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 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.