The M1 Garand was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "The greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George S. Patton, the Garand officially replaced the bolt-action M1903 Springfield and continued to be used in large numbers until 1963.
by Joe Gorman
I've never met a rifleman that didn't have a space in his heart reserved for this superb battle rifle. The M1 Garand is such a hearty rifle you don't even need ammunition to kill the enemy--a good vertical butt-stroke with this battle machine is guaranteed to start swan-songs playing. It's almost a shame it's not still our standard rifle. I've met more than one retired soldier who said the M1 was the only rifle they could effectively engage the 600-meter targets with. If I felt in any danger of seeing the commie hordes come over the far hills, I'd grab my Winchester M1 and would feel quite well armed against all but the most armored attackers. Thankfully I don't lose any sleep fretting over this happening. I do however worry about the liberals coming for my rifle in my sleep. (And just between you, me and the fence-post, I'd rather be a commie than a liberal.)
The legendary reliability of the M1 has become the modern battle rifle benchmark. Consequently, improvements to enhance a properly functioning M1's reliability is surely an esoteric exercise--that's right, tweaking. But again, a rifle functioning with less friction is, all things being equal, more reliable. After ensuring your M1 is unloaded, field strip it and wipe all oil from its surfaces. Spend a little time polishing the feed ramps with Simichrome and rouge.
Then take a look at the bolt and notice the wear marks on the lugs. These areas are high friction areas and can benefit from some polishing. Don't sand the bolt lug wear areas, just use the Simichrome and rouge. Also notice the wear marks on the rear of the bolt. This area can benefit from a once over with Simichrome and rouge too.
On the inside of the operating rod handle you'll notice tell-tale indicators of wear. Give it the Simichrome and rouge treatment. Slide the bolt back in the receiver and watch how it tracks rearward. Notice how it rides up on the receiver rail edge. If you see any gouges or deep tool marks on the edge break out the 600 grit paper and make sure to smooth them. Go on through rouge so the bolt has a smooth ride. Looking down on the trigger group note wear on the hammer surface. Go after these wear marks with Simichrome and rouge. Polish until they glisten.
With your thumb on top of the hammer, take off the safety and pull the trigger, easing the hammer forward with your thumb. As you do this, notice the leading edges, one on the hammer and one on the trigger, responsible for releasing the hammer. These are the surfaces you'll want to polish. You can ruin your rifle if you use abrasives on the trigger/hammer engagement surfaces. Start with Simichrome and graduate to rouge. Polish this area well and you'll notice an improved trigger release.
Wipe all polish and Simichrome off the polished surfaces and oil liberally. Also go out to the garage and get that tub of white lithium grease and dab a couple of dabs of grease in the recesses on the inside of the operating rod handle, the bolt lugs, the trigger/hammer contact surfaces and the top of the hammer. And by all means oil that rifle. This applies to the AR as well. I don't know why people think military rifles don't need oil. They do.
Probably the single greatest improvement an M1 owner can make to his rifle if he's after smaller groups is to glass bed his stock. I've not bedded my M1 or in any way altered it since receiving it from DCM. I have, however, glass-bedded a standard Springfield M-1A with a Brownell's AcraGlas Gel Kit (available from Brownell's Inc. 200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171 (515) 623-5401) and it made a world of difference. With match ammo it shot right at MOA after I bedded it. Brownells now offers a version of AcraGlas Gel with stainless steel mix for greater resistance to compression. This new AcraGlas gel should be just the thing for someone wanting to bed his M1 (or M1A or Mini-14 etc.). If you do decide to bed your M1, you must get a copy of the NRA American Rifleman article on the M1 rifle. (Available from Brownells for $1.50, stock # 649-103-300) This not only offers the definitive word on bedding an M1 but gives other interesting information as well.
Match sights, match trigger groups, match heavy stocks, match barrels etc., are available from several sources throughout the U.S. The only limiting factors on how accurate you can make your M1 are how much time and money you want to spend. It has the potential to drive tacks from several hundred yards out. Finally, tweaking your Garand might be for the fella that has a little too much time on his hands. Then again, I can't think of a better way to invest some free time.