Hindsight Is 30/06: A Critique Of The M1 Garand

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The M-1 rifle is the most deadly rifle in the world.
– General George S. Patton, April 3rd, 1944

Hindsight is different when applied to the distant past of someone else than when applied to the recent past of oneself. Patterns jump out that might not have actually existed, original motivations may become lost, and the concerns, considerations, and limitations of the time evaporate after the fact, or become obscured, or buried deep within archives. What might seem like an obvious solution to a problem faced in the distant past might not have been so obvious then, or might not have been available to those alive and involved at the time. It’s easy to sit back in far-removed retrospect and say “they shouldn’t have done X” or “they should have done Y”; it is much harder to say these things with meaning. However, retrospect is necessary; therefore great care should be taken in having a well-developed, critical view of the past that not only seeks to correct its errors, but fully understand its work. It’s in this spirit that I undertake to offer sound criticism on one of the finest rifle designs of all time: The M1 Garand.The Garand was both a remarkable and flawed design. Several of its aspects tarnish in the retrospective, and these bear discussion. Likewise, it also had many very positive and excellent aspects that do not often receive recognition, and I think it’s only fair to begin with those.

I. The Good

1. Receiver Length and Weight

The M1 rifle’s receiver is fantastically designed in this respect. It is one of the few early selfloading designs to offer a receiver as short as competing bolt-action rifles, and the small and light receiver was a major component in the Garand achieving a similar weight to existing military repeating rifles. Compared to designs like the FN-49 and SVT, the Garand has a positively miniscule receiver footprint. In terms of receiver length, it’s only rivaled by the MAS 38 and Pedersen rifles, and its receiver is certainly lighter than the former’s.

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The M1 Garand, lined up with some of its contemporaries. Note the very short receiver of the Garand, as short as that of the bolt-action M1903, and far shorter than its contemporary, the Swedish Ljungmann rifle.

This compactness of the receiver on the Garand lent in no small part to its handling, which was much closer to that of the bolt action rifles of the day than its self-loading contemporaries. Even in the 21st Century, the Garand still has one of the shortest receivers of any self-loading full-caliber rifle, even though it is chambered for the very long .30-06 caliber.

 

2. Anti Pre-Engagement

“Anti Pre-Engagement” is not a term readers are likely to have heard, but it’s an important one for the design of repeating arms. For an autoloading weapon with a locking bolt mechanism that is actuated by the compression of the bolt and carrier (as in most designs), it is important that the locking mechanism not be able to lock too early. In many designs, this is done by simply not giving the mechanism room until it is in the right position for locking.

For example, in an AR-15, the bolt is prevented in its rotation by the inside of the receiver, which bears against the cam pin. Once the bolt has reached the end of its travel, a special cutout in the side of the receiver, visible from the outside as a small “hump” on the side of the receiver, allows the cam pin to rotate and the bolt to engage. While this system works very well, it means that the bolt is trying to engage throughout its travel forward as the force of the ammunition and friction of the magazine tries to force it rearward. This induces friction between the moving parts and the receiver, which must be overcome for reliable functioning.

There is a more elegant way to overcome this, which has been described as an “anti pre-engagement mechanism”. The Garand features this. Essentially, instead of the locking element trying to actuate throughout its travel in the receiver, the Garand features a shelf in the operating rod:

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The flat surface lightly highlighted in red is the anti pre-engagement mechanism, which supports the bolt during operation, preventing it from trying to rotate against the cam track. Image source: gunauction.com.

Another flat surface on the bolt lug rests against this shelf during cycling, preventing the bolt from trying to make a turning move, and reducing friction during operation. Just before locking, a bump in the receiver knocks the bolt out of alignment with this shelf, allowing it to complete its rotation.

Interestingly, while the post-war M14 rifle disposed of the anti pre-engagment mechanism in favor of a roller, the Russian Kalashnikov rifle – also derived from the Garand – has retained it through the latest AK-100 series variants. No doubt that rifle’s tremendous reputation for reliability owes something to this feature.

 

3. En-Bloc Loading

The en-bloc clip loading system has received a bad rap in recent years. Seen as being overly complex, clumsy, and unnecessary, many feel it was a mistake to include en-bloc loading in the Garand, and that it should have been fed from detachable magazines, instead. The truth is not so simple.

In the early days of repeating rifles, there were four primary types of loading: Single loading, as in the Lebel and Krag rifles, en-bloc clip loading, as in the Steyr, Berthier, and 1895 Lee designs, magazine loading – proposed several times, but especially by Mr. James Paris Lee who designed numerous weapons, including the Lee-Enfield rifles that would soldier on into the late 1950s, and stripper clip loading, used by Mausers and most other types (including, in practice, the Lee-Enfield). Single loading was slow, and clearly obsolete; those countries with rifles constrained by the need to load loose rounds into the receiver, one at a time, tried desperately to replace them, some with great success (USA) and some with much less success, until after WWII (France). Magazine loading was clearly the ideal; it was fast, self-contained, potentially able to be done one handed while on horseback, and opened the possibility of greater magazine capacities. It had one flaw, however, which was that it was very, very expensive in comparison to the other types. A detachable magazine cost several times (up to or exceeding an order of magnitude more) than stripper or en-bloc clips, and no nations could afford to arm all of their troops with arms and enough detachable magazines to reload them in this way. (Eventually, most nations would reach a compromise in issuing large numbers of clip-fed rifles alongside far fewer magazine-fed support weapons such as light and sub-machine guns.)

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The M1 Garand’s clip loading system was – for its day – one of the best ways to economically feed rapid-firing repeating and autoloading rifles. The clearly superior detachable magazine loading method would not become economically viable for most nations until well after World War II.

So it was thus down to stripper or en-bloc clip loading for the practical military weapon of the early 20th Century. Most nations chose stripper clip loading, for its very low expense, but en-bloc clip loading was often considered superior, as the ammunition was contained in a single packet during loading (instead of being stripped off), and it was much easier to load the weapon from unsupported positions (such as on horseback).

John C. Garand surely knew this; his en-bloc loading design was building on the knowledge of the period to field the best affordable rapid-fire weapon possible.

 

4. Production Engineering

John Garand was a machinist with a passion for target shooting, and it is perhaps the result of his expertise on the factory floor that the Garand rifle enjoyed its most significant advantage over its stablemates. Where other selfloading rifle designers could not answer the question of how, exactly, their weapons could be produced in the quantities needed to arm a nation’s entire armed forces, Garand could. Garand’s designs of horizontal and vertical mill cutters enabled the Garand rifle to be produced in numbers large enough to arm every US Army rifleman. While I am not qualified to give an in-depth discussion of John Garand’s involvement on the factory floor, there is no question at all in my mind that it was this that most set apart the M1 rifle: John Garand’s greatest contribution to the American rifleman – the tooling used to make his rifles – never saw a battlefield.


II. The Bad

1. Gas System

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The Garand’s gas system, disassembled. The stainless steel gas block mounted to the end of the barrel belies the Garand’s past as a gas-trap design.

Gas-actuated selfloading rifles were something of a bugbear for many nations before the Second World War. Both German and American procurement maintained that any rifle with a hole drilled in the barrel would be unsuitable for adoption. As a result, both countries’ selfloading rifle programs were set back by this; the Garand wouldn’t enter full-swing production until 1940 (despite being adopted in 1936) and the Germans would struggle with their designs until the middle of World War II.

As a result of the Americans’ concerns, the Garand entered production with a “gas trap” system, which tapped gas as it left the muzzle to operate the rifle. In consequence, the gas block was mounted to the very end of the barrel, adding weight and hindering the weapon’s balance. Further, gas was tapped where pressure was lowest, greatly reducing the amount of available energy needed to operate the action reliably. The functioning of the gas trap system was quickly found to be unsatisfactory, and the gas traps were removed, holes were drilled in the barrels, and a redesigned and more conventional gas block was added. However, the Garand’s gas system still added weight to the front of the weapon, and still tapped relatively low-pressure gas. One can’t blame the Americans (or the Germans) for what they didn’t know, but in hindsight it is clear a different gas system – at least one designed from the outset to tap gas through a port in the barrel, if not a completely different type – would have improved the Garand’s design greatly.

By the time of the Garand’s adoption, the French had over four decades of experience with selfloading weapons, and knew that gas tapped from a hole drilled in the barrel would not present a significant issue. A French weapons inspector by the name of Rossignol had developed the direct impingement gas system by 1896, and in the years before and after World War II it found favor and was perfected by French small arms designers. By the early 1930s, the direct impingement system had been tested extensively by the French, eventually resulting in the highly reliable MAS 38.

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The Ljungmann’s direct-impingement gas system is an example of an alternative gas system to the Garand’s long-stroke fixed piston. Direct impingement offers one of the best combinations of lightness of weight with positive functioning, and had been developed as early as 1896. Tappet operation, which also scores well in this regard, had not been invented until after the Garand’s adoption.

 

During the war, one of the major focuses of the various programs to improve the Garand rifle was to replace the gas system with one that would function better and improve the balance of the rifle. Many different systems were tried, including the French favorite, direct impingement. By 1944, a rifle resulting from this line of experimentation had been developed, called “M1E10”, shown below.

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The M1E10 Garand, with direct impingement gas system, derived from that of the Ljungmann. In this configuration, the rifle exhibited heat problems.

Direct impingement wouldn’t necessarily solve the Garand’s gas system issues – only careful design and thorough testing of the gas system could do that – but its maturity during the same period as the Garand rifle’s development does illustrate the existence of lighter, better functioning alternative gas systems available during the development of US selfloading rifles in the 1920s and ’30s.

In 1943, the White “cutoff” gas system would also be applied to the Garand mechanism in the M1E4 rifle. This combination would finally be vindicated – albeit briefly – with the adoption in 1957 of the M14 rifle.

 

2. En-Bloc Mechanism

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The Garand’s en-bloc clip system possesses a fairly sophisticated set of parts to ensure its proper function. Circled in red, the dog-legged section of the magazine follower arm that can become bent and result in premature clip ejection.

The en-bloc loading system of the Garand – while certainly a good idea for the period in which it was designed – has some problems in its execution. The biggest problem comes from the combination of function of the follower and operating rod return spring. This spring, which both actuates the forward motion of the weapon and pushes the cartridge stack upward during firing, couples the gas piston’s stroke to the en-bloc ejection mechanism. The details of how this works are thoroughly explained in the video below:

Note the dog-legged section of the Garand’s magazine follower arm. This dog leg is finely calibrated to actuate the operating rod catch when it reaches the end of its upward travel, after the last round has been ejected. The operating rod catch also combines functions: when cammed up it automatically disengages the en-bloc clip retaining latch, allowing the forcible ejection of the en-bloc clip by the clip ejector spring and arm.

This is an ingenious system, but one that invites potential problems. When pressure is excessive and the operating rod is accelerated to the rear too forcefully, it can bottom out and bend the magazine follower arm, which will subsequently cause the premature ejection of the en-bloc, before all rounds have been fired. This is not an uncommon problem with the Garand; one rifle I owned previously was damaged in this manner.

Further, the combination of functions means that troubleshooting a rifle that ejects its clip too early is much more complex than it could be.

This is perhaps not so great an issue, but it’s one that could have been avoided by separating the functions of the follower arm and operating rod spring, or in retrofit by providing the operating rod with a place to bottom out before it reached its final travel. Other en-bloc loading rifles, such as the Berthier and Steyr M95 do this; though they are not self-loading, they providing some example of how this could have been remedied at the time.

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An animation of the Carcano rifle’s mechanism, showing its en-bloc clip system. Note the separation of function, not only precluding some problems possible with the M1 Garand, but also greatly simplifying troubleshooting. Image source: candrsenal.com

 

 

3. Moving Parts Mass Ratio

One design parameter heavily emphasized in the design handbook Technical Notes: Small Arms Weapons Design published by the US Army Weapons Command in 1968 was that of the ratio of the primary moving parts group mass (e.g., the carrier) to the secondary moving parts group mass (e.g., the bolt assembly). It is noted that this ratio is highly important:

The components accelerated directly by the gas are referred to as the primary mass, and includes the piston, operating rod, and any other directly connected mass, depending upon the weapon design. As this primary mass moves to the rear, it unlocks the bolt and carries the bolt assembly, which is called the secondary mass. For smooth functioning, the primary mass should be considerably heavier than the secondary mass. That is, the recoiling operating rod or bolt carrier develops a given kinetic energy from the gas pressure. When it unlocks the bolt and starts carrying it rearward, kinetic energy is transferred from the operating rod to the bolt. This is reflected in a sudden drop in operating rod velocity. The nature of this velocity shift determines the degree of inertia loss of the primary mass and if this is high, function will be erratice. The primary mass should be divided by the secondary mass and is called the MASS RATIO, and this should be at least 3.

In other words, for proper functioning of a selfloading weapon, the carrier should have as much mass as possible relative to the bolt. This can be achieved either by increasing the weight of the carrier, or decreasing the weight of the bolt.

The Garand scores acceptably in this respect, with a mass ratio of less than 4. In contrast, both the AK and AR-15 – much more modern rifles – have mass ratios greater than 5, giving them an advantage in functioning.

Though the Garand scores below par in this regard when compared to modern weapons, it is fairly comparable to its contemporaries. Underlining that the mass ratio of the M1 is lower than more modern designs shouldn’t be considered evidence of shortcomings in the design process, but rather only as a note of one way in which selfloading and automatic rifles have gotten much better since their first generation.


III. The Ugly

The most significant – and obvious – flaw of the Garand, however, is the design of its action. Unlike most contemporary (and even most earlier) selfloading rifles, and to a greater degree even than nearly all bolt action infantry rifles, the Garand’s action and moving components are exposed to the elements. Consider the image below:

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Lightly highlighted in green are gaps between the bolt and the receiver, which allow dust and debris to enter the action and impede functioning (not visible is the large opening in the receiver bridge, a major ingress point for foreign matter). Highlighted in red are the surfaces critical to locking the action, which in this design unlike virtually any other rotating bolt service weapon are exposed to the elements.

In contrast to other designs, both those more modern and those contemporary to it, the M1 Garand rifle is at a much greater risk of foreign matter ingress slowing or stopping entirely the operation of the weapon. With the bolt closed, dirt, debris, and dust are allowed through the openings between the bolt and the receiver; with the bolt open – as when loading the rifle – the locking surfaces are unprotected to assailing grit and other potential obstructions, which if fouled could prevent the closure and locking of the bolt, or even create an unsafe firing condition.

Why was the Garand not designed with greater protection of its moving parts, especially the locking surfaces? It’s difficult to know; but John Garand surely had his reasons. It is, though, an aspect of the design rightly forgone in the great majority of other selfloading service rifles.

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The Ljungmann rifle, showing its well-sealed receiver. Contrast this with the picture of the M1 Garand above.


IV. No Glory Lost

Casting a critical eye to the past does not imply a lack of appreciation of it. The Garand’s design did have flaws, yes, but the fielding of a self-loading rifle – for the first time anywhere in the world – to every rifleman in an army is an achievement worthy of very great praise. General Patton’s words at the beginning of this article speak to how radically autoloading infantry weapons augmented the capabilities of the rifleman; a rifleman armed with an M1 Garand need focus on nothing else but killing the enemy. I have mentioned the French; in their quest for the perfect infantry selfloader, they delayed production again and again to evolve their designs to meet changing requirements and improve performance. This finally resulted in the MAS 49 rifle – a superior rifle in almost every way to the Garand and in many ways everything the French had ever wanted in an arm, but fielded more than a decade later than the American weapon that armed American riflemen in the Second World War and Korea.

For certain, I can think of no better armed soldier in the year 1941 than the United States’ GI.

 

Special thanks to Alex C., who supplied me with most of the pictures used in this article.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • percynjpn

    Contradictory, flawed analysis – and certainly very biased.

    • pandemicsyn

      Cool…where should I go to read your rebuttal?

    • I’m sorry you didn’t find the article to be up to your standards.

  • roguetechie

    I can think of one group that was just as well armed. The paramarines with their Johnson rifles and lmg’s. They had their own issues obviously but in any case our guys would’ve been well served by either.

    Oh yeah, and if you had to jump out of perfectly good airplanes, you’d much rather have one of them over a garand or bar!

  • marathag

    Biggest problem with the en-bloc was that it was only 8 rounds.

    It should have been like the M-14

    Magazines too expensive?

    give them cheap stripper clips, and issue one magazine.

    Is it true that there was an Army requirement that the magazine must not protrude from the bottom of the rifle because it would alter the manual or arms drill?

    • More like, “the M-14 should have been the Garand with detachable mags”. The M-14 was a disaster due to the insistence on selective fire, which never really worked out very well… to the extent most of them were locked to semi-auto.

      • marathag

        I would agree.

        Maybe if the US had changed to the .276 Pederson, or the postwar Brit .280 cartridge, there might have been a chance to do controllable Full Auto, without it going into Anti-Aircraft mode.

        • Yes, our insistence on .308 was a huge strategic blunder. No debate there. The Brits may not have had a great rifle since the SMLE, but they did damn well with their caliber choices.

          • Comrade Misfit

            In 1932, there just weren’t the funds available for a change in caliber. The Army had a hell of a lot of Great War surplus ammunition and that pretty much drove the caliber choice.

            A long time ago, I read the Army’s 1930s rifle conversion schedule. If there hadn’t been a war, the last National Guard units would have received their Garands in 1964.

          • Yellow Devil

            Just in time for Vietnam!

      • Wetcoaster

        Sounds a lot like a Beretta BM-59 actually, only I think the Italians repeated the unfortunate experiment with select-fire in .308 (As did a lot of other people, honestly)

        • Tom

          I think all the nations using the G3 had it in full auto, as were most of the Metric pattern FALs (I am thinking only the Commonwealth nations limited the FN FAL to single shot).

          Of course the Americas Brass having had plenty of experience with the BAR should of known very well it would not work. So not sure what their reasoning was.

          Question, if America had seen reason and gone with the .280 would US forces still be using a variant of the M14 in .280 or would they still have moved to the AR15?

          • marathag

            Grease guns still needed to be replaced, so yeah, an earlier M4 carbine as a PDW isn’t a stretch.

            I think you would still see the M14 replaced with something cheaper to make, stampings, aluminum, composites

          • The BAR is pretty controllable. Maybe this contributed to why they thought it would work?

            I agree that the Americans were pretty loo-loo about full auto controllability. The Soviets did tests in the thirties and forties and quickly concluded that full caliber automatic rifles were not controllable. The US kept insisting that they were going to have a 7.5lb full auto .30 cal full power rifle into the mid fifties.

          • gunsandrockets

            According to an pre-war article I read from Infantry Magazine, the M-1918 BAR was not controllable in full-auto fire, and also quickly overheated in full-auto fire. Which is why in practice the BAR was primarily fired semi-auto.

            According to the article, all these flaws is why the BAR was redesigned into the M-1918a2 model. The muzzle mounted bipod and lower cyclic rate setting were intended for accurate full-auto fire against ground targets in the classic role of a light-machine-gun. The higher cyclic rate setting was only supposed to be for use against aerial targets (yes very optimistic they were).

            A heavier barrel did not solve the overheating problem, but cutting down the forend to completely expose the barrel did. A lesson the US Army strangely had to re-learn post-war with the failure of the M-15 rifle.

          • I’ve fired a BAR from the shoulder; it’s pretty controllable.

          • gunsandrockets

            Which model? Which cyclic rate? Controllable compared to what?

            I’ve fired full auto weapons too, including the FN Model D BAR from the prone bipod supported position. And I was glad for that bipod.

            Clearly at the time (1939 IIRC) the Infantry magazine article was written, the Army considered hand-held full-auto fire from the BAR tactically useless. And in that conclusion I find no fault. Hand held full auto fire is pretty wasteful and inaccurate compared to firing from a proper mount.

          • I have fired a Model D and an A2, both from the shoulder. I found them both controllable.

            YMMV.

          • Yellow Devil

            “The higher cyclic rate setting was only supposed to be for use against aerial targets (yes very optimistic they were).”

            Obviously the American GIs lacked the proper fighting spirit of the Imperial Japanese Soldier armed with a bolt action Arisaka rifle, with wire monopod and specialized sights to take down allied aircraft.

          • gunsandrockets

            Type 99! Banzai!

          • Wetcoaster

            Depends on the vagueries of the procurement system, I think. Most NATO countries with the FAL/G3 eventually changed to 5.56, but often not until the 80’s and 90’s when the rifles needed replacing.

            .280 FALs, G3s, and M14s might still have had the same thing occur to them with the replacement cycle happening in the very late 70’s through early 90’s only with the calibre remaining unchanged.

            I’m going to suggest that we might end up in an alternative 2014 where the M14, G3, FAL, SG540s slowly end up being replaced by something like intermediate-sized AR-10s, G36s, SG550s and AUGs to incorporate the historical advances in accessories, materials, and ergonomics.

          • In this alternate timeline, what causes the US SCHV program to disappear?

          • Wetcoaster

            I forgot how big the .280 was, although still shorter than .308. I was thinking of it being about the size of the 7.62×39.

            The SCHV program doesn’t necessarily have to lead to the adoption of the .223/AR-15 if the obtained results aren’t deemed to be enough of an improvement to make it worth changing and General LeMay meets an untimely end in a bad car crash.

            Alternatively, he goes ahead with procuring a separate rifle for the USAF and ends up with an AR-10 in .280. It wouldn’t be unheard of for militaries to end up using a variety of arms for whatever reason (mostly interservice rivalry, I suspect).

            Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s standard rifle is an AKM/Type-56 clone, but the army proper issues license-made G3s. It looks like the French Navy/Marine FAMAS G2s might not be able to use the non-STANAG magazines of the FAMAS F1 still used by the French Army, etc. etc.

          • The basic dimensions of the .280/30 are 12mmx65mm (width x length), compared to the 7.62×51’s 12x71mm. The .280 also weighs over 20 grams, compared to 24.2 for 7.62 NATO. They are very similar in most respects.

            For some reason, their differences have been exaggerated by some writers. Often, the .280 British is compared to 6.8 SPC; not only do those two rounds not have particularly similar performance, the 6.8 is 10.8×57.4mm and about 17 grams in weight – much smaller.

            Isn’t that an admission that the .280 alone couldn’t preclude the adoption of SCHV? And isn’t that itself an admission that at the time SCHV had enough merit to warrant adoption?

            Further, keep in mind that the Army had gooned up producing the M14: By 1964, production of it had ended. Ordnance maintained that the revolutionary SPIW was right around the corner, but McNamara wasn’t buying it and forced them to provide rifles in the meantime; the obvious choice at the time being the AR-15.

          • I am fairly certain they would still have adopted the AR-15. .280/30 is not much different than 7.62 in terms of size and weight.

            Certainly, the work of the SALVO program and the various SCHV experiments in the 1950s were pretty independent of 7.62 development, so I think if .280 had been developed instead of 7.62, SCHV would have progressed along much the same lines as it did.

            Realistically, though, I don’t see the Americans accepting .280. Not a chance.

    • Stripper clips were judged as more problematic in loading than en-bloc clips, especially when reloading from horseback or while moving.

  • NHR24

    One of the biggest missed opportunities(calling it a flaw would be disingenuous) was the caliber. Had the Garand been issued in .276 I think it would have had a major impact on the future of intermediate cartridges.

    That said, I love my garand as is. It’s a fantastic rifle and great piece of history. One of the few times the American military was ahead of the curve in small arms development.

    • I like the .276 caliber; if nothing else, it would have made a great all-around hunting round.

      I think, though, that military planners were not prepared to fully re-equip from the .30-06 to the .276, and so MacArthur’s decision seems very sound to me.

      • gunsandrockets

        Yet in practice the U.S. military had no problem with issuing millions of M-1 carbines even littered throughout US Army infantry battalions which introduced a new cartridge into the logistical pipeline.

        • Right; I don’t think they would necessarily have had a problem introducing another caliber or even a new weapon; but the distinct impression I get from reading Hatcher’s and A History of Modern US Military Small Arms Ammunition, Vol. I is that the .276 program was really only focused on rifles. So, then you would have needed to replace all the .30-06 MGs with .276 ones, as well, and I’ve seen no evidence that Ordnance was prepared to do that.

          I could be wrong; but consider too that if the .276 rifle had been adopted, the US would have probably fought World War II with four calibers: .30-06, .276, .30 Carbine, and .45 ACP.

          I am not arguing the .276 was not superior to the .30-06; I think it was. However, the reasons for not moving to the .276 were sound, and hold up pretty well in retrospect.

          • gunsandrockets

            Why would a .276 rifle require replacing .30 caliber machineguns? Most of the machineguns manufactured by the US during WWII were .50 caliber.

          • Logistics.

          • gunsandrockets

            That’s not really an answer.

            A U.S. infantry battalion used a bewildering array of munitions, from hand-grenades up to 81mm mortar rounds. And rifle ammunition was the least important of them all in terms of weight of munitions expended by the battalion.

            Of the cartridge firing small arms of an infantry company, the belt-fed .30 caliber machineguns would consume the greatest resources logistically.

            So why would the tail of a .276 rifle end up wagging the dog of the .30 caliber machine-guns?

          • I don’t think the US Army during that time would have considered that as a viable option.

            Actually, I know they wouldn’t, because MacArthur said so.

          • gunsandrockets

            Or rather, they did consider it a viable option UNTIL MacArthur said so.

            Is there any evidence to suggest the US Army was going to adapt .276 caliber machineguns because of adaption of a .276 caliber semi-auto rifle?

            And wasn’t the rationale MacArthur used to order the M-1 in .30 caliber, that the M-1 could therefore use existing stockpiles of .30 caliber ammunition? Not because it would require .276 machineguns?

          • n0truscotsman

            “Is there any evidence to suggest the US Army was going to adapt .276 caliber machineguns because of adaption of a .276 caliber semi-auto rifle?”

            The right question is, with the Great Depression going on, why would they want to spend the money on introducing another caliber into the supply chain if it is different than the one used in machine guns?

            This is with budgets already stretched with these new fangled things called “tanks” too.

            It was about money at the time. The ought six was produced by the billions during the Great War and the mentality of the Army at the time, and indeed, until the 1950s, was that anything less than 30 was “inadequate”.

          • gunsandrockets

            “why would they want to spend the money”

            Silly. The same logic also supports not adapting any new rifle. Yet they did adapt a new rifle.

            Regardless of whatever MacArthur claimed as his reason for imposing .30-06 on the M-1, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the true reason was basic military conservatism. The same reason the German MK-42 project was almost derailed, requiring them to hide it under the MP-43 designation.

          • You are doing an awful lot of equivocating here. A selfloading rifle is a much, much bigger leap in capability than a somewhat smaller caliber round.

          • brainy37

            Comparing two completely different time frames here. 276 testing happened pre-war during the Depression and was an untested round hoping to become the main cartridge. 30 carbine came later in the war after the US had vamped up it’s production capacity by several orders of magnitude. The 30 carbine was also created to offer a lighter package to auxiliary troops not as a main battle rifle.

            Furthermore the 276 was untested compared to the 30 06 which it would have supplanted. The 30 carbine was also untested but it was replacing or supporting a series of handguns and SMG’s. Handgun personal defense weapon requirements were much lower than full combat rifles.

            And finally, the 276 Pedersen after the follies with the 30 40 Krag, was an underpowered, untested bullet really going to be popular with the Army? The echoes of Spanish 8mm’s no doubt had a hand in some of the decision making

          • Phillip McGregor

            There is another quote to consider. I wonder if anyone has the entire 1932 memo on the subject. “I am neither a fire arms nor a ballistics expert, but I was a combat infantry officer in the Great War, and I absolutely know that the bullet from an infantry rifle has to be able to shoot through things.” General Douglas MacArthur

          • You bring up a good point; the production of adequate armor piercing ammunition was a big stumbling block for the .276 caliber. Right or wrong, it was considered unfeasible for a long time to make proper AP ammunition (and other specialty rounds, like API) in calibers smaller than .30. I think this also had a lot to do with the postwar insistence on .30 caliber, as well.

            When .276 was canned, this was used as part of a broader justification.

          • Zebra Dun

            For aviation assets, Fighters, Bombers and Naval ships.
            The .50 BMG was the weapon of choice.
            The fact is most B-17 bombers alone had ten .50 BMG MG’s.

    • Ken

      Don’t forget about the Great Depression and how tiny the US military was in terms of both budget and manpower. They already had extremely vast stockpiles of .30/06 ammo, as well as large numbers of M1903 and M1917 rifles in service.

      • marathag

        No one was saying that the 30 Browning or BAR would change over.

        • Zachary marrs

          That would’ve made supply issues even worse

          • marathag

            Why?

            wasn’t like they often had to pop rounds out of the Garand Clips to fill BAR mags or relink in the field..

            What’s one more ammo type, anyway?

            already had 45acp and M1 carbine along with belts and 1903 strippers, M1 clips and 30 in belts

          • Zachary marrs

            Yes, they did that quite a bit.

            One more ammo type? Ok, back then they didn’t have electronic inventory systems, they didn’t have the ability to do supply drops like they do now, it all had to be transported by trucks

            So yeah, lets make that more complicated and add another caliber to make re supply that much more difficult.

          • marathag

            Still, M1 Carbine was added to the mix, worked fine with the IBM Tabulators then in use,
            Database management predated electronic computers

            Would have shaved a few years off on getting the Garand in service. .276 Garand was ready for production in 1932

          • Zachary marrs

            That wouldn’t have changed a thing, as another comment said, if it wasn’t for the war, the last units would’ve gotten garands in 1964.

          • marathag

            Without a War, it wouldn’t mattered one way or the other

          • gunsandrockets

            And possibly eliminated the need for the M-1 carbine too.

            People should remember that in the late 19th century your basic infantry rifles came in two forms: ‘musket’ length and carbine length. The reforms initiated by many armies prior to WWI eliminated both forms in favor of a universal in-between length, such as the M-1903 .30 caliber rifle.

            But the M-1 suffered a weight gain when adapted for the .30-06. It’s no wonder there was an M-1 carbine project in reaction.

          • Zachary marrs

            No.

            The m1 carbine weighs only 5 pounds, while the .276 garand was only a couple of ounces lighter than the normal garand

          • marathag

            Who knows how much lighter a carbine or ‘Tanker’ 276 Garand would have weighed. Probably 2-3 pounds less.

          • Zachary marrs

            And the tanker garand was developed when?

            The normal .308 tankers weigh 8.5 pounds.

          • marathag

            Not Rocket science to whack off the barrel and shorten the gas system/handguard/stock.

          • Zachary marrs

            And the closest thing you can get to an original tanker weighs over 8 pounds

            How do you propose to get say, an 8.5 lb rifle lighter than 5 lbs?

          • You would have a very difficult time approaching the M1 Carbine’s weight and handiness in that.

            Consider the attempt to replace the M1 Carbine with the M14 – similar in many respects to the .276 Garand in receiver side. That didn’t work well, did it?

            I think the fact that the Army with .30-06 Garands decided to adopt the M1 Carbine anyway necessarily means that, all other things being unchanged, the Army with .276 Garands would adopt the M1 Carbine, too.

          • Jim_Macklin

            The M1 Carbine was intended to replace the M1911 pistol and other types of secondary arms issued to truck and tank drivers, officers and machine gun crews.
            The .30 Carbine round with a 110 grain RN jacketed bullet was found to be insufficient in Korea when Chinese troops wearing the heavy insulated clothing.The M2 and 7.62×51 NATO can be stopped by armor, but such armor is very heavy.
            The 5.56×45 NATO with 62 and 77 grain bullets have excellent penetration.
            Dr. Fackler has made detailed studies of battle wounds and ballistics. He describes the modern doctrine of the low to medium power small arms.

          • I have never seen the assertion that the .30 Carbine could not penetrate heavy clothing substantiated.

          • marathag

            It’s like the stories of the WW2 Soviets and LL Thompsons, in extreme cold the rounds were not effective. My Uncle didn’t like the carbine in Korea, BTW

            Personally, I do notice that my shotshells reloaded with Blue Dot don’t work well when really cold. Heard H110 is another powder thats bad in cold weather

            A 30-06 that’s -300fps you wont notice, that in a carbine, you would.

          • Zachary marrs

            Did you ever wonder if he missed?

          • marathag

            With a Garand he said he didn’t miss.

          • Zachary marrs

            But did he miss with the carbine?

          • marathag

            odd that he didn’t miss with it in summer, but was no good in winter, but after getting a Garand, summer and winter worked the same.
            He retired an E9 in the USMC, so I think he knew what he was doing

          • Zachary marrs

            Odd that everyone who has tried this out has come to the same conclusion; that the .30 carbine can go through the coat with ease

            With respect to all the Korean War vets, ill take the side that has physical proof, rather than the fuzzy memory of a man in combat.

            I will say this, the ball ammo that was used, sucks, but it will penetrate just fine

          • marathag

            He didn’t say stopped, just took multiple hits to do the job. 30-06 took one, winter or summer

          • A .30 cal 110gr bullet at 1,500 ft/s will penetrate heavy clothing just fine.

          • Jim_Macklin

            You really should talk to some Korean War vets. Bullets hve to do more than break the skin, they need to penetrate to internal organs.

          • Ian McCollum

            Does this mean that Tokarev pistols also can’t penetrate heavy clothing?

          • Zebra Dun

            The Tokarev round has been shown to penetrate a US military Kevlar helmet.

          • I used to volunteer at a veterans’ home. I’ve spent quite a lot of time talking to veterans, and I feel very privileged to have done so. Korean War veterans are included in that.

            I do not know what to tell you if you think that a 110gr .30 caliber FMJ bullet moving at 1,500 ft/s+ won’t penetrate heavy clothing, skin, and internal organs.

          • Jim_Macklin

            To explain… the bullet at very close range would go through the several layers of clothes but it took multiple hits to stop the attackers. At 100 yards not so much.
            The /06 in the chest did not fail to put the man down any where from point blank to half a mile.

            The M1 Carbine is not legal in many states for 100 pound deer even when using modern hunting ammo.

          • What does heavy insulated clothing have to do with this?

          • Zebra Dun

            My L’il Brother owned an M-1 carbine, we shot it at a lot of targets, we used standard 110 gr, FMJ military ball rounds.
            it will not penetrate a standard Steel Army helmet with the liner inside at any range.
            It can and will kill a large feral dog at 75 yards.
            It can penetrate more than five gallon jugs of water at 50 yards.
            It will at 100 yards go through clothing.
            The .30 Carbine round has been ballistic ally and accurately the same terminal effect as a light .38 spl at 100 yards.
            A light .38 spl RN at 100 yard will penetrate and injure if not kill a human while clothed and in a coat.
            The .30 Carbine BALL RN as well as the .38 spl RN was and has been shown to lack stopping power which if a CNS area is not hit most ammunition will fail to do.
            The main deal here is, the accuracy of the M-1 Carbine .30 caliber round was while combat effective is not all that accurate at 100 yards, six inch groups are normal, hence if you shot a someone at 100 yards and they did not get hit, stopped or shot it was because the soldier missed.

            The web site box O’ Truth does a great job of dispelling myths about weapons and ammo penetration.

            SEE: boxO’truth (dot) com .30 carbine range test on frozen clothing.

          • Interesting that it wouldn’t penetrate a helmet. I wonder if the bullet shape has something to do with that.

            And that’s another thing you bring up, the M1 and M2 Carbines were never super accurate. A decent example will shoot 4-5 MOA.

          • Zachary marrs

            No. Just no

            Nonono nonono

          • gunsandrockets

            I did say possibly;-)

            Was the M-1 carbine adapted because the Army absolutely positively needed a carbine that weighed as little as 6 pounds? Or was it because the M-1 was too long, too heavy, and too difficult to teach a novice shooter to use competently with minimal training?

          • Zachary marrs

            Yes, the military wanted a rifle that added no more than 5 pounds to the soldiers combat load

          • The former.

          • I don’t think there’s a connection between the decision to stick with the .30-06 in the Garand and the development of the M1 Carbine.

          • The .276 Garand would still have needed some development, as it was a gas trap design at that point.

          • marathag

            as was the later .30

            Better to have found that out in 1932 rather than 1939

          • The .30-06 Garand prototype was around at the same time as the .276 one. I think it is most likely that a .276 Garand would have taken nearly as much time to reach full service readiness as the .30 caliber one.

          • marathag

            the 30-06 T1E1 Garand in 1931 didn’t finish trials, as the bolt cracked.

            from 1933 to 1937 the T1E2 with improved bolt, continued to have problems.

            A lower powered round would have fewer problems 2600 Joules vs 3650

          • Actually, that’s not the case. While most testing was conducted with the PD-42 and FB-9892 rounds using the .450″ case head, the final design of ammunition – the one that would have been put into production – was the T2E1 round, which utilized the same .473″ case head as the .30-06 Springfield. The reason for this was to increase powder volume to allow better performance with AP ammunition and also to better accommodate legacy .30-06 propellants.

            The stress put on the bolt of a rifle is informed by the bolt thrust, which proportional to the peak pressure times the internal area of the combustion chamber ([maximum internal radius of the case^2] * pie). The .276 Pedersen (all variants) ran about 52,000 PSI – roughly the same as the .30-06. With the T2E1 case and its .473″ case head, the stress on the Garand’s action would be the same as the .30-06 Springfield.

            The problem of breaking bolts would have thus manifested in the pre-production .276 Garand rifle, and would have to be solved just as in the .30-06 version.

          • marathag

            I don’t recall of any of the other 276 Garands having that problem in the trials, though.

          • I can’t say what the problem was. But the idea that the .276 caliber Garand would have taken significantly less time to develop than the .30-06 caliber model does not have much support.

            AFAIK, all .276 Garands used the PD-42 and FB-9892 rounds, which are .450″ in diameter at the case head. It’s possible – though this is decidedly speculative – that the .473″ case head .30-06 produced too much bolt thrust for that iteration of the design. However, as mentioned previously, the T2E1 round was the cartridge that would have been the production .276 caliber, and would have had bolt thrust virtually identical to the .30-06, so both the .30-06 and the evolved .276 caliber Garand would experience these problems if an undersized bolt were the issue.

          • marathag

            I believe since Garand redesigned the bolt that may have been an issue, and the 276 prototypes got lucky.

            But the 30-06 would put more recoil energy into the system after it unlocks. Thats what was breaking things after the bolt design was changed

          • Yes, the .30-06 would put more energy into the action of the rifle, but this is easily fixed through trial and error of adjusting the gas port on a prototype rifle.

          • marathag

            that keeps the lugs from getting beat up, but still recoils harder once unlocked, extracts faster,stronger recoil spring to stop the bolt, which also means the bolt speed on closure is higher, and round get stripped and chambered at a higher speed.

          • If that sort of abuse is causing your bolt to crack, it’s not the caliber that’s your problem.

          • marathag

            Not caliber, energy.

            9mm +P+ at 650 joules beats up a gun worse than standard 460J load, even with the correct springs.

            30-06 much more energy and the resulting recoil than 276. To be expected that parts to wear faster, break sooner– and that parts would need to be beefed up everywhere

          • If the rifle is the exact same weapon as the .276 version, which it’s not. At this point you’re splitting hairs trying to prove your point about the .30-06 Garand taking more development time. You have no proof that this is true, or even likely.

            Caliber can mean “bore diameter” or it can mean “chambering”. I am using it in the latter sense.

          • marathag

            My overall point was that the 276 rifles in trials didn’t have failures that the first standardized M1s did, even with the redesigned bolt. I believe that to be mostly from having to use a cartridge that was far more powerful than originally designed for.

            A full power cartridge in a 9 pound semi auto rifle was hard in 1930. I was still hard in the 1940s, proved by the German efforts. A less powerful cartridge would have been easier, the one of the points of the intermediate round

          • The M1 Garand was originally designed for .276, but the first .276 prototype was completed in July of 1929. The first .30-06 model was completed in June of 1930, and it was not an adapted .276 caliber rifle, but a totally new design of the same size as the later M1 service rifle (IIRC, it was also about half a pound heavier).

            So where’s the evidence that the decision to issue selfloading rifles in .30-06 held back the Garand program significantly?

          • marathag

            That the 276 Trial Rifles were more reliable than the early toolroom T1E2 were, that were a still a slightly beefed up T3E2 and redesigned bolt

          • How strongly do you think that supports the idea that the .30-06 Garand set back troubleshooting the rifle, though?

          • marathag

            very.
            Had they used the old 30 Remington, it would have been even faster development than the 276, being even less powerful.

            But the 276 did work well
            “In 40 minutes, this weapon, SN# 2, fired 1400 rounds. It
            was then dipped in a barrel of water, cooled, stripped, cleaned and
            oiled. It then fired 760 more rounds in 15 minutes. In total, it fired
            2160 rounds in 55 minutes” and that it was more accurate due to the light recoil

          • You don’t think that’s too much of a leap? I do. Yes, the more powerful .30-06 carries with it some design penalties, but especially since the .276 was redesigned in 1932, I do not think there would have been much of a difference in overall development.

          • Zebra Dun

            The Italians were smack dab in a rifle caliber swap at the beginning of WW2 from 6.5 x 52 mm to 7.35 x 51 as well as 7.92 x 57 mm while supplying Japan with 6.5 x 50 Arisaki.
            Now that I mentioned it, look at the resupply nightmare the Japanese ammo supply for a wide variety of weapons was.
            The .276 was the bee’s knee’s but not in time for WW2 for reasons mentioned several times.

          • marathag

            The Japanese were never big on logistics at any point in the War.

            But look at the British

            303
            30-06
            7.92 Besa
            50 Browning
            50 Vickers
            .55 Boys
            15mm Besa
            38S&W
            9mm
            45acp
            455 Webly

          • Zebra Dun

            I read such and ask myself, “How in the age of type writers and pencils did these folks keep this logistics straight?” I recall the end of the British Army at Isadlwanda was due to a shortage of metal box openers being issued to quartermasters who had an abundance of the right ammo.
            The facts that the US manufactured a lot of British ammo as well as our own was astounding!

          • marathag

            Had electromechanical computers, with the IBM punchcards

            http://pattonhq.COM/ibm.html

            A part of the Allied advantage in WWII that rarely gets mentioned

          • n0truscotsman

            “What’s one more ammo type, anyway?”

            The huge inventory of ought six in the supply chain, the Great Depression, the fielding of new weapons like tanks taking up parts of the budget, and anything else in between pretty much drove the nail in the 276’s coffin.

            You are talking about going against the mentality that thought .30 was the minimal standard for “effective” infantry arms (a thought that persisted until Stoner’s blasphemous AR15). I mean, it considering what the Garand was up against, it was a damn miracle US troops even got semi-automatics to begin with.

          • marathag

            In 1932, the Army’s Tanks mostly dated from WWI, and a few prototypes from the 1920s.

            M1 Light Tank, 1934, M2 Light Tank 1935. Around 120 built

            The New 75mm M1 Pack Howitzer, less than 75 were made from 1927 to 1940

            The Army had almost 400 Boeing P-12 fighters delivered from 1928 to 1932

            140ish O-1 Observation aircraft, 35 Keystone LB-6 Bombers over the same time

            The Army had fewer men than Portugal.

            Almost every other ‘M1’ got its start after 1937

            The 30-06 was still there for all the Browning Machine Guns and BARs, that wasn’t changing.

            The Army kept recommending the 276, til MacArthur forced the issue.

            It was no miracle getting the Garand, the design was ready in 1931, years before anywhere else was close to recommending a semi-auto for all the troops.

            Why didn’t the M1 Carbine break the supply chain?

          • n0truscotsman

            I dont care about the obsolescence of those tanks. My point is that they were new technology being fielded that took up a larger part of the budget than horse cavalry.

            And thank you for further validating my point: The Army Air Corps.

            The M1 was fielded in a era of baseless fears of soldiers “wasting ammo” due to commanders cutting their teeth on bolt-action rifles.

            Real experience would vindicate semi-autos and shot volume in general.

            “Why didn’t the M1 Carbine break the supply chain?”

            Because it wasn’t issued in the numbers that the 276 M1 garand would have been as a standard infantry rifle.

          • “The M1 was fielded in a era of baseless fears of soldiers “wasting ammo” due to commanders cutting their teeth on bolt-action rifles.”

            I have seen exactly zip in the way of evidence supporting that. Pretty much everybody knew selfloaders would be the best thing since sliced bread, and wanted a piece of that action.

          • disqus_uT17Jgr4Hl

            Evidence including having magazine cut offs on bolt action rifles, including our Krag-Jorgensen and Springfield 1903, and the earlier Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield’s of Great Britain?

          • Clarification: I have seen no evidence that commanders responsible for the fielding of the M1 Garand had fears of soldiers “wasting ammo” because they used bolt action rifles.

            So, you hear a lot about magazine cutoffs being included due to concerns of wasting ammunition, but I’m increasingly thinking that wasn’t the case, either. I think it may have been a doctrinal thing; the cutoff is there to allow single loading during the long-range phase of combat. Consider this exercise, pitting a Mosin-Nagant and a Trapdoor Springfield against each other. Better than we do now, military planners at the dawn of the repeating rifle era would have known how effective a single-loading weapon could be, and so perhaps the magazine cutoff was just there as a doctrinal thing (this is the way we fight, by single loading until the distance is closed).

            Virtually all of these such devices disappear after World War I, a conflict that dramatically changed how planners viewed infantry combat. Especially if it was determined that the distance is “closed” instantly in virtually every infantry engagement, then a magazine cutoff would seem pretty superfluous.

            All of what I’ve just said is speculative, but it does throw a little doubt on the idea that magazine cutoffs were just to prevent soldiers wasting ammunition. Of course, logistics sucked back then, so maybe they were. I’d love to see some documentation on it.

          • disqus_uT17Jgr4Hl

            It was doctrine, coupled with logistics considerations. Both the US and UK army commanders wanted aimed fire, and WWI was a crucible of fixed warfare until the very end.
            Of course, all nations adopted single shot open breech black powder .45″ bore rifles in the 1870s, so the notion of a repeater meant “more ammo wastage” when repeaters came about, hence the cut off was installed.
            The notion was to use single shots, leaving the magazine “in reserve.” At least that was the official British position. When movement became incumbent for infantry units because of the much greater battlefield fluidity of WWII, not only mag cut-offs but semi auto and auto weapons played a huge role.
            Keep in mind though that our hit probability has greatly diminished since the advent of self-loading firearms, and “fire for effect” tactics.

          • It’s very true that the US and UK commanders wanted aimed fire. It’s also true there were serious logistical considerations.

            All of this was before the Garand’s time, and doesn’t have anything to do with the en-bloc clip loading system of that weapon.

          • Zebra Dun

            From what I’ve read, of soldiers in combat a study shown during ALCLAD a study of body armor showed of combat troops half never fire their weapons even when the enemy is in sight, one quarter of that half have to be forced, ordered to shoot,one quarter don’t aim, and one quarter of the men shoot at anything that moves and have to be restrained from shooting more than needed.
            The study showed most rifle caliber wounds were not aimed fire but from a fusillade of shots. The study concluded that un aimed random automatic fire was just as if not more effective than slow aimed fire.

            It was a part of the SALVO study and the Army went ballistic over it.
            It was heresy to men raised on marksmanship.
            The wound study showed 85% or more wounds came from fragmentation weapons and the flak jacket was born.
            Vietnam showed the wounding was from rifle fire to the head area while majority of wounds came from booby traps, I’m thinking a study on rifle fire would show most shots are wasted in fire suppression hence shooting more ammo which after the study concluded caused most of the rifle wounds.
            yes they were worried the men with semi and auto fire weapons would waste ammo, yes the men did waste ammo on full auto and by the war gods the more ammo they wasted on full auto the more enemy got shot. So the ammo was in the end, not wasted.

          • marathag

            5,468,772 M1 rifles were manufactured, including postwar production.

            M1 Carbine production was slightly higher

          • n0truscotsman

            Im not talking about production, I’m talking about assigned rifles.

            And no, on the tanks. Unlike Cavalry, they are mechanically complex machines with an expensive upkeep. Horses would prove to be a comparatively inexpensive asset to militaries well into WW2.

          • marathag

            I’m sure you have a cite that asserts that fewer carbines were issued, right? Lets see it.

            The US Army had a lot more rear area troops who got the carbine, than frontline troops got the Rifle.

            No, horses had far more upkeep. The only reason to keep them is when you don’t have enough vehicles. Tank could sit for a month, just make sure the fluids and battery are good.

            I grew up on a farm with both tractors and horses. Trust me, stables took up far more time

          • Zebra Dun

            More support and logistcal troops means more carbines than infantry rifles on a scale of say 9 men are needed out of 10 to keep 1 man in combat. At the end of WW2 more M-1 carbines had been produced than and other rifle.

          • Zebra Dun

            Pound for pound, ton for ton it’s lighter and cheaper to ship fuel and POL than hay and oats, hay goes bad as do oats if not stored and shipped correctly and cannot be made good enough afterwards as can Fuel and POL.
            It actually takes three ships more for horses than one ship of cargo for horses than tanks.
            Horse are very expensive and unlike a tank once dead lined, killed or damaged in battle cannot be salvaged or scavenged for spare parts.
            I own horses and a truck I know of what I speak LOL

          • marathag

            And the worst part, what goes in the front end of the horse is multiplied to what comes out the South end

          • “It was no miracle getting the Garand, the design was ready in 1931, years before anywhere else was close to recommending a semi-auto for all the troops.”

            The French and Russians would like a word.

          • marathag

            AVS36
            SVT38
            MAS-38

            Now the RSC M1917, you might have a point, had the French continued that model and not done the MAS-36

            But my point stands, for all the troops

          • Do you mean to suggest that all of those rifles emerged, fully formed, in the years of their designations, with no backing development program?

            The basic mechanism of the MAS 38 was completed before 1926, for example. The French had been working on the design of selfloading rifles before 1900, even.

            Russian selfloader development is something I have much less information on, but you can assume their programs also stretched back at least a few years.

          • marathag

            But none of those were ready to go in 1931. Garand had been porting on a lot of failures all thru the ’20s, too. But it was mostly right in 1931

            Not that the 276 Garand wouldn’t have had teething issues, with the gas trap and all.

            Still years ahead of the others

          • No it wasn’t. The French rifles were much more advanced, but the French were perfectionists who wouldn’t accept into service anything but a flawless weapon.

            The .276 gas trap Garand – I am all but certain – would be crushed in a reliability test by the MAS 1928-31.

          • Zebra Dun

            I believe there was already tooling and material for the old defunct Pederson device for the Springfield on hand, could be wrong though.

          • The Pedersen device and the .276 caliber, while designed by the same guy, were not the same thing.

          • Zebra Dun

            Mea Culpa Nathaniel, I wasn’t making myself clear I meant the old Pedersen device for the WW1 insert for the Springfield rifle to make it a close quarters trench semi auto and the .30 caliber carbine cartridge which it seemed was similar in it’s round as the Pedersen round meant to fit the Pedersen device in the Springfield.
            Heck, I typed this and it confused me!
            The Pedesen device cartridge was a short .30 caliber pistol round I cannot find the exact dimensions but I once recall reading the round was almost Identical to the .30 carbine round. Not quite but enough to give the Army something to base a carbine cartridge on.
            The Auto Pistol .30 cal. Pedersen cartridge was identical to the French 7.65 x 20 mm longue 77 gr at 1140 fps.
            The .30 Carbine was 7.62 x 33 mm 110 gr at 1900 fps.
            The old magazine article I read stated the Army wanting the carbine round went back to the Pederen device round and worked from there.
            The .276 Pederen was not a part of this study or work.

          • It’s not the same as .30 Carbine, but it’s very close to the 7.65 French Long. It was a little more powerful than .32 ACP; certainly nothing to get worked up about.

          • Zebra Dun

            1. 30.06 for MG’s and BAR as well as those Bolt actions still in use at Guadalcanal.
            2. .30 Carbine.
            3. .45 ACP for revolver (with half moon clips added) M1911A1 and Grease guns, Reising guns and Thompsons.
            4. .38 spl for revolvers of aircrews, MP’s, intelligence and Field grade Officers.
            5. .32 auto for General officer issue M1903
            6. .50 BMG for heavy machine guns.
            7. 12 gauge shotgun Buckshot, slugs and for Aeriel gunnery practice bird shot.
            8. .22 lr for some training commands.
            9. .25 acp for clandestine undercover use.
            not to mention
            10. 20 mm
            11. 37 mm.
            12. 40 mm.
            13. 75 mm.
            and do not forget the array of every other round and shell produced during that time period for other than direct fire weapons.
            What indeed was one more at .276 ?

          • I don’t think the logisticians would be very happy with that argument.

          • Zebra Dun

            They did pop rounds out of M-1 clips to feed Machine guns and vice versus as did the BAR to keep weapons in action.
            It was done with our M-14 and the M-60.

          • Hyok Kim

            .45acp and M1 carbine had a different role to play than M1 Garand. It is not rational logistic-wise to issue two different rounds for ballistically the same purpose.

            In the end, U.S. did not win the war because U.S. had superior small firearms for the infantrymen. If the Axis had been armed with M1 Garand,and the allies with Lee-enfields, and 03s, it would not have changed the course of the war any manner, assuming they would have made the same geo-political and military mistakes strategy-wise.

            What the Japanese, and Germans respected more than anything else was U.S. logistics system, which was far better than any other nations and the proximity fuse.

          • marathag

            Downthread I listed all the small arms ammo types the UK dealt with.

            It didn’t break them, and the US had a better logistics system than they did.

            In the 276 trials, it was found to be more accurate than the .30, more hits per pound of ammunition fired than what the M1903 or BAR did, plus greater lethality to 300 yards, per the ‘Pig’ Board tests

          • Hyok Kim

            I agree with all of that. I’m simply noting any time one introduces more caliber for ballistically the same purpose, one is making logistics system less efficient.

    • gunsandrockets

      I’ll go you one further than even that. Of course my opinion has the benefit of hindsight. I think the US military would have been better of just adapting the .250 Savage cartridge which was introduced in 1915.

      Even today with all the various experiments in supposed ‘ideal’ rifle cartridges, it’s amazing to me how well the century old .250 Savage compares.

      • n0truscotsman

        and adopting the 22 spitfire for second-line troops because that would become known as a specialized “PDW’ cartridge.

        😀

        Im kidding a bit, and agreeing with you.

      • Right or wrong, there were requirements for things like anti-balloon rounds that precluded the use of smaller than .30 caliber ammunition, at the time.

        If you pay close attention to the dates of introduction of different ammunition, you’ll see that a whole host of small (<.30) caliber rounds get adopted before 1905… And then not another one, until after World War II (with the 7mm Liviano).

        I'm not knowledgeable enough to explain this, fully. But it does make it seem pretty clear that smaller caliber ammunition was ruled out until after World War II for some reason.

        • gunsandrockets

          I suspect you misunderstand. I didn’t mean the US Army should have adapted the .250 Savage in 1915 when the cartridge first appeared. I meant the US Army should have just adapted the .250 Savage cartridge instead of pursuing the .276 Pedersen cartridge project.

          • Right; between 1905 (1916, if you count the very limited issue 7mm Meunier) and 1952, virtually no infantry service calibers smaller than 7.35mm/.298″ were adopted by any armed force. Now, the extent to which it was true (broadly speaking, it was – it’s possible there was an exception here or there, but they would be decidedly minor) is difficult to know without having an encyclopedic knowledge of caliber adoption dates (I’m working on that), and why it was true I’m increasingly beginning to suspect is something that’s lost to time (if the reasons aren’t, the attitude and conviction certainly are).

            But that still makes me think there was very little chance of anything less than .30 caliber, or at least 7mm (you had a few promising 7mm programs, the aforementioned 7mm Meunier, .276 Enfield, and of course .276 Pedersen) being adopted anywhere.

  • Ken

    The exposed action and locking lugs were not necessarily a disadvantage. It contributed to safety, as it allowed gas to vent in the event that a case failed. Probably learning from the low number M1903’s, the engineers at Springfield Armory were paranoid about a safe action. That’s why the bolt face is recessed, so that a cartridge is fully supported in the chamber. The other advantage of an exposed action is that debris could be seen and flushed out. There aren’t many reports of the exposed action being an issue in combat, so I’d lean towards it not being one.

    Another advantage of the M1 over contemporary semi autos and bolt actions was how easily it could be taken down. The trigger group could be removed and the barreled action separated from the stock without any tools. In the event that a rifle did get jammed full of mud, you’d have an easier time stripping down an M1 to flush it than another rifle.

    What was revolutionary about the M1 was that the entire gas system (cylinder, lock, screw, and piston head) was stainless steel to deal with the corrosive ammo used at the time. Rust from corrosive ammo could be a significant problem on semi autos, such as SVT’s being really unreliable when the gas system rusted up. As long as the gas port did not rust shut, the barrel pads and op rod could not rust enough to seize up an M1, short of the op rod crumbling. The Swedes switched to noncorrosive ammo pretty early on, so they solved that problem.

    • I’ve personally seen Garands (as well as M1 Carbines and M14s) go down in disproportionately high numbers when exposed to the elements, so I think it was a pretty significant issue. I’m not sure I buy the explanation that it was for safety reasons either, but I suppose it’s possible. Hatcher knew the safety problems of the early 1903s was due to poor heat treat, and I suspect Garand also knew. So then he probably knew the M1903 and Mauser were very safe designs, yet both of those cover their locking surfaces, unlike the Garand!

      I do think it probably had enough else going for it (e.g. anti pre-engagment) that it was probably not less, or not much less reliable than its contemporaries, though. First generation selfloaders all leave a lot to be desired in the reliability department.

      An excellent point about the stainless steel gas block. I didn’t mention this in my article for length concerns, but in retrospect I probably should have. Stainless steel and chroming both were really what made selfloaders practical.

      • Ken

        They knew the details about the bad heat treating of low number 03’s. Mausers and high number 03’s were very of course very safe designs, but when a case ruptured, the gas would end up in the action, shattering the stock and blowing out the magazine. The desire to increase gas venting ability is what caused the “Hatcher hole” to be introduced to the 03 rifle. However, there is that picture of an M1 blown up with sketchy gun show reload ammo. The stock shattered and the floorplate blew out regardless, so the M1 is not exactly immune to that.

        In Hatcher’s Notebook, he has a few pictures of M1917’s and low number 03’s that had the top of the receiver ring blown off, which is how the gas vented in those scenarios. In the case of the M1917, someone tried to shoot out a cleaning patch. He did note that in those cases, the bolt always held, either by the lower lug or the safety lug. There are also modern examples of small ring Mausers failing in the same way.

        • Right, I’m sure that experience fed into the development of the Garand, but it’s still speculation to say that was the reason for the open receiver.

          • gunsandrockets

            Without the open receiver, the M-1 receiver would have had to be significantly longer and heavier to accommodate the top-fed clip. But using a top-fed clip and having a solid bottom also eliminated a large opening into the receiver for mud and debris to enter.

            As with most engineering decisions it’s a trade-off.

          • Length optimization is certainly an element in why the action is so open. However, it’s probably not a trade-off the designer should have made, and I think it therefore counts well enough as a flaw.

    • nadnerbus

      I’m not qualified to say whether this is really an advantage or not, but the open Garand action is something I like because it IS so accessible. Malfunctions can be seen and diagnosed with a quick break in cheek weld and fingers can grab shells that are double fed or not fully extracting.

      I dunno if that in any way makes up for greater foreign debris getting in, but it is a nice feature to me.

      • gunsandrockets

        Yeah. Maybe easy in but also easy out. Unlike the buttoned up AR which is hard to get into, but also hard to get stuff out.

        That big opening in the M-1 receiver also reduces jams from ejections, and top ejection also means the infantrymen sharing a foxhole doesn’t get whacked in the face from ejected cases!

        The M-1 is also the most user friendly rifle for southpaws.

  • “A detachable magazine cost several times (up to or exceeding an order of magnitude more) than stripper or en-bloc clips, and no nations could afford to arm all of their troops with arms and enough detachable magazines to reload them in this way. (Eventually, most nations would reach a compromise in issuing large numbers of clip-fed rifles alongside far fewer magazine-fed support weapons such as light and sub-machine guns.)”

    Sorry, but I flat-out don’t believe this, and would like a source. The Russians successfully equipped zillions of their troops with SMGs during WWII, the M1 carbine saw plenty of successful service, and the Stg-44 was reportedly like an order of magnitude cheaper to manufacture than the Karabiner 98 bolt gun. The reason that you didn’t see magazines on battle rifles was that you still had top military planners convinced that they were going to cause troops to waste ammo, and you could only justify that on an automatic weapon.

    • In what ways do you think a detachable 8-round magazine is substantially quicker and easier to load than an en-bloc clip?

      En-bloc clips are usually a single piece of stamped sheet metal, whereas magazines are several stamped pieces, often with a welding operating, with a large spring inside.

      In World War II, yes, sub-machine guns were made in large numbers; I suspect this had a lot to do with post-war weapons often featuring detachable box magazines. The Garand was a pre-war weapon, so it was building on the lessons of World War I.

      • I think a single detachable 20rd mag is considerably faster to load than 3 8rd en bloc clips. Oh, and they don’t make a huge ping when you run dry. *zing*

        As for cost, the cost of the magazines is a tiny fraction of the rifle, never mind the soldier. The mags are welded stamped sheet metal, and are relatively simplistic to create. Yeah, they’re more expensive than clips; that does not make them “prohibitively expensive for general use”, as illustrated by their widespread use in many other weapons.

        I agree that the Garand is illustrative of a pre-war weapon – but it was created because of pre-war tactical thinking, not because of cost constraints.

        • Andrew Hobby

          The en-bloc magazine of the Garand was probably a single stamping operation versus a multi-stamp operation with tack welding done (likely by hand at the time) for a magazine.

          To put this in perspective, a single-stamp operation (today) can be done for very cheap – I haven’t priced any single-die stamping in a while but I would guesstimate at 30-50 cents a piece. A magazine would probably run 4-5 dollars parts and labor (assuming using a guy and a jigged-up glorified tack-welder machine).

          • Again: no one’s debating what you’re saying. The author of this article claimed that detachable mags made rifles prohibitively expensive, and that’s why no one used them on rifles in WWII. I believe that is absolutely false even if clips are cheaper than mags. Neither of those expenses is meaningful in the face of the rifle’s cost. They are not the primary cost driver BY A LONG SHOT.

          • “A detachable magazine cost several times (up to or exceeding an order of magnitude more) than stripper or en-bloc clips, and no nations could afford to arm all of their troops with arms and enough detachable magazines to reload them in this way.”

            First, this is regarding the interwar period, not World War II. In World War II, it seems detachable box magazines did finally achieve a low enough relative cost to be mass produced in large enough numbers for reloading a standard-issue weapon (albeit, all the ones that were were pretty bad; I think probably the first decent standard issue detachable magazine used for reloading the weapon was that of the AK rifle).

            And it’s not that rifles couldn’t be produced with a single detachable magazine, but rather that supplying enough magazines to the troops to allow for reloading was prohibitive during this period.

            The “numbskull military planners didn’t want their troops wasting ammunition” argument doesn’t really hold up either; why then was so much time and effort spent developing systems that were nearly as fast and convenient as detachable magazines to reload, but much less expensive? Or, why didn’t the French or Germans – two nations always trying to stay one step ahead of the other – take the plunge earlier and issue detachable magazines?

            You must consider cost when equipping a military force. This is why military rifles typically are not well-polished; yes, a nation could theoretically polish every single one of its weapons, but the money to do so could be put to better use. Until World War II, when detachable magazines became truly cheap and nearly disposable, alternatives were sought.

          • Zebra Dun

            Well, they were cramming a very long and heavy 30.06 cartridge into a magazine which had to be a robust as the one the BAR used.

        • Zebra Dun

          On Empty the M-14 is a “Reach pull grab detach, stash in mag bag, grab new mag from pouch and insert” even if the M-14 mag is simply detached and dropped, as opposed to On Empty the M-1 is a “Ping! reach grab clip from pouch and insert in rifle” no the M-1 reloads faster with fewer steps. Try it with a buddy at the range M-1 vs M-14 and make a video to show us! Please.

          • I’ve seen it go both ways. I suspect it greatly depends on the skill of the shooter.

            Regardless, I think it’s fair to say the en-bloc method of loading approaches the magazine change for speed.

      • Zebra Dun

        I saw My Gunny reload an M-1 faster than an M-14 could be reloaded once at the range in Florida’s Camp Blanding.
        Staying in action while reloading as the M-14 was shooting up it’s 20 rds.
        Then again it was My Gunny who was a candidate for the most Infantry Marine in the world.

    • Zebra Dun

      Troops it was feared would simply toss the magazines away after emptying their contents and request more magazines after the fight or the mags would get dumped in the dirt and be lost, damaged or dirty causing jams.

  • Fruitbat44

    Interesting article and one which I am sure will inspire lively debate.

    To me the really interesting part was the bit about the adaptation of the 8-round en-bloc clip. (And I think it’s tweaked others interest as well.) I have wondered if things might have been different if the Garand had fed off the same detachable 20-round mags the BAR used.

    Thought: detachable magazines expensive to manufacture . . . at the time?

    And an interesting point about the MAS 49 being superior to the Garand. Sometimes the best is the enemy of good. Of course the problem with re-arming before WW2 (says the armchair historian i.e. me.) is that the good guys didn’t know when it would kick off. Too early and you end up being issued with the previous generation of kit, too late and it’s, well, too late.

    • There was really no way the US Army was going to adopt a big 20 round magazine. before World War II. It didn’t fit with the doctrine of the time (which centered around very traditional marksmanship using the sling, and firing from the prone).

      World War II changed all that. Here’s Patton on how infantry fights:

      “Fire on Infested Areas: Owing to the pernicious traditions of our known distance rifle marksmanship, we are prone to hold our fire until we see targets. In battle, these are seldom visible. When any group of soldiers is under small-arms fire, it is evident that the enemy can see them; therefore, men should be able to see the enemy, but seldom are. When this situation arises, they must fire at the portions of the hostile terrain which probably conceal enemy small-arms weapons. I know for a fact that such procedure invariably produces an effect and generally stops hostile fire. Always remember that it is much better to waste ammunition than lives. It takes at least eighteen years to produce a soldier, and only a few months to produce ammunition.”

      It’s pretty clear that Patton felt the “old way” was holding the rifleman back. Here’s the whole thing, do read it.

      • Fruitbat44

        Thanks for the link.
        Interesting article. It would seem to be a marker in the process of volume of fire being more important than individual accuracy.
        While this seems heretical, heck, even contrary to common sense it does seem to be the way to go.
        Caveat: I have never been in firefight, but I have been on exercises and actually seeing where the enemy is problematic. In the absence of a clearly defined target dumping rounds into likely cover is the only other option, and the more rounds the better. -sigh-

  • Esh325

    I remember reading a magazine article from the 40’s where they found the M1 Garand did very badly against the Johnson and Springfield bolt action rifle when it came to sand testing, but what’s interesting to note is that its performance in adverse conditions was never brought up as a complaint like the M16 was. I think the biggest flaw of the Garand was its weight and the en bloc clips.

    • I think Johnson did actually lambaste its reliability, but I would have to find a source for that.

  • FWIW: The reason the M14 has a roller lug is due to the M1’s issue with the lug and op rod seizing if the lug and cam are poorly lubricated. This occurred when early issue lubricants were washed away during heavy tropical rain storms. Several schemes were tried including altered cam track patterns, different types of heat treatment, and alternative lubricants that would resist being washed out. The roller lug was the most durable design when unlubricated, but Ordnance didn’t want to interrupt M1 production to introduce a new bolt and op rod. So they fell back to issuing the most successful/cost effective lubricant, Lubriplate. The roller lug was revived when the M1 receiver had to be stretched for the selective fire T20 variants, and then carried over to the shorter T44E4 (pre-M14).

  • Sure, the gap is not bigger than that of other rifles. Although, I have seen an AK go down due to debris getting in the charging handle slot and causing the fire control to malfunction.

    I don’t “hate on” intermediate* cartridges; I am critical of the arguments made by their proponents for military use. I like intermediate rounds a lot, in fact. I’d love a hunting rifle in something bigger than .223 but shorter than .308, for example.

    *By which I mean rounds in between 5.56 and 7.62 in energy, an application of the term I don’t wholly approve up, but w/e.

  • Zachary marrs

    M1 garand, bad?

  • LCON

    I visited Springfield Armory ( the real one not the modern maker) back in October I remember there Garand exhibit was small but sweet I remember there was the Garand Bullpup

    • LCON

      sorry wrong picture

      • gunsandrockets

        Looks like the Garand designed T-31 rifle. A post-war development for using the smaller NATO cartridge.

  • Jim_Macklin

    The M1 Garand was the finest old technology rifle of the period 1935-1955. The Army stayed with the 30/06 because there were large stockpiles of ammunition left over from WWI. The.276 was a fine cartridge but had no real advantage of the M1 Ball or M2 Ball ammo.
    Military doctrine changed during WWII and Korea. Wounding the enemy was seen as more effective since it take manpower to treat the wounded from the battlefield to the transportation home.
    The M14 is a modified Garand, it lasted only about ten years in service. The M16 is a gun designed to be easy to build and to fire a cartridge, 5.56×45 mm NATO, especially designed to wound.
    The M16/M4 has been in service for longer than any other rifle in U.S. service. It is not a perfect rifle either, but if fits doctrine very well.
    If “firepower” is needed troops have radios and can call in gunships, ground attack aircraft such as the A10, artillery or cruise missile attacks. Now we even have drones.
    If the bayonet was a primary, the Garand is much better than the M16/M4. The Army no longer trains for bayonet, the Marine Corps still trains for bayonet despite the fact the last bayonet charge was USMC in Korea.
    General Patton did not live long enough to see the modern Army with combined forces. He was exactly correct in 1945 when he praised the Garand. for use in WWII.

    • I have seen no official documentation suggesting the .276 and/or .223/5.56 were designed to wound as opposed to kill.

      General Patton commanded combined arms forces in World War II.

      • Yellow Devil

        I hear that all the time and it drives me nuts. If wounding the enemy was such an advantage, the military would train the troops to take leg and arm shots instead of just shooting center mass. A military study also said (source escapes me) that the initial advantage of wounding the enemy and having logistics take care of them is outweighed in the long run when those wounded troops recover and come back to fight, this time with more experience.

        • I am not sure where this idea comes from. Maybe Jeff Cooper? I think he says it at least once.

      • AlDeLarge

        They weren’t designed to wound, but that doctrine was a large part of choosing 5.56 for the main service rifles. A .223 is a varmint round, and a 5.56 is basically a .223 +P. It’s a tradeoff, more rounds but less damage.

        It’s part of the big picture. There is no “shoot to wound” training because that’s just stupid. There is however a larger strategy that accepts that out of the fight is out of the fight, dead, wounded, or whatever. Artillery rounds are spaced out based on their casualty radius, not their kill radius for maximum effectiveness. Smaller bullets are used because it’s better to kill or wound 20 than to kill 10.

        This is, of course, for traditional army versus army warfare, not close quarter combat against religious fanatics.

        • Alright, then why do all the early SCHV documents say they expect a .22 caliber high velocity round to be more lethal on a hit than .30-06?

          This whole “varmint round” nonsense has got to go. .222 Remington Special (1959) was developed as a military infantry round first, and .223 Remington (1964) was developed off of it for commercial purposes. So the military didn’t “take a varmint round and issue it so troops could wound the enemy”, the made a bunch of different experimental rounds, like the .22 APG and the .22 NATO, and determined that what they wanted could be achieved with a stretched .222 Remington. They did this, and the result was the .222 Remington special AKA .223 Remington AKA 5.64mm AKA 5.56mm (the distinction between the .223 Remington and 5.56mm would come later).

          There were a number of studies done that radically changed the way planners saw infantry combat. The direct result of this was the 5.56mm round. While – yes – it was accepted that a wounding hit was better than a miss, nobody involved in the development of 5.56 was advocating at the time wounding as being preferable to killing.

          • AlDeLarge

            Does my post have different words on your screen? I can’t find “take a varmint round and issue it so troops could wound the enemy,” that the 5.56 is a varmint round, or anything about wounding being preferred to killing anywhere in it. On my screen, I see “There is no ‘shoot to wound’ training because that’s just stupid.”

            I was talking about the grain of truth behind the myth; Maybe you could copy/paste what you see in my post on your screen so I can know what you’re replying to?

          • “but that doctrine was a large part of choosing 5.56 for the main service rifles. A .223 is a varmint round, and a 5.56 is basically a .223 +P. It’s a tradeoff, more rounds but less damage.”

            Does that help you, Al?

          • AlDeLarge

            I like how you left out the “They weren’t designed to wound” part. Is that how you read? That would explain a lot.

            So, what parts do you have a problem with? That a .223 is a varmint round, or that a 5.56 is a more powerful version? That a soldier can carry more 5.56 than .30-06, or that a 5.56 does less damage? I still didn’t say the 5.56 was a varmint round.

            Now tell me where you got “take a varmint round and issue it so troops could wound the enemy” or anything about wounding being preferred to killing.

          • “They weren’t designed to wound, but that doctrine was a large part of choosing 5.56 for the main service rifles. A .223 is a varmint round, and a 5.56 is basically a .223 +P. It’s a tradeoff, more rounds but less damage.”

            That’s what you said. I cannot know how you expected me to take it, but one would reasonably assume you are saying there that the 5.56 was in part selected because it was more of a wounder than a killer. This is not true.

            Further, your assertion that the .223 is a varmint round… Well, it has been used as one, but the original development of 5.56 that would become .223 had nothing to do with varmint hunting.

            So where is it relevant that the .223 has been used as a varmint round? It’s also been used as a law enforcement round, a self-defense round, etc. What does this have to do with the development of the cartridge, what does it have to do with Army thinking at the time?

            I am doing my best to understand what you’re saying, but you’re just not coming through very clearly, Al.

          • AlDeLarge

            I expected you to read the whole post and not assume embellishments to one paragraph that contradict the next. But you’re right; I should’ve known better.

          • It’s not my responsibility to make sure you are understood, Al.

  • gunsandrockets

    I’ve heard of the early M-1 using a gas trap instead of a gas port. But this is the first I’ve heard of any US Army reluctance about a barrel with a gas port. Doubly strange considering the US Army’s long experience with gas ported full-automatic weapons, from the Colt 1895 up through the BAR.

    • Ian McCollum

      Yes, the early ones did not have a gas port drilled in the barrel.

  • Chase Buchanan

    Yeah, but he used revolvers when self-loading pistols are clearly superior, so what does he know? 😉 (just joking.)

  • dan citizen

    Woo boy, Nathaniel F. is taking in the old dog!

    And doing so rather well. It’s refreshing to see someone discussing the Garand with insight and a hined eye, but without the normal bias.

    I myself don’t worship the garand, but I came damned close, and I surely wouldn’t feel comfortable analysing it too closely for fear the NSA would revoke my citizenship.

  • Full Name

    I have one, and love it. That said, the M16A1 I carried is a much superior infantry rifle.

  • You could make an upwards ejecting mechanism that separated the function of the parts. The Steyr and Berthier mechanisms are just examples of other ways to do it.

  • I don’t think a statement like that can meaningfully be made. AR-15s are all over the place for cyclic rate.

  • lol

    you list it as a flaw but, the exposed locking surfaces are a godsend in the field.

    if you can’t see the grit, you can’t get it out. and it does not matter one iota how good you think you sealed the action, dirt gets in.

    if my m14 gets sand in it, i open the bolt, dump my canteen on it, give it a healthy blow out of the offending material, and you are back in action. this operation is impossible without a stripdown on an AR.

    • The AR-15 would be much less likely to be stopped by adverse conditions in the first place. Isn’t that better?

      Further, I have actually seen one M14 become completely locked up due to crap finding its way into the action. The owner had to take the rifle back to his bench and break out his gunsmithing set (including a rubber mallet) to get the rifle open again. So he couldn’t just open the bolt and wash out the crap.

      During this same shooting session, my AR-15 having fired close to 2,000 rounds without any attention, became a little sluggish due to heat (at no point did foreign matter find its way into the recessed locking surfaces), so I squirted some CLP into the ejection port and had no further issues.

      I agree that for cleaning and maintenance an open action helps, but in adverse conditions it’s much better to have a weapon that doesn’t get crap in critical areas in the first place.

  • Zebra Dun

    My Gunny who cut his teeth in the Corps on the Garand and was it’s greatest admier stated in combat the Grunts would empty the whole eight shot clip if they had to shoot, the main problem was topping off a half spent clip.
    Learned in the war with Japan according to him if the Marine had to shoot he went rapid fire and recharged the rifle so he would be fully loaded in case of a human wave attack.
    The major problems we had with our M-14’s was the running sights event which all M-14’s suffered from at one time or another, in combat you battle sight set them and locked them down on the range the rifle had to be back counted on it’s rear sights to establish you actually were missing the target or the sights were causing your aim to go higher or lower as they bumped down with each succeeding shot.
    Overall, I would take an M-14 over any other rifle and would NOT turn down a Garand for eating crackers in bed.

  • disqus_uT17Jgr4Hl

    All breakthrough technology is fleeting, none more so than military ones. We can pontificate all we like about how a 1930s design is good or flawed, just as I could point out that my 1980 Porsche 911 is far better than a 1950 356, but not nearly so good as a 2010 997. Countries, as well as people, make choices that make the most sense given the era which they are hatched, given metallurgy, machining technology, quantity needed, right down to unit tactics and doctrine.
    So, the French built DI rifles in the early ’30s. Grand. They also built the Maginot Line, because their doctrine was still mired in Ypres or Flanders.
    The M1 was also “saddled” with the .30-06 instead of the .276 Pedersen because MacArthur, in my view rightly, saw the millions of rounds of ammo stockpiled since the Great War, and saw the logistics continuity with the belt-fed support weapons also using them. Might not be elegant, might not work as well downrange, but it is what we had. We must always be aware of the financial costs of any decision made en masse.
    Compared to nearly all its contemporaries, which were largely bolt-action rifles fed by chargers or strippers, and of course requiring manual cycling dependent upon operator skill, the M1 was a revelation.
    I do not worship the M1 or its progeny, but neither would I offer a balanced view couched as a “criticism.” There were a lot of good points in your article, Nathaniel, that I was unaware of, especially those of the receiver construction and size, that few are aware of as you mention.
    However, when discussing the internal workings and wondering why they were designed the way they were, work they did. I have never picked up an M1 that didn’t, despite the intervening 50-70 years worth of use and abuse after they left our service and became heirlooms.
    Overall I think you have added greatly to the discussion of the rifle, and hopefully we can have the same discussion about the M16 when it too is put to pasture.

    • Thanks for the kind words, uT17.

      If we’re to be very technical, the French built DI weapons beginning in 1896, and fell in love with that type of gas system essentially from then on.

      I’m glad Garands have given you good service. In my experience (everyone’s is different!) they have been substantially less reliable than more modern rifles (AK, AR). In reliability, they seem roughly comparable to their stablemates, though a bit more sensitive to dust. Again, in my experience.

  • Franciscomv

    Great article, quite interesting.

    While Garands might be obsolete for practical use in the US, they are highly coveted by gun owners in my country, since an executive order in the ’90s made it almost impossible for civilians to own self loading rifles with detachable magazines in calibres other than .22lr. Even rifles with fixed magazines which can be easily converted to take detachable ones are sometimes included in the ban (SKS and similar rifles).

    Since they are so hard to sell, gun shops don’t even bother stocking modern semiautos. Garands are pretty much the only type of self loading rifle we’re allowed to own (and even then you’ve got to jump through a few dozen hoops). Some folks keep them original, others put plastic stocks and modern optics on them.

    Since the last big batch was imported a few years ago, they’ve gone up in price almost monthly.

  • I don’t think anyone can say that. A selfloading rifle design that was able to be produced in the numbers it was, as early as it was, is a major advantage. Regardless of the flaws it has.

  • Tucson_Jim

    Some interesting points to be made: 1) The op-rod applies maximum pressure to the follower assembly when needed most, during feed. 2) If properly fitted, the Garand’s barrel is free-floated from the lower stock, and the upper heat-sheilds function as harmonic dampeners. 3) The en-bloc clip system weighs less than a box-magazine designed for the same number of rounds because the clip only has 3 sides instead of 6, and no built-in spring or follower. 4) Because the gas port is by the muzzle, the gas system does not even begin to operate until after the bullet has left the barrel. 5) The clearances between parts which allow ingress of dirt are there specifically to allow functioning in-spite of dirt. 6) The self-ejecting clip makes reloading very quick, though good manual dexterity is needed. 7) The sights keep the soldier’s head down as close to the rim of the foxhole as humanly possible, while the distance between the sights and their attachement directly to the barrel and receiver, as well as the fully adjustable windage peep, make the Garand’s sights some of the best to ever grace a combat rifle. And its ability to quickly place a lethal shot onto a target at 400+ yards is probably unequaled.

    As a 30-year career engineer with background in machinery design and product assembly, I discover new evidence of John C’s brilliance every time I take “Big Mike” apart to clean it. If someone would FAITHFULLY translate the Garand’s design-intent into a 5.56 X 45 caliber rifle using modern materials and manufacturing techniques, preserve the sight base, harmonically isolate the gas piston, ditch the bent op-rod design, and, give it a 10 or 12 round en-bloc clip… I’d pay a grand-and-a-half for it without batting an eye.

    Everyone who is an avid shooter owes it to themselves to spend a couple hours behind a Garand, and then, immediately afterwards, pick-up their customized plastic rat-shooter and fire a few rounds… the Garand gives the ability to summarily dispatch an opponent with one round from the limits of visibility without needing fragile, weight-adding optics, accessories or batteries, and, long before they can reach out and touch you back. It comes to shoulder naturally, is stable and solid, and inspires confidence because it feels like a piece of combat gear that can pull you from the jaws of hell, and the 30-06 cartridge discharges with enough authority to let you know that it will not stop until it hits something it can smash… bone, car engine, concrete block, silly kevlar storm trooper helmets, elk, Kodiak bear, or sasquatch. Maybe an M1 in 300 Win Mag with a muzzle brake would be even better…?

  • Zebra Dun

    Nathaniel, Salute for the great article, and spirited and informative discussion.
    Ya done good!

  • Slim934

    I could see this becoming a regular feature on TFB. Maybe like once/quarter or something post a research piece on the designs of an iconic firearm (I imagine you couldn’t do them much more often given the level of research effort involved). After some period of time you’d have enough posts to make it into a book.

    Any plans to do any others? Maybe the 1911?

  • Hyok Kim

    Thanks for the objective review. So much for the notion caranco was a junk.

  • ubik

    Great article. I hate Nazis and this weapon killed a bunch of them.

  • Jonathan Klein

    Flaws aside, let’s put it like this. I’ve seen M-16s jam. I’ve even seen the AK jam when the magazine got dirty enough. Exposed or not, I’ve never seen an M1 jam. You can talk about mass to weight ratio of moving parts and acceleration and internal designs that might be a tad better, etc., but a few counter criticisms come to mind.
    1. While the economics of the en-bloc are spot on, for other period designs such as the AG-42, it was really like the Enfield; detachable in theory but usually fed by strippers. While certainly possible, the beauty of the M1 is that to dump your ammo fast you just press one button; even with a magazine, you’d have to pull each round out. And while a bottom ejecting clip, ala Carcano, would have been possible, it’s a two edged sword; you can’t criticize the action being open to the elements, and then suggest creating another hole in it.

    2. The long slender op rod of the M1 is a weak point, but so long as standard issue ball is used, not a problem; whereas direct gas systems are a pain (IMHO). Maybe not so much today, but at the time… well have you ever tried adjusting the gas block on an AG-42 or it’s cousin, the Hakim? Get it wrong and it either doesn’t cycle, or rips case heads off. Plus, in the days of corrosive ammo, keeping that tube clean would be a real pain.