America owns the Korean M1 Garands

Daniel Gallington, of the Potomac Institute, has published an article in the Cypress Times on the ownership of the controversial Korean M1 Garands and M1 Carbines that Korea is trying to sell back to US collectors. From the article

So, I started looking around for some historical “proof” of what I knew was probably the case with these rifles – it didn’t take me long to find an official US Army historical report that confirms how these rifles probably got to Korea in the first place, and under what circumstances. Here is the “smoking gun” – no pun intended:

“Due to increased North Korean aggression and infiltration, the supply of Army materiel for the prior and current year Korean military assistance program has been expedited, including a shipment of large numbers of individual weapons to arm the Republic of Korea Homeland Defense Reserve Forces.”

Source: “Department of the Army Historical Summary, FY 1969”. Page 4 of Chapter XI., “Military Assistance and Foreign Liaison”.

So, most likely, the “large numbers” of these rifles (described as “individual weapons”) were transferred to the ROK to use for their defense during the 60’s; and, because they most likely were and still are MAP property, the rifles remain the property of the US – unless they were subsequently sold or otherwise transferred to the ROK.

What should happen? Simple, because these rifles remain US property, they should be returned to the US Army, then sent on to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) organization in Anniston, Alabama, for safety inspection, grading and carefully controlled sale to authorized collectors and American shooting clubs.

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.


  • SpudGun

    Having just read Daniel Gallington’s full article, I really think he’s getting the wrong end of the stick. This isn’t about who owns the rifles, ill perceived security issues or Obama trying to keep the guns out of citizens hands – it’s about money.

    We’re in a modern wartime situation and a recession, how can you justify to the American taxpayer that you’re using their dollars to ship, transport, account, guard and store 800,000+ antique rifles?

    I’m sure the CMP is a fine organization and will do a thorough job of inspecting the firearms, but they are also in the business of selling / distributing military surplus rifles. Again, this vested interest would be a difficult sell to the American taxpayer.

    I’m not saying who is right or wrong on this issue, it is an emotive subject, but there would have to be a substantial payment to secure these rifles and bring them home. And I have a funny feeling the South Koreans aren’t going to foot the bill.

    It’s a shame, but that’s the way it is.

  • MarkM

    “Carefully controlled sale to authorized collectors?” Let’s ignore the implications of that side issue.

    Will the current administration make more than a cursory effort to actually regain control over the weapons? It’s a political football, and would be a cheap sign of support to certain groups if they are less than diligent. The excuse could easily be 1) it costs money to get them here, and 2) we don’t need more violent crime.

    On the other hand, those who are authorized to acquire them will work toward that, hampered as they may be by a lack of any urgency from the administration. It will be interesting to see how a change in Congress affects the amount of traction this will get.

    I expect a lot of dawdling, and it won’t bother one political party at all to see the CMP on a starvation diet. For the CMP, there is a bigger issue – once the Garands are gone, what do they sell next?

    A previous President killed off sales of the 1911, and I’m not holding my breath that any form of previously issued M16, regardless of modification, will ever be handled by the CMP. No rifle = death of the program.

    The Korean Garands are at best a respite before the final gasps. What is really coming down the road is the end of the CMP. Our children’s children will barely know the program existed. It will be a footnote in “the barbarous history of gun violence” taught at public school.

    Whether you like them or not, it’s either sell modified M16’s or kiss the program goodbye. And it seems our greatest generation is going to let that happen.

  • Jim

    My question is who is holding this process up? An anti-gun bureaucrat afraid of the U.S. people getting a few tens of thousands more 1950s era rifles?

  • Spiff

    My understanding is that these rifles were given to South Korea, and they are now wanting to SELL them back to us…Would/should we buy a “gift” back? The fact that this present US Government does not trust the American people, and therefor does not want to see them armed is not the point…

  • Alan

    Hey, ok, can y’all get moving on that then? You got the supply, we got the demand.

  • Martin (M)

    I would think a sure way to tell is to see if they are marked US Property or not. I had a WWII Lend-Lease Enfield that was still marked as such. Does anyone know if this is the case?

    Ultimately, I’d like to see them returned to the US and made available for shooters and collectors alike.

  • AzHamMedic

    Why only “Authorized Collectors”?

  • a gift implies no further expectation or obligation. If they were a gift, then they should be free to sell them. I give not a damn, except I want one.

  • lend/lease != giving

    Memories run short. Uncle was already here months ago.

  • Vak

    Spiff : I guess it would make sense if they sold those for a small price to compensate for the money that was used over the years to maintain, store and guard these weapons.

    (but seriously, I want a garand)

  • I don’t understand the problem.

    Russia has been selling Tommy Gun kits from lend/lease armored vehicles for years.

    England didn’t give back a single damn weapon.

    And we’re whining about what South Korea wants to do with a bunch of Garand’s we wrote off 50 years ago?

    Give me a break.

  • james mcindoe

    Re not wanting american taxpayer to pay for return of rifles for a profit making entity, ie CMP

    The CMP is a charter organization of congress, set up and authorized by congress to do exactly this, as congress felt it was in americas best interest to have citizens (read citizens not subjects) that are able to utilize legally posessed weapons.

  • Mr Oni

    This is ridiculous they should be sold to collectible importers not the goverment if it costs too much for the us goverment to take them back just sell them to us the tax payers. I am not a fan of the Cmp. it overcharges for the rifles it was given for free. These things should easily sell for 200 or less. And that’s who will buy them gun collectors and history nuts. No one is going to hold up a 7 11 with an M1 garnand. While the m1 as could hold bigger clips the garands are limited to 8 shots. I wonder if the retards in our goverment would try to label these assault weapons.

  • VCN34

    The Garands have been auctioned, $309.29 per rifle.

    “In an e-mail exchange with Lee Tae-hoon right after the Tester piece came out the journalist noted that the bid ended with the winner offering 30,821,850,000 won, or $26,109,148.67 for 84,417 M1 rifles and their parts- which comes out to $309.29 per rifle/parts. (”

    There are lots of lend-lease and MAP firearms in latin american stocks, Paraguay repatriated theirs a few years back. Wonder if these will ever come back.