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CMP Garand 2012 September 2012
Sam Martinez  

Part 2
Today was the day; I knew the shipment was scheduled to arrive sometime while I was off at school waiting anxiously for the day to end. This package was to contain some sort of M1 Garand, but apart from that I had no idea what to expect. Looks like I will just have to wait until I get home to see what exactly I just burned 600-something dollars on.

Backtrack to earlier in the week, and my dad was at the CMP store picking out this rifle for me. I told him to pick out a good rifle, and on the phone he was alluding that he picked up a unique, special, and somehow different from the rest, M1 Garand. Of course this got my mind flowing with elaborate images of what would arrive at our doorstep a few days later via FedEx. Was it an M1C, or could it possibly be a Match grade rifle? For all I knew my dad picked out a bright neon pink Garand. Counting down the days until the package came to our house, I would receive no further clues as to the condition of the rifle I bought, but I trusted that it would be at least a decent firearm.

The shipment arrived somewhere around mid-day while I was at school. Right when I set foot through our door at the end of the day I saw it. There was a large familiarly rifle shaped box leaned up against the wall just begging to be opened. My dad and brother were off on their hunt, and I was debating whether I should wait until they came home to unbox it all. I had to think to myself, “Well, a little peek wouldn’t hurt I suppose. It is mine after all…?” Careful not to damage any of the packaging, I began cutting the tape holding everything together. Once the tape was cut I used gravity as an aid to getting the contents out of the box. A fancy looking plastic case with “CMP” stamped into both sides is what came out. Maybe this was the surprise that my dad was talking about?

After relishing in the case for a short while I moved on in order to find out what could be inside this fancy case. The hinges creaked upon opening, and before my eyes lay a beautiful tiger striped specimen of an M1 Garand. I immediately noticed that this stock was not like my father’s Garand but rather it looked like brand new lighter wood. Maybe this actually was a match grade rifle? Upon reading through all the paperwork I came back to reality finding out that this was simply a service grade that had a brand new CMP stock on it.

Now of course, the next thing that I could think to do was to take this darn thing apart. I wanted to see what made the clock tick and to start becoming familiar with this rifle, which apart from the exterior look, was all foreign to my mind. This was a simple enough process to figure out, and within five minutes of opening the box I had the stock off the rifle. From there however I was stumped. Looks like I would have to save that for another day. Apart from that, my first impressions of this rifle were rather good, although the stock felt very grainy and unfinished, which is something that I wanted to fix.

After my dad came home from the hunt, we began the quest to figure out what would be the best product to use for finishing the stock. After some thought with my dad, I decided that some gun specific products made by Birchwood Casey would be the way to go. The first step would be to sand the stock to an appropriate feel. After that I applied multiple coats of Birchwood-Casey Gun Stock Filler and Sealer. Due to the Arizona heat, this product dried and turned to a consistency like sticky glue very quickly after contacting the wood grain. In between coats of the filler I used steel wool and lightly wet sanded (with paint thinner) using 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out the wood and take off that gluey exterior feel.

After I was satisfied with the feel of the wood I proceeded to use Tru Oil Gun Stock Finish in order to put a slight matte shine onto the surface of the wood. This only took a few coats with steel wool in between coats in order to monitor how much shine the wood took on. This whole finishing process took about two days with all the drying time, and the final product can be seen on the top of part one of this story.

In order to perform all of this stock finishing I had to learn how to completely disassemble the M1 Garand. In the end all I was left with was a barreled receiver as well as a heap of tiny parts all over the coffee table. This was a very time consuming process, and in order to achieve this result I followed the very detailed instruction on this webpage:

Through this process I came to a couple conclusions, mainly being that the old WWII soldiers had quite the engineering masterpiece to take apart, clean, and maintain. I came to learn that the operating rod is supposed to be strategically bent, but I do not think the op rod spring is supposed to be bent. The spring on this rifle was drastically curved, twisted, and showed flat spots on the round spring wire where it had worn against the inside of the op rod tube. We quickly put in an order with Fulton Armory for a new spring, and awaited that so I could finally shoot the darn thing.

A few days later the spring arrived and with my new found knowledge of the Garand I had that old spring taken out and the new one put in within 10 minutes. Now we could move onto the fun stuff and actually shoot some projectiles to see how accurate this beast was.

With the Garand at the Stoneman Lake Road cinder pit

My father and I drove up to Stoneman Lake Road where we have a summertime, cooler weather shooting spot waiting to be used. Quickly we set up and put a standard bullseye down range. I loaded the rifle carefully, sat down, and squeezed the trigger. BANG! Whoah, the rifle worked! I went to squeeze the trigger again, and nothing was happening. I peered at the receiver only to find that the bolt was not extracting the round from the chamber after firing it. Manually I took the spent round out and tried again. First shot was good, but the second shot wouldn’t go. We figured it was the Greek surplus ammo that I was using, so we switched to some of my dad’s hand loads. Nope, the same problem kept occurring. I was beginning to think this rifle was a dud. Upon further investigation into the problem, however, we determined that for some reason the extractor was not grabbing the round. The extractor seemed to not have any spring tension on it. Checking my dad’s M1 to see what his did, we determined that it did appear to be a faulty spring somehow. Looks like I would be taking it apart again to diagnose this specific problem.

This time, taking the rifle apart I got the extractor spring out of the bolt in under 3 minutes. Looks like I am getting pretty good at taking this rifle apart… I got the spring out and began examining it. It looked fine to me.

After this conclusion I went onto the World Wide Web and was able to pull up an original vintage M1 Garand parts breakdown that included specs for parts such as the extractor spring.

The readout gave me an extended length of .480 inches, as well as the number of coils that should be in this spring (12). Using this information I found a magnifying glass and began counting the tiny coils. I counted a few times and kept coming up with 9 coils. I then measured the length of the spring with dial calipers, and sure enough it was less than the prescribed .480 inches. Looks like I somehow got a broken spring.

After trying to contact the CMP to get a replacement, we received no call back. We then decided to go and order once again from Fulton Armory. In the mail I received an extractor spring that was the correct length! Now the trick was to get it back into the rifle. After much wrestling, and four hands to help, we got that little spring back into the bolt, and the rifle assembled. I was ready to attempt shooting it once again.

Unfortunately, as luck would have it, I was leaving for a backpacking trip in a few days, so the test firing would have to wait a month or so. When I did get back, the first weekend we had, we went out bright and early to the fabled Table Mesa spot in order to figure out if my 600-something dollar rifle would actually work.

All fixed? Testing the Garand at Table Mesa

Once again I went through the process of loading it up, careful not to receive a dose of M1 thumb. I acquired a sight picture, focused on the front sight, squeezed the trigger, and then, BANG! I then thought to myself, “Hey, this is familiar territory, at least I did not break it any further putting that spring in.” Now, the moment I was really waiting for. Squeezing the trigger again I braced for nothing, but to my surprise, the rifle went bang. I continued to squeeze the trigger repeatedly, and the rifle kept firing all the way up until that iconic PING noise rang through my muffed ears.

This naturally put a smile across my face, and I can not express how nice it felt to finally get this “queen of the battlefield” firing and functioning as it should. With the function testing over, the real test would be to now figure out what kind of accuracy this rifle could achieve. I suppose that I’ll have to save that for a later date…

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