Nearly two months ago, I wrote a critique of the M1 Garand which pointed out a vulnerability in the design – the great degree of openness it has, exposing the moving parts and critical surfaces to sand, mud, dust, debris, and the elements at large.
Ian and Karl of InRange TV took this to heart recently when they tested an M1A – a rifle which shares its open action design with the M1 rifle – in both mud and sand. Against it were pitted the MAS 49/56, a contemporary French infantry selfloader, and a frankenstein AR-15, representing the rifle that replaced the M14 after only five short years of production.
In both tests, the M1A choked after the first round fired. Efforts to clean and clear the weapon only made the situation worse, and in test after test shooting was called off for safety concerns as the bolt would not go into battery. The sand test was especially brutal, as rifles were not simply dumped in sand and then fired, but rather sand was actively sprayed on the guns via an air hose during a course of shooting, simulating action in the middle of a sandstorm. In this and the sand test, The M1A fell victim to its 1920s receiver design, which prioritized shortness of length over exposure resistance.
The open receiver is a significant drawback of the M1 Garand and its relatives the M14, M1A, M1 Carbine, and Mini-14. Coupled with other design shortcomings like the dog-legged operating rod and lack of anti-pre-engagement mechanism, the M1A has something of a “perfect storm” of features that make it especially susceptible to failure from exposure.
Ian and Karl aren’t the first to catch this on video, of course: Guns & Ammo TV locked up an M1A of their own in a very similar test back in 2007:
InRange is set to continue this kind of testing in new conditions and with new rifles. For me, their tests were very refreshing against the restraint of other exposure tests I’ve seen, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.