February 4, 2012

John C. Garand and his Rifle..

"Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! Ka-lingggg!"
..in addition to railing against the boobs we have in Washington and Sacramento (and other places of governance where these idiots assemble) AND in addition to amateur radio, I have yet another diversion that occupies my time and helps me offload the mountains of cash received from my place of employment: I like shooting.

Not only do I like shooting, I like shooting Mr Garand's wonderful contribution to our culture: The 30 caliber M-1.

Am I a Carlos Heathcock or Vasily Zaytsev? Hardly! The term "broad side of a barn" comes to mind. When people speak in hushed tones of my marksmanship prowess and the term "dinner-plate sized groups" comes up, they usually throw in "place setting for the Jolly Green Giant". But, what the hell? I am in my sixth decade on this earth and getting anything on paper and in the aiming black at 100 yards with iron sights is pretty near a miracle for me.

But I persevere.

In addition to that, though, I just welcome the opportunity to share history with a many who lived and fought in past generations -- most notably, WWII, the Korean War, and briefly -- ever so briefly -- the Viet Nam War.

My pride and joy is a Harrington & Richardson made, .30 caliber M-1, a veteran born sometime around 1955 as its 5571### serial number tells me. It's got a decent but darkened stock with a few dings and cartouches (stamps put on it by the various armorers who have refit and revitalized it). It's components are not completely H&R -- there's a couple of Springfield Armory parts indicating that it was issued to one soldier, used, then overhauled, and handed finally back out to another before it was called in and given over to the Civilian Marksmanship Program so that some of us could practice and stand at the ready should the Russians or Cubans invade..

..or whatever your fantasy might be.


Here's some shots of The WP with Old Betsy:

"Cold dead hands and all that, old chum.."

Do we get extra points if we hit the beer bottles?"

In any event, I commend this owning a piece of military history to you.I wrote about this once before here and like to pass this along again.The CMP according to its Wikipedia entry:
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a U.S. government-chartered program that promotes firearms safety training and rifle practice for all qualified U.S. citizens with special emphasis on youth. Any U.S. citizen who is not legally prohibited from owning a firearm may purchase a military surplus rifle from the CMP, provided they are a member of a CMP affiliated club. The CMP operates through a network of affiliated shooting clubs and state associations that covers every state in the U.S. The clubs and associations offer firearms safety training and marksmanship courses as well as the opportunity for continued practice and competition.
Basically, they operate out of two locations: Camp Perry near Port Clinton, Ohio (CMP North) and Anniston, Alabama (CMP South). I have purchased two rifles from them, the aforementioned Harrington & Richardson and a repatriated Greek Springfield from approximately the same era. The latter was a weapon we loaned to the Greeks in the late 1950s like we did with other NATO countries like Denmark, etc. These were recently given back to us and sent to the CMP for refurbishing and reselling. In the case of mine, the barrel was shot out and the stock had a peace symbol carved into it. So, off it went to Dean's Gun Restoration in Tennessee where it was rebarrelled and had a nice new stock put on it. Below is a picture I cadged from Dean's Website of the type of work he does:

The upper picture is, of course, the before and the bottom is the after. I just have one caveat to add: my Greek before looked crappier than the one Dean shows and my Springfield after looks far better than what Dean shows on his site. Just sayin' that Dean is far too modest about his workmanship. But the math works out really, really well. The Greek repat was what they called a "rack grade" and cost me about $300. Dean did his magic and charged me somewhere around $600 (his prices, like everything, have gone up in 8 years) so the total piece cost me around $900 out the door.I got it back and benched it -- back when I could shoot -- and got a 4-inch group at 100 yards using Lake City M2 Ball ammunition.

At the time, the Springfield Armory was starting to sell their re-issue or anniversary edition or whatever-the-hell-they-called-it 2004 M-1s for around $1,200. These were roundly disparaged by the Garand crowd as being late-to-the-dance and not worthy of purists' attention. Something like cast receivers as opposed to the original M-1's milled receivers. Frankly, back in 2004, I would have taken the Greek repats and had them refurbished by Dean any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

The Springfield -- while technically mine -- has been "gifted" to my son, the good Lance Corporal, who CAN shoot the testicles off of a gnat at 300 yards. We're headed out the door one weekend coming up to "BZO" (re-zero) these veterans and then we'll see if we can do some serious damage to 12 x 12 pieces of paper afterwards.

Sadly, with the advent of The Pantload ascending to the throne in 2009, ammunition prices have shot (sorry) out of sight. I used to be able to get .30-06 from the CMP for about 25 cents per round. Now they sell their stuff for about $110 -- and that's the cheapest surplus military stuff going with about a 15% wastage factor. Works out to 55 cents a round. To curtail severe wallet cramps, I am starting to reload which should cut down the cost to about 35 cents per round, if I am lucky.

Anyway, I am prattling here.

If you would like to own a piece of history, I commend the CMP to you. If you are a decent, law-aboding citizen, you may join and partake of what they have to offer. See you at the range?




  1. My M-1 was built in the first months of 1942 and re-barelled in 1945. It was stored away at that time and not used again until my dad got it about 25 years ago. He shot it a few times (he's a Korea Marine) and then put it away. He handed it on to me because he thought it ought'a be used and I like to shoot.

    There really isn't a better shooting rifle. Sure, there' more accurate rifles, lighter rifles, rifles with collapsible stocks and all kinds of optical systems.

    But, there's only one M-1. When I take that baby out of its case and push a clip down into it and let that bolt slide home I know what that means. That's the same motion made by millions of American soldiers as they struggled on battlefields around the world to protect us and our way of life. The M-1 isn't just a weapon, it's a symbol of American power and resolve in a way that no other rifle can ever be.

    And everybody that owns and shoots one knows it. When that rifle comes out it always gathers a crowd. People want to hold it, to feel the history. They want to see how it operates and they always, always remark on the M-1 thumb.

    It's a special piece of America and I'm proud to have it.

  2. ..and I am proud to have you stop by with such a lyrically literate comment. They *do* draw a crowd at the range, don't they? One guy asked to put a clip or two through mine and, upon completion, said wistfully, "..just like the one I had at the Chosin Reservoir."

    It was a singular honor for me and my H&R.

    Please thank you dad for his service for me and here's hoping you always have tight groups.

  3. It ain't easy owning something like that in California anymore. I was just starting to enjoy the absence of a vision of you across from me at a table. Well, you mucked that up too.

  4. John, I *did* offer you that double Beefeaters but, no, you just had to worry about getting a 502.

    Maybe next time?