CMP’s Garand Men
The Civilian Marksmanship Program employs about 100 people spread across their operations in Camp Perry, Ohio, the marksmanship complex in Talladega, and the warehouse complex/headquarters in Anniston, with most hard at work at the latter. Ensconced in one warehouse are a dozen dedicated small arms experts, the organization’s armorers who meticulously inspect every firearm to see if it is junk, safe to fire, or somewhere in between.
At workstations filled with gauging tools and parts, the group works through crates filled with “100 serial numbers” and runs the gamut from near-pristine correct grade rifles that would make a collector cry, to a bare and beaten receiver. The armorers then verify it’s unloaded, inspect the trigger group to make sure it’s complete and working, clean the barrel and bore– gauging for both the muzzle and the throat for erosion– check the headspace and the timing, check the bolt and the furniture, the op rod, and the springs.
Guns missing parts are attended to, with an effort to keep the same manufacturer on the same rifle as much as possible– for instance, Springfield on Springfield, Winchester on Winchester, and everything is detailed on a repair and inspection checklist. A second armorer comes behind the first as insurance and the gun is test-fired– twice– with standard 30.06 ammo in a special firing booth. The guns are then up for sale on through the organization, though the numbers of many grades are effectively so low right now that they are out of stock and find their way to racks at the CMP’s two stores or to their online auction site– but more on both of those later.
M1s too far gone or missing too many components are often reworked into new “Special Field Grade” rifles which are completely refurbished and are given a new-production Criterion barrel, new walnut furniture, and a new sling. These guns get a full eight-round clip during their test fire to make sure everything is as it should be.
The CMP also supports the Army’s ceremonial rifle program by servicing rifles for veterans’ groups in need, and some M1s are refurbished for this program which, the Army advised me amounted to some 31,000 rifles on loan to groups including such organizations as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. Honor Guard rifles are fundamentally a good use for rebuilt guns.
Then, for receivers and barrels that are just pure trash and can’t be salvaged for any of the above, instead of the scrapper, CMP has been putting these to use as well– as art.
Wyoming’s Jerry Antolik, whose range of covers a wide range of subjects and has done extensive mural and poster work for the CMP in the past has recently crafted two standing “M1 Men” for Talladega and another for the Anniston warehouse.
As noted by the Winter 2019 Garand Collector’s Association Journal (if you love M1s, you need to be a member) CMP Chair Judy Legerski clarified that the parts used were all well past the junk stage.
“Logically, would we waste parts on a sculpture that could be put into rifles and sold? Of course not,” she said. “We sell guns to support our marksmanship, safety, and junior training activities. These are useless parts, scrap.”