John Garand spent much of his life perfecting a semi-automatic rifle for the U.S. armed forces. On several occasions, as he was within reach of success, the Army changed its specifications, altering the caliber from .30 to .276 and then back again. In the process Garand altered the operating system from primer actuated to gas. Despite the frustrations, he met with success on the eve of World War II, when his rifle would meet its severest test in combat throughout the world.
Experimental semi-automatic rifles by John Garand, 1919-1936
Model 1919 Patent Model SPAR915
John Garand's patent, dated September 5, 1919, is clearly reflected in his first experimental weapon. In the early pieces, Garand used a primer actuated system which used the set back power of the cartridge primer to operate the action.
This weapon may be viewed in the Museum in case 35.
Model 1920 SPAR914
Garand's second attempt still retained the primer actuated action and turning bolt of his original patent, and was produced in both clip and magazine loading variations. This rifle may be viewed in the Museum in case 35.
Garand's Model 1921 SPAR7013 in .30" caliber, was the third rifle he created and was similarly primer-actuated. Unlike the Model 1920, however, which operated with a rotating bolt with front locking lugs, the Model 1921 bolt didn't rotate but locked in place at its rear which pivoted and rested before a locking shoulder in the frame. Also unlike the two earlier models (the 1919 Patent Model and the Model 1920), the Model 1921 did not use a 20 or 30 round detachable magazine. Instead, it was fitted with a fixed 5 round magazine in the receiver. The receiver for this rifle may be viewed in the Museum in case 57.
"CLICK" here to view the M1921: the Model 1921 compared to the US Model 1903 rifle, left-side view of the M1921, left-side view of the M1921 with major components, left-side view of the M1921 blue-print drawing, right-side view of the M1921 completely disassembled, John Garand firing his M1921 rifle.
Model 1923 SPAR916
This is serial No. 1 of the 1923 series. It was lighter than the previous models but the primer actuated device was doomed to failure as the .30 caliber cartridge did not lend itself to this type of operation. This rifle may be viewed in the Museum in case 35.
Manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. in August, 1923 - Garand semi-automatic, primer-actuated rifle. Straight bolt. 8-round clip feed mechanism. Commercial Lyman rear sight. Upper and lower band, hand guard, from M1903. Weapon labeled as Model 1923 but originally designated as the M1922, and approved designation is T1924.
U.S. RIFLE GARAND T1 .30 SN# 1 SPAR3539
Following the 1926 tests, John Garand abandoned the primer-actuated mechanism because the new .30” cartridge M1 cartridge was incompatible with primer-actuated systems. He designed a new gas operated rifle that used the gas pressure at the muzzle to the operate the action.
"CLICK" here to view: the M1926 receiver compared to the T1 and the later T1E1, see the original July 25th, 1931, test target , T1E1 rifle receiver markings. The T1E1 rifle may be viewed in the Museum exhibit near case 35.
By July, 1926, Garand had created a new gas-operated semi-automatic in .30” caliber. The Ordnance Committee, however, convinced that the .276-caliber Pedersen was superior, ordered only one Garand model for testing.
The introduction of the .276" caliber cartridge The .276" caliber cartridge was introduced for the testing of trial guns in 1923. The .30" '06 caliber cartridge, used so effectively in long range machine gun tactics, had previously been an infantry cartridge, too. Some army officers thought that a rifle of less caliber, using a lighter cartridge, might offer advantages allowing more cartridges to be carried.
Here can be seen the .276" caliber cartridge above the .30" '06 caliber cartridge on the right of the photo. The .30" '06 caliber cartridge is shown below in a five-round clip as used in the US M1903 rifle. Above it is the .276" caliber cartridge (sometimes referred to as the .276” caliber Pedersen) in a ten-round charger used in the Garand T3E2 rifle.
By 1927 Garand was instructed to develop a rifle to handle the .276" caliber cartridge. Five years later, however, Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur decided in favor of .30 caliber and the project was abandoned.
U.S. RIFLE T3 GARAND .276 SPAR6418
“Further work in reference to the design and construction of a model of a new caliber .30 semi-automatic rifle under the supervision of Mr. J.C. Garand which was interrupted when the design of a similar weapon to fire the caliber .276 cartridge was undertaken has been definitely stopped. The design and construction of the caliber .276 semi-automatic rifle by Mr. Garand was continued through the year. The model was completed, although not entirely to Mr. Garand's satisfaction, just in time to be entered in the formal tests of semi-automatic rifles conducted by the War Department Board about July 1, 1929.” ARMY REVIEW
"CLICK" here to view: the Garand T3 rifle compared with the Pedersen T1 and US M1903 rifles, T3 top view, Garand T3 being loaded, T3 fired by soldier, T3 sight picture, T3 left-side close-up, T3E1 barrelled action, T3E1 right-side view ejecting clip, T3E1 receiver small parts, T3E1 trigger assembly, T3E1 trigger assembly parts, T3E2 right-side view serial #1 (This weapon may be viewed in the Museum exhibit case 35), T3E2 left-side view serial #1, T3E2 top view
Eight months before the first so-called Model Shop rifles [80 rifles starting in April 1934] were manufactured and tested, the Garand T1E2 rifle was officially designated "U.S. Semiautomatic Rifle, M1". The task required the Armory to expand from its low peacetime pace amid rather old machinery dating mostly to the First World War. These early Model Shop rifles had single-bladed front sights and lacked the lanyard loop seen on the rear of the trigger guard of later production rifles [starting in Summer 1937]. In producing these eighty weapons, the Armory worked out new drawings, routing sheets, as well as tools, jigs, gauges, and fixtures for mass production. In 1936, the M1 was accepted as the standard U.S. infantry rifle and production commenced a year later.
"CLICK" here to view: view of the receivers of M1 #s 1, 2, & 3, disassembled Model Shop M1 rifle with parts identified, Model Shop M1 rifle image from 1935, John Garand holding a Model Shop M1 rifle (with later production front sight), view of the receivers of M1 #80 (last Model Shop rifle) next to M1 #81 (first production rifle)