G&G M1 Garand
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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
It’s always particularly exciting to get your hands on something that is unique, and this year I’ve been lucky enough to get one of the first looks at not just one beautiful historical rifle but two! Earlier in the year I got to trial the Springfield bolt action from Taiwanese manufacturer Guay and Guay (G&G) which I fell in love with, and thanks to my good friend Scott at Land Warrior Airsoft, now I’ve got my mitts on their M1Garand as well!
The US Rifle, Caliber .30in, M1 is a bit of a mouthful, but that’s actually the correct nomenclature for the rifle under review this month; that said, everyone knows and loves this classic model as the Garand after its designer, Canadian- American Jean (John) Cantius Garand.
Garand’s love for technology and shooting came together as a hobbyist firearms designer. This in turn became more serious in 1917, as in that year the United States Army took bids on designs for a light machine gun and Garand’s design was eventually selected by the War Department. Garand was appointed to a position with the task of bringing this weapons project successfully to fruition. The first model was not built until 1919, too late for use in WWI, but Garand stayed on in a position as a consulting engineer with the Springfield Armory. Whilst working in this capacity he was given the task of designing a semi- automatic infantry rifle. Designing a functional semi-automatic battle rifle was a huge task, although other manufacturers were also racing to do so. The stakes were high as this would be the first time in history that a self-loading rifle would be adopted as the standard issue weapon. After many trials and tribulations, changes in calibre, tests, redesigns and retests over a period of 15 years the Garand design finally met the Army specifications. The resulting M1 (Model 1) Garand was patented by Garand in 1934 and began mass production in 1936, and by 1941 the majority of the American regular forces had been equipped with it.
The Garand was a thoroughly robust design, although by modern standards it is long at 431⁄2-inches (1103mm), and heavy as it tips the scales at 9lb 8oz (4.37kg). By contemporary standards though, it was right on the money, being similar in length and weight to the bolt action SMLE used by British Forces. The difference of course was the method of operation, which in the case of the Garand was gas action; in fact to give it a full description it was an innovative air-cooled, gas-operated, clip-fed, semi- automatic, shoulder-fired rifle. This meant that air cools the barrel and that the power to cock the rifle and chamber the succeeding round came from the expanding gas of the round fired previously. Many aspects of the Garand were almost ahead of their time, and in fact the same bolt unlocking system of the M1 was carried forward and continued into its successor, the M14 of the 1950s.
One of the Army specifications for the rifle was an unusual one in that they stipulated that it should not have a magazine that projected beneath the line of the stock, nor should said magazine be removable. It was felt that the average ‘grunt’ would be prone to losing magazines! Garand’s solution to this was to use an eight round clip which would be loaded into the top of the rifle as one unit. One downside of this was that single rounds could not be inserted, so it was a case of eight or nothing.
The other thing that allegedly caused some consternation was the fact that the empty clip would be ejected with a very audible ‘ping’, which meant that any enemy would know when an individual weapon was empty! There has been much discussion on this, and it’s a part of the Garand story for sure, but German troops somewhat dispelled this after the war when they admitted that in the heat and din of battle they had not been able to hear the sound every time, and even when they did it only meant that one member of the US squad was reloading.
The fact of the matter is that American troops were armed with a hard-hitting, fast firing battle rifle when both the Germans and the Japanese were inevitably still using their bolt actions. This would change to a small degree later in the war when the Stg44 made an appearance, but that was too little, far too late. The Japanese tried their human wave ‘banzai’ attacks and soon discovered they would be met with sustained volleys of withering fire; the US Soldier or Marine could loose all eight rounds without once changing their grip or point of aim.
Huge numbers of Garands were produced during the war years, and when manufacture ceased in the 1950s it is estimated that somewhere in the region of nigh on six million Garands had been created. The M1 Garand served US and Allied forces on through the Korean War and into the Vietnam years; and even today pictures appear of now ancient Garands still in use. It can truly be said that this is one rifle that covers a very long service life.
Other airsoft manufacturers have had a crack at creating a Garand, but for various reasons I won’t dwell on why these models have not been a success. Personally, as I have an interest in the USMC Pacific theatre I’ve been longing to see one that would be solid and dependable. In my own collection I have a pair of WE Colt M1911s, a CYMA Thompson, a Marushin M1 Carbine, the G&G M1903A3 Springfield, and even a replica Winchester Model 12 ‘Trench Gun’, but the Garand has to date been the model that has eluded me.
G&G have been churning out a multitude of replica models in recent years, and their quality has just got better and better. After the success of their Springfield (sources in the industry have already sold through their initial order of these from G&G) I had high hopes for their Garand, and thankfully I haven’t been disappointed in any way!
When the long, heavy package arrived from Land Warrior everything in the office ground to an immediate halt, as I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the rifle. Lifting it clear of the packaging I was immediately impressed by the solidity of the Garand; it truly felt as if I had a superbly recreated piece of history in my hands. The dark stained woodwork looked almost as if it had been freshly oiled, and the deep grey metal parts appeared like they had just come from the factory; there was not a blemish in evidence anywhere, and this could have easily been a newly issued rifle from the Springfield Armory. Length was a perfect 1103mm, exactly as per the real thing, and the replica is only just slightly lighter at 3.65kg!
As a bit of an about-face, the predecessor of the G&G Garand is actually their excellent M14 model, the GR14, which is a thoroughly tried and tested design now, and the Garand makes use of many common internal parts, which bodes well. It struck me as slightly incongruous that in the real world the M1 led to the M14, but in the airsoft world it was the other way round!
There are quite literally no plastic external parts whatsoever on the Garand; this thing is built like a tank. All the metal parts are accurately reproduced, from the receiver through the bolt and bolt handle to the sling swivels and even the bayonet lug. The front site is the correct distinctive protected post, whilst at the rear is the blocky unit, which is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. The battery is held in the butt of the rifle, and the compartment which will hold even old, large type batteries is easily and quickly accessed via a hinged cover in the metal buttplate.
Unlike the real thing, ammo is not loaded from the top via a clip but in a cleverly designed 20 round magazine. On the front left of the receiver there is a long lever which when depressed releases the magazine floorplate. The magazine is actually attached to this and the whole unit slides back, down and out. Once loaded with BBs the sequence is reversed to reinsert the magazine. There are a couple of things to note about the magazine itself: every part of the Garand feels like you could run it over with a truck, but the magazine is largely of plastic construction and is the only part of the rifle that feels slightly flimsy. Also, given the fact that the magazine is attached to the floorplate, it’s going to be a struggle to carry any spares in the correct cartridge belt, which is a shame; 20 rounds on semi-auto are going to disappear very swiftly indeed and changing the magazine is a bit of a faff!
The hop up unit is accessed as easily as the battery compartment by simply pulling back the bolt. It’s one of G&G’s metal units so should stand up to abuse well. The rubber itself could do with a little attention as it’s quite hard, but if you’re using a .28g or .30g BB this really isn’t too much of an issue. The rotary design of the hop means quick and easy adjustment, but under test once it was set, it stayed where it should.
Last but not least, the safety catch is located in the trigger guard. In its rear- most position the rifle is safe, and simply pushing it forward with the trigger finger puts it into the fire position. The replica Garand, like the real deal, is semi-auto only so there’s no fire selector to worry about. I’m really glad that G&G made the decision to keep things real here as it gives an extra touch of authenticity to the replica.
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