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Always"watching"

The Garand M1 Rifle

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I have never yet written a topic about personal or hand-held weaponry, but I thought I would take a look at a rifle that General George Patton considered to be "the greatest battle implement ever devised," as it clearly contributed to the Victory of the Allied forces in the Second World War. The key feature of the Garand M1 was that it was a semi-automatic weapon - not the world's first semi-automatic rifle, but the first to be issued as the standard weapon of an entire army.

The M1 rifle was designed by John M. Garand. In 1920, Garand started looking into semi-automatic designs, and this work coincided with the beginning of trials by the US Ordnance Board, with the aim of replacing the Springfield bolt-action rifle which dated back to 1903. Ultimately, a new semi-automatic rifle, bearing Garand's name, was adopted and entered US Army service in January 1936, designated the "Rifle M1."

 

 

Inventor John Garand holding an M1 rifle (pic from pop.h-cdn.co):

gallery-1483026335-1.jpg

 

The Garand M1 battle rifle (pic from gunsandammo.com)

battle-rifle-m1-garand-3.jpg

 

 

After a redesign to iron out a problem with the gun, the Marines were issued with the M1 in 1940, and by 1941, much of the US Army had been re-equipped with the new weapon. At that time, British troops were still using the Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle, and the German Mauser Karabiner 98K was also of a similar type. This meant that a German or British infantryman had to lift, pull, push and lower alever to operate the bolt on his rifle, ejecting a spent cartridge, re-cocking the weapon, chambering a fresh round and locking the mechanism. Finally, he could pull the trigger. With the M1, the gun was loaded with an eight-round clip by means of an operating rod that pushed the clip through the open breech into an internal box magazine in the receiver. Having thus loaded the gun, the GI could pull the trigger and fire the gun without moving, not just once but for the full eight rounds - each spent cartridge being automatically ejected and the firing mechanism re-cocked with a new round in place. This was partly achieved by using some of the expanding gas from the firing of the current round, normally used to push the bullet down the barrel, to push back and re-cock the weapon as well as performing the other necessary functions. Thus, the American infantryman could stay still and fire up to eight rounds, thus maintaining his aim, which was a great advantage, and at the end of the eight rounds, the clip itself was ejected ready for the gun to be reloaded.

 

 

Garand Rifle M1, loading mechanism and two eight-round clips (pic from i.ytimg.com):

maxresdefault.jpg

 

 

The Garand M1 was a powerful weapon not only because of its semi-automatic action but also because it used .30-06 ammunition (with a muzzle velocity of 2,800ft/sec or 853m/sec) that could punch through thick jungle foliage and was accurate up to a range of 500 yards (454 metres). Interestingly, the British Army did consider adopting the M1 as a replacement for the Lee-Enfield but rejected the idea because it was thought that the semi-automatic mechanism would jam in adverse battlefield conditions. In fact, the Garand M1 proved to be a highly reliable weapon, and once the US had entered the War, the M1 was service-tested in a variety of testing terrains and environments. The M1 was found to be well up to functioning in the rain and mud of the Italian campaign, the heat and humidity of the Pacific tropics, and the freezing conditions of the Northern European winter.

The firepower of the M1 Rifle often gave the US infantryman a distinct advantage over the enemy. For instance, a typical 12-man squad would consist of up to 11 men carrying M1s, In theory, each man could fire 30 rpm from their M1, providing 330 rounds every minute if all men were firing at once. It has to be said, in case we over-eulogize the M1, that there were a few problems with the gun. Once loaded with the eight-round clip, the M1 could not be topped-up until the gun was empty, and the "ping" of the clip being ejected could alert the enemy that his adversary's gun was empty. The M1 was also heavy (9.5lb/4.3kg empty), and because it was top-loaded, there could be no easy provision for a sniper scope (although I have seen pictures of the Garand M1 fitted with a scope).

 

 

American GI with a Garand M1 rifle, Fort Benning, 1942 (pic from olive-drab.com):

id_m1garand_700_01.jpg

 

 

Although there were certain disadvantages encountered with the Rifle M1, the benefits for US troops far outweighed them, especially during a period of conflagration where the semi-automatic rifle was not yet in the hands of the enemy. In fact the M1 lasted as standard issue for American troops right up until 1957, and saw service in the Korean war. It was exported for use by more than two dozen countries including, after World War Two, West Germany and Japan. Indeed, after World War Two, the example set by the M1 was followed the world over, and semi-automatic rifle designs replaced bolt-action models. Over the life of the Garand M1, well over six million of the rifles were produced along with a similar number of the shorter "carbine" form used by airborne and mobile units.

 

 

Extraordinary picture showing an American trooper, festooned with items of German and American equipment, guarding a German prisoner with his M1 rifle, bayonet fitted (pic from gunsandammo.com):

rifle-m1-garand-battle-4.jpg

 

 

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fastmongrel    278
2 hours ago, Always"watching" said:

the "ping" of the clip being ejected could alert the enemy that his adversary's gun was empty.

Thats a myth invented by comic book authors and perpetuated by the internets large number of "my uncle told me and he knew a man whose wifes second cousin fought in the war so it must be true".  Look at Bloke on the ranges videos on youtube he did several videos on the subject

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9k2WzcJ1kUMl4KIwNQwrFA/videos

Will it ping

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Teg62x    1,428

Thanks for the interesting read, I have fired a Lee Enfield but never shot a M1. Going back out to the states to hook up with an American unit next year, I will have to see if there are any M1 users about on the ranges.

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fastmongrel    278

You should come across plenty of M1 users there must be millions of them still in use.  Its a great rifle not the wonder weapon some will have you believe but still the best rifle of WWII by a stretch.  If you do get the chance to shoot one be prepared for the kick the .303 Lee Enfield is a pussycat compared to the .30-06 M1.

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Teg62x    1,428

My last trip stateside I had a go with one of these, FN P90 very cool but for close combat only.

36598005560_d80e9efc18_b.jpg

link to video here.

FN P90

 

Edited by Teg62x

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relaxer7    3,745

I visited an interesting range in Eastern Europe somewhere, think it might have been Budapest in the early naughties. It's a bit of a blur but as I remember it.. we were on a lads stag do and had been on the sauce for most of the day when we happened across a bar that had a gun range in the basement with a variety of weapons for hire!

What could possibly go wrong we thought? I shot a desert eagle, scorpion sub machingun and an AK 47 :laugh:

 

 

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Interesting that, fastmongrel. As you suggest, there are many old M1 rifles floating around, and in the States, the collector's market for them is vast. There are gradings for the various models and states of condition, and recently some sort of arrangement has been made between the US Army and the Civilian Marksmanship Program concerning the number of Garand M1 rifles that can be purchased from CPM by a single customer. It would seem that these guns are sufficiently numerous for M1 only shooting events, and many examples have been arsenal rebuilt to bring them up to serviceable condition.

You will appreciate dear fastmongrel that I am not an expert in firearms and I am sure that your expertise is greater than mine.  It seems that the subject of the pinging noise and its effect during combat is hotly debated, but one thing is certain - the ejection of the empty clip frequently made a pinging sound, either when it hit hard ground as it fell or if, on ejection, it hit part of the receiver as it was ejected, or both. The thin sprung metal of the clip tended to act like a tuning fork, so resonating briefly when hitting something hard. It does seem, on balance, that in a combat situation, the noise of the clip on ejection was rarely an important consideration, and as to the story that soldiers sometimes threw their empty clips so that the resulting noise would make the enemy think that their guns were empty, I am not sure of its veracity.

:biggrin:

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fastmongrel    278

If you ever accidentally fire or someone close beside you fires a full power rifle without your ear protection on you will realise how LOUD they are and how long it is before your ears stop going eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.  It wouldnt surprise me if soldiers in a battle were so deafened they wouldnt have heard a Brass Band marching past :laugh:

4 hours ago, Teg62x said:

My last trip stateside I had a go with one of these, FN P90 very cool but for close combat only.

Total coolness I would love to fire one but never seen one.  One thing that I always think when I see a pic of it being fired is how close is your left hand to the muzzle, I know there is a hook to keep your fingers out of the way but a clumsy lump like me would probably end up only being able to count to 8 and a 1/2 :huh:

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So true, dear fastmongrel. In fact, reading lee Child novels, Jack Reacher often says just how loud powerful handguns guns ACTUALLY are when fired, and those of us who watch fictional thrillers and read unenlightened fiction probably underestimate the noise and recoil of guns in general, and with many handguns being incredibly inaccurate over any distance. Clearly, a full power rifle, handheld, must be both loud and tricky to aim accurately, though easier than a powerful handgun. Interesting then that the later M16 rifle - the iconic American weapon of soldiers in Vietnam - used relatively small ammunition with less recoil and was found to be suitable for use by soldiers who were not very muscular or who were more inexperienced.:)

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fastmongrel    278

I love how in Hollywood guns with silencers sound like a sort of kittens sneeze "Phoot" whereas according to Mythbusters Adam Savage they turn guns from DEAFENINGLY LOUD into LOUD.

I also like the Hollywood revolvers that can fire 30 shots.  Did no one notice they are called six shooters for a reason :biggrin:

 

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fastmongrel    278
On 02/09/2017 at 23:22, fastmongrel said:

You should come across plenty of M1 users there must be millions of them still in use.  Its a great rifle not the wonder weapon some will have you believe but still the best rifle of WWII by a stretch.  If you do get the chance to shoot one be prepared for the kick the .303 Lee Enfield is a pussycat compared to the .30-06 M1.

Its just been pointed out to me by a shooting buddy that recoil is felt differently by different people and there are lots who think a .30-06 M1 is comfortable to shoot and the Lee Enfield is a fire breathing beast.  Thats fine I think he is an idiot who likes shooting horrible modern stuff with lots of springs, knobs, composites (plastic), Carbon fibre (plastic with bits in it) ballistic polymer (plastic but costs more than plastic) and metal made from recycled bean tins.  On the other hand he thinks I am an idiot because I like shooting heavy lumps of antique steel and wood the older and simpler the better. 

We both get a bit girly and giggly if anyone brings out a Po8 Luger though

1200px-Luger_P08_(6971793777).jpg

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mel    1,445

I know nothing about nasty firearm things, but me-sen, I reckon Teal'c and  his staff weapon in Stargate SG1 are the answer! I'd be happy with a zat gun from there as well :rolleyes:

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I am not a shooter myself, and any attempt at marksmanship on my part could end up being rather dodgy. I did find it emotionally difficult to start researching this topic because of a certain revulsion towards guns, especially in unauthorized civilian hands. However, I am glad that I managed to finish and post the topic, especially because the M1 was important in the defeat of Fascism in World War Two, and I would like to thank fastmongrel in particular for posting interesting additions on the thread. I was thinking of researching a follow-up about the M16 but found so much information, including all sorts of technical notes and even charts, that I felt overwhelmed and concerned that a short introductory article would be somehow pointless. Indeed, it is amazing to me just how much interest there is in guns, no doubt the world over.:)

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Biker    1,340

As an ex-serviceman, I hate guns, guns were designed for one thing, killing people.

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vinn    262

guns have their place. better  than a bow and arrow.  good as an equalizer. 

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Spandy    39
On ‎05‎/‎09‎/‎2017 at 12:51, Biker said:

As an ex-serviceman, I hate guns, guns were designed for one thing, killing people.

Couldn't agree more. They seem glorious until you witness the absolute devastation they create, both physically and mentally. Proud to have served. Glad to be out. Plenty to be left unspoken.

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Teg62x    1,428
On 05/09/2017 at 12:51, Biker said:

As an ex-serviceman, I hate guns, guns were designed for one thing, killing people.

I'm still serving and have seen first hand more times than I care to remember what they do. Guns are inanimate lumps of metal and plastic they don't kill anyone on their own. The person pulling the trigger does the killing. Yes they were designed to kill but they can't without our input. 

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fastmongrel    278
On 05/09/2017 at 12:20, Always"watching" said:

 I was thinking of researching a follow-up about the M16 but found so much information, including all sorts of technical notes and even charts, that I felt overwhelmed and concerned that a short introductory article would be somehow pointless.

Your right not to go there the M16 is a bewildering minefield of different models.  You would need a book 2 feet thick to go into detail.  If you fancy researching soemthing that wont take a lifetime but has loads of history and anecdotes have a look at the Thompson sub machine gun.

Edited by fastmongrel
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vinn    262

check out the "M1A"   or M14 .  the best infantry rifle,  .308 Nato round,   best infantry rifle.  vin  

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fastmongrel    278
1 hour ago, vinn said:

check out the "M1A"   or M14 .  the best infantry rifle,  .308 Nato round,   best infantry rifle.  vin  

Can't have been that good the US army started replacing it 5 years after it was issued.

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fastmongrel    278

Served alongside the USMC first gulf war. They had more gear than they knew what to do with, we ended up robbing loads off them saved the UK taxpayer a fortune.

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Teg62x    1,428
26 minutes ago, fastmongrel said:

Served alongside the USMC first gulf war. They had more gear than they knew what to do with, we ended up robbing loads off them saved the UK taxpayer a fortune.

Haha remember swapping (nicking) loads of kit with our American brothers during desert storm and telic.

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fastmongrel    278

Only thing we never nicked was MREs what sicko came up with that **** I wouldn't have given it to a Pig. Not a patch on Biscuits Brown and Breakfast Grill.

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vinn    262

i was in an older army.  the food was in little tin cans ;  and you were issued a can opener.  if you lost the can opener,  use your bayonet.

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