Garand Illusion

Kingston Armory’s Rimfire M1 Is An Accurate
“In Scale” Tribute To Our Classic Battle Rifle

It was the second day of basic training, which began with PT, a mile run and 10 pull-ups before being allowed into the mess for breakfast. Shortly thereafter, a deuce-and-a-half pulled up alongside our WWII-era barracks. We were ordered to offload the truck. The bed was stacked chest high with long cardboard boxes. Once they were unloaded, we were each ordered to draw a box and unpack it.

Inside each one—sealed in an airtight poly sleeve—was a brand new Springfield Armory M1 Garand. With the exception of WWII and Korean War movies, I had never before seen a Garand, much less handled one. Springfield 1903’s, yes, there were always a few floating around town. But Garands, never.

Holding a new M1 you were going to shoot and live with for the weeks ahead was a magical moment for a young gun enthusiast. And to this day, M1’s are still magical to me.

Other than the M14, they were the last of the major-caliber battle rifles we carried into combat. Their reputation for accuracy and reliability under fire was hard-earned and well deserved. Many complained of the weight of the Garand (typically between 10 and 11 pounds), but when you’re 21 years old the weight of your rifle means nothing.

The Garand certainly had one of the most user-friendly stocks and the best sights of any rifle ever fielded. The only criticism that really sticks on the Garand is the 8-round clip system that couldn’t be recharged after three or four rounds had been fired and, yes, that telltale ping when the clip was ejected, announcing the rifle was momentarily empty.

The Kingston Armory Garand (below, top gun) is a sensational
rimfire clone of the real thing (below, bottom gun).

Scaled-Down Similarity

Decades later I was walking down an aisle at the SHOT Show when an M1 and an M14 lying on a table caught my eye. The name of the exhibit booth read “Kingston Armory of Liberty, New York.” I walked over to take a closer look. Both rifles were properly stocked, but there was something vastly different about their receivers. These weren’t centerfire clones—these were rimfire clones.

Frankly, the full-sized M1 and M14 rimfires were so well executed and so well proportioned that until you were within a few feet of them, you would swear they were the real deal. Picking up the rimfire Garand and looking at it more closely revealed the truth.

It seemed to weigh as much as the original. It had a Garand-length 24-inch barrel joined to an ersatz gas cylinder. The rear aperture sight was a Garand-type, with click adjustments and graduations on the drums for elevation and windage. The rear matched with a Garand-type blade front sight sporting those familiar protective ears. The walnut stock featured the distinctive Garand front and rear handguards, the same three swivels and a Garand trap buttplate with storage compartments for cleaning supplies and lubricants. The metal parts were gray Parkerized while the overall length of the rimfire package was within a couple of inches of the official Garand OAL. The M14 rimfire on display was just as “correct.”

Standing behind the counter was the president of the Kingston Armory, Michael Kera. He told me that bringing this project to fruition was like birthing a child. It took months and it was painful—with numerous unanticipated challenges to be overcome. Kera said that the initial production emphasis would be on the M1 Garand with the M14 coming on-line sometime in 2017. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a sample Garand.

In-Spec Nostalgia

Weeks later, unpacking Kingston Armory’s rimfire M1 at home was just about as exciting as I remember from boot camp. At SHOT I really hadn’t had the opportunity to handle it and study it. Now the situation was even better, plus I was going to be able to shoot it.

Sometimes when handling a firearm, smell is as telling as sight. When I shouldered the rimfire M1, I could smell the old familiar Garand scent of linseed oil from its open-grained walnut stock. Talk about nostalgia! That smell took me right back to the moment and the day I unpacked that Springfield Garand decades ago in the humid summer heat of boot camp. There’s nothing quite like the distinctive scent of linseed and walnut. It just smells “GI.”

First impressions are important, and the first impression you receive when handling this rimfire is again its heft. Weighed on my Sunbeam scale it registered 9-1/2 pounds—the official weight of a real Garand. That weight plus the deep “U” shape of the forearm make it a natural for offhand shooting. The Kingston Armory Garand just hangs there perfectly.

The action is a simple blowback design fed from a Ruger-type 10-round rotary magazine, mated to what looks like the floorplate of a Garand. It’s a clever bit of styling, and no rimfire magazine system is as trouble-free as Ruger’s rotary design. I was anxious to shoot it.

Delivering 5-shot groups as small as 0.30 inches,
the rimfire M1 proved highly accurate.

Range Results

The test target pictured was shot at 30 yards from a rest. Like all rimfires, the Kingston Garand was choosy about ammunition. The two outstanding 5-shot groups turned in were with CCI Mini-Mag (0.30) and Armscor HVHP (0.44). Actually, every brand other than Winchester Super-X produced groups measuring under an inch.

Like its Big Brother, the Kingston Armory rimfire Garand is inherently accurate and a real testament to the engineering and quality control that went into its production.

I can’t wait to see their M14.

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