Last Friday I fulfilled my promise to myself to go get an M1 Garand from the CMP. The entire process was much more simple than I would have imagined and I will definitely be going back to check out M1 Carbines when I get some spare cash. Basically I drove to Camp Perry where the North location is at (the other is in Anniston, AL), picked out a rifle, filled out a form, paid and left. Simple. I don’t really know what I expected, but being a government run operation I expected it to be more of a red tape nightmare than anything else. The selection is not what I hoped it would be. Service grade rifles were few and far between, but there was an abundance of field grade rifles to chose from. Apparently from what I gather, the service grades are snapped up pretty quickly by locals when there arrival is known and many of the bastards turn around and sell them at inflated prices at gun shows. Bastards. My rifle will not be showing up at a gun show any time soon, that is for certain. The field grade selection was plentiful and some looked to be in decent shape so I thought I might as well look at those and save $100 over the price of a service grade while I was at it ($495 vs. $595). Also in plentiful abundance were M1 carbines…for another day, temping as they were sitting there.
I did not know a whole lot about M1’s in particular before I went up there. All I knew was basically what they had on the CMP website about gauging the barrel to check for accuracy potential. I knew anything less than a “3” on the muzzle side was desirable but most of the field grade models would have a “3” or more. I also read online that anything larger than a “5” on the chamber side was bad. So beginning from these two simple standards to work with I started out by checking out the muzzle gauge, which was simple because all of the rifles were in racks muzzle side up. If you don’t have a gauge, no sweat. You can trade your drivers license for a loner at the counter when you walk in. I simply started from one side of the racks to the other dropping the gauge in the muzzle of each rifle. Those that gauged less than a 3 I put at the end of the rack. I was pleasantly surprised that more than a few did indeed gauge significantly less than a “3”. I must of looked like a newbie to some of the folks there that were serious collectors that would carefully examine each specimen for proof marks, serial numbers and the like while I was just rushing through them dropping the gauge in each. I was not looking for a museum piece, and judging from the selection and my budget I was not going to get one anyway. What I wanted was an honest to goodness high powered rifle to hit the plates with at 500 meters the next time I went to Appleseed. Accuracy out of the barrel was my #1 priority.
Plenty to see in the racks..
My second priority was the overall “look” of the rifle. The rifles I was looking at were a hodgepodge collection of parts assembled to form a working rifle from the armorers at CMP. Wood condition of the stocks varied greatly. I found one that gauged a solid “2” on the bore at the muzzle and had uniformly dark wood. There were numerous dings, scratches and other imperfections on the stock, but it still looked solid and didn’t rattle like some of the others I looked at. The finish on the barrel was worn near the muzzle but the rest of it was in decent shape from what I could see without taking the weapon apart (a no-no that will get you kicked out of the store). Taking the rifle to the front counter I had one of the guys working there gauge the chamber for me…another “2”!! I was one lucky SOB according to the guy, and I agree!! As you can tell from the picture at the top of this post, the rifle looks good!! After adding him add 192 rounds of surplus .30-06 ammo (packed in a spam can on 4 bandoliers of 6 en bloc clips each no less), a new sling (just like the one I got for my Ruger 10/22 for Appleseed last year) he had me fill out a form to purchase the lot. The form is a lot like the standard ATF form I fill out every time I purchase a firearm at a store, the big difference is rather than having to check a bunch of boxes you sign a line saying that all of the above applies to you. After a few minutes they call your name and you pay. With tax my damage came in around $639. Not bad considering I went up there ready to pay $595 for a rifle in the same condition as what I walked out with anyway. The rifle is given to you in a green plastic bag with a smaller bag that contains a GREAT manual (better that what some manufacturers give you), a single en bloc clip and a safety flag. I stuck the chamber flag in the rifle and put it and the ammo in bed of my truck. The 2 hour ride home was TORTUROUS knowing what I had less than 8 feet behind me!!
The contents of the “goodie bag” CMP gives you when you buy an M1. Seriously, the manual is better than most you get with a current production firearm from the manufacturer!
The wood was what I would have expected on a 50+ year old rifle, there was a sticker on the stock with Greek(?) writing on it, wonder what it means….
Overall a beautiful rifle, especially given the context of the age of its parts and history of the design..
Once I got it home I started checking out my new buddy. I ran the serial number on the receiver against a known list of good dates and found out that it was made by Springfield Armory (already marked on the receiver) in December 1942!! Cool, this was definitely a rifle that was used during WW2!! The remainder of the serials and proof numbers on various parts on the rifle I need to look up, but the cartouche markings on the stock indicate that it (the stock) was made for Springfield sometime between 1952 and 1956. So there is a (slim!) possibility that the receiver saw use in WW2 and the stock in Korea!! The rifle is in fairly good condition and operation seems to be normal from what my limited experience with them can ascertain. I have been able to insert an (empty) clip in the magazine and have it eject with the (in)famous Garand ping so I think this will be a winner when I get it cleaned up and on the range. I still have some work to do with it and figure out how to get the sights set up, but overall I am as happy as a duck in water with it right now. I will have more info on the rifle itself after I get it stripped and cleaned up (waiting for the enamel paint on my workbench that Kevin and I made this weekend to dry!) and out to the range!
The entrance to Camp Perry, Ohio off of SR-2 in Northern Ohio. This picture was taken in April in Ohio, it was in the 30’s and there were snow flurries there..love that Ohio weather!!
Just a few bits of info about Camp Perry, Ohio. Camp Perry is a military training facility run but the Ohio National Guard located just west of Port Clinton, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. It houses not only the CMP, but also numerous Army and Air Guard units and other military activities and organizations. It is one of the premier training facilities for the Ohio Guard and is utilized year round for various unit functions. It is most famously knows as the home of the NRA national rifle matches held yearly there during the summer. During that event the “population” of the post swells immensely with shooters from all across the nation gathering to see who is the best of the best and earn not only trophies but also the distinction of wearing the “Presidents Hundred” tab awarded to the top 100 shooters.
There is a lot of history to Camp Perry other than the ranges themselves":
- Each range is named after a Medal Of Honor recipient from the 148th Infantry out of Ohio, which I had the pleasure to serve in for many years.
- One of the units that was stationed here before WW2 and was mobilized as part of the national call up in 1941 was in the Philippines during the outbreak of hostilities and participated in the ghastly “Bataan Death March” after their capture by the Imperial Japanese Army.
- The small white huts dispersed across the camp were used as POW barracks during WW2 to house German prisoners. It was felt that keeping the prisoners so far inland would cause them to have no illusion of escaping back to Germany, but the local population consisting of a large amount of German immigrants would keep them from wanting to spread large scale damage if they escaped.
- The industrial complex to the West of the post was once used for munitions manufacturing and they test fired many types of rounds into Lake Erie, some unexploded ordinance is still occasionally dragged up from the lake by some shocked fisherman who suddenly finds his life in danger in the pursuit of walleye.
- Lake Erie itself is the impact area for the ranges. A line of buoys on the like mark the limits for boaters to avoid while range personnel keep an eye out from towers using binoculars and radar and occasionally coordinate with the Ohio Naval Militia (yes, there is such an organization) to intercept boaters that have strayed into the impact area during firing. I know this because I worked in one of those towers one summer!!
A static vehicle display on post.
These “40 & 8 cars” were given across the US by the French people after WW1 as a sign of gratitude for fighting in “The Great War”. They were filled with gifts of art and food and most large towns had at least one on display for most of the early part of the 20th century after the war. Many of them were used as scrap for the next great war and now they are rarely seen in town squares. The name comes from their intended purpose to transport either 40 men or 8 horses to war.
The “Bataan” Armory on post. The light tank and plaque are dedicated to the unit that was from that armory that served in WW2 and were taken prisoner on Bataan. Its been years since I have been inside, but they used to have displays of items from their captivity and pictures of their Japanese captors and their fates…a lot of “hanged” annotated on their pictures..The symbol is the State Area Command (STARC) patch for the Ohio Army National Guard, a patch I wore for a number of years.
If you do happen to make the drive to Camp Perry to buy a piece of history from CMP, take a few minutes and drive around a bit and see some of the static displays and plaques adorning the site and think about all of the history connected with that place and then think about the rifle you just put into your hands and its connection with that history…awesome.