The M1 Garand In The Dust And Mud, 1950

In preparation for an upcoming article about “light rifle” development (i.e., full power automatic infantry rifles), I have been reading the excellent Collector Grade Publication three-part volume on the FN FAL rifle. In it is contained the transcript of the 1950 Light Rifle trials, which pitted the American T25 design (a rifle that was at once a hybrid of the M1 Garand and BAR, but at the same time much more than that) by Earle Harvey, the Anglo-Polish EM-2 design by Stefan Janson, and the Anglo-Belgian FN FAL design – by none other than Dieudonné Saive, John M. Browning’s Belgian protégé – against the Second World War veteran the M1 Garand. The tests were comprehensive, but not all included the “control” rifle – the M1. Why this was so is not clear to me. In the rain tests, the M1 beat the EM-2 and was not so far behind the FAL and T25, and in the cold tests the M1 was a clear winner, functioning flawlessly (this would be echoed later when the T44E2 would beat the FAL in trials in Alaska, preventing its cancellation and eventually leading to the adoption of its descendant, the T44E4 as the M14, in 1957).

However, the tests that concern us today are the dust and mud tests. Our readers will surely recall the absolutely brutal dust and mud tests to which InRange TV subjected a Springfield Armory (the modern-day company, not the government arsenal) M1A at the end of January and beginning of this month, with disastrous results for that rifle. Before that, Guns & Ammo performed a similar, though in my opinion less brutal mud test with another Springfield M1A, with an eerily similar outcome to InRange’s trials. With this in mind, and with the knowledge that the M1 Garand may have some key advantages over the M1A, due to its anti-pre-engagement mechanism and generous underlug (two features deleted from the T44 as design compromises), let’s take a look at the results of the 1950 dust and sand trials, on pages 19 and 20 of The FAL Rifle, reproduced below:

Test V Garand Test VI Garand
The first thing that becomes apparent is, with the exception of the typically stringent standards to which everything – from the mixtures of both sand and mud, to the length of exposure the rifles had to endure – was held, how similar these two tests are to those done by InRange last month. Given that these tests preceded the InRange trials by 65 years, and given Ian’s propensity for Collector Grade volumes, it’s not entirely out of the question that these trials provided the model for his tests of the M1A, AR-15, and MAS 49/56.

The next thing that leaps from the page is the results obtained with the M1 Garand control rifles. First, note that both rifles are late serial numbers, manufactured in the fall of 1945 during the last production run of M1 rifles before this test was conducted (about another million and a half would be produced during the Korean War), and probably had not seen much use. Though fresh, the rifles duplicate the InRange results almost exactly: When exposed to debris, the open action of the weapons shuts down quickly and totally.

With the combined results of the 1950 trials, the Guns & Ammo mud test, and the InRange tests, it’s difficult to come to any other conclusion than that this design utilizing an open receiver is fundamentally crippled in its ability to deal with exposure to sand, dust, mud, and other debris. Three separate trials, held years and decades apart from each other, produce almost identical results: The quick retirement of the rifle from the field.

Is there enough evidence to say this for sure? Hesitantly, yes, I think so. My own experience with rifles based on this design (in particular the M1 Carbine, which lacks many of the redeeming qualities of either the M1 or M14) adds anecdote to the evidence of these three trials. Even so, I welcome more testing, which may either confirm this conclusion, or cast doubt upon it.

This article is not a condemnation of the M1 Garand as a whole, but a highlight of one particular and serious flaw; one that, it’s worth noting, very few designs since have replicated. Even the Kalashnikov automatic rifle, which is heavily based on the M1 Garand, has significantly revised architecture designed to preserve some of the best qualities of the M1 Garand (such as its cold resistance – which is perhaps not a coincidence considering John Garand was a native Canadian) while vastly improving its resistance to dust and debris.

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


  • noguncontrol

    i think the problem is with the rotating bolt system.

    the g43, sks , vz-58, vz 52, fn-49, ljungman, hakim/rashid, all use the same open top/open receiver system, but none of them use the rotating bolt system.

    the german g43 is a retractable locking lug system. the bolt neither rotates nor tilts.
    the sks, fn-49, ljungman, hakim/rashid, all use the rear tilting bolt system.

    the vz-52 uses a forward tilting bolt system.
    and the vz-58 uses a separate tilting locking wedge/block system, so the bolt neither rotates nor tilts.

    the rashid/hakim in particular are egyptian clones of the swedish ljungman system, and i am sure were used in sandy desert conditions.

    the one thing the m1 garand, m1 socom, and m1 carbine have in common other than the open top/receiver is the rotating bolt.

    • Paul Epstein

      The AK series, and M16 series, of firearms both have rotating bolts. All of the AR-18 style firearms that have proliferated since have rotating bolts. None of them have a pronounced problem operating in the conditions under discussion.

      Let’s not be ridiculous. If literally every country in the middle east manufactures or issues a rotating bolt firearm, then it’s simply not sensible to say that dirt/sand problems are inherent to rotating bolt firearms.

      • noguncontrol

        well, what i am saying is the open top/receiver format is not a problem as long as it doesn’t use a rotating bolt, the ak and ar-15, ar-180 series platforms do have a rotating bolt but they are not open top/receivers, it only becomes a problem if the rifle is both open top/receiver and it uses a rotating bolt. so if you want a rotating bolt, it must have a closed receiver like the ak, ar-15 and ar-180 or similar rifles. but if it doesnt have to have a rotating bolt, then either a closed receiver like the ar-15 or an open receiver like the ljungman or mas 49 will do.

        • nadnerbus

          I still disagree. Both those designs are fairly well buttoned up when the bolt is closed. The Ljungman has a dust cover that comes forwards, the MAS has most (if not all, I am not very familiar with either design) of the operating and bearing surfaces enclosed inside the action when the bolt is closed. M1 action is far more vulnerable than either of those, even with the bolt closed.

        • Paul Epstein

          Then you’re not paying attention to the real life tests. The tilting bolt operation only works as long as it has AT LEAST as much protection from the elements as a rotating bolt. If it doesn’t, then there’s very little practical difference.

          The MAS 49 and Lungman both deviate from the side operating rod featured in the weapons which had the highest failure rate- so they are, inherently, more of a closed system simply by having the operating parts protected from the elements. That is why they are more successful.

          Look at literally any of the modern operating systems, tilting or rotating bolt. NONE of them have an exposed operating rod which can become jammed with debris. That feature died for a very good reason- it is inherently prone to causing malfunctions. To the degree that tilting bolt mechanisms were the first to drop the idea of an op rod, yes, they were more successful. But if you look at the difference between op rod and enclosed motive force, versus rotating bolt and tilting bolt, one of the two is more highly correlated with sand and dust failure than the other.

        • Look at a Ljungmann, SVT, or Vz. 58 receiver with the action closed. Look at a Garand receiver, also closed. Note how none of the former have exposed their locking surfaces, moving parts guide rails, cam tracks, fire control, or any of their internals except for the outer surface of the carrier. Note how the Garand is very different.

      • dan citizen

        The AR has experienced real world sand/dust issues. Though not on this scale.

        • Get enough sand and dust in any action and it will stop working. I’m hoping to help settle this issue soon. I’ve got an Arsenal SLR-104-31 on order for comparative testing.

          • dan citizen

            I agree 100%

            I think the AR has an undeserved reputation for failing when dirt is even discussed. This is disappointing, as there is so much to criticize about the platform without having to exaggerate 🙂

          • Yes, which is why it’s weird that nobody’s been able to make something really better.

          • dan citizen

            cough… G3…. Cough

            In 5.56 the galil is pretty nifty, I like the AUG too. But nothing is as versatile as the AR. I think it’s safe to say it is the most versatile, adaptable, rifle ever made.

            I do feel that things you have written have changed the way I see the AR, and have dispelled much of my prejudice against the overblown squirrel rifle.

          • If you’ll recall, the 5.56mm version of the G3 was heavy and didn’t work so well.

            The Galil is a pig. Even the Israelis thought so. Notice how you rarely see Israelis now using Galils, but you do see them using AR-15s. The only state that cottoned heavily to the Galil was South Africa, and I think that was sanction-driven more than anything.

          • JAFO

            The Israeli’s use the ARs because they either get them for free or at a vastly reduced cost.

          • That’s true, but even so they’ve proven a lot more popular with Israeli troops evidently from photos.

            The Galil is exceptionally heavy for a 5.56mm rifle; I suspect these two things are related.

          • n0truscotsman

            Which brings up my guess as to the reasoning behind the changing of the AK12s safety.
            They get a modified, more “ergonomic” (in theory, i dont know how in practice) western-style safety and close the receiver/receiver cover gap. Two birds with one stone.

    • nadnerbus

      It’s not that it has a rotating bolt. It’s that i has a rotating bolt that is open to the elements almost completely. The guide rail on the side of the receiver for the op rod/charging handle is wide open. Any grit in there can slow or stop the action of the rifle. The cam cut in the op rod for the bolt roller is equally wide open, which is even more disastrous if debris gets in there, as the bolt physically cannot be forced closed with foreign matter in there. The rail on the inside of the receiver that the left side of the bolt rides in is only slightly less open to debris, and only in the closed position.

      If someone took the time to take the whole M1 type operating system and buttoned it up somehow, I would bet it work as well as anything. But it would be a kludge. The basic design is just too open.

      That said, over 95% of or more of the situations a grunt will ever be in, the weapon will work just fine. Fighting in a shamal or a swamp might be iffy though.

    • None of the rifles you list as representing the non-rotating bolt faction have receivers anywhere near as open as the M1 Garand, M14, M1 Carbine, Mini-14, BM-59, and others from that family. I address this in my critique of the M1 Garand. Further, watching the InRange tests also refute this; the also-rotary AR-15 trounces the M1A both times.

      For what it’s worth, however, in the 1920s the French did “condemn without recourse” the rotating bolt, and haven’t had a rotary bolt rifle since.

  • Don Ward

    There’s plenty of testimony from soldiers attesting to the need of continually keeping the Garand free of debris. The accounts of the survivors inside the sandbag bunkers of Pork Chop Hill pretty much show them spending all of their free time cleaning out the actions during bombardments.

  • Blake

    Awesome article, thanks. Particularly nice to see how the FN-FAL held up vs. the rest.

    & the EM-2 fared particularly well.

    • Considering the weight and recoil of the .280 as compared to both 7.62 and 5.56, I’m of the opinion that it would have made almost no difference.

      • marathag

        Not so much the round was better, but it may have lessened NIH in the future.

        Wouldn’t have hurt to toss the Brits a bone on this one.

        That said, should have gone with the FAL

        • IMO, the FAL was clearly the right choice from a “design” standpoint, out of the rifles available. H&R had screwed up almost innumerable programs by that point; that they were contracted to make the T48 definitely raises eyebrows. The Canadians got the C1 more or less right (it wasn’t without its own issues, but it was very serviceable), which showed then the potential the design had.

          However, it’s not clear that anyone cared to standardize the NATO rifle anymore by 1956, giving the US the political freedom to choose the T44E4, which is really what they wanted. From FN’s standpoint, they’d already begun to achieve success with the FAL, and the US adoption of the rifle wouldn’t immediately result in any profits to them (they had given the US the right to make the FAL for their own purposes royalty free). So who cared?

          .280 was clearly better than 7.62×51 as a rifle cartridge, but that doesn’t mean it would have removed the allure of 5.56mm. The initial version of the .280 trialed in the US, with a 140gr bullet at 2,400 ft/s on a 30.7gr powder charge, still would produce 2.3 times as much free recoil energy as 5.56mm, and 51% more recoil impulse. It would also weigh 81% more than 5.56mm, compared to 110% more than 5.56mm for 7.62 NATO.

          I suspect if the US had adopted .280 – keeping in mind that realistically, they were never going to – they would have probably kept .30-06 weapons in reserve.

          IMO, the Soviets made the best choice for the late 1940s and 1950s, adapting the proven Garand into a form that mitigates or eliminates its flaws and is readily mass producible, and chambering it for a true – if crude – intermediate cartridge.

          Final word on the .280 – It sits right on the border between a “real” intermediate and a full-size rifle cartridge. In terms of recoil, it is highly comparable to the 6.5 Arisaka, 6.5 Carcano, and 7.35×51 Carcano, all arguably intermediate, but not traditionally thought of as such. Having said that, it was inspired by the 7.92×33 Kurz, and its designers probably thought of it as “reduced power” or “intermediate”. Don’t let the “intermediate” label fool, though; it is much closer in terms of recoil, size, and weight to 7.62 NATO than to 5.56mm.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Thanks for another interesting, enlightening article. I was a bit startled when you mentioned this in your earlier M1 article. I had always thought the open receiver was a feature, allowing easier access to the action and chamber for cleaning. That may simply because the M1 was ‘all we had’, so we made the best of it–and were fanatical about cleaning and keeping the rifles out of crud.

    • nadnerbus

      I would still argue it is a reliable design. It just has an Achilles heel under the right circumstances.

      • It seems to work like a champ in cold weather. No wonder the AK uses the Garand’s design as its foundation.

  • CommonSense23

    The ability of the cold weather performance of the M1 and M14 is probably the biggest factor that led the use of the MK14 EBR and its survival in SOCOM and particularly NSW. Which severely delayed the development and fielding of a truly reliable Battle Rifle in SOCOM for the whole force.

    • I am becoming more and more sure that the cold weather performance – for good reasons or tainted ones – was most of the justification for adopting the T44E4 in the first place.

      There are a lot of things about the whole “light rifle” program that could possibly be the products of corruption in one form or another; the question of whether the FAL was sabotaged lying beyond that.

      • CommonSense23

        I agree with that totally. I was referring more to the lack of a solid battle rifle in SOCOM as a whole currently. Had Crane not kept the 14 alive in the teams(which was almost entirely for its cold weather use) and upgraded it, it might have pushed for the development or procurement of a better 7.62 much sooner. The SMUs got their 417s, while the rest of SOCOM is stuck with the MK17 in, which while better than it once was still has problems.

        • …I guess I managed to edit out the connecting sentence in that comment, didn’t I?

          I agree.

  • Wetcoaster

    The interesting bit to me regarding cold weather performance is that none of the countries that regularly deal with sub-arctic and arctic latitudes chose the M14 platform. Canada went FAL while Norway, Sweden, and Denmark (previously responsible for Greenland) all opted for the G3 and Finland made their own AK-derivative… mirroring the general Cold War-era trend for most countries to settle on one (or more) of those three designs as their service rifle.

    • dan citizen

      you had me at G3.

      • Wetcoaster

        I don’t know if it’ll be the next war or the war after that or the war after that, but eventually we will find the OPFOR more likely armed with G3s or AR15s than AKs.

        New G3s and ARs continue to be made while the supply of new AKs should have peaked a couple decades ago (not counting countries liquidating their old stocks when changing to new service rifles).

        Also, take a look at some of the licensed producers of the G3/MP5 (back from the Cold War era, many still making new ones – note how many of these countries still issue the G3 as their service rifle).

        Saudi Arabia

        • dan citizen

          From my experience I feel that anyone who does not feel the G3 is the best combat rifle made has not carried one in combat.

          • Meh.

          • dan citizen


          • It has a big disadvantage in being in 7.62, and while the operating mechanism is at its heart sound, it a conceptually simple design that ends up fairly complex in practice.

            I will agree it’s probably a better rifle than the FAL, though.

          • Don Ward

            How often has the G3 been actually carried in combat? I know some of our NATO partners are using them in Afghanistan and Iraq.

          • The Iranians undoubtedly used their G3 against the Saddam-era Iraqis. The Pakistanis have fought the Indians in various border skirmishes. The Portuguese used them in Angola.

          • Don Ward

            The Pakistani and Portuguese stories might be interesting. As I replied to dan citizen, you don’t hear about G3s being used in heavy, intensive battles like – say – Mogadishu with after action reports on its performance and every armchair general commenting on its pros and cons. That’s what I was getting at. If it has seen similar usage as the AR, I’d be interested in hearing the stories. If it hasn’t seen similar use, I’m wondering how it would fare in real life situations where the soldier doesn’t have time to properly clean and maintain it while using it hard.

          • dan citizen

            I replied above. It is not discussed as much here, but in the eastern hemisphere it is like the AR, with debates over which series is best, etc. (I myself see no purpose in the newer FCG).

            In Africa the debate is FAL vs G3 rather than AR vs AK, though the AK has gained a lot of popularity in the last 20 years and the AR has become a real status symbol.

          • Cristian A.

            according to a colombian veteran who had almost 8 years of experience in ungle combat, most of them with a g3, the rifle was by far the most reliable and rugged rifle he had ever used, far more reliable than the AK derivates used in the half century old colombian Asymetric war including the galil and the AKM, and ligth years ahead of the m1 garanda and the m1 carabine wich he actually used in combat, he said it was the only rifle he would ever take to a long mission in the jungle.

          • dan citizen

            I wanted to like the galil. It looked good on paper. In real life it was too heavy. I guess it’s a good match for Isreal and their needs, but not so much for some other regions.

          • crisara772

            colombian armed forces are actually replacing the galil with the new ACE variant, the galil had serious accuracy problems (the rear sigth mounts on the often loose receiver cover) it is heavy and cumbersome, troops really like the ACE, and by now is the most common assault rifle in the streets, the ace is ligther, more accurate and more flexible but not as rugged, its seems the colombian version of the rifle suffers form less than desired weaknesses in the polymer components that usally break easely, specially the front handguard in fat the only ACE i have held in my hands had some tape around the handguard.

          • Wetcoaster

            I’d wager the G3’s seen more use in dirty little wars than anything other than the AKM, but none of those battles tend to make the news in a big way. Mogadishu was intense but ultimately short.

            I suspect that users like Iran (Iran-Iraq war), Lebanon (civil wars) or hell, many if not most of the African users have put the rifles through far worse than Mogadishu – the data just hasn’t been dissected or disseminated (or possibly even recorded)

          • dan citizen

            You’re joking, right?

            The G3 is one of the top 5 combat rifles issued, used by over 40 countries.

            off the top of my head I can think of quite a few that have used it in combat: Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, El Salvador, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Rhodesia, Somalia, Uganda, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Argentina, Bosnia, Bolivia, Chad, Colombia

            I understand Americans always think AK or AR, but there is more variety than that.

          • Don Ward

            It was honest question and I wasn’t trying to be snippy.

            I know that it’s widely issued and there is something like 7 million of them knocking around. I asked about combat usage and have they been put through the ringer like the AR has in very intensive firefights lasting hours and days in conditions from wet jungles to sandy deserts and freezing mountains.

            And if so what are the G3’s kinks? It is never written about and I would like to know.

          • dan citizen

            I can never tell what people mean in text, you can’t see their eyes.

            In the Iraq/Iran throwdown and in Africa they have been subjected to abuse that would kill an AR three times over. Often running with zero spares or maintenance for a decade of heavy use. i have seen them run until they glowed and started cooking off rounds.

            Downside? They are horrible on brass, Throwing it more than 50 feet is normal and when fired from inside a vehicle or tight space the brass is a real hazard and can take an eye out. I have had my own brass leave a palm sized bruise on the opposite shoulder after bouncing around inside a vehicle. If the fluted chamber gets corroded, forget it, the rifle will just tear casings in half, you can polish it and get by for a bit, but then it will fail again at the worst time, and they do love to erode out their chamber if subjected to a lot of sustained full auto (should’ve brought an HK21?). Repairs are not easy, especially compared to an AR, replacing a barrel is more of a pain than doing an AK, you can do the old bucket-of-ice-water-and-a-fire-trick but it usually takes a couple tries to get the headspace right-ish, and it’s easy to ruin the rifle.

            Some people complain it is hard to handle, especially full auto. Especially if you are not larger than average. I did not find this so, but I am far from small.

            I saw it’s use against the FAL, which I consider to be an overrated rifle, why have select fire if it won’t function? We called it BANG-BANG-JAM.

          • I feel this is kind of exaggerating it. Firstly, an AR-15 will run well past its cook-off point. Second, let’s step back for a bit and remember that the G3, like all selfloading rifles, is a system of masses running on springs, repeatedly. When the springs wear out, they need to be replaced. Maybe the G3 has better springs or something (I can think of examples like that, e.g., AK braided FCG springs), but they still wear out.

            In fact, I can come up with examples of nearly any military rifle I choose being subjected to abuse that would make anybody cringe, and any listener believe it was truly the most marvelous and fool-proof rifle. In reality, usually, these cases of abuse usually indicate fools who can’t care for their weapon and wouldn’t know the difference between its reliable, safe functioning and a rifle with a shot-out barrel, worn out mainspring, etc.

            The G3 is a proven military rifle, with a pretty well-characterized (thanks to the meticulousness of its German engineers) maintenance schedule, so I have no doubt it has given reliable service for years. To say that would “kill an AR three times over” is a bit much.

            As for full-auto controllability, that depends. I don’t consider the G3 difficult to keep pointed in a general direction in full auto fire, but I do find it very difficult to maintain any accuracy in that mode.

          • dan citizen

            You are, of course, correct.

            I agree I am exaggerating a bit, the same as a man exaggerates the beauty of his wife and derides the appearance of her sister. One should never take anything I say as strictly literal.

            German springs are pretty good stuff, especially pre 1990.

            I have been known to slightly exaggerate the ARs flaws, often saying that a single dust bunny can destroy it, or that merely setting it down hard can shatter the receiver like a grandfather’s hip, ARs are tough rifles. A friend sent me a pic of one in central america. It was an early version and had used in the jungle for years, the front of the mag well was corroded away from palm sweat (theory) and the stock and handguard were carved out of local wood. This rifle was very rough looking. But it still ran fine.

          • Cristian A.

            some months ago i had a little conversation with a retired colombian officer who had a quite impresive combat record against marxist guerillas, durig his service he was issued a madsen m45, an m1 garand, an m1 carabine and later on, a g3a3 and a galil arm 7,62, of allthose guns he said the g3 was the best, incredibly reliable, accurated and sturdy, he liked it over the Galil, wich was by his standards less than accurated, cumbersome and not that reliable.
            he held a quite negative view on the m1 garand and the m1 carabine, the m1 was just too powerful and unreliable for jungle combat, while m1 carabine was even less reliable than the first ar 15 pattern rifles that entered service in the country wich soon gained a reputation of being exelent rifles with reliability problems.

        • Esh325

          I highly doubt the G3 will ever see the use of the ak series of rifles. There are still Aks manufactured even today

    • gunsandrockets

      In fairness, I would be very surprised if any of the NATO nations mentioned adapted the FAL or G3 in a year which overlapped the very narrow window of the production of the M-14. Yep, I checked.

  • I think this sheds a lot of light, too, on the poor performance of selfloaders during World War I. The most popular designs also had exposed components, which when coupled with tighter clearances than the M1 Garand, probably made them a bear to use in the trenches. E.G.:

    • nadnerbus

      I took some pictures of my M1A to try to illustrate the points. This picture from the top looking forward with the bolt locked back shows how the locking lug recesses are openly machined into the receiver walls. Compare that to an AR 15 star bolt that is inclosed inside the receiver.

      • Great photos, you’ve hit the nail on the head. That sort of action is just too open to debris ingress.

        One thing you didn’t take a photo of was the operating rod slot in the upper handguard; that’s sensitive to debris ingress, too.

    • nadnerbus

      This shot shows the right rear side of the receiver, showing the large gap behind the bolt, and the smaller one at the bolt release paddle on the left side, as well as the (greasy) op rod guide track, all exposed to debris.

    • nadnerbus

      Finally, and I think this one is probably the most problematic, the cam cut in the op rod handle is still exposed to debris, even when the bolt is closed. Any crud finds its way in there, and the bolt will not cycle. I imagine it could even lead to a kaboom under the right (wrong) circumstances.

  • Lance

    You might have your hatred for every American rifle Nathaniel F. But id take the GIs word over yours. M-1 too operated best in every condition from Pacific Island in the tropics to the frozen forest of Europe in 1944. M-1s where mass issued and your prefered G-43 and SVT-40 where only issued in small numbers and was less reliable. I know you say in your friends test they can get fowled when they get in-cased in mud. But most GIs never covered there rifle in mud and where smart enough to take care of there personally issued weapon.

    Nathaniel F you may love your Euro guns so fine love your G-3s FALs and STG-44s. But STOP writing hit piece after hit piece on American rifles.

    Nathaniel F

    • You evidently won’t take the word of the US soldiers who helped write the above test results.

      Your bizarre theory that I prefer “European” rifles doesn’t really shake out well considering the amount of articles I’ve written highlighting the positive aspects of the very American AR-15 family versus its European competitors such as the SCAR or G36.

      Of rifles I currently own, two out of three are American-made and American-designed.

      • nadnerbus

        It is best to not respond to anything Lance posts. He has a fetish of being wrong and totally missing the point.

        • He’s fun, though.

        • Lance

          Strange your been wrong many time too.

          Im saying the author has a bias.

          • Just reporting the test results. If they have a bias, you’re welcome to prove it.

      • Don Ward

        Why do you hate America, Nathaniel? If it were left up to you we’d still be speaking British!

      • Lance

        I read seen and have meant many GIs who swear there lives to the M-1 and M-14 in combat.

        • Don Ward

          Yeah. And there’s the story of the GI the night before the Normandy invasion who was up big in a poker match, got a premonition of his death and intentionally lost all of his ill-gotten gains. And there are the soldiers who swore that their M1 Carbines weren’t penetrating the jackets worn by Chinese soldiers. And you’d have found soldiers who swore they saw the Angels of Mons. Or Foo fighters in World War 2.

          What Nathaniel has been doing is deconstructing a lot of the myths of the M1 Garand and M14 and reconstructing their real strengths and weaknesses using actual documentation and tests from first party sources.

          As much as I respect the M1 Garand, one has to question the US military’s insistence on its continued usage into the 1950s (and 1960s!) when their direct competitor was fielding the AK-47.

        • A lot of Frenchmen swear their lives on the FAMAS.

          It doesn’t mean the FAMAS is the perfect rifle. (Or a good rifle at all in this particular case)

          Likewise for Americans and their successive service rifles. The M1 was not perfect by any means. Neither was the M14 and neither were each iteration of the M16.

          As a soldier, you swear your life on the rifle you’ve been trained with because it’s what you know, not because it’s the best in the world. But were you ever a soldier, Lance?…

        • Cristian A.

          man just take into consideration this fact, here in colombia we been figthing for about 70 years or more, and we have used almost every major firearm design in the world including the the m1 garand, the m1 carabine and the m14, all those rifles were considered obsolete in the 80s and where issued to second line troops, and by now they have been completly replaced, many of those firearms fell in the hands of the numerous irregular armed forces tha plagued colombia in the mid 80s and 90s, and they were used for a short time until they found them to be less than adequate for jungle figthing, in the present day you can see all sorts of firearms in the hands of guerrilla figthers (AUG assault rifles to ar 180 semiautomatic rifles) and such but not a single m14 or m1

      • Even TFB needs a village idiot…

    • Kevin Harron

      Jesus H. Christ you are an idiot. Nathaniel is the most facts obsessed writer that I know. Find something factual to take issue with, not a mythological bias against American weaponry.

    • WFDT

      Lance’s inability to use basic 5th grade grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure does not help his argument.

  • idahoguy101

    I’m curious about how the British Imperial version of the FAL with “sand cuts” in bolt would have fared? The FAL was the only chance for a standard NATO rifle. Just as the faults of the AR15/M16 were sorted out so would have the FAL. But by the refusal of FN to licence the FAL for German production, followed by the Army Ordinance Corp adopted the M14 over the FAL, doomed a standard NATO rifle…

    • The adoption of the G3 post-dated the adoption of the M14.

      By 1955, the idea of a “NATO rifle” was waning; most countries seemed happy with just a standard NATO round, and the European FALs wouldn’t have been compatible with the North American/UK FALs, anyway.

      Then the question becomes, was the FAL the right choice for the USA, and if not, could it have been improved? I think the answer to the first question is yes, but keeping in mind that the Army really wanted something more like the T44E4 instead. The answer to the second question is clearly “yes”.

      I’m a bit disappointed that the US government rifle designers were not interested in making serious improvements to the Garand rifle (instead of basically dressing it up differently); the basic action is extremely sound, and could have been adapted by the US into something more AK-like that was much more dust resistant.

      • idahoguy101

        True enough Nathaniel F… The G3 was the second choice of the Bundeswehr after FN refused licensing the G1 to the Germans.
        The Brits had an unwritten quid pro quo when then they accepted the 7.62 NATO that Americans would adopt the FAL. This was during the Truman administration. After Eisenhower became President that ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was disregarded.
        The argument of the Ordinance Corps was that the existing M1 Garand machinery could be used in manufacturing the M14. Which was a ‘bait and switch’ tactic since all production machinery used was new. Secretary of Defense McNamara investigated the Ordinance Corps claims versus performance and shut down Springfield Armory. Shortly afterwords M14 production ended and the M16 was adopted.
        The initial adoption was a fiasco…but that’s another story.

        • The G3 wasn’t really in the picture for US adoption. While I feel the G3 has some design shortcomings, overall I think it’s probably a better design than the FAL.

          I’m given to understand that by 1957, the British didn’t really care what rifle we adopted, nor did anyone else.

          It’s interesting to speculate about whether the FAL could have saved Springfield Armory, and what consequences that might have had. I’m not sure either way.

  • Southpaw89

    All of this strikes me as funny considering that in an ad for the Mini 14 I read a few years back it stated that “The open rotating bolt throws debris clear of the action ensuring reliable operation” despite the now apparent flaw in this logic the Mini is still on my list of rifles to get

  • 45B20

    Tempest meet Teacup

  • HKguns

    M1 Garand won WW2 in the freezing cold of Belgium / Germany and the wet tropical islands of the South Pacific. It will always enjoy that special spot in history, regardless of what happens next.

    • Cristian A.

      It did not won ww2, it gave american troops an important advantage on the pacific and an sligth one in europe, nothing that impresive, war was won by raw mateirals and manufacturing capabilities not by a small arms per se and if so, we could say that the ppsh 42 won ww2.

      • HKGuns

        Sorry, but wars are won with boots on the ground. These particular boots primarily carried the M1 Garand. While it takes logistics and at lot of other things to support those boots, without those boots carrying those rifles the war is not winnable. Your argument is like saying the war was won with food, which it most certainly was not. Food did play an important role, just like the other obvious support functions.

        • Pardon, but aren’t you conflating the final importance of infantry as an occupying unit for ending war with the impact of rifle’s on a war’s outcome?

          • HKGuns

            No I am not.

          • And if changing the particular rifle those infantry were using would prove to not change the outcome of the war… Would you then say the infantry had no impact, and that infantry might as well be done away with altogether?

        • crisara772

          without food there are no boots, without ammo rifles are useless, without rifles boots are useless, and so on, allied forces had a complete material supperiority over the axis, and they would have won even if most of the the boots were armed with bolt action rifles, and that reminds me than all the common wealth forces were actually armed with bolt action rifles, and what about the russian who deafeated 75-80 percent of the german war machine… bolt action rifles and vast numbers if submachineguns, in the big picture the m1 was just an small factor that contributed to the final victory in the western front and in the pacific but was not decisive by any means

  • n0truscotsman

    I have always argued, from opinion, that the US selected the *worst* rifle to succeed the M1 Garand. I didn’t realize it was ever compared to the EM-2 and that the EM-2 basically wiped the floor clean of the competition.
    It was far ahead in many respects, thats for sure. Definitely too radical for its own good.

    • noguncontrol

      the em2 was good, but it was too expensive to produce. it used the same retractable lug system as the german g43.

      • And it was made entirely of sophisticated machinings. I agree, realistically there was no way the EM-2 would actually succeed.

  • gunsandrockets

    It seems to me that a very simple field expedient solution to the dust/mud vulnerability of the M1/M14 is removable fabric dust cover for the area of the action.

    • nadnerbus

      I was thinking that, or just a can of compressed air, or maybe one of those “action blaster” type cans of solvent. Blow any crud out pretty fast. Anything behind the bolt will just fall down into the trigger group though, so disassembly is probably still required to get it back up.

      No design is perfect. I still love the Garand action. I have my M1A and my mini 14, and love both (despite my Springfield being unreliable, blame Springfield though). They just aren’t suitable designs to build on for a modern combat rifle.

      • gunsandrockets

        Are there any similar mud/dust tests of military bolt action rifles? I would think so.

        Most bolt action rifles have ‘open actions’ too, in fact if anything the bolt action of the M1 very much resembles that of a manual bolt action rifle. How well would those bolt actions stand up to the blowing sand tests which the M-1A failed so spectacularly? I bet they would be particularly vulnerable because the long time the action is open between shots gives lots of time for debris to blow into the action.

        • The M1 Garand is even more exposed than a Mauser rifle; the Mauser’s locking surfaces are seated deep inside the receiver ring, sheltered from dust. The M1 Garand’s are exposed, because it was a priority to make the receiver as short as possible. I agree that otherwise bolt guns are as exposed as possible, but consider further the fact that they do not have sensitive cam tracks.

          • gunsandrockets

            All well and good, until the bolt action is opened. That video of the dust test where the M-1A failed had dust blowing on the action while firing. I bet a Mauser would pretty quickly grind to a halt with crap blowing into the action as the bolt was operated.

          • That doesn’t really counter my above post.

      • Absolutely right, nadnerbus. It’s not my goal to “slander” the Garand’s design (I say a great many good things about it, in fact), but to dismiss the particular idea that it’s competitive with modern designs.

    • I always wondered why Garand didn’t just incorporate a sheet-steel dust cover that was permanently attached to the operating rod.

      • gunsandrockets

        Like an Arisaka dust cover? I’m trying to imagine how that would work. At the least the receiver mounted peep sight would have to change to a barrel mounted open sight.

        • You’d just weld/rivet/whatever it to the operating rod handle, and reshape the receiver to accommodate it. I can see why Garand didn’t do this back in the ’20s, but why wouldn’t the folks working on the T44 do it?

  • gunsandrockets

    Huh, interesting the superiority of the M1 in rainy and cold conditions. Guess the old dog ain’t so bad after all.

  • noguncontrol

    so why didn’t the US adopt the T25 instead? which looked like a typical rifle and was US made. and it seem more reliable than the M1 Garand ,it was also lighter , only 7 pounds.

    • The T25 did not work well. Its magazines, in particular, were deeply flawed. After continued testing, it was dropped from consideration.

  • n0truscotsman

    I was implying the reliability in harsh conditions. Yeah the disassembly video posted in forgotten weapons was interesting. The competition definitely had the edge in that regard.

  • One of the problems the EM-2 had, I think, is that it has a significant number of subassemblies that are held together permanently by rivets, etc. US doctrine holds that a rifle be able to be stripped down to each individual component, and then reassembled. I strongly suspect the EM-2s tested were stripped down beyond the point they were designed to be, and that rivets were popped in their disassembly. This not only increased the time to reassembly, but severely affected their parts breakage levels.

    I would emphasize that I am not sure of this; it’s only a theory, but it’s a compelling one based on what I know.

  • Max Scholz

    This video says it all.

  • Vitsaus

    Alright Nathaniel, we get it, the AR15 is the greatest rifle platform ever created and that ever will be created. 100 years from now when everyone else is using magnetic particle beam rail gun rifles, the AR15 will still be better and more reliable and there will be no reason to change. Its more reliable than the AK, and more deadly than concentrated mortar fire.

    • Hmmm, I don’t recall saying that. Could you give me a link to refresh my admittedly spotty memory?

      • Vitsaus

        Recently many of your articles fall into the category of either long winded defenses of various AR15 shortcomings, or explaining to us how the reliability of one competitor or another is a myth.

        • Really? I’ve mostly been reposting tests, examinations, and other documents. If they reflect positive things about one rifle and negative things about another, take that up with their authors, not me.

          There are exceptions obviously, where I share my thoughts on a given design, etc, but even my in-depth critique of the Garand includes both good and bad aspects of the design.

          You don’t have to agree with me on any of this, and you don’t have to accept the documents I’ve posted as factual, I guess, but acting as though I’m just a pro-AR-15 demagogue I think is unfair.