GUNS Magazine June 2013 Digital Edition - Page 30

SurpluS, ClaSSiC and TaCTiCal FirearmS™ HOLT BODINSON holT meeTs The Garand early memories oF an iConiC ameriCan arm. W The only change Holt made to his Garand was to add a set of National Match sights. e trained with M1 Garands, BARs, Browning, aircooled .30-caliber machineguns, 3.5-inch bazookas and 106mm recoilless rifles. Arriving on duty, we were issued Springfield M14s, M60 machine guns, 40mm grenade launchers and telescoping, 1-shot, 66mm M72 rocket launchers. The 1960s were weird in more ways than one. The transition from WWII small arms to modern equivalents took place overnight it seemed. After unpacking the rifles, we were instructed to memorize their serial numbers and to remove the cleaning and lubricating equipment located in the two holes in the buttstock. Issued small cans of that wonderfully, foul smelling, WWII cleaning solvent plus a few patches, we were ordered to clean the bores. That’s when the first memorable Garand moment occurred. Squinting down his bore, one of the troopers started complaining loudly that his Garand had a big pit in the barrel, and that he had tried brass brushing it out, but it was still there, and that he wanted a replacement rifle. The sergeant-in-charge strolled over, grabbed the Garand, peered down the barrel and in a slightly agitated and elevated tone of voice exclaimed (slightly edited), “That’s no pit, you moron. That’s the gas port of a Garand!” Without missing a beat, he brought the whole platoon to attention and said, “Repeat after me. ‘The US rifle, caliber .30, M1, is a gas-operated, clipfed, air-cooled, semi-automatic, shoulder weapon.’ Now, all together, say it again. OK, let’s hear it again.” I can still repeat that Garand jingle in my sleep along with my Garand’s now somewhat garbled serial number. Being a nice hot, humid, summer day that drill instructors so love, we were ordered to spread our ponchos out To me, it was a relief. I no longer had to struggle mentally with the calibrations on the elevation and traversing mechanisms of the Browning machinegun tripod, and I never again had to tote around another 20-pound BAR plus, what seemed like, another 20-pounds of loaded BAR magazines. It was the second day of basic training, which began with PT, a 1-mile run and 10 pull-ups before being allowed in the mess for breakfast. Shortly thereafter, a deuce-and-a-half pulled up alongside our WWII-era barracks, and we were ordered to start off-loading the truck. The bed of that truck was stacked chest high with long, cardboard boxes. Once all the boxes were unloaded, we were ordered to draw a box and unpack it. Inside each box, sealed in an airtight poly sleeve, was a brand, spanking, new Springfield Armory M1 Garand. The Garands were dry packed without a trace of Cosmoline. Stuck down each bore was simply an anticorrosion, vapor emitting, and paper straw. With the exception of WWII and Korean War movies, I had never before seen a Garand, much less handled one. Springfield 1903, yes, there were always a few floating around town, but Garands, no. Holding a new Garand you were going to shoot and live with for the weeks ahead was a magical moment for a young, gun enthusiast. on the ground for a formal session on the fine art of the disassembly and reassembly of the US M1 Garand. We got good at it, even when the dark Parkerized parts soon reached 150 degrees F under the noonday sun. We could strip a Garand and rebuild it blindfolded. We even raced the clock on occasion on penny bets to see who was the fastest M1 mechanic in the platoon. Now, a couple of the chaps in the platoon were the products of private military schools, and they had handled Garands. They knew all its secrets, or so they thought. In preparation for the next day’s inspection, they rewarded us with the second memorable Garand moment. Walking into our communal showers that evening, I was greeted by a scene I will never forget. There on the wet cement floor were the pieces and parts of two Garand rifles—trigger housing groups, followers, operating rods, springs, bolts and gas cylinder screws— and there under the shower heads stood our military school graduates with soap and brushes in hand vigorously scrubbing down the complete barreled actions. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were actually giving the whole lot a hot, In production from 1936 to 1957, there were 5,468,772 US Garands built. The serial number of this Springfield places its production into 1945. 30 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • J U N E 2 0 1 3

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