Build An Ark: The U.S. Rifle .30 Cal M1

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The U.S. Rifle .30 Cal M1
(Commonly known as the M1 Garand)

Part I: History and Production

Korean War era rebuilt M1 Rifle with a receiver manufactured in 1942 and a barrel date of 3-51

History With the end of World War I, many Army Officers realized the importance of an infantry rifle capable of semi-automatic fire. The excellent Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was far too heavy for individual issue to each soldier. The U.S. Government’s Springfield Armory located in Springfield, Mass, was directed to start development of a semi-automatic rifle. In 1923, a junior engineer working for Springfield Armory named John C. Garand, a Canadian by birth, developed a prototype semi-automatic rifle that was primer actuated. For the next few years Garand developed his prototypes and perfected a gas-operated rifle.

Garand’s rifle was chambered in .276 caliber fed from a 10 round metal clip. While this rifle held promise, its caliber ultimately caused it to be rejected, the Army Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, decided with a stockpile of almost 2 billion rounds of 30-06 ammunition, he wanted the new service rifle to be chambered in 30-06, maintaining ammunition commonality with the other weapons in the Army inventory. This decision was made during the austere period of the early1930s. The Army simply could not afford to replace all that ammunition with a different caliber.

John C. Garand went back to the drawing board and by 1936 the M1 rifle was adopted by the Army, after several modifications, the rifle emerged as we know it today. The new rifle was chambered for the 30-06 round and fed from an 8 round metal clip. The Army was quick to field test and issue the new rifle. It was destined to play a major role as the best rifle in World War II. The official nomenclature of the M1 Garand is “Rifle, Caliber .30, M1”. To the soldiers, sailors, and marines who used it, it is simply my “Rifle” or my “Garand”. The M1 rifle was of such importance that in 1945, General George S. Patton Jr. called the M1 rifle “The greatest battle implement ever devised”.

The M1 rifle was constantly being upgraded. The first major change took place in early 1940 at approximately SN: 50,000 when the system of attaching the gas cylinder to the barrel was changed. The first 50,000 M1 rifles are now known as gas trap rifles. In unaltered condition they bring many thousands of dollars on the collectors market. All subsequent production M1s are known as gas port rifles. Virtually all parts of the M1 rifle went through some sort of modification throughout the production. Most changes resulted in a revision number change (those little numbers stamped on most of the parts of the M1). There were several different stock variations and even more different types of stock acceptance stamps.

Between 1936 and 1945, approximately 3,526,922 M1 rifles were produced by Springfield Armory and another 513,880 by Winchester. From late 1945 until the spring of 1952, there was no new M1 rifle production. Most World War II production rifles were upgraded and or rebuilt at Springfield Armory.
With the outbreak of the Korean War, Springfield Armory once again started production of the M1 rifle. In addition to Springfield Armory, Harrington and Richardson, and International Harvester were contractors who also produced M1 rifles. By the end of the 1956, International Harvester had produced 337,623 M1 rifles and Harrington and Richardson had produced 428,600 M1 rifles. Springfield Armory produced an additional 661,747 M1 Rifles. While the last new production M1 rifle was produced in September 1956, Garands were still being rebuilt and used by our Military Reserves and National Guard into the early 1970s.

Rebuilt U.S.G.I. M1 Rifles
After the end of World War II, many thousands of M1 rifles were in need of repair and parts replacement. Springfield Armory undertook this project for many years. Rifles were shipped to the Armory, inspected, overhauled, and refinished. Since parts were stripped and refinished and reused, no particular attention was made to which manufacturers parts went to which rifle rifle. So rebuilt rifles may have parts made by several manufacturers. Many Winchester rifles have post war replacement barrels made by Springfield Armory. International Harvester, and Harrington and Richardson rifles that were rebuilt have the same mix of parts.

After rebuild, many rifles were placed in sealed drums for long-term storage. Numbers of these rifles have been released through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship and the later Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Korea War era G.I.s armed with M1 rifles await the start of a tactical exercise. U.S. Army photo.

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