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A 1,000-Yard-Range Survival Rifle? Yep

A 1,000-Yard-Range Survival Rifle? Yep

Image source: Wikimedia

If there is one iconic firearm of the 20th century that has come from an American arsenal, it is the M1 Garand.

The rifle that GIs and Marines lugged across Europe, slung through dense jungle and fought with on Korea’s frozen mountains. It saw action in Vietnam, and was given out liberally to many of America’s allies during the Cold War years. During the Vietnam protests, the M1 Garand was again used, this time by the National Guard to quell the riots.

The M1 was designed in the 1920s, perfected in the 1930s, and issued starting in 1937. John Garand, a Canadian by birth, took the better part of two decades to perfect his design and beat out the competition.  The rifle, in its final design, incorporated a gas piston-operated semi-automatic action. The M1 was fed from an en-bloc clip (yes a clip, not a magazine in this case) that held eight rounds of .30-06 ammunition. The rifle was both accurate and fast firing, and in fact there was nothing like it in the world that could compete with it at the time.

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The M1 gave troops a distinct advantage in WWII, when most of the enemies’ soldiers were still armed with WWI-era bolt-action rifles. The Garand could both lay down fire faster and be reloaded and brought back into battery quicker. Attempts by other nations to field a standard issue semi-automatic rifle failed. Only the German MP-44 Sturmgewehr, the world’s first successful assault rifle, was a better rifle than the American long arm. However, the Germans only produced about a half million MP-44s whereas the US produced over 6 million Garands.

After WWII and the Korean war, the M1 Garand was replaced with the M-14, which was just an updated M1 that fed from a detachable 20-round magazine instead of the 8-round clip. The M-14 also has a selector switch for full automatic fire. The M-14 was a failure as a standard issue rifle. For one, the cartridge it fired, the 7.62x51mm/.308, was simply a downsized .30-06 and was too powerful for full automatic firing from a shoulder-fired small arm. The remaining M1 Garands in stock were rechambered for .308/7.62 and passed to the National Guard, given to allies or sold as surplus to US civilians.

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Today, the M1 has found a home with competition rifle shooters at national matches. It is also a rifle that is passed down from generation to generation and is owned by millions of Americans. Whether chambered in the modern .308 or the more popular .30-06, the M1 is a powerful and somewhat heavy rifle by today’s standards.

While technically not what one would consider a “battle rifle” by modern standards, it is still able to hold its own. The long stroke gas piston action is very reliable. The rifle’s iron sights are very good, easy to use and accurate. The effective range of the Garand, especially shooting .30-06, is out to about 900 yards – although some shooters have hit targets at 1,000-plus yards. Try shooting that far with your AR-15.

Often the question comes up: Is the M1 Garand still a viable option for survival or home defense? Yes, it is, but it does have its disadvantages. Although I would contend that the M1 Garand is vastly superior to the very popular SKS (of which at least 10 million are owned by Americans), it is not superior to the AR-15 or the AKM platforms in a disaster scenario. First, the M1 cannot shoot most commercial .30-06 ammunition unless you use a different gas plug. Using modern hunting ammunition generates more pressure than the Garand was designed for — and it can blow up your rifle.

Surplus ammo can still be found but it is not cheap – around $1 a round. Steel cased and foreign brass cased ammunition loaded to mil-spec is available but not as cheap as the more readily available 5.56x45mm or 7.62x39mm rounds.

The rifle’s 8-round capacity also can be a handicap, as well as the distinctive “ping!” sound the rifle makes when it is empty and ejects the spent en bloc clip.  However, the sheer power of a .30-06 round or .308 can be enough to win a gun fight, or end a threat.

So yes, the Garand is still a viable option, albeit a little outdated. It is also expensive. You can buy an AR-15 or AKM for around $500-700 today, while a M1 in good shape will not sell for less than $1,000.

Have you ever used an M1 Garand? Share your thoughts on it in the section below:

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13 comments

  1. ….and once again the .308 M1A Springfield rears its (not so) ugly head. Semi-auto, 20 rd. clip and dead accurate even at long ranges. ; ) The rifle that will not die!!

  2. Vastly superior to an SKS?… but not an AR-15… Sure it is… In YOUR DREAMS!! A Russian SKS is a far better rifle than an AR-15 (M-16 for civilians) any day of the week. M-1 is great weapon, and it shoots farther than an SKS, or that over rated junk M-16 , but at closer than 400 yds … SKS is the GO TO GUN !!
    AR-15 is just a glorified version of the trash they gave us during Viet Nam and got far to many good people killed by that inferior? SKS, and the AK-47…

  3. that is funny the iron sites on my M1903 is marked at 1750 yards as top mark and as a kid the family used to shoot 1500 yard iron sights with them, ps. not the junk M1903A3 your lucky to get only a 1000 yards

  4. Quality wise, the M1 Garand is one of the best ever made as a battle rifle.

    Using it within a group to lay down precision fire while other give suppressive fire works well.

    Most people today have no clue to the penetration of the 30M2 round.

    As the saying goes, it will turn cover into concealment.

    If you live in a wooded area, the M1 with APM2 will win over a 5.56 round, based on penetrative powers.

    A trained operator can reload an M1 in five seconds.

    The story of the “ping” giving you away is a myth, there is far too much noise around you, too much

    distance and deafened ears from the din of battle to hear it.

    I don’t think you opponents are going to be within a hundred feet of you to hear it, closer than that, you

    die anyways.

    NO, the STG 44 is no where near a better rifle, quality wise, they are next to the Sten gun.

    It did have a tactical application advantage over the M1.

    An M1D can really make life miserable and short for someone on the business end of it.

    Last but not least,

    THE BATTLESIGHTS ON THE M1 AND M14 ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD EVER PUT ON A RIFLE.

  5. I lugged an M-1 all over Ft. Polk in 1963. It was extremely accurate and easy to use. However, I was glad when I was transferred up to Ft. Knox for Armor Training that same year and got to use the .45 caliber fully automatic Grease Gun which was very light weight and a 1911 .45 Caliber Semi-automatic pistol.

  6. I shot the M-1 Garand during Army Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood. I had shot in in high school in a high power match, which I won by the way. I carried the M-1 for two years in the Army, then I was sent to Viet Nam where I was issued an M-14. The M-14 is similar in many ways to the M-1, but there are also significant differences.
    Contact the Garand Collectors Association for information on purchasing a M-1.
    For the record, I still own a M-1 and it is the prize of my collection. I love it! I would like to purchase a M-14 but they are hard to find and usually expensive. Springfield makes the M-1A which is a good substitute for the M-14.

  7. Garand M1 is a proven battle rifle, it can do the job. But the title of this article called it a “survival” rifle and I disagree with using an expensive, heavy, wood(beautiful) covered rifle which uses ammunition which will be far harder to find in a “survival” environment. 1000 yards, yep it can service a target at that range but a “survival” rifle to me is one that survives the abuse, works, and if it get scratched up, marred or even lost, I’m not going to weep and cry about lost value. I may be wrong but I find it hard to believe any owner of a prime condition Garand M1 will be willing to drag it through the mud and sand like a WWII soldier in the field.

    • Keep in mind that “prime condition” M1 if it was made during the war probably already saw that kind of action, and was only refinished afterwards. I’d trust it with my life… especially if I knew someone else already did.

  8. I grew up with my dad’s Garand, which he bought surplus from Montgomery Wards two years before I was even thought of. I then used that very rifle in the early eighties to be able to buy my own Garand through the DCM. I lucked out and got a really good one which included a Winchester receiver. Though it is a parts gun it is good and tight and more accurate than I am. I love it! I also have an AR & AK along with many other bolt and pump action guns, but if I had to choose only one to carry in a SHTF situation it would be my Garand. It’s accurate, reliable, dependable, and deadly. Now doubt on my part, it’s what I’d grab first.

  9. Used the M-14 in.308- ’84 on the ALL ARMY RIFLE TEAM-Won numerous Outings at 1000yds with IRON SIGHTS- Though 1 in 10 Rnds would begin Tumble at Target at that Range~

  10. With my 53 year old eyes, I would be lucky to SEE a target at 1000 yards I need to hit. Unless it is the size of a Volkswagon, it will probably be safe from me. And most other shooters as well, I’m thinking.

    Take a 5 gallon orange pail and hit it consistently at 1000 yards – I don’t think I could, at least not with a certainty and iron sights. Now camoflauge it with woods colors – bet it disappears from view.

    Not trying to be a smart a$$, just trying to keep it real. Try it yourself and see. 1000 yards is .57 miles if you want to measure it from your car. (1760 yards in a mile).

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