The first rifle I ever purchased was a Springfield Armory M1A Loaded Stainless. I put it in a first generation JAE-100 stock, mounted optics, and turned it into a heavyweight semi-auto “sniper” rifle. It’s fun, but not practical. I came to respect the action though, and how “meaty” it felt as it cycled back and forth. However, I’m not here to talk about my first rifle.
I want to talk about my second.
Most people reading this would probably have gravitated to the AR as a second rifle (if not the first). But, for me, the second rifle was an M1 Garand from the CMP. The one I received in 2006 had no stock; it was only the barreled action and trigger group. The rifling was shot out from years of service in the Greek army, and the receiver was in need of some TLC. The serial number tracked to April of 1942 at the Springfield plant. In 2007, I sent it off to Deans Gun Restoration in Tennessee to be worked over. They mounted a new Criterion barrel, refinished/replaced parts, and made a brand new fancy Bastogne Walnut wood stock for it. When it was returned to me, I was absolutely floored. It was, and remains, gorgeous. It was so nice, in fact, that I think I’ve only shot the thing three or four times since 2007, and maybe only about 20-40 rounds each time. I just didn’t want to “mess it up.”
The last time I shot it was towards the end of 2012. I noticed erratic brass ejection, sometimes being thrown forward or just tumbling out of the side. Rounds would occasionally misfeed, getting stuck at the upper left corner of the chamber. The empty en bloc clips would barely hop up, much less get tossed aside. I assumed the rifle was sick, and in need of new springs. As it turns out, it just needed a good cleaning and re-greasing (something that I had shamefully neglected).
I do have one bit of more modern flair on this rifle, though. Rather than the traditional 1907 leather sling or a GI cotton web sling, I have one of Rifle Slinger’s RS-2 slings. I purchased this one when he announced that he was shutting down his operations, and closing up his blog. I ordered it with QD swivels, since that’s my preferred attachment for all of my ARs, and found that it was just too long for my uses. However, it works fantastically on the M1. The sling really has nice workmanship, and it fits in nicely on the wood-stocked rifle. I consider it a tribute to him (as well as regular commenter Colorado Pete, who is a big fan of the M1, and will probably take issue with my calling the M1 “Retro”).
The sling itself is not easily adjustable like an old GI web sling, so I have it set at a “do all” length slightly geared more towards sitting/kneeling (practical field marksmanship rarely happens from the prone, anyway). The design is such you cut off excess material and melt the edges. But I don’t like the idea of cutting material, so I folded the loose ends under some elastic keepers. Time will tell is this remains a workable long-term solution.
I may not shoot the M1 much, but it certainly feels like a respectable rifle. To quote a post I wrote last year when I first got my 20” upper assembled on a lower, it feels like a Rifleman’s Rifle. It has a healthy heft to it, the sights work well, and there is certainly beauty in the mix of wood and steel. There is certainly a forward balance to the weapon, which is good for traditional marksmanship especially given the increased energy of 30-06 compared to the 5.56 “poodle shooter” cartridge.
Some day, when I have more time and funds for proper ammunition, I want to take the M1 out to the 700 yard range and see what I can do with good old-fashioned marksmanship fundamentals.