M1 Garand with en bloc clips
M1 Garand displayed with en bloc clip at US Army Museum of Hawaii
French Canadian-born Garand went to work at the United States Army's Springfield Armory and began working on a .30 caliber primer actuated blowback Model 1919 prototype. In 1924, twenty-four rifles, identified as "M1922s", were built at Springfield. At Fort Benning during 1925, they were tested against models by Berthier, Hatcher-Bang, Thompson, and Pedersen, the latter two being delayed blowback types. This led to a further trial of an improved "M1924" Garand against the Thompson, ultimately producing an inconclusive report. As a result, the Ordnance Board ordered a .30-06 Garand variant. In March 1927, the cavalry board reported trials among the Thompson, Garand, and 03 Springfield had not led to a clear winner. This led to a gas-operated .276 (7 mm) model (patented by Garand on 12 April 1930).
In early 1928, both the infantry and cavalry boards ran trials with the .276 Pedersen T1 rifle, calling it "highly promising" (despite its use of waxed ammunition, shared by the Thompson). On 13 August 1928, a semiautomatic rifle board (SRB) carried out joint Army, Navy, and Marine Corps trials between the .30 Thompson, both cavalry and infantry versions of the T1 Pedersen, "M1924" Garand, and .256 Bang, and on 21 September, the board reported no clear winner. The .30 Garand, however, was dropped in favor of the .276.
Further tests by the SRB in July 1929, which included rifle designs by Browning, Colt–Browning, Garand, Holek, Pedersen, Rheinmetall, Thompson, and an incomplete one by White,[nb 2] led to a recommendation that work on the (dropped) .30 gas-operated Garand be resumed, and a T1E1 was ordered 14 November 1929.
Twenty gas-operated .276 T3E2 Garands were made and competed with T1 Pedersen rifles in early 1931. The .276 Garand was the clear winner of these trials. The .30 caliber Garand was also tested, in the form of a single T1E1, but was withdrawn with a cracked bolt on 9 October 1931. A 4 January 1932 meeting recommended adoption of the .276 caliber and production of approximately 125 T3E2s. Meanwhile, Garand redesigned his bolt and his improved T1E2 rifle was retested. The day after the successful conclusion of this test, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur personally disapproved any caliber change, in part because there were extensive existing stocks of .30 M1 ball ammunition. On 25 February 1932, Adjutant General
John B. Shuman, speaking for the Secretary of War, ordered work on the rifles and ammunition in .276 caliber cease immediately and completely, and all resources be directed toward identification and correction of deficiencies in the Garand .30 caliber.:111
On 3 August 1933, the T1E2 became the "semi-automatic rifle, caliber 30, M1". In May 1934, 75 M1s went to field trials; 50 went to infantry, 25 to cavalry units.:113 Numerous problems were reported, forcing the rifle to be modified, yet again, before it could be recommended for service and cleared for procurement on 7 November 1935, then standardized 9 January 1936. The first production model was successfully proof-fired, function-fired, and fired for accuracy on July 21, 1937.
Production difficulties delayed deliveries to the army until September 1937. Machine production began at Springfield Armory that month at a rate of ten rifles per day, and reached an output of 100 per day within two years. Despite going into production status, design issues were not at an end. The barrel, gas cylinder, and front sight assembly were redesigned and entered production in early 1940. Existing "gas-trap" rifles were recalled and retrofitted, mirroring problems with the earlier M1903 Springfield rifle that also had to be recalled and reworked approximately three years into production and foreshadowing rework of the M16 rifle at a similar point in its development. Production of the Garand increased in 1940 despite these difficulties, reaching 600 a day by 10 January 1941, and the army was fully equipped by the end of 1941. Following the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Winchester was awarded an "educational" production contract for 65,000 rifles, with deliveries beginning in 1943.
John Garand points out features of the M1 to army generals.
George Patton letter to Springfield Armory on the M1 Garand, 26 Jan 1945.
Lance Corporal Cecilia M. Giaise, woman Marine reservist from the 5th Communications Bn. of Long Beach, CA, the first woman qualified as a rifle marksman (with a score of 206x250) and authorized to operate the M1 rifle. Also pictured, Sergeant E.F. Burlem, rifle coach from the WTBn. Photograph taken at Landing Force Training Unit, NAB, Coronado, CA, July 1961.
U.S. Army infantryman in 1942 with M1, Fort Knox
U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team with M1 rifles
The M1 Garand was made in large numbers during World War II; approximately 5.4 million were made. They were used by every branch of the United States military. By all accounts the M1 rifle served with distinction. General George S. Patton called it "the greatest battle implement ever devised." The impact of faster-firing infantry small arms in general soon stimulated both Allied and Axis forces to greatly increase their issue of semi- and fully automatic firearms then in production, as well as to develop new types of infantry firearms.
Much of the M1 inventory in the post-World War II period underwent arsenal repair or rebuilding. While U.S. forces were still engaged in the Korean War, the Department of Defense determined a need for additional production of the Garand. Springfield Armory ramped up production, but two new contracts were awarded. During 1953–56, M1s were produced by International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson in which International Harvester alone produced a total of 337,623 M1 Garands. A final, very small lot of M1s was produced by Springfield Armory in early 1957, using finished components already on hand. Beretta also produced Garands using Winchester tooling.
The British Army looked at the M1 as a possible replacement for its bolt-action Lee–Enfield No.1 Mk III, but it was rejected when rigorous testing suggested that it was an unreliable weapon in muddy conditions. However, surplus M1 rifles were provided as foreign aid to American allies; including South Korea, West Germany, Italy, Japan, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Iran, South Vietnam, the Philippines, etc. Most Garands shipped to allied nations were predominantly manufactured by International Harvester Corporation during the period of 1953-56, and second from Springfield Armory from all periods.
Some Garands were still being used by the United States into the Vietnam War in 1963; despite the M14's official adoption in 1957, it was not until 1965 that the changeover from the M1 Garand was completed in the active-duty component of the army (with the exception of the sniper variants, which were introduced in World War II and saw action in Korea and Vietnam). The Garand remained in service with the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and the Navy, well into the early 1970s or longer. The South Korean army was using M1 Garands in the Vietnam War as late as 1966.
Due to widespread United States military assistance as well their durability, M1 Garands have also been turning up in recent conflicts such as with the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some military drill teams still use the M1 rifle, including the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Guard, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, almost all Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and some Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) teams of all branches of the U.S. military.