The origin of the M1 Garand rifle goes back to 1901 when the Ordnance Corps began developing a semiautomatic rifle. That work was interrupted by World War I, but began again in 1919 when John C. Garand was recruited by Springfield Armory, MA. The resulting rifle bears Garand's name and was recognized as one of the most successful designs in firearms history.
Infantryman sights his M1 Garand Ft. Knox, KY, June 1942.
Garand put in many years before the development effort on the new M-1 .30 cal. rifle was completed, chambered to fire the the Army's standard .30-06 round, fed from an 8 round en-bloc clip. The U.S. Army adopted the M1 Garand as the standard infantry weapon in 1936.
After 16 years of development, the M1 Garand U.S. Cal. .30 Rifle was cleared for procurement on 7 November 1935 and on 9 January 1936 the M1 Garand became Army standard. The first production M1 was successfully proof fired, function fired, and fired for accuracy on 21 July 1937 at Springfield Armory, the start of what was to become the greatest production effort in the Ordnance armory's history. At first, production difficulties and design issues continued to plague the new M-1 rifle. By February 1940, after approximately 50,000 M1 rifles had been produced, the barrel and gas cylinder assembly were redesigned. (The older design was called the "gas trap" barrel while the new design is referred to as the "gas port" version.) By mid-1940 Springfield Armory went into full production of the M-1. By the end of 1941 the Army was fully equipped with the new rifle. After the U.S. entered World War II, production ramped up further; Winchester was engaged for M1 production in 1943. By the end of WW II in 1945, over 4 million M-1 Garand rifles had been produced.
After the conclusion of WW II, the M1 rifle inventory underwent arsenal repair or rebuilding. In 1950, U.S. and Allied forces entered the Korean War with the M-1 Garand as their standard rifle. The then-new Department of Defense awarded contracts for additional M-1's, produced by International Harvester and Harrington and Richardson from 1953 to 1956, In early 1957, the last production of M1 Garand rifles took place at Springfield Armory, using components already in inventory. Production during and after the Korean War totaled over 1.4 million, for a production lifetime total of 5.4 million M1 rifles.
US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1.
The "US Rifle, Cal. .30, M1", or M1 Garand as it came to be known after the name of its inventor, John Garand, held many advantages over the M1903 Springfield rifle. The semi-automatic operation and reduced recoil allowed new troops to achieve a higher degree of accuracy with a shorter period of training than was previously possible. The sighting system was superior under actual combat conditions. Ease of disassembly, cleaning, and oiling were also a great advantage. Most important was the increase in rate of fire, limited only by the proficiency of the soldier in marksmanship and his dexterity in inserting eight round clips of ammunition into the weapon. In the face of overwhelming odds, the capability of the M1 rifle to deliver superior firepower would most often carry the day.
The M1 was 43.6 in. (1103 mm) in length. Any soldier who carried one will tell you it weighed a ton, but its actual unloaded weight was "only" 9 lb 8 oz (4.37 kg).
M1 Does My Talking Poster Click on image for more information and larger size.
The semiautomatic M1 Garand gave United States forces a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot response time over individual German and Japanese infantrymen who were still largely armed with bolt-action rifles. General Douglas MacArthur reported on the M1 to the Ordnance Department during heavy fighting on Bataan that:
Under combat conditions it operated with no mechanical defects and when used in foxholes did not develop stoppages from dust or dirt. It has been in almost constant action for as much as a week without cleaning or lubrication.
General George S. Patton Jr. reported to the Ordnance Department on 26 January 1945:
In my opinion, the M1 Rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.
John C. Garand, inventor of the Garand rifle, pointing out some of the features of the rifle to Major General Charles M. Wesson during the general's visit to Springfield Arsenal (MA) in July 1941. At right is Brigadier General Gilbert H. Stewart, commanding officer of the arsenal.
Shipping M-1 Garand rifles from Springfield Arsenal (MA) in 1942.
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