Saturday, March 6, 2010

M1 Garand: The Greatest Gift Ever!

You may or may not remember when I said this a long time ago when I was babbling about firearms…

Another rifle I would dearly love to own is an M1 Garand.

My uncle has one. He should probably gift it to me, as I am his favorite nephew. Sorta.

Anyhoo…I have had Garand fever ever since I started playing Medal of Honor video games and saw the Band of Brothers TV series. The sight of heavy rates of .30 caliber rifle fire tearing German flesh asunder has stuck with me.

I want to do something like that also, except with paper targets. I don’t have a problem with Germans now.

They are cool in my book.

My dad (left) and my uncle (right), at Nha Trang Vietnam, 1966.

Well…My uncle, a Vietnam vet, and therefore cool, gave me something today I have been wanting for a long time. It’s almost as if he read my mind, or this blog, or something. Maybe.

I'm as giddy as a (well-armed) schoolgirl!

It's a Springfield Garand, with a serial number of 1009XXX, indicating November-December 1942 year of manufacture.

The furniture is a little beat up and the finish isn't pretty. I haven't field stripped it yet, as I am of the M16A1/A2 generation...and I don't know how...but I'll learn.

I don't know what the barrel or bore looks like yet, but the exterior metal surfaces have a very nice parkerized finish with no rust or pitting.

It seems to function OK so far as I can tell with my limited knowledge. I can work the bolt, and it goes click when I pull the trigger.

I plan on downloading and printing the Garand manual and learning all I can about this battle rifle. I will also take it to a knowledgeable gunsmith to make sure it is in good working order, because I will be shooting it!

I'm so happy I just might crap the bed tonight.


I pulled the trigger group out. It is numbered D28210-12-SA...I'm assuming an authentic Springfield Armory assembly. It looks like brand new. Very little wear and is very stiff. Had to lube it a little to get the safety to function. Looks good to me!

Upon further field stripping and inspection, the barreled receiver group looks just as good. Entire mechanism appears to be US Govt. issue, with no phony foreign/aftermarket parts. Very little wear. I'd say this rifle was gone through and refurbished at least once by a military armorer, and fired very little.

The mechanicals are in much better condition than the furniture would suggest...which is a great thing, I think, since it will be a shooter. No safe queens in my collection!

Even though it's looked down on by the elite Garand snobs, I will most likely refinish the wood. Or I could always buy new wood and keep the old stuff.

So many decisions....


I researched some proof marks on the Garand stock, and they indicate that the stock was made somewhere from June 1953 to June 1957. During that time frame, Springfield made rifles with serial numbers between 4,320,000 to 6,099,905.

Stamps used to make proof marks (Photo courtesy Fulton Armory)

If you remember, my rifle's serial number is 1,009,XXX...indicating that the wood and the upper receiver are not original. This is more common than not, seeing as these rifles were retrofitted and repaired, usually more than once, during their service life.

Even though these facts probably lessen the value of my rifle, it doesn't matter to me, but it would to a snot nosed and snobby elite Garand collector geek...and there are a lot of those types of people out there these days.


Get this...

My 16-year-old son, a firearms fanatic also, said I should put one of these on my Garand!

(Eotech Photo)

I think not.

I laughed heartily and ridiculed him and said, "Oh no! I can't hit the target without a pretty red laser dot showing me where I'm aiming. Iron sights are too difficult to figure out."

He has played too many video games, and I am a bad and unfeeling dad.


Looking closely at the barrel near the front sight, I found "ARL ORD ARLINGTON VA."

A little intardnets searching reveals Arlington Ordnance was a company that imported old original GI M1 Garand and carbine barrels from Korea back in the Reagan era, and then refurbished them.

I saw a few folks on the 'net saying good things about "arsenal rebuilt" Arlington Ordnance barrels, but I don't know.

On another internet site, I was describing my Garand. A battle hardened and crusty Marine asked me what the "barrel date" was.

I had to ask, "How does a pogue reservist poseur such as myself determine barrel date?"

His reply, "If you pull the operating rod back, the date should be on the right side of the barrel, in the general vicinity of the space previously occupied by the op rod.

So...I did all this, and found "1SA4 45" and then further up where the barrel necks down there is a "P" ....

Therefore, using my ultra-secret Garand date-code decoding manual, I can assume it's a Springfield Armory barrel dated April 1945!



I had a guy see the picture of the trigger group, and he says it's late WW2 or Korean war vintage.

Not that it matters to me, but it's turning out that the rifle is what the Garand dorks call a "mixmaster"...assembled from a collection of serviceable parts. Again...not uncommon after a 30 year service life, and perfectly fine for a "shooter"...a firearm used for recreation, and not stored in a safe for collector value.

Believe me...I ain't knockin' the rifle. I couldn't be more pleased that my uncle thought enough of me to give it to me.

It means a lot.


I have read where the receivers and barrels of Garands were sometimes retrieved from the trash after "de-milling." De-milling involved cutting the parts into pieces and making them un-usable. Well...seems some unsavory characters would weld the pieces back together and grind out the weld seams and then re-sell the parts.

A cut and re-welded M1 Garand receiver before the weld was ground out. This is extremely nasty and heinous! (Photo courtesy Garand Collectors Association)

A cut and re-welded M1 Garand receiver after "dressing up" the weld location. Horrific! (Photo courtesy Garand Collectors Association)

I'm happy to report that this rifle bears no evidence of having a re-welded receiver or barrel. It all looks solid and new.


I have just discovered that my Garand is equipped with a National Match operating rod, part # 7790722-RA.

Any fool knows that a National Match operating rod, made by Remington Arms, is way more better than a regular old run-of-the-mill and shitty government issue operating rod, because it was "manufactured with a slight clockwise twist to hold them more snugly against the bolt ear, and was used on National Match rifles after 1962 as well as on armory rebuilds throughout the sixties."

No shit.

I am aroused.

More later as I discover it.


I have decided, much to the chagrin and horror of the Garand snobs, to try my hand at refinishing the walnut "furniture" on my beloved M1.

This is what she looks like...stripped of all her metal all her naked walnut glory.

I scrubbed her down in the bath-tub in warm soapy water. Then, I gave her another vigorous once-over with a stiff bristled brush and Bar Keeper's Friend.

Very sexy...

She likes it like that.

She is a dirty whore.

I need a smoke.


In the process of refinishing the walnut on my vintage M1 Garand battle rifle. One coat of Minwax Dark Walnut stain applied. Will apply another coat in 4 hours. New Castle Brown Ale for me in the interim.


I have been told that it is not unusual for walnut to vary in shade as it is finished, and I'm beginning to see how the walnut is reacting.

The various pieces, the stock and 2-piece hand-guards, don't match exactly...close enough for me...but it looks good for 60 year-old wood...lots of "character."

I have three applications of hand-rubbed oil-based stain on the stock now. I should probably quit messing with it.

My plan is to let it cure for a week, then apply the satin poly clear coat...(it is not glossy)...which is known to give the finish a slight amber tint.

It should look very sexy when I'm done. It will make my uncle smile and maybe even drool a little, and he will want the rifle back.

We'll have to negotiate on that!


It is (re) finished! I am kinda aroused and stuff because it is the most beautifulest thing I have ever created with my own human hands.

I may openly weep too.

Or something.



I've wanted a Garand for a long time, and having my uncle give me his was quite unexpected. I figured I'd have to wait until he croaked to get it! Fortunately, such was not the case.

I'm going to see him at our family gathering on Easter, and he has said he would like me to bring the Garand so he can check it out and all I've done to it.

He acted like we should keep things on the down-low at the Easter gathering while he inspected the rifle, and I said, "Fuck that!
Are you kidding? We're going to do close order drill up and down the county roads. Then, we will BZO it. Nothing says "Easter" like 30.06!"

As far as accessorizing my Garand is concerned, I'm not gonna go ape-shit. I've ordered a cheap Chinese-made padded cotton carrying case thingy, and a 5-pack of US-made en-bloc clips from Cheaper Than Dirt.

I'm happy with the olive drab web sling that came with the rifle, as it is just like the ones I'm familiar with when I humped my M16 as a part-time nasty Marine pogue reservist puke. I can configure a hasty loop sling just like I did at the range, and get on target fairly fast using what I learned back in the day.

No leather slings for me. Not my bag, baby.

A few other things to get might be an ammo belt...not real important to me...and maybe one of those adjustable gas plugs, 'cuz I don't wanna batter the crap outta my baby...

And ammo...lots of it. Might have to go the CMP Greek route, seeing as the commercial version is pretty expensive.

I had been looking at those Ram-Line synthetic stocks...a very cool alternative to wood I think, and I was seriously considering going that route if the refinishing on my furniture went awry.

Anyhoo... I'm pretty proud of the old gal, but I'm thinking I like this vintage battle rifle refinishing thing. Fun stuff...

A Mosin-Nagant next?


Thought I’d update you all on the Garand unveiling at my family’s Easter gathering…

So, my uncle and I walk over to my van, and I slide Ms. G.A. Rand from her new padded carrying case. Uncle oohs and ahhs at her marvelous beauty, and is duly impressed. We talk about manly stuff like ammo, sip our beers, and we scratch and grunt a lot.

Then, my sister’s father in-law strolls up, similarly drools, tells me of his Army service and his familiarity with the M1, and asks to hold the star of the party.

I hand him the rifle, and I ask him what he thinks.

He gets a gleam in his eye, comes down smartly to an order-arms position, and proceeds to go all “Silent Drill Team” with my girl! He slams her pristine parkerized butt-plate on the asphalt deck a couple of times, then gives the butt-stock a couple of sideways kicks and starts into his “twirling rifles” routine.

At this point in the show, I’d had about enough. Nobody was going to treat my gal like the filthy whore she is…except me…so I said, “Dude! Man! I just spent a month cleaning up and refinishing that rifle! Hows about we stop these shenanigans?”

He ceased his silly and abusive activities, and handed the rifle back to me.

He don’t know how lucky he is.

I was about to go ruckus on him, but seeing as I am a man of peace…like Mandela or Gandhi…and that it was Easter Sunday, I controlled myself.

It was a fun day.