Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by AirB44, Nov 29, 2015.
I'm looking for tips on buying an M1 Garand for the first time.
Good question, I'm in the market for one also. Anyone here have any suggestions? Would love to hear from a gun dealer on this if possible.
Ask George for in-depth tips. I'm surprised he's not already here.
I suppose the question to ask is if the buyer wants a collector or a shooter. If a shooter, go with any recent CMP rifle, they've all been checked and head-spaced and are ready for the range. They're still collectible, but you won't find any all original straight-from-the-crate type collector prizes among those. For my money, I'd want a CMP rifle because I like to shoot, but I'd want to know that it's fairly recent and want that paperwork with it. A rifle from the CMP fifteen or twenty years ago might be shot out by now. With any rifle of that age that you intend to shoot, you really must check the head space. A heavily shot rifle erodes the front of the chamber until it's no longer accurate and eventually no longer safe. That can be measured in minutes by any gunsmith with a go/no-go gauge.
So, if buying online I'd want the FFL holder it is sent to, to have the ability to do that and the right to refuse if that or any other problems are noted.
To echo Keith -- are you looking for a shooter or a collector?
I'll be happy to offer some input, but I suspect Tom is the resident Garand expert here.
Well thank you George, but I don't think I deserve that title!!! I'm not up to date with the North American market, and there seem to be quite some differences if you compare it to the European! All the Garands we find over here have seen service and most have been through divisional armories, we find not that many that are still in the same condition as they were when they left the factory.
Keith and George already wrote the most important things, make up your choice if you want a shooter or a collectors grade Garand!
I never go for a compromise, if I have collectors grade guns they are for the collection, not for shooting! If you want a shooter go for a CMP Garand! If you want a collectors gun start with reading, Bruce Canfields books are a must-read before buying, or ask someone with a good knowledge about the subject, to help you choose your new baby. Also take a book with you when you go shopping, it's always good to have it at hand while examining a collectors grade firearm! Be very thorough while inspecting the stock cartouche's, apparently some people are faking them!
For the record, CMP has no Garands in stock right now, or didn't the last time I checked. When you go online (gunbroker, auctionarms, etc) you can ask the buyer if it's a CMP rifle and how long ago it was purchased.
South Korea is waiting to dump thousands of Garands and Carbines into the CMP, but the current administration is blocking that transfer. Depending on the election we may have tens of thousands of them available in 18 months or so.
I just checked the CMP -- they do have Garands in stock. They even have some M1Cs!
If I get a chance tomorrow night I'll post a rundown of what to look for in both shooter and collector grade M1s.
Cheers Alan, looking forward to it.
Terrific! The CMP is a great resource.
This has been a message from a country where firearm ownership, while not impossible, is a massive ballache .
I have a Win 13 and a Danish one still with cosmoline on it. I like to shoot what I own, but different folks different strokes. Fun to shoot that's for sure.
Good luck with your purchase
If things work out, I'd like to get M1 Garand shooter later this year. If/When I do, I'll post plenty of photos and video for the membership.
I thought that I would probably have a picture after reading your post Otto. Here is my son with the Win 13. I will try to find a picture of the Breda. Notice the ejecting shell.
A couple disclaimers: I am not a Garand expert nor do I purport to be one, and as a Canadian my feel for US prices is limited to perusing the US-based auction and buy-and-sell sights. As such there may be some mistakes.
Lets see -- where to begin?
Development of the M1 Garand began in the early 1920s when Canadian (nudge nudge wink wink) John Garand was employed at Springfield Arsenal. By 1933 it was accepted and was assigned the military designation M1. Despite this, a few changes were still to be made and it wasn't until 4 years later that the first "standardized" production model entered service. In 1940, the most notable change to the M1 occurred; the existing "gas trap" operating system was replaced by a simpler and more reliable "gas port". Production of the M1 Garand continued through 1945 and as we all know it became an iconic weapon that saw extensive use in every theatre of the war. The M1 returned to production during the Korean War, continued in production until 1957 and remained the standard US battle rifle until the 1959 adoption of the M14. The M1 is notable from a historical perspective in that it was the first semiautomatic rifle to be issued as the standard battle rifle for an entire nation's armed forces. As an aside -- it was not the first semiautomatic rifle to be issued in large numbers. That distinction (in my opinion) goes to the French RSC 1917 which saw service in WW1. But I digress....
M1s were made by the following manufacturers (ordered from most common to least common):
Springfield (1937 - 1945 & 1950 - 1957, ~4.2M made)
Winchester (1939 - 1945, ~550k made)
Harrington and Richardson (1952-1956, ~430k made)
International Harvester (1953 - 1956, ~340k made)
As can be seen, only Springfield and Winchester made rifles that saw service in WW2. The number produced does not necessarily linearly correlate to market value. From a collector's standpoint, for a set of rifles in equal condition, an the order of value tends to be
Winchester (earlier production generally commands a premium)
Springfield (WW2 production commands a premium over Korea-era production)
Harrington and Richardson
WW2 production models command a premium, and early WW2 models (lets say pre-1943) command a premium on top of this. Very early production models (lets say pre 1941) can go for as much as 2-3 times what a later production model sells for. Branching out from this, you get into the "nuts and bolts" and "fine points" of M1 Garand variations. To make it simple, here's a very general overview. "$" is a relative price scale (lets say 1 "$" is 1000 dollars, which would be fair for rifles in original, unrebuilt excellent condition). Note that all Garands are "gas port" models unless explicitly stated. "Pre-WW2" refers to pre-Pearl Harbor (there was no mechanical change that occurred between Dec 6 and Dec 7 1941, but pre-Dec 7 models command a premium as they are "pre-war").
Gas Trap (unmodified): $$$$$$$$$$$$$$..... (>30k USD!)
Gas Trap (modified to Gas Port): $$$$$$
Pre-WW2 Gas Port: $$$$$
WW2 "GHS" Cartouche (Late 1941 - Mid 1942): $$$$
Lend-Lease (1941-1942 production, with British proofs): $$$$
WW2 "EMcF" Cartouche (Mid 1942 - Mid 1943): $$$$
WW2 "GAW" Cartouche (Mid 1943 - Early 1945): $$$
WW2 "NFR" Cartouche (Late 1944 - Ealry 1945): $$$
Korean Era "JLG" Cartouche (1950 - 1953): $$$
Korean Era "Eagle" National Defense Cartouche (1953 - 1957): $$
WW2 "RS" Cartouche (Mid 1940 - Mid 1941): $$$$$$
WW2 "WB" Cartouche (Mid 1941 - Mid 1942): $$$$$
WW2 "GHD" Cartouche (Mid 1942 - Mid 1945): $$$
Harrington and Richardson:
Korean Era: $$
(There are some variations that aren't worth getting into here -- International Harvester did purchase receiver lots from Springfield and H&R during their production run and some variations command a premium)
Korean Era: $$-$$$
Post-WW2 the Italian firms Breda and Berretta started producing Garands. These sell for less because there is no WW2 or Korean War provenance, and can be found as low as $1000 USD for a very clean example. These are generally not worn and are in fine condition.
Late in WW2 there were interest in a sniper variant of the Garand. This posed problems due to the top-loading en bloc clip design, as this meant that mounting a scope along the centerline of the reciever was not an option. The solution was to mount a scope on the left side of the receiver (offset from the centerline). The M1C was introduced in mid 1944 and limited numbers appear to have seen some use on Okinawa. The next variant was the M1D. The difference was the method in which the scope was mounted -- the M1C had a mount on the side of the receiver, whereas the M1D had a mounting block attached to the base of the barrel. M1Cs were produced by Springfield and M1Ds can be found built on any receiver (although generally early war Springfield receivers are more common). The rifles can be found with M81, M82, M84, Lyman Alaskan and Kollmorgen scopes. Production figures and prices are as follows. Prices are for rifles with correct scopes. Certain scope combinations command a premium but I won't get into that here.
M1C (approximately 11000 built): $$$$$$$$$$... (>10k USD!)
M1D (approximately 20000 built): $$$$
I should note that none of the above variations in original excellent condition are "falling out of the woodwork" waiting to be snapped up by a buyer. The great majority of Garands on the market have gone through an arsenal rebuild. There is nothing wrong with this, and in some cases arsenal rebuilt examples often are in better condition than original models. As part of the rebuild, all worn parts such as the barrel were replaced. The end result was a rifle that functioned like new. The good news is that these are much more affordable. CMP rifles would fall into this category. Prices vary slightly be manufacturer, but tend to be in the 800 - 1200 USD range for good solid examples.
When it comes time to buy a collector grade Garand please do your homework. There's plenty of deceitful people out there known to fake cartouches and put together parts to make a rifle seem more rare than it actually is. Counterfeiting is rampant, especially with some of the very rare variations shown in the list above. Snipers are particular prone to counterfeiting. That's it for collector grade Garands.
If you're looking for a shooter grade Garand, you can disregard most of the information above. Depending on your level of interest you may have a propensity for a specific manufacturer or serial number range, in which case you should strike a balance between what's above and what follows. In general, this is what you should look for when buying a shooter:
Check the barrel. This is the most import part when looking for a "shooter". Ideally the barrel should have crisp rifling, and should shine when exposed to a light. Worn barrels can still shoot well but given the number of Garands at your disposal you may as well look for the best (assuming your wallet is OK with it, of course!). Also be sure the check the muzzle. The muzzle shows wear more readily than the rest of the barrel, and the bore begins to "flare open" after extensive use. If possible check the muzzle with a set of gauges. Alternatively the quickest way to do check the barrel is insert a .30-06 cartridge (point first) into the muzzle. The more the bullet can be pushed in the more used the rifle is. A "new barrel" is grab the bullet after about 5/16" in. With a well warn barrel the bullet may go entirely into the barrel and the case neck may rest on the muzzle -- stay away from one like this.
Check the overall condition. I like a nice stock and a nice finish. Some of the stocks (especially on the lower-end shooter grade models) can be very "well used". It may not be a concern, but as per the point above you might as well aim high and find a nice example. Neither of these will impact function so if that isn't a concern ignore this. Some of the "South Korean" imports can be especially rough.
If possible check the headspace. Headspace refers to the distance from the bolt face to a point in the chamber. If the headspace is too large the cartridge will stretch excessively when firing and may burst. This is not good for the rifle or you (although unlikely, there's a potential for damage to the rifle or the shooter). Too little headscape may result in a failure for the bolt to properly lock up which could result in increased wear and possibly "slam fires".
Check the op-rod. Generally speaking the op-rod is the mechanical actuator that takes gas pressure from the gas port and uses it to unlock the bolt, allowing for semiautomatic operation. The op-rod is visible on the side of the reciever and is attached to the cocking handle. Some op rods are known to have become bent, either from extreme use of the use of heavy bullets. I don't buy into it, but some claim that shooting heavy bullets in any amount from a Garand will result in op-rod damage. The op-rod is a tough piece of metal, but you really should check it out. A bent op-rod may result in decreased accuracy, failure to function or increased stresses on the rifle. Many rebuilt rifles have a "stress relieving" cut in the op rod that negates most of these concerns.
If you're looking for a solid shooter a CMP rifle is likely your best bet. You can rest assured that those will be in safe and functional condition and you can ignore the three points about barrel condition, headspace and op-rod wear. Prices are as low as 630 bucks. Gunbroker or one of the other auction sites can also be a good choice, but you'll have to be selective and pay attention to the points above (in particular, the barrel condition). Gun shows, gun shops and even pawn shops can also be excellent places to buy. A number of Garands were re-imported from overseas in the 1960s-2000s, and are readily available on the surplus market. Some of these have gone through overseas refurbishment and some haven't. South Korean, Danish and even Greek-issue Garands can be found. As a rule of thumb the South Korean ones are the most worn, and (at least from my experience) Danish ones tend to be above average. Prices don't tend to vary too much depending on a particular rifle's history but you may have an attachment to a rifle from a particular country.
In conclusion -- go buy one. Now. The M1 Garand is a fantastic rifle to shoot with amazing historical provenance. Here's my M1D (sans scope and accouterments) ready for action on the seat of my MB.
Further Reading: Bruce Canfields "Complete Guide to the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine" is a must and I have a copy in my library. Last year he released a new book entitled "The M1 Garand Rifle" that I've yet to read, but I am sure it is an excellent book (all of Canfield's works are excellent and fill important voids in military surplus rifle collecting). One of these is a must for any serious collector.
Now that is a helpful post. Thanks!
I'll go get Canfields books first, fingers crossed for an M1 in 2016.
How Canadian was Garand? There was no good place to skate near his home in Springfield, so he sealed off the parlor in his house every winter and flooded it to create an indoor skating rink. He liked to figure skate in there and play one on one hockey with his oldest step-son. That's pretty damned Canadian! His other passion was target shooting. The man really loved to shoot. His name (French) rhymed with errand, but the Americanization of his name (and his rifle) to Guh-RAND became so prevalent that even his descendants pronounce it that way now.
In related news - the CMP has just received authorization to sell 100,000 surplus 1911 pistols!
There will be great deals for American shooters when those M1911A1s are made available for sale. From what I've read they're far from collector grade condition, but what more can you ask for than a functional John Browning WW2-era classic at an affordable price?
As an aside, the influx may depress prices in the collector market. The really high-end stuff holds value regardless, but the "low-end" collector pistols (cross between shooter grade and collector grade) may take a dive. It might be a good time to start M1911 collecting! M1911 prices are ridiculous up here in Canada. A refurbed M1911A1 will set you back $1000-1500 and even beat up all-correct original examples will run in the $2000-3000 range.
George, somewhere in one of those dusty warehouses are an awful lot of pre 1924 original 1911s. We might well see some of those show up.
That may very well be. But keep in mind that many (or the great majority) would have gone through at least one arsenal rebuild. That knocks off a lot of the collector value there. There could be 1911s floating around, but I'd wager most of the pistols to be surplused are 1911A1s. Of course, you could very well see a 1911 "upgraded" with a 1911A1 trigger, arched mainspring, etc. That would be an interesting piece, but again it would't be "top" collector grade. I'm sure there will be some very nice, near-mint examples (and some rare models such as a 1937 Colt) that will eventually make it to the CMP but the CMP tends to send the high-grade stuff to "auction" rather than sell it directly. From reading some of the online scuttlebutt it seems that many who don't know better are expecting near-mint NOS M1911A1s to be falling out of the woodwork and selling for dirt-cheap prices -- which sadly won't be the case.
I'm not saying there won't be interesting variations and nice clean examples that are sold -- just that there won't be many collector grade examples (i.e. original, non-refurbed, in excellent or near-excellent condition). i.e. I don't think it'll be a case of openning your cardboard box that you bought for 500 bucks and finding a mint, unissued Singer! There's absolutely nothing wrong with refurbed firearms (I have many myself) and if I were in the US I'd definetly be buying at least one of the CMP 1911s -- and likely more than one. Regardless of condition there's nothing not to like about an affordable, functional WW2-era USGI 1911A1.
I'm looking forward to the CMP 1911A1s. CMP guns eventually filter their way north of the border (don't ask me how, but I've seen plenty of CMP Garands and 1903s for sale over the years), and we definetly need more 1911A1s up here! It sounds strange, but a USGI 1911 or 1911A1 is one of the more difficult sidearms to get up here. You could find 4-5 P38s or Webleys, 5-6 Tokarevs and 2-3 Lugers for every one USGI 1911 you see for sale.