Tag Archives: Greatest Battlefield Implement

Happy birthday, Lee

The great Lee Marvin would be 94 today.

Here he is seen as Sgt. Turk in the “Bridge at Chalons” episode of Combat! (1963)

And if he looks natural with that Garand, he came about it honestly.

Leaving school at 18 to enlist in the Marines after Pearl Harbor, this member of The Greatest Generation was seriously wounded while a part of the 24th Marines during the assault on Mount Tapochau in the Battle of Saipan in 1944 and spent over a year in recovery before he was medically discharged.

Principles of Operation (1943) United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1

The above U.S. Army training film explains the principles of operation of the M1 (Garand) Infantry Rifle.

John Garand’s M1 rifle was developed at Springfield Armory over a five-year period and put into production in August 1937, with over 5 million produced by SA, Winchester, Rock Island Arsenal, International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson by 1957 when it was theoretically replaced by the M14.

Gen. George S. Patton called it “the greatest battle implement ever devised” after seeing it in action during some of the heaviest ground combat in World War II. It went on to hold the line in Korea, the Cold War, and the early days of Vietnam. The old M1 remained in National Guard armories through the 1970s and as many as 250,000 DoD-owned Garands still serve with various military and civilian honor guards.


‘The Greatest Battlefield Implement Ever Devised’

The original memo that led to the quote, 72 years ago today:


The good ol M-1 certainly carved out its place in history, being used by the U.S. Army as its front line rifle until 1957 and in the National Guard and Reserve through 1976.

It is still used by select honor guards, veteran’s units, ROTC and the like today.

Among the current stock of M1 rifles maintained by the Army earmarked for the Ceremonial Rifle Program, of which the Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command in Warren, Michigan advised me amounted to some 250,000 rifles loaned to over 31,000 civilian clubs including such well-known organizations as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans.

The government-chartered Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) still has on hand some 125,000 former GI-owned M1 rifles in numerous grades from welded drill rifles to stripped bare receivers to complete collector grade weapons and everything in between.

Freedom of Information Act requests tell me that, “US Army records show 182 M1 Garand Rifles, NSN 1005-00-674-1425, are serviceable and in use by Army units; another 115 are serviceable held for possible issue, and 68,443 are considered unserviceable but frozen from disposal action by Congressional moratorium for total Army owned quantity of 68,740.”

Figures from the Department of the Air Force and Navy are unavailable, but nonetheless, there seem to be upwards of about a half-million M1’s still in the hands of the federal government or it’s chartered programs, which is not bad for a gun that was officially replaced 60~ years ago.

Overall, it seems like the M1s days of service are still far from over.