I won, I won…

Well…unofficially anyway.

Airfield shooting club hosted an “as issued military rifle” match on Saturday.

Not to pick nits, but they did allow a couple of AR style rifle entries, which technically aren’t “as issued military rifles” but it was just a fun match anyway so nobody complained.

I hadn’t been to the range in quite a while.  Considering that I still have half a case or so of .30-06 and the entry fee for club members was only $5, I figured I could spare that and maybe the same amount on gas to participate.

I loaded my M1 Garand (which is too dangerous for us lowly civilians to own, don’t you know…just ask the Brady Campaign…why would anyone want one of those military style rifles anyway?  They’re only good for killing people…or something.  But I digress…as usual) and assorted other shooting paraphernalia onto the bike and hit the range for the first time in a while.


I shot in the third relay.  Another shooter in the second relay was using a Krag carbine.  I’ve seen them at gun shows and places like that, but I’ve never actually seen anyone shooting one…and BOY was he shooting his.  I knew he was going to be a challenge to beat.

I shot pretty well.  I have to admit after shooting my National Match AR for a while, with it’s two stage, four and a half pound trigger, the Garand felt like trying  pull a truck with my trigger finger.   The Garand really does have a good trigger for a stock service rifle…no creep, crisp letoff, but I’d guess the pull weight is around 7 or 8 pounds.  Might be time for a trigger job.

As an added excuse, I lost my reading glasses right before it was my turn to shoot, so I was having a hard time focusing on the front sight.  Interestingly, I realized that my vision is such that, when prone, My eyes are just enough closer to the sights to make the front too close to focus on…but when standing off-hand, it’s a couple of inches farther from my eye, which was enough to make it come clearly into focus when shooting from that position.  I was actually very pleased with my off-hand shooting for the first time in a long time.

Anyway, overall, I was pretty pleased with my shooting…could have been better, but didn’t suck…and after talking to Mr. Krag (also known as Chuck) while scoring my targets, he told me that we had tied on score but that I had beat him in Xs.

The official results were posted today and he was right…except they didn’t post the Xs in the results.  I don’t know why.

So I suppose officially we tied with scores of 261, but I know that he told me he only got 2 Xs to my 3, so I’m declaring myself the unofficial winner.

Not that it’s THAT important to me, but hey, bragging rights are bragging rights…especially because Chuck is a retired Marine.

Go Navy.

M1 Garand Reassembly

In previous posts, I covered M1 Garand disassembly, and disassembly and reassembly of the bolt.

I mentioned in the disassembly post that I neglected to disassemble the clip latch mechanism…that was an oversight that I’ll rectify at some point and add the procedure to these posts. I also already mentioned that I didn’t disassemble the rear sight. I also didn’t disassemble the trigger group. I may decide to do that in a separate post at some point. The reason I’m reluctant is because my trigger is just THAT good. I don’t want to mess with it unnecessarily. The M1 Garand was blessed with arguably the best issue trigger ever to grace a military rifle. My particular specimen is particularly crisp and clean in my humble opinion and I simply don’t want to mess with perfection.

I will probably, at some point, take the risk and make the sacrifice of breaking mine down and building it back up just for the benefit of my much appreciated readership, but I just wasn’t up for it this time.

If you REALLY need to see how either the rear sight or the trigger group is disassembled and reassembled, leave me a comment. If there is enough interest, I’ll bite the bullet (so to speak) and do a post on the trigger group and/or rear sight.

As far as reassembling the rifle…here we go:

First we need to reinstall the follower assembly. It isn’t difficult, but does take a little coordination.

Stick the “t” shaped end of the follower arm through the slot in the bullet guide.

The mounting pin holes in the bases of the follower arm and the bullet guide should align.

Then slide “t” of the follower arm into the grooves
on the bottom of the follower. the narrow end of the follower points away from the follower arm.

The grooves in the follower go all the way through so it will basically just fall apart if you don’t hold them together.

With the receiver upside down, and the narrow end of the follower pointing toward the rear of the receiver, the follower goes down into the slots in front pillars of the receiver.

As soon as you get the follower started in the slots, put your fingers under the receiver. The slots in the receiver go all the way through so if you don’t use your fingers to stop it, the follower will just fall out the other side and the whole thing will come apart again.

Then seat the bullet guide against the pillars. There are tabs on the bullet guide that fit into notches on the pillars which hold the pieces relatively steady after it’s in position.

Next the operating rod catch goes in.

The “arm” on the catch goes on the left side of the receiver (at the top in this photo). The bent part of the arm should be bent toward the top of the receiver.

The arm will slide under the corner of the bullet guide, and then the mounting “ears” of the catch will straddle the bullet guide and follower arm.

The pin holes should all be fairly well aligned at this point.

With the operating rod catch in place, be sure that the bent part of the arm is above (below in this picture because the receiver is upside down) the tab on the clip latch that sticks through the side of the receiver there.

Then the pin slides in from the right side of the receiver. If you put the pin in backward, it won’t seat completely because only one side of the receiver is recessed for the head on the pin.

You may have to jiggle things a little to get everything lined up for the pin to go through, but the pin doesn’t fit tightly so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Once the pin is in, the follower assembly will stay together so you can stop holding the follower.

Next , on the top of the barrel, with the metal clip toward the receiver end, the front of the upper handguard fits in to the ferrule.

Then the rear of the handguard is pressed over the barrel. The legs of the clip will snap into the slots on either side of the barrel.

One idiosyncrasy of the M1 Garand is that it needs grease to operate correctly. Oil just doesn’t cut it.

There are as many opinions about the best grease to use on the M1 Garand as there are M1 Garands in the world, but I’ve had very good results with Tetra gun grease. It’s available from Fulton Armory, Midway USA, and probably any number of other outlets as well.

Basically, anywhere that metal moves against metal, you should grease. Before installing the bolt and operating rod, I usually grease the rails that the bolt lugs ride in, the rail that the operating rod rides in, and the inside top of the receiver where the bolt rubs when the rifle is in recoil.

It’s pretty easy to see where metal rubs metal because the finish will be worn away in an obvious pattern.

CAVEAT: Don’t put oil or grease on the gas piston part of the operating rod (the shiny part that goes into the gas cylinder). The gas system is designed to operate dry. If you’re storing a Garand, you can use grease or oil in the gas system as a preservative, but be sure you completely remove it from the gas cylinder and piston portion of the operating rod before firing.

It shouldn’t take any force to get the bolt in, but you do have to play around and find the right angle and orientation to get it to go in. Sometimes it’s like figuring out a puzzle, but you shouldn’t have to force it in any way.

Lay the operating rod in place underneath the barrel and hold it loosely in place with your hand.

Place the operating rod into position alongside the receiver, fit the bolt lug into the well in the operating rod.

There is a tab on the inside of the operating rod that rides in the rail on the receiver.Keeping the bolt lug in the well in the operating rod, place that tab against the rail at about the midpoint of the receiver; then slowly move the operating rod back toward the rear of the receiver, pressing it in toward the rail.

Just before reaching the rearmost travel of the bolt, the tab on the operating rod will line up with a slot in the receiver rail and will pop into place.

That will trap the operating rod to the receiver and keep it mated to the bolt lug.

The front of the operating rod still isn’t secured at this point so hold it in place against the underside of the barrel for the time being to keep it from flopping around.

Slide the front handguard over the barrel and seat it into the ferrule.

The operating rod will go into the U-shaped part under the front handguard.

Then slide the gas cylinder assembly over the barrel.

As it is going into place, the front of the operating rod will seat into the gas cylinder.

align the splines of the cylinder assembly with the grooves in the barrel and firmly seat the assembly in place against the front of the front handguard.

I’ve never needed to do so, but if you have to tap the gas cylinder into place to seat it, I’d probably use a small piece of PVC pipe or a similar tube that the barrel will just fit inside. Slip the tube over the barrel and against the front of the gas cylinder assembly; then tap the end of the tube with a mallet to seat the assembly. That should enable you to seat it without putting any undue lateral forces on it or damaging the finish.

Next, the gas cylinder lock spins over the barrel.

As I said in the disassembly post, mine doesn’t fit tightly so I can put it on by hand. If yours is tight, you can use the special tool (also available from Fulton Armory) to wrench it down.

Then screw in the gas cylinder lock screw and tighten it down with a ginormous straight slot or phillips screwdriver…or the M1 Garand combination tool like I use.

The screw should be pretty snug. You don’t want to go all Hulk Hogan on it or anything, but if you don’t snug it down pretty tightly, you take a chance of it loosening up on you during firing…which is bad for proper operation of the gas system.

This is a good time to check for binding. Hold the rifle barrel up and the bolt and operating rod should fall completely open under its own weight. Tip the barrel forward and the bolt and operating rod should fall forward and the bolt should close and lock, again under its own weight.

If the bolt and operating rod don’t move freely under their own weight, something is binding and you need to find and fix the problem before continuing. Binding could be caused by something not being assembled correctly, the gas cylinder being dented or bent, the operating rod being bent, a burr or rough spot in the receiver rails that guide the operating rod or bolt…basically at any point where the moving components travel, there could be a problem causing binding.

Next, put the narrow end of the operating rod spring over the rear (straight) end of the follower rod.

It should fit tightly. If it is a loose fit, you’re putting the rod into the wrong end of the spring.

Then feed the operating rod spring into the hole in the operating rod.

By the way: see that shiny spot on the bottom of the barrel in this picture? The operating rod rubs there under recoil. I grease that area any time I have the rifle apart.

With the receiver upside down, the bent part of the follower rod should be up toward you.

With the bolt closed, put a finger underneath the follower to hold the follower arm up and forward.

Push the follower rod far enough into the operating rod to hook the “ears” on the follower rod onto the small pegs on either side of the follower arm.

Then gently release the follower and allow the operating rod spring tension to be taken up by the follower assembly.

Manually cycle the action a couple of times to make sure that everything is working correctly. The bolt should lock back when pulled all the way to the rear and you’ll have to push the follower down to release it.

Next, place the front of the stock into the ferrule on the barrel.

Then push the rear of the stock down onto the receiver.

With the rifle upside down, open the trigger guard as far as it will go.

Push the trigger group straight down into the receiver and stock until it is fully seated.

Close the trigger guard and push it firmly to lock it into place.

It looks like I’m putting pressure on the rear sight to lock the trigger guard into place in this picture.

That is an optical delusion (yes, I meant to say delusion…attempted humor). If you look closely, you’ll see that I didn’t even have the trigger guard all the way closed yet. I really shouldn’t have had the sights on the bench at all and I’m not sure I actually did. It looks that way in the picture but I don’t believe I had any weight on it at all if it’s actually even touching.

Basically, the timer went off and the picture was snapped just as I was gripping the trigger guard, receiver and stock to press the trigger guard into place. When I do this, I grip the top of the receiver and the stock with my fingers, put my palm over the trigger guard, and then squeeze to lock the trigger guard into place.

Basically that was a long way of saying: if it looks like I’m putting pressure on the rear sight in this picture, I’m not. You should not do that…it’s bad for the sight.

Finally, the sling. I use a standard cotton web sling just like they did in WWII.

I really like the versatility of this sling and it’s more practical than the leather M1907 sling on a rifle that isn’t a dedicated match gun.

I actually put mine on backward compared to most people, but I think it is the most comfortable when using it to stabilize a shooting position this way.

On the rear sling swivel, I hook the clip on from front to back.

Then, making sure not to twist the sling, I put the tab end through the top sling swivel from back to front with the part of the clasp that opens facing away from the rifle.

Open the clasp, slide the tab through it, adjust the sling to the desired tightness, position the clasp to secure as much of the excess as possible, and close the clasp.

When I’m using the sling for stabilizing a shooting position, the opening part of the clasp and any excess sling is to the outside of the sling and my hand and arm are on the inside. This keeps the clasp from biting me and the excess sling hanging free and out of my way. Also, I can make minor adjustments to sling tension with my trigger hand without having to completely extricate myself from the sling.

I honestly don’t understand why most people put the sling on with the clasp and the excess sling to the inside. I started doing it this way before I knew the “right” way because it made the most sense to me. When I realized that, judging by how others were doing it, I was putting the sling on “wrong”, I just never changed. If my way works better for me, why should I worry about what anyone else is doing?

Anyway, that’s it. Another post series in the can. I hope someone finds it useful.

M1 Garand Bolt Disassembly/Reassembly

Other posts in the series: M1 Garand Disassembly, M1 Garand Reassembly

OK…da bolt.

The M1 Garand bolt is put together almost exactly the same way as the M1 Carbine bolt…just on a larger scale. Like the M1 Carbine bolt, the extractor has a pin that passes through the body of the bolt and holds the firing pin and the ejector in.

Also, just like the M1 Carbine bolt, there is a spring and plunger underneath the ejector that places spring tension on the ejector, allowing it to catch and hold the rim of the cartridge as the bolt closes and locks.

Again, like the M1 Carbine, the ejector is a simple post (you can see some significant wear on mine…65 years of use will do that to you…but it still works flawlessly).

And finally, like the M1 Carbine Bolt, there is a special tool for assembling and disassembling the Garand bolt. Had I known that before taking mine apart the first time, I probably would have anticipated it being just as difficult as the Carbine and would have invested the $50 to $70 in the tool. I didn’t know any better though and, by trying it without the tool, discovered that it really isn’t very difficult at all.

There are two features that make it easier than the Carbine bolt…first it’s just bigger and easier to work with. Secondly, the extractor has a beveled edge that helps to push the extractor spring and plunger down as it’s going into place. You don’t have to manually compress the extractor spring to get the extractor seated over it…which is a major headache on the M1 Carbine bolt.

Disassembly is simply a matter of driving the extractor out of the bolt body with a pin punch.

Put your thumb or a finger over the bolt face as the extractor is coming out in case the extractor spring tries to escape.

Conveniently, as the pin punch goes in and drives out the extractor, the punch itself locks the ejector into place so that it doesn’t fire itself across the garage. The thumb or finger over the bolt face will ensure no mishaps in that respect as well though.

With the extractor removed, pull the extractor spring and plunger out and set them aside; then, again with your thumb over the bolt face to catch the ejector, and with the your pinky over the rear of the bolt to keep the firing pin from falling out onto the floor, slowly work the pin punch back out of the extractor pin hole.

I apologize for the blurry photo…My new camera does MUCH better than the old one, but having it on the tripod and taking pictures with the timer means that I can’t check every picture every time and in a few cases, the lens seems to have autofocused on something in the spirit world rather than the intended subject of the shot. Don’t worry, I’ve got a couple that are much worse than this one coming up.

After the pin punch is pulled out, the firing pin will basically fall out of the bottom of the bolt and the ejector and spring can be pulled from the front.

That’s all there is to disassembly.

You’ll probably notice that in subequent pictures, I start wearing nitrile gloves. I actually shot the disassembly and reassembly on two different days.

On the second day, I was cleaning and then lubricating as I was reassembling. My skin soaks up Hoppe’s Number 9 like a sponge and if I don’t wear gloves, I can smell it (and, more importantly, my wife can smell it) on my hands for days no matter how many times I wash.

One of the little tricks I use is I keep a cotton rag (piece of an old t-shirt) lightly impregnated with gun oil in a zip-lock bag.

For general lubrication and protection of metal surfaces after cleaning, I simply wipe each component down with the rag to give them a light coating of oil. I’ve been using this method (and probably this same rag) for years.

It’s important that areas like the firing pin, ejector, extractor, etc. have a light coating of oil to lubricate and protect against corrosion, but too much oil in those areas can trap dirt, carbon and powder residue which can bind things up. This oiled rag method allows me to put the perfect amount of lubrication on these areas; and, because I re-use the same oiled rag over and over, I don’t waste a bunch of gun oil by oiling directly and then wiping off and discarding excess.

To reassemble the bolt, first drop the ejector spring and ejector into their well in the bolt face.

Be sure to turn the ejector so that the notch that the extractor pin engages is aligned with the extractor pin hole.

Then the firing pin goes in from the bottom.

Here’s the secret to putting the Garand bolt back together without the tool: I secure a fairly large pin punch in my bench vise.

This picture is VERY blurry and I apologize for that. I included it anyway because I think you can still get an idea of how I’m using the pin punch in the vise to put the bolt together.

Basically, you press the ejector against the face of the pin punch with enough force to push the ejector back into it’s proper position in the bolt.

Be sure to keep the firing pin seated by putting pressure on it with the pinky of the hand holding the bolt.

After the ejector is seated deeply enough, slip a smaller pin punch through the extractor pin hole to temporarily hold the ejector and firing pin in place.

Next, drop the extractor plunger and spring into the well in the bolt lug.

Observant people may notice that there is no pin punch sticking out of the bolt in this picture.

That’s because I did it in the wrong order when taking the pictures. I put the extractor plunger and spring in before securing the ejector and firing pin with the pin punch. After doing it, I realized that it was stupid to do it that way because I could have dropped the extractor plunger and spring and lost them while I was pressing on the ejector with the punch secured in the vise.

I’m putting in the pictures out of sequence with the way I ACTUALLY did it, in order to tell you the CORRECT way to do it. In other words…do as I say, not as I do…er…did.

Meanwhile…back in the garage…

With the extractor and firing pin held in by the pin punch, and the extractor plunger and spring inserted into their well in the bolt lug, now is the time to place the extractor on the bolt.

Carefully back the pin punch out (be sure cover the top and bottom of the bolt with fingers just in case you go too far and release the firing pin or ejector) until enough of the extractor pin hole is clear that you can start the extractor pin into the hole.

Then, while still holding everything together carefully to keep anything from slipping and rapidly departing the area, lay the top of the bolt against a solid, but relatively soft surface…a block of wood works perfectly.

the bolt should be placed extractor down, the handle of the pin punch should be straight up in the air.

Then give the top of the bolt a firm tap with a plastic, rubber, rawhide or possibly brass mallet.

The extractor should seat and push the pin punch out of the bolt.

When properly seated, the top surface of the extractor should be flush with the top of the bolt body.

Viola…there you have it.

Next time we’ll reassemble the rifle.

M1 Garand Disassembly

Other posts in this series: M1 Garand reassembly, M1 Garand bolt disassembly/reassembly

As usual…click all pix to make bigger

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 are here. 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.

The first thing to do (after double checking to make sure it’s unloaded and removing the sling) is to pull the trigger group which also releases the action from the stock.

You release the trigger group by pulling back and up on the rear of the trigger guard.

Then the trigger group pulls straight up and out of the action.

Make sure the action is supported because this releases it from the stock and it can fall out if you’re not holding it.

Pull the rear of the stock up first, then pull back to release it from the front ferrule.

The next step is to pull the operating rod spring and follower rod.

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.

Then grab the follower rod and pull back to release it from the follower arm. It may help to put your thumb under the follower to hold the follower arm steady while doing this.

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.

Gently pull the follower rod and op rod spring out of the well in the operating rod.

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.

Once the operating rod is released from the rail and the bolt lug, move it forward out of the way.

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.

Next to come off is the gas cylinder…as I said, I could have done the gas cylinder first, but it really doesn’t matter.

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.

Then unscrew the gas cylinder lock 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.

Then just pull the gas cylinder assembly off the front of the barrel. Sounds easy doesn’t it?

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.

Here’s how I do it. Standard, $5.00 gear and pulley puller from your local auto parts store.

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.

You really only need to get it moving with the puller. Once the gas cylinder assembly is freed from the splines, it pulls off easily.

Since we already freed the rear of the operating rod from the receiver, as soon as the gas cylinder is pulled free, the operating rod is loose and can be lifted off the barreled receiver.

Then the front handguard pulls off the barrel.

Normally, there’s no reason to pull the rear handguard, but to be thorough (and because it’s not very hard)…

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 last thing to disassemble* on the receiver (other than the rear sight,which we are not going to tackle today) is the follower assembly.

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.

The pin is usually not a tight fit and pushes right out with a punch.

Push the pin out from the left.

And the four pieces of the follower assembly just fall out. From left to right in this picture:

The follower
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.