History of the M-1 Garand Rifle

The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a WWII M-1 Garande Rifle Training Model and a Garande Rifle on display in the Firearms and Ordnance section of the museum.

During WWII the M-1 Garand was the primary battle rifle of the United States Armed Forces. This famous rifle was used by the United States between the years of 1936 to 1966, seeing action in WWII, the Korean War, and the early stages of the Vietnam War.  It is considered on of the top military rifles of all time.

Development of the rifle began shortly after WWI by a man named John Cantius Garand, a Canadian firearms designer who went to work for Springfield Armory. John Garand was intrigued with the development of a semi-automatic (self-loading) rifle. Originally the rifle was built using the experimental .276 caliber ( 7mm) cartridge. The Military adopted the recommended 7mm cartridge but later changed it’s mind to the 30-06 mainly because of the encouragement of the most decorated soldier of WWI, General Douglas MacArthur. The first produced model went out to the Army in 1936. By 1939,100 M-1 Garands were being produced every day at Springfield Armory. By 1941, 600 were built everyday. Due to such high demand during WWII, Winchester assisted Springfield Armory and over 4 million were produced. Between the years of 1953 to 1956, International Harvester, along with Harrington & Richardson also manufactured the M-1 Garand.

The weapon proved well in the hands of an Infantryman. It weighed 9.5 lbs, and was 43 inches in length. The weapon held 8 rounds fed by a clip. The penetrating power of the 30-06 was legendary. During a battle in China it was reported that a US Infantryman killed 3 Japanese soldiers with one round in close range. The Garand’s rate of fire was far more superior to the enemies bolt action rifles used by the Germans and Japanese infantry. The Garand in the hands of an Army soldier or Marine could fire 40 to 50 well placed rounds per minute. The weapon had an effective maximum range of 800 yards, but it was truly deadly under 500 yards. The Garand had great success, but it did have one achilles heel, the notorious, distinctive, “ping” sound at the ejection of the empty clip. The Japanese and Germans became aware of this flaw and used it to their advantage during battle. This “ping” sound was such an issue that weapon experts at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds experimented with plastic clips to lower the sound. None of these plastic clips ever got into the hands of the United States soldiers or Marines.

The M-1 Garand was called “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” by General George S. Patton. In 1957, the Garand was obsolete, being replaced by the M-14 that used a 7.62 or 308 round. It still remained in the inventory for a few more years, well into the late 1960’s due to the lack of the M-14 and M-16 rifles. Some were being reported in use in the early part of the Vietnam War. The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team still use it in ceremonial events. In the world of militaria the M-1 Garand is still sought out by hunters and collectors alike.