The M1 Garand was the U.S. battle rifle during World War II and the Korean War. An 8-round semi-automatic rifle, the M1 Garand gave U.S. soldiers an advantage in firepower over bolt-action rifle equipped adversaries.
Here are ten essential things to know about the M1 Garand:
1. First Issued Semi-Automatic. In 1936, the M1 Garand became the first semi-automatic rifle to be issued as the first line battle rifle by a major power. While other countries experimented with semi-automatic rifles and issued bolt-action rifles, American troops had a robust, semi-automatic, rifle firing the powerful .30-06 cartridge.
2. Designed by a Civil Servant. The designer, John C. Garand, was a French-Canadian by birth and immigrated to the United States. Mechanically inclined since childhood, he naturally found a place at the government’s Springfield Armory. He spent two decades developing the design of the M1 Garand on a government salary. He was awarded two medals by the U.S. congress, but no extra cash.
3. Uses a Clip. The M1 Garand has a fixed internal magazine that is loaded via an 8-round clip. The clip is pressed down into the magazine and is expelled when empty.
4. Makes a Ping. When all the ammunition in an M1 Garand is expended the metal clip is expelled and makes an audible “ping.” This could give a soldier’s position away, but since soldiers worked as part of a platoon this was not that much of a disadvantage.
5. Available for Competitors. If you are a member of a Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) affilated shooting club and meet certain eligibility requirements, you can buy a military surplus M1 Garand from the CMP. Eligibility requirements include participation in marksmanship activity and training such as a hunter safety course.
6. Made in the Millions. Up to 6 million M1 Garands were manufactured between 1936 and 1959.
7. A Movie Star. Clint Eastwood famously used an M1 Garand in the movie Gran Torino. It proved great for getting kids off of his lawn.
8. Shoots .30-06 Garand. To preserve the longevity and avoid damaging a vintage M1 Garand, manufacturers like Hornady, PPU, and Federal sell ammunition specifically for the military surplus M1 Garand. This ammunition replicates the power of .30-06 ammunition available during World War II. Today’s .30-06 hunting ammunition can be more powerful and damage the M1 Garand.
9. Also Made in Italy. Beretta made a licensed copy of the M1 Garand to equip the post-war Italian army. Italian production also ended in the 1950s.
10. Loved by Patton. General Patton called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised.”
The M1 Garand was a great rifle and led to the evolution of the M14, the Mini-14, and several foreign rifle designs.
Garry James. “U S. M1 Garand” Guns & Ammo. The Shooters Guide to Classic Firearms. Stoeger Press. 2006.
Will Fowler & Patrick Sweeney. “The World Encyclopedia of Rifles and Machine Guns.” World Publications. 2013.
Chris McNab. “Twentieth-Century Small Arms” Metro Books, 2001.
Craig Philip. “The World’s Great Small Arms” Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1993.