I can’t really quantify why I like old military rifles so much. I’m not really interested in owning the latest and greatest super tactical accessory rack. I’m not interested in modern (or even non-modern) hunting rifles. I like older guns and I have a civil war era Ballard drop block black powder cartridge rifle that I’m very fond of (although I’ve never fired it…the stock has a slight crack and I’m afraid it would split under recoil), but my real love is WWI/WWII/Korean war era military rifles. My collection is pretty meager at this point but I plan to continue it and the two jewels of the set I already have: The M1 Garand and M1 Carbine. I would love to have an example of every standard issue infantry rifle used by a major power during WWII. I’ve got a lot of collecting to do.
Anyway, what got me thinking about all this was a comment I stumbled across while lurking in the CMP forum. “bbycrts” said it better than I ever could have. I’m going to post the entire comment because it’s not long but in case you want to go read it straight from the tap,.
I have only purchased from the CMP once before – a new Kimber 82. Beautiful rifle, shot great, ended up not being what I was really looking for in a .22 and I sold it for what I paid for it. I felt no emotional attachments – the rifle had never been out of its wrap and besides a battle-scar (from when a grunt slashed it with a razor to check the serial number), it was pristine and, well…sterile.
Last night my daughter and I went down to the FedEx depot to pick up my new carbine, and not to be maudlin or anything, I have really been filled with a deep sense of responsibility now that it is in my hands.
I realized that in its 65-year life, this little rifle has never before been owned by a “person.” In all the time it has been in service, it may have been cared for by various soldiers and agencies – but it was always the property of government. It has seen action overseas, has served with the US military, has served foreign governments. The places it has been are many, and always in the name of government service.
Now the government has entrusted it to ME. I am its first private owner. I suspect that before it reached my house, it was mostly regarded as a tool or a weapon much more than the piece of living history that it is. Now that it is mine, it will be kept busy – but mostly as an example of the ingenuity and dedication of the country that caused it to come into being.
I reflected on what the M1 carbine is. Think about it – of all the manufacturers that fielded carbines, only ONE was an actual firearms maker. The carbines we so eagerly await and fondle from the CMP now were built by General Motors – an automobile manufacturer. They were built by jukebox makers and postal meter makers and business machine manufacturers. They represent the tone of the nation during World War II, when everybody paused and banded together to defeat the axis.
Now it’s my job to take care of this little piece of history. Before it arrived, I perused catalogs thinking about replacing the stock. Forget it. The stock isn’t in very good shape, but every nick, dent, scratch, and ding was EARNED by this little rifle, and I’m not removing a one of them. The darkness of the wood was earned by years of sweat and oil, and I’m not removing a bit of it.
Thank you, CMP. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share in this troubled time in history that ultimately showed the full greatness of the United States.
–bbycrts CMP Forum
I haven’t had the time to really invest in the carbine yet due to other commitments, but pix and reports are imminent.