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The M‐1 Rifle

The M‐1 Rifle was the standard small‐arms weapon of the U.S. Army in World War II and the Korean War. Its inventor, Canadian‐born John Cantius Garand, developed the gas‐operated semiautomatic rifle at the Springfield Armory during the 1920s. Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered Garand's original .276‐caliber changed to .30‐06 (.30 caliber cartridge developed in 1906) as the army retained vast stocks of such cartridges from World War I. In 1936 the army officially adapted the M‐1 Garand rifle. Officers were assigned M‐1 carbines, smaller and lighter. The rifle weighed 11.25 pounds with an eight‐round clip and had a maximum range of 460 meters. The weapon could be fitted with a knife bayonet.

The Marine Corps favored its own semiautomatic rifle, designed by Marine Corps Officer Melvin Johnson, but Congress opted for the M‐1. World War I veterans preferred the 1903 Springfield bolt action and were concerned about the M‐1 semiautomatic's reliability and accuracy in combat situations. Those questions were emphatically vindicated in World War II. In that war, most other armies still used bolt‐action rifles. Although both the Germans and the Russians fielded small numbers of semiautomatic rifles, the United States was the only nation to fight the war armed primarily with a semiautomatic rifle. The Garand M‐14 model was eventually replaced by the M‐16 rifle in the 1960s.
[See also Springfield Model 1903; Weaponry, Army; Weaponry, Marine Corps.]

Bibliography

Bruce N. Canfield , The M‐1 Garand and the M‐1 Carbine, 1988.

Thomas Christianson

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