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.


17 thoughts on “M1 Garand Disassembly

  1. Re: hands free photos.

    Timer on the shutter? Foot pedal?

    Don't tell me you have your better half in the garage taking pictures of you doing this! If so, that's love.

    Take her to or make her dinner asap!

  2. Timer and a tripod.
    The wife's still recovering from her surgery so even if she was willing to do that, I wouldn't expect it.

    And I do enjoy the "teaching posts"…but not only are they time consuming to put together themselves, but taking the pictures makes doing the job take about three times longer than it should too. They are few and far between just because they take so much effort to put together.

    Not that it isn't worth it…it is, I just don't regularly have the time.

    Thanks for dropping by, my brother.

  3. Got here from MArooned. I have taken my Garand apart a few times, but it not something I can do like the AR-15. Thanks for the effort to share your knowledge.

  4. Just in time, as the last CMP match is Tuesday night, then it'll be time for me to take it apart and give it a good cleaning. Thanks Curt!

  5. I had to take my CMP Garand apart for a repair, and had no idea how to proceed. Your page is great; right to the point and with pictures – just what I needed!

  6. The rear handguard is removed as follows: remove front handguard, Remove pin in lower band and slide off the lower band. Push the rear handguard forward and the clip will follow the groove in the barrel and will have no tention as it approaches the smaller diameter of the barrel.
    Replacing the rear handguard is not the reverse of removal.
    To replace, install the lower band and pin, insert the front of the rear handguard into the lowerband and then push down on the clip on the rear handguard ( not the hangguard ) and the clip will expand and snap into the grooves in the barrel !….BH

  7. Thanks for the input BH. I probably should have included removing the lower band for thoroughness, but I just didn't think about it. My method of removing the rear handguard works just as well, with fewer steps and no requirement to drive out a pin.

    As far as I'm concerned, there's no wrong way to do it if it works…but that's just me. Different strokes for different folks.

    As far as the correction: I can't find the place where I misspelled handguard and I checked both the disassembly and assembly posts. I also never said that replacing the rear handguard is the reverse of removal, so I don't know where that's coming from. Could you please provide more detail about where the misspelling is so I can correct it? Thanks.

  8. I did not make any corrections to anyone's spelling..I mispelled it ( just realized that then ). I put "not the handguard" in brackets because pushing on the handguard itself instead of on the clip can easily split the wood. Also I did not suggest anyone said that the replacement of the rear handguard is the reverse of the removal. I said it because the procedure is not that. One can NOT slide the handguard on as it came off because the groove in the barrel is stepped and the clip sides out of the groove when one tries to slide it back on. Hope I crossed the 'T's" and dotted the "i's ' and did not mispell any words this time ……..BH

  9. Guess I'm not as anal as some folks on dotting the I and crossing the T. I appreciate you putting the info together. I have a copy of a manual that came with my Korean war era rifle. It is a refurb from the Korean Army bought in the late eighties. The manual was copied so poorly, the pictures are hard to see.


  10. I like your method of using text along with photos to teach how to disassemble the M1 garand rifle. This way I can stay at one part as long as I want until I understand it. I can’t do that with a video type lesson. I would like to get your lesson on disassembling the bolt. Do you have it available yet? Thanks…. Dom

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