M1 Garand Rifle

Brian Kim


I am doing this report on the M1 Garand for Mr.Walker 182's History Class. The Garand is a fascinating World War II semi-automatic rifle. In the sub-sections below I will describe the developement history of the gun, the service history, and info on different versions. I wanted to add diagrams of the M1 rifle but the pictures are copyrighted and I was not able to download but the diagrams could be found at http://www.chestnutridge.com/gchart.asp

Development History

The origins of the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1 begin around August, 1900, when Captain O.B. Mitcham wrote to the Chief of Ordnance at Springfield Armory about "the question of automatic small arms is now being taken up seriously in Europe." Not much was done by the U.S. Army until just before and during the U.S. entered the World War I.

Many rifles were tested, most of which were tested were attempts to convert the M1903 rifle from bolt-action to semi-automatic. It was during this time that John Garand, then a young man of 30, moved to New York City from Canada after the United States entered World War I. After learning of the arms problem, he decided to try to make a rifle and got financial backing from John Kewish. Garand's first rifle was built and tested before Hudson Maxim, who suggested the rifle be presented before the Naval Consulting Board. Governmental officials then determined Garand's rifle had merit and arranged to pay Garand $35.00 per week for his services, with Kewish paying the other $15.00 per week of Garand's pay. This arrangement later caused Kewish to claim Garand cheated him of his share when the M1 rifle was adopted eighteen years later. After his first design was turned down by the military, Garand was transferred to Springfield Armory in November, 1919.

During the next five years, Garand created many rifle designs, but they all had one thing in common: the primer of the spent cartridge was used to operate the rifle's action. When the military changed the design of the M1906 cartridge, Garand could no longer use this operating principle. It was at this time when John Pedersen arrived with a new design in a totally new caliber, .276. Pedersen was an expert of his day in weapons design, so the military then ordered Garand to build his rifle design around the new .276 caliber. Between 1927 and 1931, the military held many tests to see if either Garand's design or Pedersen's was better. While the military argued against the .276 caliber, Garand's .276 caliber design was recommended for adoption on January 4, 1932. On February 25, 1932, the Army Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, put an end to the caliber issue, stating "this change will introduce an element of chaos, confusion and uncertainty which, when magnified under war conditions, would more than counteract the beneficial effect of any semi-automatic rifle." With this statement, MacArthur ordered the development of a .30 caliber rifle. This did not delay Garand's work because he had already developed a design to fire the .30 caliber on his own time in anticipation of such an event. Two more years would pass before the rifle was adopted as the United States Rifle, M1 on January 9, 1936. The United States became the first country in history to adopt a semi-automatic rifle as its standard military rifle after this event. Problems beset the M1 as it was first being issued. They occurred in the area where expanding gases of the fired bullets were tapped from the barrel to operate the rifle and the rifle suffered stoppages after firing only seven of the eight rounds in its clip. The M1's early performance problems gave it such a bad reputation that after the 1939 National Matches, the National Rifle Association was able to get Congress to look at the problem. A major redesign was ordered on October 26, 1939 and Garand redesigned the rifle to operate with gases tapped from a gas port just below the barrel. In July, 1940, the Army demonstrated the revised M1 before Congressional officials, allowing them to fire the rifle for themselves. Senator Ernest Lundeen, a former infantry officer and the M1 rifle's biggest critic, fired 27 consecutive bull's-eyes at 300 yards, convincing all at the event the M1 was the best design available. In November, 1940, the United States Marine Corps adopted the M1 as