After WWI, the US Army was in search of a reliable semi-automatic rifle. They focused on a model created by John C. Garand. It was designed to provide the average infantryman with a reliable, accurate, rugged rifle. And rugged it was. It could be dropped in the mud, washed in the rain, urinated on when frozen and exposed to physical abuse and still operate effectively.
The action is locked by a twisting bolt engaging in lugs set in the receiver behind the breech. It’s loaded with an eight-round .30-06 caliber en bloc clip. When loaded, the clip remains in the rifle and single rounds cannot be inserted. Once the last round is fired, the clip is ejected and the action remains open, ready for the insertion of another clip. The clip was a cause for concern since it ejected with a loud clunk, alerting nearby enemy that the operator would be reloading. Many soldiers had their thumbs jammed due to the quick response action. The M1 could also be fitted with a grenade launcher and bayonet. Most soldiers that trained with the Garand also remember it as a great body conditioner. At nearly ten pounds, recruits learned to hold the rifle out in front of their body or overhead for long periods of time.
The M1 remained in service with many National Guard units well into the seventies. The Garand was sold in large numbers as surplus and is commonly seen in Central and South America. I encountered the M1 and its Carbine version during a mission to Nicaragua where it was carried by pro-Somoza National Guardsmen fighting the Sandanistas.
All-in-all, the M1 Garand proved to be an effective rifle in war, and served Rangers faithfully during World War II, Korea and by many in the early years of the Vietnam War. This is truly a rifle that has gone down in America’s history of great firearms.
by Tim Davis