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M1 .30 Caliber Rifle, "Garand"

The M1 rifle, designed by John C. Garand, was the standard issue military rifle used by the US Army from 1936 to 1957, when it was replaced by the lighter M14 rifle. It should not be confused with the M1 Carbine, an almost entirely unrelated weapon. The M1 rifle was one of the first semi-automatic rifles to see action in combat. It offered a great improvement in fire power over the bolt-action M1903 series rifle it replaced. It was rugged, reliable, and tolerant to the abuses of use in the field.

The Ordnance Corps began developing a semiautomatic rifle in 1901, but was interrupted by World War I. Work began again in 1919 when John C. Garand was recruited by the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts to develop such a rifle. Civil Service employee John C. Garand was in a class all by himself, much like the weapons he created. Garand became the Chief Civilian Engineer at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. Garand invented a semi-automatic .30 caliber rifle, which was subsequently standardized as the M1, but was better known as "the Garand."

Three rifles underwent testing as replacement for the World War I infantry rifle. After extensive efforts the Army adopted the M1 Garand as the standard infantry weapon in 1936. The M1 replaced the bolt action M1903 "Springfield" rifle that had been in service since 1903. The M1 rifle had shown itself to be superior to the M1903, with which many soldiers and Marines had been armed. The M1093 continued in service with the Marine Corps for a period after the adoption of the M1 rifle by the US Army.

The rifle was gas-operated and weighed under 10 pounds. The rifle used .30-06 caliber cartridges in 8-round "en bloc" clips loaded into an internal magazine. It was found that the new semi-automatic weapon could be fired more than twice as fast as the Army's previous standard-issue rifle and was praised by General George S. Patton, Jr., as "a magnificent weapon" and "the most deadly rifle in the world."

For the M1 rifle, which went on to be nicknamed the "greatest battle implement" and "the rifle that won the war," and numerous other technical innovations related to weaponry, Garand received no monetory award other than his modest Civil Service salary. A bill introduced in Congress to grant him $100,000 did not pass. He was, however, awarded a Medal for Meritorious Service in 1941 and a US Government Medal for Merit in 1944.

During World War II, the basic composition of the triangular infantry division in the US Army was 3 infantry regiments and a variety of combat and combat support troops. The standard infantry regiment, the next major command below division level, consisted of 3 infantry battalions, along with various combat and combat support troops. The next lower organization was the infantry battalion. Three rifle companies, a heavy weapons company, and a headquarters company completed the 871-man battalion. The rifle company consisted of 3 rifle platoons, a weapons platoon, and a small headquarters section. Three infantry squads comprised a rifle platoon. Each rifle squad consisted of 12 men armed with 10 M1 rifles, one M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, and one M1903 bolt-action rifle. Despite the awesome, aggregate firepower of the weapons within a triangular division, the lifeblood of the infantry division was the 5,211 officers and combat infantrymen who manned its 27 rifle companies.

After Guadalcanal, the 1st Marine Division gave up its venerable Springfield M1903s and rearmed with M1 Garands for the Cape Gloucester and later campaigns. By the end of 1943 the M1 had completely replaced the M1903 Springfield. All units of the 2d Marine Division were armed with the M1.

By VJ (Victory in Japan) Day on 14 August 1945, over 4 million M1 rifles had been produced and were in the hands of US service men fighting around the world. By the time production of the rifles had ceased in 1957, more than 6 million M1 Garand's had been produced. Although no longer used in the active Army, the M1 Garand held a special place in the hearts of many World War II veterans.

In 1957, after a lengthy period of development stretching back to the end of the Second World War, the M1 rifle was officially replaced as the standard infantry rifle by the M14 rifle. Surplus rifles and derivatives continue to serve around the world, and the M1 rifle continued to serve in specialized roles for a period after its repalcement as the standard infantry weapon.

The M1 rifle continuing to be used by drill teams and for other ceremonial purposes into the 21st Century. The ceremonial rifle program was conducted by the US Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command's Static Display and Ceremonial Rifle Team located in Warren, Michigan. This program was conducted in accordance with Title 10, United States Code 4683 as implemented by Army Regulation 700-131. The Secretary of the Army could conditionally lend or donate not more than 15 excess M1 rifles to an eligible organization. Individuals were not authorized to participate in the program.

In addition to being utilized as ceremonial rifles, the M1 Garand was a key training aid for both the SROTC and JROTC, and could be purchased by private citizens through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Garand clinics, once completed, allowed shooters to buy M1 rifles from the director of the Civilian Marksmanship Program.




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