The M1 Garand Rifle

Since I first got my DCM Garand (I will have owned mine three decades this year), I’ve been wondering when a good book on its design and evolution would appear. For such an important rifle, it seems other more exotic and sometimes lesser guns got better treatment. Now perusing Bruce N. Canfield’s epic work The M1 Garand Rifle, I understand.

Found within the 875 pages of this 6-plus-pound hardcover book are the first elemental self-loading rifles (some sleek, some more like nightmarish contraptions) from around the world born in the pre-WWI era, subsequent designs born in the conflict and continuing post-war developments, many of which are illustrated in full color.

The choice of ammunition for the new rifle was exhaustively tested before the choice to stay with .30-06 was final. It may have been final, but as WWII loomed, the Garand wasn’t in its final form and other designs, most notably the Johnson rifle, were advocated. A chapter is included covering this controversy.
Although one of Garand’s earliest rifles had a detachable magazine, Canfield covers the reasoning used to go with the en-bloc clip instead of the detachable box magazine as many of our other arms used.

The post-WWII era brought about new designs and a renewed interest in detachable box magazine, and these ideas proceeded even as the Korean War loomed and a shortage of usable rifles brought the M1 back into production.

WWII- and Korean-era sniper rifles are covered in detail as are the many M1’s sent around the globe to arm friendly governments. One photo depicts an M1 recovered from insurgents in 2008 during the Iraq war. Foreign-made M1’s by Beretta and Breda are shown with the markings found on M1’s issued by the Danish, Indonesian, Yemeni, as well as the Beretta BM-59 and its clones.

If you ever wondered about the varieties of implements issued to shoot, launch grenades, stab (bayonets), carry ammo, types of ammo and care for the M1, you’ll know after reading the chapter on “Accessories, Accoutrements, Appendages and Related Weaponry.”

As usual with author Canfield’s previous works, the book is very well researched, and written in an easy, accessible style. For the collector, the book demystifies the various changes and for anyone considering purchasing a rare “as issued” WWII-era Garand, this book will help ensure the parts are as they should be.

The M1 Garand Rifle, Bruce N. Canfield, ©2013, Hardcover, 8-1/2×11 inches, 872 pages, 2,150 photos (color and b&w), ISBN: 1-931464-56-1, $95.99, Mowbray Publishing, 54 East School Street, Woonsocket, RI 02895, (800) 999-4697,
By Jeff John

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