Garand T31 aka. Bullpup .30

The last gun Garand worked on before retirement was the T-31 Bullpup. From the Springfield Armory website

Manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. – Limited prototype experimental select-fire weapon shoulder weapon; never went into production. Lightweight, selective full and semiautomatic rifle with an in-line stock in an attempt to reduce recoil. Cyclic rate of fire 600 rpm. Weapon weighs approximately 8.7 lbs. without accessories. Handguard cooled by circulating fresh air. German FG42 rear sight. Rubber stock and handguard. This was the last model worked on by John Garand.

What is especially interesting about this gun is the recoil system. The tube that surrounds the barrel is not a handguard but gas tube (I use the term lightly). A small around of gas deflected by the muzzle brake would enter the tube causing a shockwave to ripple down the tube towards the receiver end where it would actuate a piston. The system did not work very well because the tube would accumulate 3 grains of dirt for every shot fired!

Garand retired before the second version of the rifle was complete and so the project was terminated. The legacy of this rifle can be seen in the magazine design which was adopted for the M14 rifle.

[ Many thanks to Sven (Defense and Freedom) for emailing me the the info. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Alex

    Wow, that’s pretty incredible.

    Interesting that it’s main problem (excessive fouling due to unique gas system) is precisely the same problem that the M16 had- wonder where we’d be with 60 years of the same sort of innovation applied to this gun?

  • Redchrome

    That gas tube must have gotten really hot really fast… and no handguard for it! Maybe the later prototypes would have incorporated one.

    The StG44 with its metal handguard (and conventional long-stroke gas piston) gets hot enough after 60 rounds full-auto that you don’t want to touch it. I’d hate to think how hot that direct-gas tube got after just 10 rounds of .30-06.

  • Matt Groom

    T33 was not “the last Garand worked on before retirement”, Steve. It was one of many interesting and unique prototypes that lead up to the T44 prototype Garand variant that became the U.S. Rifle, 7.62mm, M14. Nearly every prototype contributed a small innovative part or feature to the final product that became the M-14. The Garand itself was still in production for about 4 more years, and continued to be used in front line service by US forces for a more than a decade after this prototype was shitcanned.

    Interestingly, this is probably the rifle that lead to the adoption of the 7.62 NATO, because the T65E1 lead to that cartridge design. The M-14 magazine may have also been inspired by this one.

  • Lance

    Cool pics the design is too bulky though never a fan abullpups. Long live the Grand and its decendents!!!!

  • I guess that’s why the M14’s magazine is so non-ergonomic for it’s mounting position. I’ve always thought it’d be easier on the wrist if it rocked backwards, but that wouldn’t have worked in the bullpup.

  • The rifle in the bottom photo is commonly mistaken for the T31. Actually, it appears to be one of Springfield Armory’s earliest SPIW rifle prototypes. It is simply too tiny to be chambered for any of the .30 Light Rifle cartridges. The picture was most likely taken in 1963 when Garand was visiting the Armory for a ceremony.

  • Don

    Good thing they went with the magazine.

  • Redchrome


    I’m reasonably confident that the reason the M14 magazine rocks in the way it does, is because all the other rock-in magazine designs I know do it the same way. The placement of the front of the magazine is much more critical to the feedpath than the back of the magazine. Note that the M14 has that nifty slightly-tapered spring-loaded lug at the front of the magwell to help stabilize and lift the magazine as it’s locked in place.

    The Kalashnikov design uses a tapered lug at the back of the magazine to help ensure solid lockup over a wide range of dimensional tolerances. I wish other magazines were made with this in mind! You can eyeball the differences between cheap chinese M14 mags and the good milspec magazines (or even the Taiwanese magazines which are good & cheap). This is one reason why crappy M14 mags don’t work reliably; but crappy Kalashnikov mags do.

  • Lance

    I dont know “Howtogetagun” I have cheap Chinese M-14 mags and a Polytech M-14 and Ive had great luck with them I dont think there that crappy.

  • Matt,

    The T31 was the last new design that John Garand personally worked on before retiring. He had continued to work on his full-auto M1 variant, the T20E2, but this project was started during WW2. After he retired, Garand did some consulting work on the T44.

    At the same time, there was a lot of work done on converting the M1 and T20E2 to the .30 Light Rifle series of cartridges that ultimately led to the T44. However, this was the sole responsibility of Lloyd Corbett up until the point when Earle Harvey’s T25/T47 design was abandoned. It was Harvey’s T25 that was Col. Studler’s original choice for the .30 Light Rifle. Garand’s T31 and Cyril Moore’s T28 were never seriously considered rivals to the T25. The same applied to the private industry submission of the T33. The T44 was essentially Harvey’s T25 gas system grafted to one of Corbett’s previous T20E2 .30 Light Rifle conversions.

  • Matt Groom

    Oh, I misunderstood. When I read “the last (gun) Garand worked on before retirement” I was thinking of “Garand” as an object, as in “the last Garand-VARIANT worked on before IT’S retirement”, not “the last gun that JOHN GARAND worked on before HE retired.

    I simply misread what Steve wrote. Or perhaps, it was edited later on…

  • Spiff

    I can remember back some 20+ years ago when I owned a gunstore that I picked up 2 “comic book” type of magazines designated as USMC Frontline Ordnance Hints…They show how to convert the M-! Garand to accept BAR magazines adding to fire power to back-up the AR guy. I wish that I had kept those publications, they were printed around 1944-45, one of them had a battle map of Siapan…

    • me

      USMC armorers did a lot of fascinating field improvisations during the war. One thing they created in 1942, which was very popular with Marines at the sharp end, was an LMG made by pulling a lightweight ANM2 .30 Browning MG out of a cannibalized wrecked aircraft and adding to it appropriate sights, a bipod, a cobbled-together field-expedient trigger group, a mount bracket for an ammo can containing belted ammo, and a buttstock which might have been from a Springfield rifle or even an Arisaka left behind on the battlefield. Far lighter than the postwar M1919A6 that was an attempt to reproduce the concept without understanding that the light weight and high ROF were features, not bugs, it weighed only a little more than the BAR and permitted the LMG team to lay down a terrifying volume of fire. It had a rapacious appetite for ammunition, that much is true, but you can’t get something for nothing.

      These guns were the aircraft armament variant, with the lightweight barrels and bolts, and fired at around 1300 rounds per minute. Marines at the sharp end called them “Stingers” and were loath to give them up for the BAR they were officially supposed to be using. The Army–and Springfield Armory–should have been paying attention. It’s entirely possible they’d have standardised it as the replacement for the BAR and we might even still be using a 7.62x51mm version today.

  • A little more digging revealed that the photo of Garand with the early SPIW prototype was taken April 17, 1962. The fellow in the bow tie is Otto von Lossnitzer. Von Lossnitzer was the director of Mauser’s Weapons Research Institute and Weapons Development Group through the Second World War. He was brought to the US in 1946 as part of Operation Paperclip so he could work at Springfield Armory.

    • Daniel, thanks for the info.

  • I was at Rock Island Arsenal yesterday. They have the SPIW rifle shown in the bottom photo on display. Item #4818 is listed as Springfield SPIW Concept #1.