It’s been a while since I did a real gunsmithing post. I shot an “as issued” service rifle match with my M1 Garand at ASC a while back…I’ve got pictures of it that I’d meant to post but just never got around to it. The results of the match . They spelled my name wrong…I’m the one listed as “Curtiss”. I did OK…considering that I haven’t been shooting much lately. I was actually pretty happy with my prone slow fire and, as usual, off-hand left a LOT to be desired. My group in prone rapid fire was pretty good, just off to the left about a click or so of windage.
Anyway, after the match, I noticed a little corrosion and possible pitting on the operating rod that I needed to clean up.
While contemplating disassembling the rifle for this, it occurred to me that I’ve never posted on disassembling or reassembling the Garand…so…here we go.
As with any time you are handling a firearm, before doing anything else, ensure that there is no ammunition in the magazine and that the chamber is clear. It’s a good idea to consciously clear the room you’ll be working in of any and all ammunition before beginning.
Normal cleaning of the M1 Garand doesn’t require disassembly. All you really need to do under regular use is clean the bore and chamber, the bolt-face and inside the action. Every once in a while I pull the bolt to disassemble and clean it as well. I generally will only pull the gas tube and operating rod maybe once a year for cleaning/inspection.
To get to the spot on the gas tube I needed to reach required it to come off this time. I figured I may as well go all the way (or at least as far as I ever do) and share it with others.
You release the trigger group by pulling back and up on the rear of the trigger guard.
Make sure the action is supported because this releases it from the stock and it can fall out if you’re not holding it.
If the bolt is locked back, pull the operating rod back slightly, press the follower down and then slowly and carefully allow the operating rod and bolt to close. Be careful of the infamous “Garand Thumb”…that op rod and bolt will do a number on a thumb or finger if it closes on it with full force.
Be sure you’ve got a good grip on the follower rod, the operating rod spring is quite strong and will release with a good bit of force if you loose control of it.
Then you can separate the follower rod and op rod spring by pulling firmly. The rod fits pretty tightly into the spring so it may take a bit of force and/or jiggling to get it out. It really isn’t required to separate them, but I like to clean in there while I’ve got it apart so I usually do.
You can remove the gas cylinder and front handguard next, it really doesn’t matter. In fact, it makes it a little easier to get the op rod released from the receiver rail and bolt if you pull the gas cylinder first, but I don’t often remove the gas cylinder and, so, generally pull the bolt with the cylinder and op rod still installed, so that’s how I’ll describe it, even though we are pulling the gas cylinder this time.
First, pull the operating rod all the way to the rear.
Then, start slowly pushing it back forward while putting pressure in an upward and outward direction.
There is a slot in the receiver rail that, when the operating rod gets to the right place, will release the op rod from the rail and release the bolt lug from the op rod. The op rod should release fairly close to the rear of the receiver. If you go past half-way, you missed it. Move the rod back to the rear and try again.
Grab the bolt by a lug and twist, jiggle and turn it until it comes out of the receiver. It shouldn’t take any force to get it to release, it’s just like a puzzle, you’ve got to get it into the right position and then it will basically just fall out.
Using a hugemongous straight slot or phillips screw driver (I’m using the WWII vintage M1 Garand tool to do it) unscrew the gas cylinder lock screw and remove it.
Some of these can be very tight. There is a tool made especially for removing this lock, you can get them from Fulton Armory or any number of other outlets…I don’t have one because I’ve never needed it. My gas cylinder lock has never fit that tight.
What if it’s too tight and won’t pull loose you ask?
Well, you could use a brass drift and mallet to tap the back of the bayonet lug or the back of the front sight, but neither of those options has ever seemed like a good idea to me.
Of course, I use a thin piece of wood to protect the muzzle, and I am very careful not to let the legs bite too much and mar the finish…but this method pulls the gas cylinder assembly straight off the barrel which ensures you’re not damaging the splines or the contact surface between the gas port and the barrel.
It’s held in place at the rear by a metal clip. The barrel has slots milled in either side that the clip catches in. The legs on the clip that catch in the slots have small holes in them.
There is a “snap ring” type tool that can be purchased to remove this clip, but I’ve found that a tapered punch works just fine.
Insert the tip of the punch into the hole on one side of the clip and pry the leg out until is free of the slot, repeat on the other side. Then pull the back of the front handguard up and then pull back to release the front from the ferrule.
The follower assembly is held together by one pin at the front of the receiver.
The pin has a head on it on the right side. You’ll notice that the right side is larger than the left.
*Note: there is actually one more thing on the receiver to disassemble…the clip latch. It’s basically just one long piece of metal, a hinge pin and a spring. The only reason I didn’t remove them is because it’s not something that needs to be removed except for repairs and it simply didn’t occur to me. I’ll probably update this post at some point in the future and add removing the clip latch to this procedure.
Push the pin out from the left.
The bullet guide
The follower arm
The operating rod catch.
Actually the follower has two parts, the follower base and the slide, and the operating rod catch has a pin and an “L” shaped “accelerator”. Unless they need to be replaced, there is no reason to ever disassemble those pieces farther.
That’s it for disassembling the receiver and that’s enough for tonight.
Next time we’ll disassemble and reassemble the bolt.