Making The M1 Garand

In my critique of the M1 Garand rifle on Sunday, I noted that John Cantius Garand was not only a firearms designer, but a machinist as well. It was his intimate understanding of the world of the shop floor that made his rifle economical to produce, which is in my opinion by far the most outstanding attribute of the weapon.

Below is a video made of a series of segments showing rifle production at Springfield Armory, dating from 1955 (the footage was probably shot earlier than that):

In it one can see drop-forging, one of the first steps to making a Garand receiver, barrel boring, lathe operations, barrel straightening, what appears to be a broaching operation, receiver and barrel assembly, tolerance inspection, stockmaking, final assembly, and test firing. The speed and care with which each of these processes are undertaken is stunning (I certainly never got that good on a lathe!); it definitely gives the impression that these men knew their work was important.

This video gives the watcher a rare peak through the window of Springfield Armory during its golden years, when it was making “the finest battle implement ever devised”.


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 is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Michael Mabey

    Match or out perform all enemy rifles in their history? Kreg to Mauser?

  • Fascinating video. I really enjoyed it.

  • Don Ward

    It’s always fascinating watching these old videos. It’s worth noting that it’s not just enough to make and design a good weapon system but the belligerent countries of WW2 had to design weapons that could actually be manufactured with available tools, workers and resources in an efficient manner. These production lines were the real wonder weapons.

  • Blastattack

    It would be economically impossible to make one. As a Machinist myself, that is not a project any sane person would want to take on as a job. It would be a labour of love to make.

  • Ken

    What exactly do you want made from “modern” materials? The receiver is already made of 8620 tool steel, and those don’t wear out easily. Modern semi auto M14 receivers like the LRB are made from 8620 steel as well. You can get new manufacture match barrels from a number of places. If a JCG Match tuned or unlimited match glass bedded stock isn’t accurate for you, you can get a Sage EBR style stock for it.

  • Ken

    When it was in operation, Springfield Armory was like NASA. The government gave them money, and expected them to do cool things. Cost was not a huge concern. Firearms made at Springfield Armory exhibit a fine degree of craftsmanship.

    In contrast, take a look at a Winchester produced M1 Garand if you get a chance. They made the roughest looking M1’s of the four US manufacturers (but still met USGI specs and were perfectly serviceable rifles). The tool marks were not really polished out, and they exhibit a lot of chatter. Winchester had to make a profit, and they were under wartime pressure to turn out a lot of M1’s. The Harrington & Richardson and International Harvester (the tractor guns) M1’s were made in the 50’s, and are exceptionally well made, as are the 50’s Springfield M1’s made in their second production run.

  • Ryan Osborn

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    • Don Ward

      Praise The Lord and Pass the Ammunition!