of success.
Two of Garand’s patents, showing the original gas trap design and revised gas port system.
Garand’s original design for the M1 used a complicated gas system involving a special muzzle extension gas trap, later dropped in favor of a simpler drilled gas port. Because most of the older rifles were retrofitted, pre-1939 gas-trap M1s are very rare today and are prized collector’s items. In both systems, expanding gases from a fired cartridge are diverted into the gas cylinder. Here, the gases meet a long-stroke piston attached to the operating rod, which is pushed rearward by the force of this high-pressure gas. Then, the operating rod engages a rotating bolt inside the receiver. The bolt is attached to the receiver via two locking lugs, which rotate, unlock, and initiate the ejection of the spent cartridge and the reloading cycle when the rifle is discharged. The operating rod (and subsequently the bolt) then returns to its original position.
The M1 Garand was one of the first self-loading rifles to use stainless steel for its gas tube, in an effort to prevent corrosion. As the stainless metal could not be parkerized, the gas tubes were given a stove-blackening that frequently wore off in use. Unless the gas tube could be quickly repainted, the resultant gleaming muzzle could make the M1 Garand and its user more visible to the enemy in combat.