Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Coming Soon to the Darwin Gun Case

For quite some time, I'd been planning to make a side trip up to Camp Perry during the planned family trip to Ohio in May in order to pick up an M1 Garand from the Civilian Marksmanship Program store there. However, the CMP is apparently rapidly running out of Garands, so last week I pulled together the paperwork to send off an order by mail.

A little background for those not deeply into military firearms: Entering World War II, every major power except the United States had a .30 caliber bolt action rifle little different from its WWI predecessor as their primary battle rifle. US forces, however, carried the M1 Garand, the world's first semi-automatic main battle rifle.

The M1 fired .30-06 cartridges loaded into eight round en bloc clips. A soldier could fire eight rounds as fast as he could aim and pull the trigger. With the last round, the clip ejected out as well. (For those of you who've seen Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, this produced the Garand's famous: bang, bang, bang, bang, ping... [pause] bang, bang firing pattern.) The soldier then slapped another en bloc clip into place, released the slide, and resumed firing.

As well as being the first semi-automatic battle rifle, the Garand developed a nearly peerless reputation for rugged design, reliability and accuracy, such that it remains to this day one of the standard rifles used in high powered rifle matches in the US. After the M1 Garand was replaced by the M14 and (shortly after) the M16, Garands were sent on loan to a number of US allies including Italy, Greece and Denmark. They also continued to be used for training in the US army through the 70's.

More recently, surplus M1s were turned over in large numbers to the Civilian Marksmanship Program, which made them available to civilian shooters throughout the country. A piece of history, and a great all-around rifle.

I might still have to stop by the CMP when we're in Ohio, though, since I hear that they've got hold of a bunch of M1 Carbines returned by the Italian government...


Fidei Defensor said...

Way to go Darwin! You will have quite the WWII collection in the near future (only obvious ommision being an Enfield.)I hope you get a good Garand with nice crisp rifling!

LogEyed Roman said...

Too cool. Looks like I'm not going to own a Garand any time soon. Sigh of good-natured envy.

Some trivia: The Garand was not available for all troops at once when the U.S. got into the war. The Marines who landed on Guadalcanal were carrying 1903 Springfields at first. When they were issued Garands, one commander complained that, due to the superior natural "point" of the '03, the Garand was actually a net loss in effectiveness. However, he changed his mind after some close fights with the Japanese. Eventually he learned what many people have: The Garand, with its rather unusual "point", can be easily mastered with a little practice. This Marine commander's name was Chesty Puller. You might have heard of him.

German troops learned what the lound "ping" meant. Sometimes, if they heard that during a close firefight when they were under fire from an American with no immediate support, they would take the opportunity to rise up and fire or even rush him. Until Americans wised up; they started carrying a few spare empty spring clips. They would fire a few shots, then toss out the spring clip. PING. And the Germans would leap out from cover...


Rick Lugari said...

Beautiful weapons, those Garands. I hope to acquire one someday too. Even though I'm not fond of the en bloc clip system. I think the M14 was the logical and perfect advancement of that weapon. Yielding what to me is the be all and end all of infantry issue weapons. Not that the way things have gone - lighter, smaller round fully auto weapons like the M-16 - is the wrong, but I have a hard time admiring any artistic merit in the current arsenal. They're great weapons and technological marvels, but they are cold and sterile to me - if that makes sense.

I used to have an M1 Carbine. Three words to describe it: F.U.N. However, when shooting it you come to the realization that while you would much rather have to lug the Carbine and its ammo around than the M1 or M14...and for a little guy like me prefer to shoot it'd still rather the 30.06 or .308 weapons in a battle situation. The Carbine uses a .30 caliber round, but firing it is far more reminiscent of shooting a .22 than 30.06. Nevertheless, if I had the money I'd pick one up again. Actually, if I had the money, I'd have a lot more weapons period, but my passion is WWII weapons and equipment.