Tag Archives: CMP

The National Matches Not Remembered

The U.S. Army today is, by most accounts not written in Chinese or Russian, the most modern and advanced in the world. However, that was not always the case.

Back in the 1890s, the 26,000-man force was scattered around the country in 80 small garrisons and was one of the smallest on the globe– Belgium could boast a larger military. Moreover, it had little depth in time of war.

There was no Army Reserve as it would not be formed until 1908.

The National Guard, likewise, was not authorized by Congress until 1903.

Instead, each state had its own local militia system dating back to the colonial era which was very hit and miss– mostly miss– in terms of training and equipment. Even this force had to volunteer for federal service and then be hastily organized on the fly. This led to an embarrassing showing in 1898 when it came time to mobilize 125,000 of these volunteers to augment the far-flung Army and take the field against the Spanish in Cuba and Puerto Rico during the Spanish American War.

Further, the marksmanship of Spanish regulars, armed with top-of-the-line Mauser pattern bolt-action rifles firing smokeless cartridges, was often devastating compared to the American’s more dated Krag rifles and single-shot Springfield Trapdoor models, both fed with black powder ammo. It turned out that less than half of the militia– which made up the bulk of the U.S. military– had received peacetime “target practice of any description.”

No two alike! As exemplified by these members of the 16th Pennsylvania Volunteers kneeling, with their obsolete Springfield Trapdoor rifles raised during the Spanish-American War, peacetime marksmanship training was lacking at the time. Luckily for them, the 16th would see only limited combat and lost more men to disease than gunfire. (Photo: Library of Congress)

In the reckoning that came after the Spanish-American War, a new Mauser-pattern rifle (the Springfield M1903) was adopted, and the Army was greatly expanded. The Army Reserve and National Guard were formed to make standardization and mobilization to back up the regulars much easier, and a decision was made to enhance and promote military rifle marksmanship. That latter task resulted in the National Board of the Promotion of Rifle Practice; a preparedness organization founded under the direction of Spanish-American War vet, President Theodore Roosevelt. The Board in 1903 moved to begin the National Matches, a military marksmanship competition for a national trophy held at Camp Clark in Sea Girt, New Jersey.

These Sea Girt matches, a new novelty, was chronicled by the Bain News Service as they were national news, all of the below via the LOC:

Two years later, the Board was authorized to sell surplus military rifles to rifle clubs around the country so that the pool of trained marksmen could be expanded outside of those wearing uniforms. By 1907, the enlarged National Matches were moved to a larger facility at the more centrally located Camp Perry, Ohio.

Of interest in this photo from Perry in 1907 is the use by the shooter in the foreground of a Pope sight micrometer, attached to the rear sight elevation leaf. Harry Pope’s micrometers, unlike most of the several varieties that were made and sold, were intended to be left in place while the rifle was being fired. Photo via American Rifleman

1908 California rifle team at Camp Perry, Ohio. Site of the National Shoot. 5×7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.

In 1916, with the country again looking at entering a large war with a better-trained European power, the National Board of the Promotion of Rifle Practice morphed into the newly formed Director of Civilian Marksmanship or DCM.

The final version of the DCM was an Army-run, government-owned and financed operation, with the Pentagon giving it a shoestring $4.3 million annual budget, or about $10 million in today’s dollars.

According to a 1990 GAO report, the group had just 36 employees but still managed to support 165,000 civilian shooters in 1,945 affiliated clubs nationwide. The DCM in 1989 sold just 6,000 surplus M1 Garand Army rifles to affiliated club members, but had another 24,000 assorted rifles loaned to the clubs themselves, and sold or donated some 37 million rounds of ammunition– almost all .22 rimfire– to its associated members and clubs. It also supported 365,000 Boy Scouts via marksmanship programs, largely through the donation of ammo to their summer camps. Besides sponsoring 135 rifle and pistol matches around the country that year, the DCM also hosted 3,650 competitors at Camp Perry for the National Matches.

However, the Army felt the program was “of limited value” at a time when the post-Cold War defense budget was shrinking dramatically and the Clinton administration in 1996 ended the DCM, converting it into the privatized CMP, with much the same mission but under a new format.

And they still hold the National Matches at Camp Perry.

Trick or Treat: CMP Just Extended 1911 Lottery Round 3

I was lucky enough last year, after a four-month wait (and six years of writing about it), to get in on the 2nd Round of CMP M1911 lottery guns– and I love my gun!

The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production with GHD inspector’s stamp (left) complete with a dummy mark (!) and ordnance wheel/US Property/M1911A1 US Army stamps on the right.

Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (magnaflux inspection) TZ (IMI Israeli, who supplied such slides under contract to the U.S.) with a minty chrome-lined barrel marked with FSN #7791193 91. The plastic grips have “24” rack number.

A FOIA shows that it was still in circulation with a unit somewhere until 2010 when it was sent to AAD for a decade of storage prior to being sent to CMP

Well, the CMP just extended the 3rd round for the next batch of 10,000 guns.

It had been set to accept packets postmarked in September but now it looks like the new cutoff date is October 31, 2022.

So if you haven’t gotten yours in yet and missed out on the first two rounds, now is your chance.

Background on the CMP M1911 Program

One of the biggest boondoggles has been the Army’s repeated attempt at getting rid of its M1911 .45 ACP pistols. With over 2 million made, the classic “Government Issue” pistol was the staple of American fighting men in both world wars as well as Korea and Vietnam. The Army, after trying and failing in the 1950s and 60s to replace the old warhorse with a more compact 9mm that held more ammunition, finally managed to pull it off in 1985 with the adoption of the M9 Beretta. By then, even the newest of the M1911s in stock had been manufactured and delivered in 1945, making them downright elderly. Nonetheless, the military still used the single-action .45 throughout the Cold War and into the Global War on Terror, as the gun remained much-loved by commando types– Special Forces A-teams were still carrying it in Afghanistan post-9/11.

However, even SOCOM eventually put the old M1911 out to pasture, replaced by easier-to-maintain Glocks and SIGs. This left the Army in 2016 with about 100,000 guns still left in storage at Anniston Army Depot, with a cost of about $1.5 million a year to keep clean and dry. This led to a push from the Congressman who represented the Anniston area to donate the guns to CMP for sale and, by 2018, Congress had approved the transfer at a rate of 10,000 pistols per year provided the organization carefully secured the guns (including building a $700,000 handgun vault) and meticulously managed how they were sold– more on the latter in a minute.

This led to a lottery system that the CMP has used since late 2018 to sell the M1911s portioned out to the organization by the Army. The process is simple, with the applicant filling out an eight-page packet similar to that for an M1 Garand and mailing it to their Anniston office.

Once approved, the CMP will email the applicant a number randomly assigned in the current year’s drawing and then the fun begins with about 800 or so pistols shipped out each month.

When the lucky applicant’s number comes up, they will get a call from a usually very chipper young woman with the CMP and be told what grades are available at the time, ranging from Rack grade ($1,050) to Field grade ($1,150) to Service grade ($1,250) of which all will be functional, historic guns. There is also a Range grade for $1,100 that has been modified– usually by Army unit armorers while in service– to contain a lot of commercial aftermarket parts. Like the Garands sold through CMP, the M1911s will typically have been rebuilt a time or two either by unit armorers or Army arsenals since 1945 and usually will have mix-matched parts, for instance with a Colt-marked slide, Ithaca barrel, and Remington frame.

During that call, you can ask for a particular manufacturer (Colt, Ithaca, etc.) and may get lucky, if they have it in stock. Then, after paying, it will arrive at your FFL in a matter of days, complete with a single magazine and a reprint of the Army field manual on the gun, often all inside a very nice CMP-branded Pelican case.

A few things to be aware of is that, unlike the M1 Garand program, CMP is required to ship the M1911s to an FFL, so the transaction is much like buying an out-of-state gun from Gunbroker, Armslist, or Guns.com in that respect. Further, as the packet is only entered after the CMP does a NICS background check on the buyer, at least two such checks are done. This is part of the extra scrutiny that the Army wanted CMP to agree to before sending over the pistols.

There have been two rounds of lotteries done thus far, with a bit over 20,000 guns sold, and CMP just recently completed the enrollment period for the third round at the end of September 2022. It is likely the fourth round will occur sometime in late 2023, so stay tuned for that.

Is the price that CMP sets a lot of money for an M1911? Not if you want a legit Army surplus gun it isn’t as such pieces often resell for twice that much. If you want just an inexpensive M1911 GI pistol to bang around at the range, you may be better off with an imported clone such as a Turkish-made Tisas or Philippine-made Rock Island, either of which can typically be had for around $450-$500 but don’t have any history attached.

‘The Boss’ Just Doing What She Does

I’ve talked about Staff Sgt. Amanda Elsenboss a few times in the past. A Woodbury, Connecticut native and marksman/instructor on the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s Service Rifle Team, she picked up the 2019 NRA National Long Range Championships at Camp Atterbury, Indiana with a win in the Mustin match and a shoot-off score of 100-9x. She also won the Leech Cup with a 200-15X and 100-6X shoot-off score as well as the Viale (with a 198-11x) and Critchfield Memorial Match (200-12x) then shot a 200-12X in the Kerr Match– going on to win the Overall Long Range Champion title with a 1,641 – 95x.

At the 56th Interservice Rifle Championships in 2017, she won the High Service Woman Title, the Interservice 1000-yard Individual Match (Open Division), and the Interservice Individual Long-Range Match. She was also an integral member of two match-winning teams during this 56th annual competition between the military services. Tabbed into the President’s Hundred, she joined the Army in 2010 and has been competing with the AMU since at least 2014 after a prep career where she made the Connecticut All-State Rifle Team out of Nonnewaug High School.

And this month, “The Boss” made history at age 33, becoming the first woman to win the President’s Match an event that’s been in existence since 1894, firing a very impressive 391-12X (ST-99-1, P-RF-99-4X, P-SF-99-4X, Final-94-3X).

More over at The Gun Bulletin.

Post-9/11 M1911s Downrange

Other than a couple of heirlooms that are steeped in family history, the most cherished firearm in my collection is the Colt M1911A1 mixmaster that I received through the Civilian Marksmanship Program via the “Army’s attic” at Anniston Army Depot.

I just refer to it as “No.24” for obvious reasons. Gotta love the 19-year old PFC that probably put the dummy mark on it…

So far about 20,000 of these veteran pistols have been transferred to the CMP over the past few years from the Army’s stockpile of about 100K held in long-term arsenal storage at Anniston. The guns, remnants of more than two million produced for the Army between 1912 and 1945, were withdrawn from front-line duty in the mid-1980s, replaced by the M9 Beretta.

However, to be clear, some of these guns were very much in recent 21st-century martial service.

Retired Green Beret Jeff Gurwitch covers the “re-adoption” of the M1911A1 by U.S. Special Forces after 9/11 in the below very interesting video. The half-hour piece covers the timeline, how it was employed, accessories, and its performance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meet No. 24

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but back in 2015, I was one of the first people in gun media– or any media for that matter– to cover the story of Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers’s effort to include an amendment to the NDAA while the Pentagon spending policy bill was in the House Armed Service Committee. Rogers, who represented the district of Northern Alabama that included the Annison Army Depot and CMP’s headquarters operations, found out that the Army had 100,000 surplus World War II-era M1911s in long-term storage at a cost of $200,000 per year, or about $2 per gun.

The amendment: save Uncle Sam the cash by transferring the guns to the CMP for sale to qualified members of the public, with the funds generated used to support worthwhile marksmanship projects ranging from JROTC to 4H and the National Matches.

I continued to cover the story, which grew legs and captured the imagination of– no joke– millions according to the analytics. Over the course of the next half-decade, I would file at least a dozen updates for a couple different publications. In 2017, after an initial batch had been greenlighted for transfer by the Obama administration (!) on a visit to the “Army’s attic” the Army Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, I was shown crates packed and filled with M1911s pulled from the military’s museum stocks that were in excess of the service’s needs, pending shipment to the CMP once the handgun program got underway.

The thing is, 19,000 people got excited enough about the first round of M1911 sales from CMP and submitted packets for the first 8,000 guns transferred. With that, I felt I had little to no chance of getting one for myself, so I did not wade into the deep waters of trying to get one of these old warhorses through the program.

C’est la vie, right?

However, as CMP announced their Round 2 of the M1911 program earlier this year, I cautiously allowed myself to get optimistic that, perhaps, my chance had come as the really rabid collectors had already shot their bolt– CMP only allows an applicant to get one of these pistols– in the initial go-round.

So I spent a day getting my packet together, sent it in during the open window (January 4 to March 4, 2021), and sat back to wait. On 6 April, I got an email saying I had a randomly generated number (20581) and found out that the current batch of orders was going to start at 20,000.

Nice.

Then, on 20 April, I got the call. All three grades (Service, Field, Rack) were available, so I selected Service– the best– and asked politely for a Colt.

The very next day (after a mandatory two NICS checks!) I walked away from my FFL with this:

The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production with GHD inspector’s stamp (left) complete with a dummy mark (!) and ordnance wheel/US Property/M1911A1 US Army stamps on the right.

Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (magnaflux inspection) TZ (IMI Israeli, who supplied such slides under contract to the U.S.) with a minty chrome-lined barrel marked with FSN #7791193 91. The plastic grips have “24” rack number.

Although I could find no arsenal rebuild stamps, I am theorizing that the gun was reworked at Anniston late in its life, probably in the 1980s, then put back in storage.

I’m totally happy. It was worth the wait.

The 7791193 series barrels have a good reputation for accuracy. I’ll let you know…

New to the Gun Circuit: The Shooting Sports Showcase

So I am back from a brand-new firearm industry event, this year’s inaugural Shooting Sports Showcase. In a year where SHOT Show was canceled, the SSS was like a breath of fresh air.

The event was put on by the Professional Outdoor Media Association, the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, and the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers and held at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s superb 500-acre Talladega Marksmanship Park on Monday.

Like you really need an excuse to hit the CMP Range…

While small compared to SHOT– there were only about 60 exhibitors– you still got to spend lots of quality time with the big boys like HK, Glock, and Sig Sauer, but also with the smaller guys like Sol Invictus, Century, and Taylor’s.

And they all had lots of interesting stuff on hand.

Looking forward to next year’s Showcase already.

Rifle Shooting a lost art…in 1913

Sailors and Marines from the ship’s crew at the rifle range, Auckland, New Zealand, circa 1904-1906. Copied from the USS Baltimore album, page 47. NH 101377

A full-page feature in the May 18, 1913 edition of the New York Sun, entitled, “Rifle Shooting Becoming a Lost Art in America” decried the poor state of American marksmanship just less than 15 months before the start of the Great War and slightly under four years from U.S. involvement in said conflict. The lack of American riflemen at the time seemed apparent, despite the best efforts of the nascent Department of Civilian Marksmanship, today’s CMP, established by the Army in 1903.

From the article:

Records of the War Department show that in 1910, 29,230 members of the regular army, exclusive of those in the Philippines, received rifle Instruction, of whom 17,473 failed to make the qualifying score. In the organized militia, 51,749 received rifle Instruction, of whom 20,630 failed to qualify as marksmen.

There were also 40,000 National Guardsmen who were not even taken to a range. Out of the 25,320 students of colleges and universities supporting military departments only 7,710 received instruction In rifle practice, during the year. Including 39,400 sailors and marine sand 3,000 members of civilian rifle clubs, the aggregate number of men between the ages of 18 and 45 who practiced with the service arm during one year was 131,089, out of a male population within the enlistment ages of 16,000,000, or less than 1 percent.

I wonder what the author would think today?

CMP, Sponsors Support Junior Marksmanship Through Affiliate Discount Purchase Program

Via CMP:

“The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has teamed up with other marksmanship organizations to create an opportunity for Affiliated Clubs and individuals to receive third-party rifles and pistols (many at discounted prices) to help jumpstart programs for schools, junior clubs, teams, and camps.

The CMP Affiliate Purchase Program accommodates .177 caliber precision and sporter air rifles and .22 caliber smallbore rifles, along with a selection of air pistols. The products are intended for junior athletes in target training and competition preparation at the beginning and intermediate levels.

Equipment now available includes:

  • .22 Target Rifles     

Savage Arms offers .22 rifles at a significant discount:

  • Savage Mark I-FVT, single shot, in right and left hand for $257.00 each (regular price $480.00)
  • Savage Mark II-FVT, 5-round magazine, in right and left hand for $257.00 each (regular price $479.00)

(These rifles may be purchased by clubs only, not offered to individuals, but are an excellent deal.)

Additionally, Creedmoor offers the Anschutz 1903 right-hand target rifle in .22 for $1595.00, though there is no discount for CMP clubs or individuals.

  • Air Pistols

 Pyramyd Air offers two air pistols:

  • Alfa Proj Competition PCP Pistol, .177 for $749.99 (regular price $799.99)
  • Air Venturi V10 Match Air Pistol, .177 for $239.99 (regular price $264.99)
  • Sporter Air Rifles

Daisy offers three different rifles, one at regular price and two at significant discounts:

  • Daisy 599 10 meter competition air rifle, $595.00 (no club or individual discount)
  • Daisy M887 Gold Medalist CO2 air rifle – Club and individual price, $305.00 (regular price $499.99)
  • Daisy Elite 753W, wood stock, pump air rifle –  Club and individual price $257.00 (regular price $449.99)
  • Daisy Elite 753S, black synthetic stock, pump air rifle – Club and individual price $194.00 (regular price 449.99)

Also, Pyramyd Air offers the Air Arms T200, .177 air rifle, for clubs and individuals for $525.00 (regular price $579.99).

  • Precision Air Rifles

Pyramyd Air offers three precision rifles, all available to both clubs and individuals at varying discounts.

  • FEINWERKBAU 500 10-meter air rifle, .177 –  Club and individuals price $1275.00 (regular price $1295.95)
  • Air Arms MPR .177 Air Rifle – Club and individual price $850.00 (regular price $999.49)
  • Anschutz 9015 Club Rifle – Club and individual price $1895.95 (regular price $2199.99)

UMAREX/Hammerli

  • Hammerli AR20 Air Rifle – Restricted to club sales, only $840.00 (regular price $969.99)

Delayed payment plans (with the exception of the Savage Mark I-FVT and the Savage Mark II-FVT) are available that allow payments for clubs over a two-year span (not open to individuals). Purchaser must have ordered over $500-worth of items in order to qualify for the delayed payment program.

With the boost from the Affiliate Purchase Program, the CMP hopes to provide suitable equipment for instructors and new marksmen, attract more interest by allowing others the chance to provide loaner guns, as well as assist others in overcoming the financial challenges that arise with starter programs.

Learn more about these rifles and pistols on each of our third-party supporter’s websites. Thank you to all of our sponsors for making it possible for more youth to learn the fundamentals of marksmanship skill and safety.

To place an order or to learn more, visit the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/clubs/cmp-affiliate-rifle-purchase/. You may also contact the CMP Club Sales Department at (419) 635-2141 ext. 753 or email clubrifle@thecmp.org. “

Looking to scratch that Garand itch?

CMP is offering their semi-rebuilt Special Rack Grade M1 for $650 with free shipping.

“The CMP Special Rack Grade (.30-06) M1 Garand, is a partially refurbished rifle with a refinished M1 receiver, new production Criterion barrel, new production American Walnut stock and handguards, and new web sling. The receiver is the only part of the rifle that has been refinished. The remainder of the other parts have NOT been refinished. The receiver will have heavy pitting above the wood line.”

Still, it is a tested and functional Garand with WWII/Korean War vintage GI parts and a new barrel, from about the only people who know what they are doing in the M1 world and makes a good shooter-grade rifle, something that is getting increasingly hard to find.

Want to know how many guns CMP has in the warehouse?

By the numbers from a recent 44-page GAO report on the government-chartered Civilian Marksmanship Program:

304,233 – The number of former military rifles the group sold to U.S. citizens from 2008 through 2017.

$196.8 million – The revenue from those sales, or about $650 per rifle.

279,032 – The number of rifles transferred by the Army to CMP at the same time (note the less than 1:1 replacement in inventory).

$85.8 million – The cost of the program’s marksmanship activities in the past decade, mostly promoting youth in the shooting sports nationwide

$3.6 million – CMP’s cost of the program providing free ceremonial rifles to veterans groups during the same time

$15.6 million – The non-profit’s expenses for 2017, ranging from targets and ranges to keeping the lights on to guarding the expansive warehouses and inspecting/repairing pallets of sometimes moody guns and ammo.

$0 – The number of taxpayer dollars the group has collected. The only support they have had from Uncle since 1997 has been through the transfer of surplus gear and guns.

228,791 – The number of rifles CMP had on hand in Aug. 2018.

More in my column at Guns.com

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