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

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.

via Hindsight Is 30/06: A Critique Of The M1 Garand – The Firearm Blog.

Via the ONT at Ace’s.

In spite of my service as an Infantryman, I’m not exactly a small arms expert. Rifles were merely one of many tools used to fulfill the mission, to wit, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and assault, and to repel his assault.

Having said that, I’m familiar enough with the Garand to appreciate some of, but not all, the issues the post raises.

And while there are indeed some issues with the Garand (of which I believe the most significant that the post raises is the exposed/open nature of the action), the obvious conclusion is that the Garand, when measured not against contemporary designs, but rather against contemporary fielded weapons, was indeed the best rifle in general service.

There’s an interesting discussion in the comments about what the trajectory of small arms design would have been had the rifle been adopted in .276 Pederson as originally intended. That it wasn’t is wholly upon the insistence of MacArthur, who simply would not countenance anything less than the .30-06.

5 thoughts on “Hindsight Is 30/06: A Critique Of The M1 Garand – The Firearm Blog”

  1. I think Mac insisted on the good ol’ .30-06 because of the large stockpiles remaining from the great war, and he was already fighting FDR tooth and nail for things the Army desperately needed. A round in 6.5-7mm class would have been a better choice, but that’s life.

  2. Interesting article. A very good analysis of the rifle. I am glad he mentioned the 8-round en-bloc as a strength. It most certainly was. The exposed action was both a feature and a drawback, however. The operating rod was strong enough to kick the bolt rearward if necessary, and the exposed action allowed the action to be cleared/cleaned without disassembly of the weapon, unlike the M-16. As for the gas system, any impingement system that could produce more pressure than the operating rod design for the M1 in .30-06 would be hotter than hades. The experiences with the M-16 would pale in comparison.

    The bending of the follower arm was a serious issue, but could be remedied. The follower arm could be hammered straight quite easily. This would be sufficient for proper function, though I understand it was recommended to replace it at the next opportunity, as straightening would weaken the steel. Also, I am under the impression it has to be a hell of a yank to bend the follower arm. I own three Garands, and have probably fired thirty thousand rounds out of them over the years, and have never, ever had a problem with an internal component.

    I spoke with an armorer who supports the M1 shoots at Perry, and he says the old-timers loved the M1 because the armorers at the unit level simply carried bags of little parts, and operating rods, and could provide the owner with the proper replacement part and the rifle would function perfectly.

    Agree with XBRAD. For a production self-loader, nothing came close to ease of manufacture, maintenance, reliability, or accuracy.

  3. Perhaps today we can see a few faults but at the time it was light years ahead of the bolt action rifles the Germans and Japanese used. Agreed with what QM said about the 30-06. Why render an inventory obsolete particularly when the 30-06 is a great round?

    Some years ago I qualified with the M1 in the DCM program. I am still amazed at 1,000 yards, a 3′ bulls eye looked like a pinhead with those iron sights – and getting – for me – 2′ groups.

    Bet the M16 can’t do that.

  4. Necessity being the mother of invention, it is my understanding the Marines fought with Springfields (O3’s I believe & firing 7.62 X 63) in the early stages of the Pacific Campaign. Further, instead of waiting for M1 Garands to come off of the production line the Marines received the Johnson Rifle and Machine Gun both also firing 30-06. Interestingly enough the US Navy received a number of M1 Garands chambered in NATO 7.62 X 54. The Johnson Rifle had a rotary feeding mechanism with a 9 round capacity and the Johnson Machine Gun (which had a Flash Gordon-like front sight aperture) fired a 40 round single stacked magazine inserting from the side rather like the German FG-42. I got my M1 Garand because of the points offered by others in this thread plus when a cadet at Missouri Military Academy (MMA) the M1 Garand was the rifle we performed D&C with. The rifle came along at the correct time for the circumstances going on in the world at the time. When I went through BCT (Army) in l968 I drilled and qualified with the M-14. By the way, should anyone have an original “long” bayonet for the Springfield l903/M1 Garand…

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