I hit up the gunshow and finally am able to cross a gun off my list: the legendary M1 Garand.
I ended up picking this one up for a bit less than $1,200. It’s in great shape with matching parts and parkerizing, and a stock in good shape. The bore and breech score highly on the gauges. I was going to just get a CMP rifle, but I moved recently, and their stock is drying up. Plus, there’s a several month wait. And a quick gunbroker check showed that I wouldn’t save much there for rifles in comparable condition. Once I factored in shipping and transfer fees, the difference in price wasn’t much. Maybe $50 or so. Screw that. I’ll take Garand in hand. This one even came with the cool CMP hard case, which is well made and lockable. So it’ll work for airline travel, should I want to fly somewhere with a rifle.
The Garand probably needs no introduction, but I’ll review it anyway. This was the standard American service rifle in World War 2 and the Korean War. It was the frontline rifle from 1936-1960 or so. It soldiered on quite a bit longer in the National Guard (some units went directly from the M1 Garand to the M16), and was also widely used by many American allies. South Korea was a particularly heavy user of the type. General Patton himself described it (perhaps a trifle hyperbolically) as “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” It fires the .30-06 cartridge from an eight-round en-bloc clip and weighs about 10 lbs, depending on example. It also spent decades dominating service rifle competitions.
Mine was made by Harrington and Richardson in February of 1956. Production would stop in 1957. On the one hand, I’m a little sad that my rifle didn’t see combat service. On the other hand, this also means it’s in absolutely superb condition. It’s just as good a touchstone this way, and now the only one who’s going to be putting wear on it is me. And make no mistake, I got it because it’s a touchstone. Both of my grandfathers served in the Second World War, and this is a nice way for me to have a connection to them, and the rest of the members of the greatest generation. Plus, it’s a nice companion for my Mauser Kar 98k and my Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk. I. Also, did I mention it’s pretty? Because it is absolutely gorgeous.
The lines of the M1 Garand are just right. That said, it’s also on the heavy side. 10 lbs is hefty. Of course, it’s also firing a full power rifle cartridge in the .30-06 (7.62×63 mm). You probably don’t want to go too much lighter. And again, this is a military rifle. Weight means strength, which means abuse resistance. And recoil absorption. Carrying it, I notice the weight. Shooting it, I’m very happy for the weight.
For a traditional layout rifle, the Garand has pretty good ergonomics. The trigger is a little gritty, but otherwise a solid mil-type trigger. This isn’t a match trigger, and that’s okay. The sights on the Garand are absolutely amazing, especially for the time period. It’s a great sight picture that would be directly copied to the M14, and used with minor mechanical tweaks (but the same fundamental picture) on the M16A1 and M16A2. It’s great.
How does it shoot? Wonderfully. It is not abusive. It is very precise, and the iron sights are fantastic. Even more so when you consider that these sights were designed in the 1930s. Compared to its contemporaries, the Garand is amazing. Today, it’s still a super fun rifle for blasting. Plenty accurate. And I love the ping of the ejected clip. Hear that? That’s the Ping of Freedom.