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.


8 thoughts on “M1 Garand Reassembly

  1. Need help with M1 Garand.
    Won’t extract casing after firing. Slide gets stuck. After opening with force and extracting the casing everything slides smoothly. If while slide is open and I feed a single shell into the barrel it slides right in but again after firing its stuck again.

  2. No, that’s the way it was when I bought it 10 years ago or so. I’ve only cleaned and oiled it…oh, and I put some white paint in the lettering on the receiver to make it stand out more. The barrel is a replacement and I don’t think the stock is original WWII vintage, but I’ve not replaced or refinished anything personally…and it shoots great, I’ve won a couple of “as-issued” service rifle matches with it.

  3. Hi Sailorcurt;

    I need some help. I bought a M1 Garand from CMP and took it out to fire it. Shoot a few rounds and then let my son-in-law shot it. He did something that caused the trigger group to open up as for disassembly. When we went to put the trigger assembly back into the bottom of the stock, it would not close back shut with the tab on the end of the trigger guard stuck into the hole in the trigger assembly. I have tried pushing pretty hard on the trigger guard but it will not close. The small posts on the trigger guard that fit in the slot the trigger assembly goes into appear to be marked as if the posts won’t fit into the the slots they go into. Am I doing something wrong? Or is there something out of place causing the trigger guard not to shut? Can you shed any light on this problem? I really want to shot the M1 somemore but with the trigger guard open, I won’t do it.

  4. The trigger guard is released by pushing forward on the rear of the trigger guard…you’re actually squeezing the back of the trigger guard toward the front to get it to release.

    On mine, to re-install it, just pushing it in place snaps the rear back into the slots.

    First, make sure everything else is where it’s supposed to be and the trigger assembly isn’t getting hung up on something inside that’s preventing it from seating fully. That could be why the trigger guard won’t lock.

    If everything looks like it should fit correctly and the trigger assembly is seating all the way into the rifle, try pressing forward on the rear of the trigger guard as you press the trigger guard into place.

    If that doesn’t work, without seeing exactly what’s going on, it’s hard to say. You’d probably be best served by taking it to a gunsmith. You don’t want to force something and damage a historical rifle like that.

  5. I really appreciate your insite with the installation of the Web strap. I’mean gonna do it your way. It just makes perfect sense to me sir!
    Have a safe & happy Memorial Day too,


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