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The M1 "Garand" was a semi-automatic service rifle designed in 1924, and adopted in 1936 in the United States by equipping all its infantry, with the exception of one man in each squad who used a bolt action rifle for precision shooting/sniping, so that the American infantry was the only fully equipped nation on earth with a semi-automatic rifle during the war. General George Patton declared the M1 as "the greatest battle implement ever devised". In 1957, with the advent of NATO in the late '40s, the military's adoption of the 7.62x51mm cartridge, and the general issue box magazine fed rifles made the 30-06, clip fed M1 obsolete in the now-changing world of military service rifles. It was replaced by the M-14 in 1957, but saw frontline service until 1965, and is still used by the American military as a drill and ceremonial arm. The M1 Garand is widely regarded by firearms enthusiests, and historians as the greatest and most respected American service rifle of all time.


The story of the first semi-automatic rifle ever widely-adopted as a standard military arm began after the end of the First World War, when the firearms inventor John C. Garand (Canadian born, then American citizen) began to develop a semi-automatic self-loading, gas operated service rifle. This new rifle was designed to replace the Springfield 1903 rifle; it was also required to outshoot and outperform all existing bolt action rifles in the world. The new rifle was designed to outperform existing weapons such as the Springfield rifle, the British Enfield, German Mauser, Japanese Arisaka, and Italian Carcano. The new American rifle was to meet the following requirements:

• must shoot faster

• have better, easier sights

• load, unload, and reload faster

• have less recoil

• have an effective range of 700 yards or higher

• must be able to field strip faster and easier without tools

• be user friendly and extremely simple to operate

• must be extremely reliable and dependable in the worst conditions.

U.S. rifle Cal. 30 M1

With these requirements in mind, Dr. Garand worked at the government-owned Springfield armory and during the 1920s and early 1930 developed a number of designs. Early rifles were built using the somewhat rare ejection system of the cartridge primer blowback, but due to some reasons this system was unsuitable for a military rifle, so he switched to the more common gas-operated system. He filed a patent for his semiautomatic, gas operated, clip-fed rifle in 1930, and received an US patent for his design late in 1932. This rifle was built around then-experimental .276 caliber (7mm) cartridge. At the same time, his rifle was tested by the US Military against its main competitor, a .276 caliber Pedersen rifle, and was eventually recommended for adoption by US Army early in the 1932. However, U.S. general Douglas MacArthur stated the US Military should continue to use the .30-06 cartridge. Foreseeing that, Garand already had a variation of his design chambered for 30-06. Finally, on the 6th of January 1936, after 13 years of development, the U.S. military officially adopted Garand's rifle, and it was designated "US Rifle Cal. 30 M1". When the USA entered the World War II, the mass production of the M1 rifles was set at the Springfield armory and at the Winchester. During the war, both companies produced over 4 million M1 rifles. The M1 Garand was by-far the most mass-produced semi-automatic rifle of World War II. During the war, the M1 Garand proved itself as a reliable, accurate and powerful weapon. There were minor attempts to improve it during the war, except for two sniper modifications, M1C and M1D, these attempts never left experimental stages. Both were approved for service in the 1945 and both featured a telescope sight which was off-set to the left due to the top-loading feature of the M1. After the end of the World War II the production of the M1 in the USA was stopped, and some rifles, with the licenses to build it, were sold to other countries, such as Italy and Denmark. With the outbreak of the Korean war in 1950 the production of the M1 for U.S. forces was resumed early in 1952. Rifles were manufactured at Springfield armory, and also at Harrington & Richardson Company (H&R) and International Harvester Company. Those companies manufactured M1s until 1955, and Springfield Armory produced the Garands until 1956. With the official adoption of the new rifle and ammunition in 1957, the M14 and 7.62x51mm NATO, respectively, for U.S. service, the M1 rifle became obsolete. It was still used during the later years, however, due to the lack of M14 and M16 rifles, and saw some service during the early period of the Vietnam war. Later, many M1s were transferred to the U.S. National Guard, used as a training weapons by U.S. Army or sold to civilians as a military surplus. Few M1 are still used by all branches of the US Military as a ceremonial weapons. Other than the United States, M1s were used by Italy (where these rifles were lately redesigned and rebuilt into 7.62mm BM-59 rifles), Denmark, France, Greece, West Germany, Indonesia, Korea and multiple other countries, largely replacing their current service rifles such as the Lee Enfields and Mauser rifles. There also were attempts to rebarrel the M1 for 7.62mm cartridge in the United States and to adopt a detachable 20-round magazines from Browning BAR rifles, but these were less than successful and never saw any significant service.

M-1 Garand with rifle grenade attached during training exercise

The M1 was fed from the integral box magazine, which was probably the best part of the whole design, it allowed fast semi-automatic firing, and fast loading and reloading. The magazine was fed using only the 8-round en-bloc clips, which stayed inside the magazine until all 8 rounds were shot. As soon as the magazine (and clip) became empty, bolt was stopped at its rearward position by the bolt catch, and the empty clip was automatically ejected from the magazine with the distinctive sound, this automatic ejection and clearing of the magazine was faster than box magazine fed rifles, that required the shooter to manually remove the magazine. The clips could also be manually ejected from the rifle at any time, simply by pulling the bolt back and holding it in place, then pressing the clip latch, once the clip ejects, the shooter loads in a fresh clip, this procedure took around 5 seconds, far easier, practical, and faster than topping off with clumsy single rounds with bolt action rifles, giving the M1 even more of an edge in combat. Topping off the M1 with single rounds was also possible, but was slower than simply ejecting the clip then reloading, topping off the M1 wasn't done often.

M1 featured a wooden stock with separate handguards and a steel buttplate. The forwardmost part of the muzzle served as a bayonet mounting point. Sights of the M1 consisted of the front sight with dual protecting "wings", dovetailed into the gas block at the muzzle, and the adjustable peephole rear sights, built into the rear part of the receiver. Sniper versions (M1C and M1D) also featured scope mounts on the receiver, offset to the left from the axis of the rifle, so it was possible to load it with clips and also to use its iron sights with scope installed (in the case of the scope damage, for example).

Sniper Variants of the M-1

There were some attempts to make a handier and more compact version of the M1 by shortening the barrel by some 6 inches (152 mm), with standard wooden or skeleton metallic buttstocks, but these attempts never left the experimental stages. Some short barreled "tankers" M1 rifles, appeared in the post-war period, are not the genuine designs, but the "sawed-off" variations of the standard "long" rifles.


Main Variants

  • M-14: Replaced the Garand officially in 1957.
  • Beretta BM-59: Italian rifle based in the M1 Garand.
  • Ruger series rifles, Mini 14, Mini 30, AC-550 (SOCOM)

Other Variants

U.S. Army designation U.S. Navy designation Description
T1 N/A Prototype
T1E1 N/A A single trial rifle that broke its bolt in the 1931 trial
T1E2 N/A Trial designation for gas-trap Garand. Basically a T1E1 with a new bolt.
M1 N/A Basic model. Identical to T1E2. Later change to gas port did not change designation
M1E1 N/A M1 Garand variant; modified cam angle in op-rod
M1E2 N/A M1 Garand variant; prismatic scope and mount
M1E3 N/A M1 Garand variant; roller added to bolt’s cam lug (later adapted for use in the M14)
M1E4 N/A M1 Garand variant; gas cut-off and expansion system with piston integral to op-rod
M1E5 N/A M1 Garand variant; 18-inch barrel and folding stock, for Airborne and Tank crewman use.
M1E6 N/A M1 Garand variant; sniper variant
M1E7/M1C N/A M1E6 Garand variant; M1C sniper variant with M81 scope (though the M82 or M84 scope could be used) on a Griffin & Howe mount
M1E8/M1D N/A M1E7 Garand variant; M1D sniper variant with M82 scope (though the M84 scope could be used) on a Springfield Armory mount
M1E9 N/A M1 Garand variant; similar to M1E4, with piston separate from op-rod
M1E10 N/A M1 Garand variant; variant with the Ljungman direct gas system
M1E11 N/A M1 Garand variant; short-stroke Tappet gas system
M1E12 N/A M1 Garand variant; gas impingement system
M1E13 N/A M1 Garand variant; "White" gas cut-off and expansion system
M1E14 Mk 2 Mod 0 M1 Garand variant; rechambered in .30 T65/7.62x51mm NATO with press-in chamber insert
T20 N/A M1 Garand variant; select-fire conversion by John Garand, capable of using BAR magazines
T20E1 N/A T20 variant; uses its own type of magazines
T20E2 N/A T20 variant; E2 magazines will work in BAR, but not the reverse
T20E2HB N/A T20E2 variant; HBAR variant
T22 N/A M1 Garand variant; select-fire conversion by Remington, magazine-fed
T22E1 N/A T22 variant; unknown differences
T22E2 N/A T22 variant; unknown differences
T22E3 N/A T22 variant; unknown differences; uses T27 fire control
T26 N/A M1 Garand variant; 18-inch barrel and standard stock, for airborne and tank crewman use.
T27 N/A Remington select-fire field conversion for M1 Garand; ability to convert issue M1 Garands to select-fire rifles; fire control setup used in T22E3
T31 N/A Experimental bullpup variant
T35 Mk 2 Mod 2 M1 Garand variant; rechambered for .30 T65/7.62x51mm NATO
T36 N/A T20E2 variant; T20E2 rechambered for .30 T65/7.62x51mm NATO using T35 barrel and T25 magazine
T37 N/A T36 variant; same as T36, except in gas port location

See also

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