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Weapon of the Month: September 2012

The M1 Garand

” The Greatest implement of battle ever devised”-George S. Patton

Designed by Canadian native John C. Garand and first accepted by the United States Army in 1933, the M1 Garand semiautomatic battle rifle would prove to be an everlasting design, with 6,000,000 being produced by the end of the Second World War, and serving on through Korea and even into Vietnam, only being replaced by the M16. The M1 Garand surpassed its predecessors, the Springfield Model 1903 and Enfield Model 1917, both bolt-action, primarily in the category of firepower and rate of fire. While the Springfield was accurate, with a muzzle velocity of over 2,800 feet per second and a range of 656 yards, its rate of fire was only about fifteen rounds a minute, considering it had to be loaded by a five-round stripper clip and reloaded after every shot, as is par with bolt-action rifles. The Enfield suffered from similar drawbacks, and soared with similar excellence. Both rifles were heavily modeled after the German Mauser Gewehr Model 1898, which had been in service with the Spanish during the Spanish-American War, and had decimated the Americans, who were utilizing the sturdy and accurate Krag-Jorgensen, otherwise known as the Springfield Model 1892-99, yet the Krag had to be loaded by single shots due to its oddly placed side-mounted box magazine, and suffered from a horrible rate of fire. The Springfield had seen service throughout the First World War as the primary weapon of General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s “Doughboys”, and had fought on into the 1920s and early 1930s, yet its days were becoming numbered as the primary firearm of the U.S Army. With the Enfield becoming a permanent addition to the U.S Army sniper and sharpshooter arsenal, the Army thought it best to do the same with the Springfield. In 1933, they were approached by a Canadian by the name of John Garand with his design, which would become the world’s first, and most legendary, semiautomatic battle rifle. The designs of the Soviet Tokarev SVT-38/40 and the German Walther Gewehr 41/43 would be heavily modeled after it. With its power and semiautomatic loading capabilities being supplied by a gas tube underneath the barrel, the rifle used recycled gases from fired cartridges and propelled them rearward, where they struck a piston which triggered a rotating bolt. Once the bolt was triggered, it would unlock and expel the spent shell casing. The other odd feature of the rifle was that it was loaded by en bloc clips, rather than the standard stripper clip that was in service. Rather than the stripper clip, which when placed within the rifle, the metal portion of the clip slid off so only the rounds went inside, whereas the en bloc clip is loaded as an entire entity, metal and all. The chief drawbacks were that once all eight rounds of the clip (another odd feature: most rifles only used five, yet some have been known to use more, such as the Italian Carcano Model 1891, which uses six, and the French Lebel Model 1886, which also uses eight on a stripper clip) were fired, the metal portion was thrown from the magazine with a loud, audible ping. Once German and Japanese soldiers had caught onto this, they would know when soldiers had emptied the gun, and would return fire. Yet soon American troops had figured this out, and would carry with them spent clip shells, and would throw them against hard surfaces to attract the attention of enemy troops, and once they exposed themselves, shoot at them. Some variants of the M1, such as the M1C, were fitted with 4x variable zoom sniper scopes, resembling the ones that were being fitted atop the Springfield and Enfield, and would become effective semiautomatic sniper rifles. The M1 could also be fitted with rifle grenade adapters, and fire modified grenades off the muzzle of the gun, as well as bayonets, a French invention (imagine that!). Garands were later fitted with 20-round box magazines, and retrofitted into the ill-fated M14 that was introduced to service in 1954, and soon replaced with the induction of the M16 in 1964. The M1 Garand fired a full-metal jacketed .30-06-caliber (7.62x63mm) round, with a maximum muzzle velocity of 2,800-feet per second and an effective range of 440 yards. Although the rifle was less accurate as the Springfield, it was an identical caliber with an identical muzzle velocity. Combining that with its deadly semiautomatic capability, and that is one recipe for victory.

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